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#4904 - 06/04/10 10:44 AM Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA
This thread is designed to hold posts displaying pictures and describing the current conditions of the Main Mount Whitney Trail (MMWT).  I hope everyone will contribute.

Please feel free to post pictures of your own or from any source (please post a reference to the original location), so that everyone can come here and easily find/read/see the conditions.

Older posts will be moved as conditions change. (As a result, some posts may appear to answer comments that are no longer in the thread.)

Thanks for everyone's help. Your posting trip reports helps untold numbers of hikers following you.

Older posts moved here:   Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2017 (Old)

Note: Sometimes this thread spans a number of pages. You can click through all the pages, or click here to display all in one page.

EDIT: Somebody, anybody, please!!! Send current pictures of:
+Water crossing at Outpost Camp/Bighorn Park
+Snow/dry rock/water conditions at Trail Camp
+The slope up to Trail Crest--looking up, looking sideways, looking down.
+Zoom-in on the cables section.
Conditions are changing rapidly, and pictures here are out-of-date

Edited by Steve C (Yesterday at 10:55 AM)

#50004 - 06/03/17 11:20 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here's a picture of the Main Whitney Trail crossing the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek, about a mile up from the trail head. Be prepared to wade!

From Instagram, posted by n8tediesel

Posted by curytyba

Edit: If anyone wants to skip this crossing, the unmaintained "Old Trail" starts at Whitney Portal, just a little past the store, and climbs 30 switchbacks, then joins the Main Trail, just steps from this stream crossing. It joins the trail above/after the crossing heading up, so no crossing is required. Old trail description and pictures is here. It is unmaintained, and getting pretty rough with large boot-size rocks in the path.

Edited by Steve C (06/06/17 10:27 PM)

#50005 - 06/03/17 11:27 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA
Also posted June 3, on Instagram by cubancrisis

Edit June 27: People report getting wet feet in this area, but the snow is probably gone by now. Sure wish people would share a picture!!!

Just below Outpost Camp -- these hikers are ON the trail.

Edited by Steve C (Yesterday at 11:17 PM)

#50007 - 06/05/17 10:06 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Mauricio Offline

Registered: 06/25/14
Posts: 5
Loc: CA
Hiked the main trail route this weekend.

Main trail is actually nowhere to be found right before outpost camp. There were plenty of tracks through the snow, indicating very clear routes to hike up/down through the snow. Some of those sections were pretty steep, so to save energy, one would either criss-cross, or take a longer but more moderate way to reach the same goal.

We started our hike at noon, and arrived at Trail Camp at 8:40. We managed to do it with daylight, but within the next 15 minutes or so, it was dark. We setup our tent, like everybody else we could see, in a rock ledge.

After we ate, I took the decision of aborting the summit attempt we were supposed to do the following morning. I aborted it because we would need to spend quite some time melting more snow to have enough water for the summit attempt and the hike back to our tent. And then, we would have to melt more snow for the hike back to the car. This would have required a lot of our time, which would have made us ready to go to bed around midnight, leaving us with little time to really rest for an early morning summit attempt.

There was a second reason for my decision, which I totally understand if anyone (or everyone) in this forum sees it as the first, not the second reason, and it was simply due to the fact that I had decided not to take ice axes with us. My decision was based in stuff I had read here, but I take as a lesson learnt, that unless I read a report from within the last two days, I should ALWAYS plan for the worst.
In this case, it still looked as something that could be done (hiking the chute without ice axes), but I kept thinking that it would have been a risk, regardless of how it looked to me at the moment, and it was (thankfully) clear to me that it was unnecessary to put ourselves in that risky situation.
It was very interesting to me to see a lot of people (no less than a dozen) start their summit attempts as late as 11:30 am the next day!

Weather will improve, that is a fact, but in the foreseeable future (at least the next week), there will be a lot of snow starting very close to 9500 ft. The first little creek crossing is not an easy one. The second crossing, the one with the logs, is also not as easy as it used to be, due to a log in one of the sections being broken, so you have to jump from one to the other, an sketchy proposition.

My recommendations for anyone using this route within the next (roughly) seven days:
1. Start your hike early. No later than 10 AM.
2. Bring Ice Axe.
3. Crampons, no Micro-spikes.
4. An extra pipe of fuel for snow melting.
5. Pay the weight cost to bring protection for VERY cold nights.

Lastly, I think that, ideally, you would get to Trail Camp, sleep, summit the next day, back to TC, stay one more night, and the third day, hike back to your car.
Hope this info helps someone.


