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


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
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 2018 (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.


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#52969 - 04/26/18 02:40 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Philippe Offline


Registered: 04/28/16
Posts: 8
Loc: CA, USA
Went up the Main trail on April 23:

Pictures:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/qw6CsdYEEea4iy7S6

Cf picture comments

  • Outpost camp (went up the summer trail, no winter shortcut through the front of the meadow)
  • Mirror lake (went up the summer trail, chute access was melted)
  • Trail camp (the main pound is frozen but liquid water can easily be found in small streams and puddles, even at 6AM)
  • chute from trail camp (cable section was visible, but no tracks along the cables)
  • bottom of the chute (safe switchbacks on the chute starting from mid-height. Snow was still icy at 10am when we reached the bottom)
  • trail crest connection with the switchbacks on the summer trail
  • sketchy section on trail crest


@Nick: "log bridges" is completely clear of snow - we only put on our crampons past Mirror lake. Snowshoes were not needed when we went. Bring crampons and ice axes.

@All: thanks for posting and keeping us up to date with the current conditions : )

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#53013 - 05/02/18 09:36 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
Picture of snow filling the summit hut. The door was off this winter, so during storms, snow blows in and deposits inside. It will take months to melt out.

The picture is from a group shared on FB by Shawn Aiden. They hiked the main trail, camping at Outpost Camp. They made it with microspikes and ice axes.


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#53032 - 05/07/18 02:48 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 120
Loc: The OC
Just got back from a fun weekend - the conditions were really perfect. Except for a few patches, it was dry trail all the way until above Mirror. We elected to hike up the usual winter route up the drainage to Trail camp.

We summitted 5/5 along with at least 25 other people, the majority of whom were day hikers. That's pretty impressive, especially loaded down with mountaineering equipment.

The Chute is in excellent condition - it may hold snow for the next few weeks. Here is a shot from our camp, and one from the summit:



It's really hard to see the iced over switchbacks, but they're right to the left of Mt Muir in the foreground:


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#53039 - 05/07/18 01:30 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 120
Loc: The OC
My friend (who is experienced in winter travel) used Altras and hiking crampons. They are a mix between traditional crampons and micro-spikes. Everyone else - including myself - had regular boots + crampons). (https://www.hillsound.com/products/trail-crampon vs https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en/climbing%2Fcrampons/contact-crampon-BD400069_cfg.html )

If we don't get another dump, then spikes/hiking crampons will become more useful as the snow melts on the Chute. However, hikers should note that there is plenty of snow on the .1 mile section to the JMT junction, and then the entire 1.9 JMT run to the summit. So, plan on wearing whatever traction you have along that stretch as well.


Looking through one of the keyholes down to Iceberg

As far as timing, the day hikers were leaving the Portal at 3am, getting to Trail camp/Chute by 8am, gaining Trail crest by 10am, and hitting the summit around noon. So, yes, plan on averaging around 1 mph while there is still snow/ice.

Note: the trail was clear (except for minor shade patches) until above Mirror, then full coverage allowing the winter route to Consultation & TC. (That is, you simply hike up the drainage and avoid the entire run from Trail side meadow on.) Here's a shot of me looking back to where the snow route doglegs to pick up the trail down to Mirror. (Last year in May, a disoriented hiker kept going straight and fell to her death down the waterfall that drops to Outpost; you can see it behind me.)



We had a perfectly luxurious start of 8am from TC because we were planning on spending a second night before hiking out & driving back to SoCal Sunday. We took 2 hours to get to Trail crest/junction, then 2 to the summit. We hung out for an hour, and took 2.5 hours to get back to camp. 2 hours back to Trail crest, and a quick glissade and hike back to Trail camp.



Edited by Hobbes (05/07/18 01:51 PM)

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#53040 - 05/07/18 07:16 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Hobbes]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 120
Loc: The OC
My hiking partner Honey B[adger] took this photo of the Chute from Trail crest. I'm the 3rd one down:


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#53042 - 05/07/18 08:10 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
Hobbes, THANK YOU for posting the pictures!

Here's one from Facebook by Lauren S, of the snow between Trail Crest and the JMT junction. It looks a little steep right here.


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#53048 - 05/08/18 11:15 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 120
Loc: The OC
Lauren is cool - she and her bf are rock climbers. Had a good time chatting with them on the summit, and then semi-walking back with them to the Crest. She and her bf are to my right behind me in this photo:



And yeah, that's why you need to wear traction from Trail camp to summit, then back to Crest. Take 'em off for the glissade down, and resume till re-joining dry trail above Mirror.


Edited by Hobbes (05/08/18 11:17 AM)

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#53049 - 05/08/18 12:16 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Hobbes]
Lidia Offline


Registered: 05/07/18
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
@All - Thank you for the info, updates & pics. I greatly appreciate it! I'll report back on Monday about the conditions :-)

@Koti - No worries, it happens. I have an extra permit too. It's for an overnight but my group and I are going to do a day hike due to time. You're more than welcome to join us. We plan on starting our hike @ 12am Sunday am/Saturday night. I'll sent you a text.

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#53051 - 05/08/18 06:56 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Hobbes]
bluewater Offline


Registered: 05/02/12
Posts: 12
Loc: Ca
Bluebird skies and great snow conditions last weekend with Hobbes.

