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#50069 - 06/10/17 08:22 PM Mountaineers Route Attempt: June 8-10
Mark W Offline


Registered: 05/11/17
Posts: 6
Loc: California
Attempted a summit via the Mountaineers route June 8-10. We took it slow and spent our first night at Upper Boyscout Lake, and our second night at Iceberg Lake.

Made our way up at around 9am on June 8th. The two creek crossings were pretty heavy. Take some precaution when crossing as it's fairly easy to slip, and almost impossible to do it without getting your shoes wet - gaiters help. Time of day matters too: they were flowing much more heavily on our way back, around 2pm.

The E-ledges are pretty straightforward and bone dry. Much has been written about these obstacles, but if you are comfortable with class 2/3 scrambling, they're totally fine- just very exposed. I'm not sure why they get so much hype compared to some of the other obstacles on the route.

After the ledges, the trail up to lower boyscout was pretty wet. For much of the time, it felt like we were hiking in a light stream - in reality it was just overflow from the creek. Lower Boyscout is totally melted out and a nice place to take a lunch break. The fishing is excellent, and my buddy caught a couple in the span of our short lunch break.

After LBSL, we put on our crampons - it's pretty much snow the rest of the way. There's a little bit of mixed scrambling over some scree fields on the way out of lower boyscout. Try to do this earlier in the day if possible - on our descent, we were a little nervous about rockfall. There are a couple of nice glissade paths on the way back down. Here we ran into some climbers who had summited. They let us know that the final 400 was very icy and flaky, and left them all feeling sketched out. They chose to descend via the 'easy walk-off' despite the seasonal risks.

It's a slog to get to Upper Boyscout lake, which is where we spent our first night. There is a very small patch of dry land, right next to the lake, and a decent amount of fresh water with easy access. It's a beautiful place to camp.

On our second day, we followed obvious boot pack up the snow slope above Upper Boyscout. This goes on for about 500-700 feet. This also makes for a very fun glissade on the way down. This hill runs into a patch of rocks which are easily scrambled over. From here there is a long traverse that starts easy, but ends up feeling more and more exposed. I recommend staying as low as possible, and following existing boot pack. There are a couple of chutes that send you up to iceberg lake - a party next to us took the first, but we opted for the second (or third?). Some other climbers we met up with agreed with what we had read - the first chute leads to a steep waterfall and is very difficult to climb. The chute we climbed was not difficult, but it was steep and exposed, anywhere from 40-50 degrees. I'm honestly surprised more hasn't been written about this part of the route. It's the first time you feel like you're truly using your axe and crampons, and definitely required mountaineering skills, especially on the downclimb. This chute is probably 200-400' or so, and starts mellowing out, leading you directly to the lake. This trip was my first time actually using an ice axe and crampons, and based on my discomfort with this chute, I opted not to attempt a summit.

We setup camp at iceberg lake, where there is a ton of snow, at least 7-8'. Fortunately there were a few tent size pits dug out in the snow near the lake which made camping a little nicer. It ended up being extremely windy that night, so despite he beautiful views from iceberg, we had to spend a lot of our day inside. There was a small water hole near the lake, but most of it was frozen solid. Be extremely careful approaching this: it's not obvious where the lake starts, and the ice is clearly very thin around the water hole.

The other two in my party attempted a summit at around 6am the next morning. Surprisingly they were the first up the mountain, but they were followed shortly by several other groups, including a large guide group. Many parties didn't start until 9am, a decision we questioned given how slushy and loose the snow was becoming by that time. According to the others in my group, the snow conditions were pretty good up until the notch- firm snow at 6am and obvious bootpack. There's a 100' scree scramble at the notch that didn't sound fun. From the notch, the final 400 essentially steep water ice. The conclusion from the others in my party was that this part of the route is unclimbable without ice tools/screws/rope, or huge balls. The easy walk off, while simple looking was extremely exposed with no run out. If you plan to try the easy walk-off, do it as early as possible in the day, before it melts out and the steps turn to slush. They decided to call it at the notch and turned around, and ended up glissading the bottom 1000' or so.

