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#49800 - 05/15/17 07:49 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 109
Loc: The OC
Hey Steve, yes the winds did get up to 50mph on 5/12. Here's my TR from Bishop pass:

http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=15825

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#49801 - 05/15/17 08:58 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Hobbes]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7195
Loc: Fresno, CA
Crazy wind!! You guys got out on Friday, and the wind was forecast to peak on Saturday!!!

Doug from Whitney Portal Store wrote that two hikers spent Saturday night in the summit hut (it's still full of snow), and were flown off the summit Sunday morning (5/14/17). One was then air-lifted to Reno.

No further info on the situation, but it sounds like one may have suffered an incapacitating injury at or near the summit. The wind must have died down enough by Sunday for a helicopter to visit the summit.

Edit: more on the rescue here.


Edited by Steve C (05/15/17 11:45 PM)

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#49805 - 05/15/17 07:43 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Scott H Offline


Registered: 01/08/17
Posts: 6
Loc: San Diego
Just got off the main trail today,very tough hike up to trail camp yesterday, crampons suggested 1/2 mile before lone pine lake, trail disappears from that point.Log crossing is not advised as they are covered in thawing snow, at outpost camp solid snow no running water yet I would suggest hikers stay to the right going up towards mirror lake, to the left is very steep and extremely icy, trail camp was cold, weather was clear at 3:00 am attempted the chute by 5:00 the weather hit with snow and limited visibility, we chose to turn back was hoping the weather was going to hold off but we all know how that goes.Prepare for cold temps and watch your footing near the snow bridges as they are thinning,Ran into a few hikers who summited on sunday hopefully by Wednesday it will clear up for everyone

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#49819 - 05/16/17 12:16 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Gootz Offline


Registered: 05/16/17
Posts: 1
Loc: San Diego
Our group of 4 summitted via the main trail on Monday May 15 around 9am in a light snow.

We left Whitney portal at 6 am on Sunday May 14. We started hiking on snow two miles in. Postholing was not an issue at all for us. We did not bring snowshoes, and if we had we would not have used them. One of our group members brought skis and started skinning at Mirror Lake. We camped around trail camp at 12,500 ft. No running water. We didnít see any dirt or flat rocks to camp on so setup on snow. We woke at 4 am on May 15 to clouds over the mountain and this turned into light snow and deteriorating visibility by 5am. We left our camp wearing crampons and didnít take them off until we returned to trail crest after summitting.

Crampons, solid mountaineering boots, and ice axe were a must have. Skis were not used on the chute and were left at camp. From trail crest to the summit, there was a rocky/icy/snowy boot track to the summit that was in much better shape than we expected.

There were 2 packs in the summit shelter which must belong to the two people that were flown off the summit on the 14th. By the time we returned to trail crest there was about 4 inches on new snow accumulation and the snowfall was increasing. The glissade down the chute was smooth. The ski down from trail camp to mirror lake was marginal at best and knowing what we know now, would not have brought skis. The pizza in lone pine was good.

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#49830 - 05/17/17 08:34 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Gootz]
Aman Offline


Registered: 05/10/17
Posts: 2
Loc: Michigan (MI)
Someone was flown off the summit? Do you know what happened?

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#49831 - 05/17/17 09:12 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Aman]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7195
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Aman
Someone was flown off the summit? Do you know what happened?

Summit Fever is a deadly serious disease:   Whitney Summit helicopter rescue 5-14-2017

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#49848 - 05/18/17 10:26 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
David C Offline


Registered: 05/17/17
Posts: 2
Loc: Pasadena, California
Hi all,

I'm going up over Memorial Day weekend and trying to make sure I have the right gear. I've not been up Whitney before, but have done some climbing before. Any tips for what types/style/brands of crampons or ice axes my group (of four) and I should get?

Also, it seems like given the weather, ski pants, jackets, and gloves are called for. Is that right or am I just going to end up carrying a lot of extra layers in my pack?

Any tips or advice is greatly appreciated.

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#49849 - 05/18/17 10:44 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: David C]
PeterATX Offline


Registered: 05/18/17
Posts: 1
Loc: Austin, TX
I doubt you're going to get any recommendations to this effect.

Review the posts with responses during the last week or two - there's a number of posts covering the experiences of those who are skilled and equipped finding treacherous conditions up Whitney, and worse still, reporting seeing those wholly inexperienced and poorly equipped for what are incredibly dangerous conditions. A couple just got airlifted off the peak after being in the hut overnight, avalanche conditions are present, and there have already been fatalities from falls.