#50008 - 06/05/17 10:06 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA
Log crossing, posted by Octavio

video here

#50009 - 06/05/17 12:28 PM Mt. Whitney Trail 6/2-6/4 [Re: Steve C]
sarahp Offline

Registered: 06/05/17
Posts: 1
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Three of us had overnight permits for this past weekend. Here's a breakdown of what we brought and our itinerary:

-Ice axes (one per person, we saw several groups trying to share)
-Crampons (NOT microspikes)
-Sunscreen & sunglasses. The snow is bright and you will get burned!
-Gators (for the water crossings and snow)

-Closed cell foam sleeping pad. This will save you from the cold ground.
-All-weather sleeping bag. Sleeping bag ratings are for *survival* not comfortability. Get/bring something that's as close to 0-degrees as possible.
-Water filter. There were several people trying to melt snow. This is inefficient and a waste of fuel. There's a stream at Trail Camp - if you're facing the chute it's to the right around the corner from the rocks. Also Consultation Lake has some breakup that you can filter water from.

-Acclimation hike at Kearasarge Pass Trail, which has a few snow banks to practice glissading and using your ice axe.
-Camped at the portal.

-Breakdown camp and hit the trail at 5:30am.
-I didn't find the river crossings as difficult as some people here, but it is something to be aware of. The gators really helped.
-We put on our crampons just after the log river crossing (I believe the 3rd crossing). It's pretty snowy from here on up.
-As someone suggested here, we used the Gaia GPS app (free trial for 7-days) and it was a lifesaver. It lost the signal when we were in the meadow, where Outpost Camp is located, but we stayed to the left, then crossed over to the far right and were able to get out and back on the trail (this is normally switchbacks, but is now covered in snow).
-We arrived at Mirror Lake at around 12:30pm and took an hour for lunch and to pump water from the lake into our camelbacks and water bottles to top off.
-Almost immediately after Mirror Lake you get above the tree line and there's no more shade. All snow and rocks. The glare is harsh, so be sure to keep applying sunscreen.
-We made it to Consultation lake at about 4:30pm (which was still almost completely frozen) then went directly above it to the rocks where Trail Camp is. There were several tents already set up so we found a spot.
-We topped off our water again at the stream and were in bed by 8pm, although it doesn't get dark until after 9.

-Woke up at 2am and began our hike toward the chute. We left our big packs and tents at Trail Camp and just took daypacks (and ice axes). It's difficult to see in the dark, so be sure to take note the night before where you're headed. It took us about an hour to hike to the chute in the dark.
-The chute itself is about 1,400 feet in elevation gain.
-I was feeling extremely anxious about the hike up the chute and my friend was getting altitude sickness, so we decided to wait by the rocks at the base of the chute to see if it got any better. By about 4am, she was getting worse so we called it and turned back.
-We slept another few hours, then headed back down the trail at about 9am, arriving at the portal at around 1pm.
-On the way back we did some glissading with our axes, which was amazing and saved a lot of time on the trail.

OUR TEAM RULES (we only had 2 and they're both equally important):
-Stick together. No matter what we don't separate or get out of eyesight of each other unless someone's going to the bathroom.
-We don't have to summit. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you're going as a group, it's so important for everyone to feel confident and comfortable. Yes, these hikes are about pushing yourself physically and mentally, but if someone is sick or injured, they need to feel supported by the team. The team is more important than the summit.

Of course we were all disappointed we couldn't summit. We'd spent months training and acquiring gear, but ultimately we had an amazing experience together in one of the most beautiful and humbling environments.

If we had gone up the chute, we planned on 3 hours until we got to the top and another 2 to summit. Then 5-6 hours to return to the portal.

-Because the snow is melting so quickly, hiking earlier in the day is very important! Crampons are most effective on icy snow, not slush.
-Bring ibuprofen. It'll help with headaches and sore muscles if you're doing multiple days.
-Remember to put sunscreen on your lips!
-Talk to people on the trail, especially those coming down as you're going up. They have the latest news on what conditions are ahead.
-Bring bug spray if you're camping at the portal. We all came back with nasty bug bites.
-Take lots of pictures! You're in one of the most beautiful places!

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Edited by sarahp (06/05/17 12:38 PM)

#50011 - 06/05/17 03:21 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail 6/2-6/4 [Re: sarahp]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA
Sarahp: THANKS for the report!

You are the first to report that water is available at Trail Camp. That will save people a lot of time and extra fuel weight.

Your warnings about sunscreen, sunglasses and lip protection are SO IMPORTANT!

People underestimate the problems with altitude sickness. Many spend the night at Trail Camp, and wake up sick the next morning. For you and your partner, I would suggest two things: 1. Spending an extra night at altitude before starting the hike. (I like to overnight at Horseshoe Meadows one night -- 10,000' elevation!) 2. get a prescription for Diamox, start taking it the first night you camp at altitude.

You did the right thing turning back and sticking together. The mountain will always be there, so start planning the next trip.

