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Summit 6/26- day trip
#50405 06/28/17 10:39 AM
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A group of 11 of us summited this past Monday. Because we had so many, we split up into smaller hiking groups during the day; so the notes below were based primarily on my observations. I completed the hike in 2015 on almost the same date, so have a dry year as reference. Most of our group was not experienced with snow hiking; but we were all in good shape heading in.

Since some other good trip reports have been posted the last few days, I won't go into a ton of detail except for the parts that we were most concerned about heading into our trip:

Time on Trail:
We were on trail at 2:20am and finished around 5pm. I'd say the snow and water added around 90 minutes compared to a 'normal year.' You spend quite a bit more time taking gear on and off and some of the snow trekking can be a little slower at first if you are not used to it.

Water Crossings:
As others have said, there is quite a bit of water on the 1st part of the hike.
We took the Old Whitney Trail to start and finish, which I would highly recommend to save the 1st large water crossing (which we looked at later in the day as we were finishing and it was booming)- No sense getting your feet wet that early in the morning.
We all took extra shoe's/sandals for the water crossing to save our boots from getting soaked.
On Monday at least, all of the logs were intact, it looks like they had very recently replaced one which had fresh tool marks on the top.
A lot of water around Outpost camp, we made the mistake of thinking that we were done with it and switched back to our boots, just to find a final creek crossing before the climb up to Mirror lake area; which was frustrating to have to change back to our cold shoes/sandals again to cross (especially as big mosquitos were feasting on us). So keep water shoes on until you are sure you are climbing up towards Mirror lake area.
We then hung wet shoes on a tree to dry out during the day to pickup on way back. However, somebody stole one pair of shoes, so you might want to keep them hidden; we were very surprised by this... very bad Mt Karma for however did that!
There are some other swampy areas higher up, but you can scout around a little bit to keep boots dry.
Especially if you skip the 1st water crossing by taking the old trail, none of them seemed sketchy to cross, just very cold before 4am...
On the way back down, most of use just walked through water with boots; the cold water felt good on swollen feet and you aren't too far from the bottom at that point.

Snow:
Obviously a lot of snow still on the trail and even with the melt, I'd guess the switchbacks will be covered through mid-July at least.
Most of us had micro spikes and ice axes. One just had poles and it was possible, but I'd say an axe is highly recommended. And while the spikes were probably more convenient in parts, I think we would have been more comfortable with crampons for the chute, but it is possible with spikes.
As others have said, I'd recommend to hit the chute early because it gets slushy pretty quick. We hit it a little before 7 and the conditions were fine to start but by the time we were towards the top (around 90 mins later) it was quite slushy and more difficult to get traction (especially in spikes).
I won't offer much technical advice since I'm not qualified but a few things stood out to me. 1- Do what you can to follow good kicked in steps even if you have to traverse a little bit to get to them. It can save quite a bit of energy. 2- Concentrate as you are going up to make sure you have 3 solid points and have a plan if/when you start to slip. 3- Keep a steady pace and make sure you remember to drink lots of fluids on the way up. Since I was fairly uncomfortable on the climb, I didn't drink near enough for the amount of exertion so ended up pretty dehydrated near the summit which isn't a good situation to be in. The climb up will burn up your legs pretty good and arms some too since you are using muscles a little differently than normal hiking movements. Drink water and eat food or you'll pay for it later. 4- Our glissade down in the early afternoon was pretty slushy which we were fine with us since it seemed to keep the speed down. I tried to keep it slow going down which worked fine but took quite a bit of effort. Others hit some higher speeds and ended up fine but obviously a little more risky.
Trail Crest is clear of snow outside of a patch right at the base of the final push to the summit. You can scramble up to the right of that patch. It's not a lot of fun since it's steep, a little loose, and you might be a little burnt from the chute, but at least it keeps you out of more snow.

One nice thing about all the snow is that it seems to keep the wear and tear off of your feet and knees since it knocks out quite a bit of granite walking on switchbacks and around trail camp

I guess the long and short of it for somebody with no snow experience... the chute is certainly doable but pretty intense. Keep it slow and safe, use common sense, and stay hydrated and fueled up on it. Try to enjoy the unique experience and don't forget to look around and take in the beautiful surroundings.