We packed up camp at IBL and were back at the car enjoying a beer and burger at the portal store by 2:30pm.

We ran into several other groups on the route during our trip: some who clearly knew what they were doing, and some who didn't. Most notably, we ran into a guided tour who left a member behind, by herself, at Lower Boyscout because she was slowing the rest of the group down. It definitely bears repeating: this route requires technical gear including crampons, ice axes, and the skills to use them. I didn't feel comfortable in my own skills, and opted not to summit because of it.

All in all, it was an awesome trip- we had a blast! Photos to come. Also, special shout out to Doug at the portal store for being an all around cool guy. He gave us great beta and has some great stories.

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#50073 - 06/11/17 04:44 AM Re: Mountaineers Route Attempt: June 8-10 [Re: Mark W]
Fan Offline


Registered: 06/06/17
Posts: 14
Loc: DC
Thanks for the trip report Mark! Super useful info. One thing I was little confused about was the "easy walk-off" you referenced a couple times and exactly where your partners turned around at. By the easy walk-off, are you referring to simply reversing the Mountaineer's Route? It's possible you meant taking the John Muir Trail/Mt Whitney Trail down from the summit by going west then south from the summit, but that seems unlikely as it would be a long way back to IBL. Thanks again for your insights.

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#50074 - 06/11/17 10:43 AM Re: Mountaineers Route Attempt: June 8-10 [Re: Fan]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Fan, the Easy Walk Off is an alternate route from "the Notch" to the summit. It involves traversing the slope to the west from the notch, and making the summit plateau a quarter mile or more to the west of the actual summit.

Whitney Mountaineers Route: Easy Walk Off from the Notch

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#50076 - 06/11/17 12:58 PM Re: Mountaineers Route Attempt: June 8-10 [Re: Mark W]
Mark W Offline


Registered: 05/11/17
Posts: 6
Loc: California
A few photos of the first creek crossing:
[img]https://flic.kr/p/UsRtjc[/img]


[img]https://flic.kr/p/VuRzW8[/img]



One of my partners on the E-ledges
[img]https://flic.kr/p/VGknLZ[/img]



Lower Boyscout Lake
[img]https://flic.kr/p/VGm88D[/img]


Hiking up from LBSL to UBSL. Crampons required. Lots of snow.
[img]https://flic.kr/p/UpLpZ5[/img]




What it looks like around UBSL
[img]https://flic.kr/p/UpLsUJ[/img]



The hike up to Iceberg Lake
[img]https://flic.kr/p/UpLtb5[/img]



Camping Near Iceberg Lake
[img]https://flic.kr/p/UpLtRJ[/img]
[img][/img]


Some photos of my partners climbing the chute
[img]https://flic.kr/p/VrJu5m[/img]


[img]https://flic.kr/p/VrJumo[/img]



Edited by Steve C (06/11/17 10:01 PM)
Edit Reason: embeded pictures

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#50078 - 06/11/17 03:58 PM Re: Mountaineers Route Attempt: June 8-10 [Re: Mark W]
Fan Offline


Registered: 06/06/17
Posts: 14
Loc: DC
Thanks, Steve and Mark! Steve, your explanation of the easy walk off and the link you provided are super useful to know about. I'm gathering info for a July 4 summit bid via one of the two easy climbers routes on the East Face. It's good to know there is another option between the notch and the summit that bypasses the final 400. Mark, thanks for the informative photos! Hopefully there's a little more melt off in the next few weeks. I've found the trip reports and forums here at the Whitney Zone to be a great resource. Thanks everyone.

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#50079 - 06/11/17 04:20 PM Re: Mountaineers Route Attempt: June 8-10 [Re: Fan]
wagga Online


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2205
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Shaky Leg or Fresh Air?
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

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#50401 - 06/28/17 09:54 AM Re: Mountaineers Route Attempt: June 8-10 [Re: wagga]
Fan Offline


Registered: 06/06/17
Posts: 14
Loc: DC
Wagga, sorry for the late reply, but I just realized your question may have been directed at me. I was looking at East Buttress but am certainly considering East Face as well. For the latter, do you have a preference or recommendation between Shaky Leg vs Fresh Air?

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