#50015 - 06/06/17 08:37 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA
Posted June 5, on Instagram by ryllprous

Looking down from Trail Crest. Consultation Lake on the left edge of the picture. Parts of the Main Trail are visible above the hikers.

click it if you have a big screen:

#50040 - 06/08/17 04:25 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
stiz Offline

Registered: 06/08/17
Posts: 2
Loc: WV
Looks like temps at portal going up into the 80s soon.
Any thoughts on likely equipment needs at end of June (27/28)?

Likely need for:
-boots (v. trail runners), crampons (v. microspikes), ice axe?
-likelihood of switchbacks being used v. chute?


Also, thanks for current posts/info/photos. Will definitely be following here for updates over next few weeks!


#50048 - 06/08/17 10:49 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: stiz]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA
Switchbacks will still be covered into July. With that much snow, I'd still recommend boots and gaiters.

Microspikes might be ok -- would like to hear from anyone who successfully makes it using them.

#50050 - 06/08/17 11:09 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
gfinch Offline

Registered: 06/08/17
Posts: 1
Loc: California

My mom, dad, and me are looking to do Whitney in a Day on June 29. We are wondering if it will be possible to use the switchbacks by then, and if it is necessary to use crampons (as we only have microspikes currently). Any help will be much appreciated !

#50055 - 06/08/17 11:16 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: gfinch]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA

#50062 - 06/09/17 10:40 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
easternsierraUL Offline

Registered: 06/09/17
Posts: 1
Loc: Eastern Sierra
I just did Whitney yesterday car to car. I carried micro spikes and an ice axe, but only used them on the descent from Trail Crest. Everywhere else it was easier using trekking poles; the steps are cut in to the slope of the chute. Plunge stepped down the chute following the zig zag tracks using the spikes and ice axe on the high side. Would not recommend glissading as once you get out of control, you're going for a long ride, plus it hurts your butt. Mileage was considerably shorter going straight on the snow.

#50071 - 06/10/17 08:33 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Mark W Offline

Registered: 05/11/17
Posts: 6
Loc: California
For those looking for Mountaineers route conditions, I posted a trip report here:
Mountaineers Route Attempt: June 8-10

TLDR: Creek crossings very heavy. Snow from lower Boyscout up. Fresh water at Upper Boyscout and a little at iceberg if you're lucky (but don't plan on it). Final 400' extremely icy/sketchy, don't recommend continuing past the notch.

#50085 - 06/12/17 07:31 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
2ndjetty Offline

Registered: 07/23/13
Posts: 3
Loc: Playa Del Rey, CA
Thanks everyone for the writeups and photos.

We're heading up on the 23rd, so I'm still deciding if we go microspikes/poles or crampons/axes. Will keep an eye on the posts until then and contribute once we're back. Either way, sounds like a very early start from Trail Camp is going to be the move.
Brent -

#50087 - 06/12/17 08:14 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
rubes Offline

Registered: 06/12/17
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
Thanks for all the thorough info, everyone. Here's a question. I'm permitted for later this week, but am not an ice axe/crampon/spike kind of hiker. I've made it to the top before, so no biggie if it doesn't happen on this trip.

So how far up the trail do you think I can get before "can't see the trail anymore" happens?

#50091 - 06/12/17 01:41 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA
Picture of Trail Camp in the afternoon, posted June 11 by Ean M on facebook.

Trail update Summited June 9th: Intermittent snow above 10k feet and 100% snow above 11k ft.
Did not need snow shoes, but if your ar summiting in the afternoon they may help.
Crampons and ice axe required for the chute. Before sunrise it is a hard sheet of ice, by 8:30am it was slushy.

#50102 - 06/13/17 08:16 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
PatT Offline

Registered: 06/10/17
Posts: 4
Loc: Ca
Thanks for posting. We are hoping to go up June 28 but I am not sure that ice axes are a safe way for me to go. (65 year old woman)

#50104 - 06/13/17 09:43 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here's a picture of the log crossing, posted 6/13/2017 on facebook by ELLoy:

"We hiked to LP Lake last weekend - took this picture of the creek crossing...the log bridge did sustain a break but you are still able to cross."

#50121 - 06/14/17 09:52 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6980
Loc: Fresno, CA
If this is correct, the Log Crossing has been repaired:

Posted on Instagram by c.oetomo on June 13, 2017.

Caption:  Log crossing at Lone Pine Creek finally fixed as of 6.11.17. No more wet socks! #mtwhitney

By the wet look of the log, it appears it was just recently raised out of the water.
Edit: Due to high water from warm weather and heavy snow melt, the logs are reportedly floating off their supports ...regularly. Be prepared to wade!

Edit 6/26: Another picture, posted June 26, 2017. It shows a new log installed over the weekend.
Let's hope high water flow doesn't float this one off.

Edited by Steve C (06/26/17 08:53 AM)

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