Whitney during winter conditions isn't the place to learn how to use an ice axe as you're falling or to find you're dressed inappropriately and developing hypothermia.

This forum has plenty of information available for review and much of it is repeated year after year. I'd recommend doing some more research both on this forum and throughout other websites - the disclosed risk is real.


Edited by PeterATX (05/18/17 10:45 AM)

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#49851 - 05/18/17 12:35 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: David C]
Venu8 Offline


Registered: 05/11/17
Posts: 1
Loc: San Jose, CA, USA
@ David C, Same here and I have the same questions too, I have a day permit for Memorial weekend May28th. I am gathering as much as info as possible from here though.

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#49852 - 05/18/17 12:39 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: PeterATX]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7195
Loc: Fresno, CA
I wouldn't go so far as say conditions are extremely dangerous. People with the right equipment and clothing, and a reasonable knowledge of how to use crampons and ice axe, AND an intelligent head on their shoulders SHOULD be ok.

The death was a freak accident on the Mountaineers Route -- nobody saw it, and dozens of people make it up and down the same route every week. The rescue from the summit hut was caused by a seriously bad case of Summit Fever -- NO sense of having a turnaround time. Read here. (They were warned by other hikers, but maybe not strongly enough.)
The avalanche was on the North Fork Lone Pine Creek (the Mountaineers Route approach). Over the years, the only reports of avalanches I've seen on the Main Trail side have been after heavy storms in mid to late winter.

As for clothing, unless you are heading into stormy weather (and you would be foolish not to cancel in that case), layers and wind-proof clothing would be in order. I don't think full-on ski gear (at least the insulated pants) is necessary. Skiing, you are sitting on a lift in foul weather. On Whitney, you are expending a lot more energy, and so ski pants would be too hot (unless you were waiting for a rescue in the summit hut. shocked )

Here's the NOAA page for Whitney summit weather. (Weather page link is always above on the left.) Watch it closely leading up to your hike.

Also, please read this thread and the links within:   Mt Whitney in Winter Conditions: a warning
And last, read the Ice Axe Use topics in the first post in the Reference forum, Links to important Whitney information

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#49853 - 05/18/17 01:18 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
JMH Offline


Registered: 06/09/16
Posts: 18
Loc: Aurora, Illinois
I am 56 years,new to hiking, and my total experience consists of 3 visits to Whitney in 2016. The rules i set for myself and anyone that i hike with are
1. Never hike in snow
2. Never hike at night. Maybe dawn when there are other hikers in front.
3. Gear in the middle of summer i had plenty of rain gear and warm down. I had way more gear than i needed but there was no way i was going to get stuck up on that mountain overnight without gear. Compass, lights food first aid rope etc etc
4. Turn around times for summit no exceptions
5. Turn around mandatory at 1st sign of storms.
6. I had the entire trail memorized from hours and hours of watching video.
7. I spent months reading these blogs and months training.
8. I spent months reading about AMS and the 1st visit turned around at trail camp due to lack of acclimatization and wrong type of training.

This mountain is one of the most difficult things i ever did and that includes marathons.

On our 2nd visit the whole time we were there the SAR chopper was flying around and the poor gentleman they were looking for did not make it.

We got a late start on day one of trip 2 and bumped into SAR rangers coming down the short cut route. The one ranger said that the problem is that when people want to summit bad enough that they summit badly. Its a play on words. A kind of sick SAR joke but often tragically not funny.

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#49878 - 05/22/17 10:41 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7195
Loc: Fresno, CA
Several pictures posted on Facebook by Paul Fanning from May 18 (approx.)

This is the section just west of Trail Crest where it descends a little to the junction with the JMT.


This is along the trail between Trail Crest and the summit.


Below Trail Crest, at the junction with the JMT:



Unfortunately FB picture links expire after some weeks, so they will disappear here at that time.

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#49913 - 05/23/17 10:09 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
WhitneyHiker085 Offline


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 12
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Question for those who have recently hiked, or have hiked:

Someone had mentioned and recommended that hikers stay to the right up out of Outpost camp when heading up and when descending down from Summit, stay towards the left towards the rock down to Mirror Lake.

Can someone elaborate more on that please? I understand at Outpost camp, the trail is pretty much non-existing. I've done Mount Whitney but never summit and have gone as far in as Trail Camp. When you get to Outpost Camp, the trail continues over to the right of the camp, up a few switchback, and over the other side to eventually Mirror Lake. To the left of Outpost Camp, there would be a waterfall (where I am assuming the location where the women was found recently). I'm assuming there are tracks that would take you back to where you came from so how would someone were off over to the Waterfall side towards Outpost Camp?