There was enough soft snow on the chute in the afternoon to make it possible to glissade down, but it was still firm enough in the morning to make the climb up reasonable. The snow is consolidated enough to walk on without post holing (glad I left the snowshoes in the car).














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#53066 - 05/09/18 06:17 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: bluewater]
dunavice321 Offline


Registered: 04/11/18
Posts: 3
Loc: Earth
That's beautiful. I especially love the last photo with the rainbow.

I decided I'm getting my overnight permits for some time in the last 10 days of June. Any thoughts about how the snowpack will be looking then and what conditions to expect?

Also, with the recent tragic fatality along the mountaineer's route I'd need some advice on what to do this summer. I wanted to reach the summit via the Whitney trail and chute, (not the mountaineers route) without having experience using crampons and an ice axe. I reckon I can find a good place to practice putting crampons on, walking, and self-arresting along the stretch of snow near the Wotan's throne, provided that it hasn't melted off (just before final trail camp) where my pack fell into a crevasse last year. (The strap broke while jumping over and the pack went with it.)

And if my understanding is correct, here is how reaching the summit via the trail and chute goes:

Whitney Portal, go along the regular Whitney trail till' trail camp, where it breaks off and you go to the chute?

Please fill me in.

Thanks!!!

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#53069 - 05/09/18 10:27 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: dunavice321]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: dunavice321
And if my understanding is correct, here is how reaching the summit via the trail and chute goes:

Whitney Portal, go along the regular Whitney trail 'til trail camp, where it breaks off and you go to the chute?

Please fill me in.

Thanks!!!

Here is a picture showing the switchbacks and the chute, BobR took this from Wotans Throne, and (the late) Wayne Pyle edited it and added the switchback numbers to the picture. Trail Camp is just out of view, lower left. The "chute" is actually the slope to the right of the switchbacks in the picture (upper right corner). It is NOT a part of the MR section where the recent death occurred.

You can click on the picture, and zoom in and scroll around for the detail. This is Wayne Pyle's switchback chart


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#53074 - 05/10/18 07:14 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
G4u2 Offline


Registered: 08/03/17
Posts: 3
Loc: San Diego, CA
Great picture Steve. Not to go off on a tangent,but is there a proper trail to Wotans Throne from MWT or MR?

Quote:
Here is a picture showing the switchbacks and the chute, BobR took this from Wotans Throne, and (the late) Wayne Pyle edited it and added the switchback numbers to the picture. Trail Camp is just out of view, lower left. The "chute" is actually the slope to the right of the switchbacks in the picture (upper right corner). It is NOT a part of the MR section where the recent death occurred.

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#53075 - 05/10/18 08:20 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: G4u2]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
> is there a proper trail to Wotans Throne from MWT or MR?

No. You just hike up and around WT, off trail. The northwest side is third class. You can descend from that approach down to Mirror Lake, but it is ugly steep.

Pinnacle Ridge lies between WT and the Mountaineers Route. I have never heard of anyone crossing it. It is definitely accessible on the south side, but the north side not so much.

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#53076 - 05/10/18 08:32 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Daniel S Offline


Registered: 04/27/17
Posts: 2
Loc: TX Texas
The chute on the right looks pretty steep. Maybe 30 degrees, possibly even more, but would it be an easier alternative to the switchbacks?

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#53077 - 05/10/18 09:03 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Daniel S]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
When the switchbacks are buried under snow, the chute is the only way to go. Ice axe and crampons are highly recommended, pretty difficult without.

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#53083 - 05/10/18 12:42 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Dan R Offline


Registered: 05/10/18
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
When do switchbacks generally open up?

I'm hiking it this Memorial Day (with crampon/ice axe in tow) but would greatly prefer switchbacks vs chute if possible.

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#53095 - 05/12/18 10:49 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dan R]
marc g Offline


Registered: 05/21/14
Posts: 3
Loc: United States
Usually, the switchbacks are unsafe (at the cables, and beyond) until after Memorial day. The Chute is the preferred route, for sure. Just start very early and try to get on the base of the chute before 6. morning sun can soften the snow quick and make it more challenging to go up.

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#53098 - 05/12/18 12:35 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
WhitneyHiker085 Online


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 18
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Anyone summit recently? Planning on going memorial day weekend via main trail and chute.

How are the conditions from trail Crest and onward? Any questionable or sketchy areas? Will you need crampons for the last 2 miles or so?

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#53103 - 05/12/18 10:41 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dan R]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Dan R
When do switchbacks generally open up?

I'm hiking it this Memorial Day (with crampon/ice axe in tow) but would greatly prefer switchbacks vs chute if possible.

Dan R, that question is asked every year multiple times. I finally put together a post showing when they opened up in past years.

I hope this helps:   When will Mt Whitney switchbacks open?

It was only two extremely dry years ('12 & '13) that the switchbacks were in use by Memorial Weekend. I think it will be a week or more later this year.

While using "the chute" aka the slope west of the switchbacks, you need crampons, and an ice axe is recommended, too. Once the switchbacks open up, microspikes are helpeful since there will still be snowy sections for several more weeks, and the section at the cables can be icy. (Yet some people navigate that only with hiking shoes and a lot of care.)

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