I hope this post is helpful. Our group appreciated all the previous posts that people have been making. It gave us a good feel for what to expect on the trail.

Good luck and safe adventures!

Re: Summit 6/26- day trip
jcarney #50406 06/28/17 11:16 AM
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Thank you for your report, it's really helpful. I'm wondering is there that much bugs there even in the early morning? Do you suggest to bring bug spray for day hike this Saturday?

Re: Summit 6/26- day trip
Yueming #50408 06/28/17 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted By: Yueming
I'm wondering is there that much bugs there even in the early morning? Do you suggest to bring bug spray for day hike this Saturday?


Yes. You might be in that area during daylight hours on your return. You can get tiny containers of bug juice at REI.

Re: Summit 6/26- day trip
Yueming #50413 06/28/17 01:25 PM
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Yes- when we were in the swampy areas that afternoon there was a pretty stiff breeze, so think that kept them away; but if it was still, I imagine there would have been a lot of mosquitos around.

Re: Summit 6/26- day trip
jcarney #50424 06/28/17 09:43 PM
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I was in the group with jcarney and also appreciate the posts that help provide info to others.

Refer to this thread about the 'Old Trail' so you can avoid the 2 creek crossing in the beginning on the 'Main Trail'. Download those photos to your phone and/or scout it out ahead of time. Here's what the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek looked like when we came down...would not have wanted to crossed that at 2am.

I like maps, so here are a few images:

Old Trail


Listen to jcarney,
Quote:
keep water shoes on until you are sure you are climbing up towards Mirror lake area.
and yes, the mosquitos are big and biting in the early morning. Also, who steals stashed shoes??? not cool.

below Trail Camp


I really enjoyed the alternate route below Trail Camp using microspikes during ascent. It saves time/your knees too on the descent.

View up to Trail Camp


It was my first time using an ice axe, once I got the feel and into a rhythm -
it moved along...ascending 'The chute' was hard. The alternate route for us along this stretch looked somewhat like this next image.

above Trail Camp, ascent/glissade


up The chute


'The backside' was pretty normal for me this time except the very end. I had not taken this route before, but I think there are a few ways up. I captured most of our route with my phone on the way down, seen below.

alternate path near summit


This was my 4th and favorite summit, probably because of the challenge of the chute and (my first time) glissading. Talk to someone about glissading, researching YouTube was not sufficient for me. Dang, that was nice to avoid the 99-switchback abuse on the knees going down!

Re: Summit 6/26- day trip
oeon #50427 06/29/17 12:17 AM
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oeon, you are a gps and map wizard! Thank you for posting the pictures with the tracks!

Re: Summit 6/26- day trip
oeon #50432 06/29/17 04:51 AM
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Hi oeon, Thank you for your picture and maps, I have four questions.
1. I'm wondering what time you glissade down from chute, I heard it probably will be icy in the afternoon, do you think 2:00-3:00 pm is still okay to glissade down from chute this Saturday?
2. Our group have crampons and ice axes, but I'm wondering where is the snow line right now? Do we only need to put crampon on when start to hike up the chute?
3. You also suggest to have water shoe on until mirror lake, so do that mean there are a lot of water on trail for the first 4 mile trail till mirror lake?
4. You post your alternate trail from trail side meadow to trail camp, which is a little off the main trail. I'm wondering is this a common practice at this time or this alternate trail is easy to be tracked?

I'm sorry to ask so many questions. I really appreciate for your help. Thanks

Last edited by Yueming; 06/29/17 05:08 AM.
Re: Summit 6/26- day trip
Yueming #50435 06/29/17 07:33 AM
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Yueming-

1. we left at 220am, as mentioned above, and I would have left earlier if I were to do it again. It might be okay, but I don't want to speculate. My GPS track says I glissaded the chute a little before 2pm.

2. I don't know your skill level or what the conditions will be, but I was glad to have my microspikes on before/below Trail Camp.

3. Wet shoes until here. We mistakenly put on boots at Outpost Camp.


4. This was my first time taking this route, so I'm not sure (but am guessing) it is common. It was very obvious.

Re: Summit 6/26- day trip
oeon #50436 06/29/17 07:47 AM
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Thank you for your detailed answer, I really appreciate it!


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