Just trying to plan an upcoming trip so I know what to expect.

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#49915 - 05/24/17 06:17 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: WhitneyHiker085]
WhitneyHiker085 Offline


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 12
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: WhitneyHiker085
Question for those who have recently hiked, or have hiked:

Someone had mentioned and recommended that hikers stay to the right up out of Outpost camp when heading up and when descending down from Summit, stay towards the left towards the rock down to Mirror Lake.

Can someone elaborate more on that please? I understand at Outpost camp, the trail is pretty much non-existing. I've done Mount Whitney but never summit and have gone as far in as Trail Camp. When you get to Outpost Camp, the trail continues over to the right of the camp, up a few switchback, and over the other side to eventually Mirror Lake. To the left of Outpost Camp, there would be a waterfall (where I am assuming the location where the women was found recently). I'm assuming there are tracks that would take you back to where you came from so how would someone were off over to the Waterfall side towards Outpost Camp?

Just trying to plan an upcoming trip so I know what to expect.


Actually, from just examining the map, I think I know what is meant now regarding staying to the right (out of Outpost Camp) and towards the left (from Trail Camp down to Mirror Lake) is meant now. Though, if I remember correctly, the trail past Mirror Lake is basically just on rocks, so I can see how maybe it's easy to go off-trail (unless tracks are there).

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#49916 - 05/24/17 06:42 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: WhitneyHiker085]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 109
Loc: The OC
Just follow your map where the trail is indicated - if you can read topo, it's pretty clear, even though there won't be any trail visible. (Or, take a GPS unit.) However, there should also be plenty of boot tracks that you can follow as well - just be aware not to follow any that appear to peter off.

There are two sections where the winter route can leave the standard trail:
- Above Outpost & the waterfall, you can follow the fork up the LP creek drainage that skirts Consultation rather than climb the (snow covered) rocks (both routes still end up @ Trail camp)
- the Chute vs the 99 switchbacks

Here's what both the fork and the Chute looked like last year (2016) during the first week of May:



Upon your return down the drainage past TC, pay very close attention to ensure making the left turn over the (snow covered) rocks to descend towards Mirror & Outpost. Last year (when I took these shots), I ran into a group @ Outpost that missed the turn and came down the waterfall. They were pumped from adrenaline, but otherwise ok.

I'm going up today, so I'll post some photos later this week.


Edited by Hobbes (05/24/17 06:52 AM)

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#49917 - 05/24/17 06:52 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Hobbes]
WhitneyHiker085 Offline


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 12
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Thanks Hobbes.

Good look on your Summit. Looking forward to your report and photo as well!

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#49918 - 05/24/17 10:02 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: WhitneyHiker085]
Scott H Offline


Registered: 01/08/17
Posts: 6
Loc: San Diego
Ijust got off the Trail about a week ago, About a mile out of Trail Camp descending, stay on the Left side and hike the Rocks and then 90 degree down towards mirror lake, as you Descend the tracks funnel down toward the waterfall which is frozen it's not vertical but extremely steep and not recommended one of my partners slipped and got lucky the other one slipped and hit his head with the ice ax(which was needed thru that section)

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#49919 - 05/24/17 10:28 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Scott H]
WhitneyHiker085 Offline


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 12
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
This helps. Thanks Scott.

I'll be sure to pay attention on the descent down from Trail Camp, about a mile out.

Can you tell though, that there's a left side and the right side, a mile out of Trail Camp?

I know you say the tracks funnel down towards the waterfall (which I am hoping to avoid) but I'm guessing it's not obvious?

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#49920 - 05/24/17 10:39 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
alexw Offline


Registered: 05/24/17
Posts: 4
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
As for clothing, unless you are heading into stormy weather (and you would be foolish not to cancel in that case), layers and wind-proof clothing would be in order. I don't think full-on ski gear (at least the insulated pants) is necessary.


What are your thoughts on insulated softshell pants with good venting, vs getting new pants, in current conditions? I don't currently have uninsulated soft shell pants, since most of my adventuring is either warm and dry or cold and possibly wet. I've done strenuous labor in my ski pants, and the forecast has me thinking the insulation will be welcome at night in trail camp, but am I going to melt?

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#49923 - 05/24/17 11:53 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: alexw]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7195
Loc: Fresno, CA
> but am I going to melt?

If insulated ski pants is what you have, take them. You can always peel down to a T-shirt on top. Be SURE to wear sunscreen and sunglasses. This is snow blindness season!!!

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