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#50481 - 06/30/17 11:02 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
NaniTree Offline


Registered: 06/30/17
Posts: 4
Loc: California
My group of 4 has a Sunday day permit and are beginning our ascent at either 1 or 2am from Whitney Portal. Any more recent trail updates appreciated! We'll make sure to add our trail condition observations when we get back.

We have our gear for the snow: ice axes, climbing helmets, and have had a bit of trouble securing crampons. Hoping to pick up rentals tonight or at Lone Pines. If that doesn't work are microspikes okay? Any thoughts on that?

Also any news on the river crossings and whether it's possible to get through without getting wet shoes?

Final question: Anyone have a cal topo map with a route they suggest? (Here is an example of what I mean: http://caltopo.com/m/G37C [ps. this person really seems to value their burgers and beer)

Thank you - and for those who are also hiking up on Sunday, see you on the trail!!

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#50483 - 06/30/17 12:14 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: NaniTree]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7241
Loc: Fresno, CA
NaniTree:
Some people make it up and back with microspikes, but most say they're not a good idea.

Plan on wading in a few places.

Your CalTopo map is right on the nose for the Main Trail. You will vary from that if you choose to take more direct routes where the snow covers the trail too much -- especially the switchbacks.

Please take pictures and report back:
Any water crossings where you need to wade
Outpost Camp -- water on the trail
First significant snow
Zoom in on the cables section on the switchbacks, if you can find them.

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#50488 - 06/30/17 01:50 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Nico1234 Offline


Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 11
Loc: California
Hello, guys
I went up to the summit on Tuesday, June 28, going up the Chute like most other people. The interesting part is that on the summit I met two young guys who said they had come via the switchbacks. They didn't have any crampons or microspikes, only hiking boots. However, they also said they found snow in a few places and had to scramble up the rocks to avoid them. Those guys were young, athletic and experienced hikers.

Maybe someone who climbed the switchbacks could give first hand information, I haven't seen the switchbacks myself. The snow at Trail Camp and on the Chute is melting fast, so any trip report might become obsolete after a few days.

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#50493 - 06/30/17 05:20 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
NaniTree Offline


Registered: 06/30/17
Posts: 4
Loc: California
Thanks for the response Steve. We will do what we can to take pictures and report back on those items!

Also - The ranger had expressed concern about wet avalanches among other dangers. Anyone know more about this and the risk level/what to look out for?

Thanks

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#50494 - 06/30/17 05:21 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Nico1234]
NaniTree Offline


Registered: 06/30/17
Posts: 4
Loc: California
Interesting to hear! The person at the ranger station who I talked with over the phone expressed that the switchbacks were very dangerous to take until the snow is entirely gone.

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#50498 - 06/30/17 10:55 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: NaniTree]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7241
Loc: Fresno, CA
Just a note... some rangers in the Visitor Center have never hiked the trail, especially in these conditions. They express warnings and caution so you can't come back if you get hurt, and blame them. There are risks to outdoor adventures, and if you go, you need to be fully aware of that.

Not seen any reports of avalanches on the Main Trail this year. In past years, they have always followed very recent heavy storms. There was an avalanche in the Mountaineers Route about a month ago where someone got hurt.

Also, early in the season when the switchbacks become the most-used route, the cables are pretty tricky. The snow melts away below the cables first, with the load remaining over the trail, so people hang onto the cables and make their way along the OUTSIDE. That is definitely dangerous, if you can't hang on.

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#50505 - 07/01/17 12:02 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Mule Rider Offline


Registered: 07/01/17
Posts: 1
Loc: MN
I am planning a Back County approach to Mt Whitney via Horse Shoe, Golden Trout Wilderness, Kern River Valley and then up to Guitar Lake and the Peak. I'll hit the trail on July 15th and summit around the 23rd or 24th depending on my side trips. I should have a pretty good assessment of the trail from Guitar to Peak and down to the Portal that the August hikers should be able to use. That is unless I cant handle returning to the city and I turn back and exit out Rock Creek and Cotton Wood...!

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#50550 - 07/03/17 10:20 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7241
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here's a current YouTube video. It is long, but shows the water crossings, etc:
Published on Jul 2, 2017 by jose luis de la rosa
https://youtu.be/Agn-wzFd_34


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#50551 - 07/03/17 10:30 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Mule Rider]
Neil B Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 4
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
I have an overnight permit for 7/12-7/13. Originally had a party of four and now down to two. Wanted to see if anyone will be on the trail these days. Planning to camp at Trail Camp and, depending on conditions, attempt the climb up the chute early the following AM. I was hoping the switchbacks would be accessible by now but looks like that won't be the case by next week. I've never hiked Whitney, have always wanted to but never made the time. Been looking forward to this for a long time. I have experience hiking and backpacking at elevation/snow but am not a mountaineer. I plan to bring my crampons and ice axe for the chute.

I was at the portal yesterday (stopped by on my way home from camping near Rock Creek and hiking to Ruby lake...amazing) and heard that the trail has not been very crowded on the weekdays, I'd like to join up with others if anyone will be up during those days. I'll be camping at the portal on 7/11. Please reply and I can forward contact info.
Thanks and happy trails

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#50554 - 07/03/17 02:01 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
matchoow Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 1
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
This is my attempt to summarize my trip from 6/29-7/1.

Group: 3 of us. All first timers and have been using mountains like Baldy as training preparation. We didn't have any snow experience.

Equipment: We brought trekking poles and the Hillsound Trail Crampons which are flexible spikes that are in between microspikes and Crampons.

Weather: Great weather as it was sunny, moderate temperatures, and very little wind.

Route: Main trail and we camped at Trail Camp for two nights. We went up and down the Chute and also came down the Old Trail on our descent, but the first river crossing up wasn't bad.

Description: We had read multiple reports from this forum of varying opinions on the snow impacts before our trip. Many were saying that Crampons and ice axes were musts and having the technical skills and know how to glissade was mandatory. However, after completing this, we were able to safely scale the Chute with our poles and semi-crampons and able to glissade as first timers with a little practice at the top of the chute.

The river crossings weren't terrible. The first one you cross is probably the largest one with a decent flow of water. At the time we crossed (6/29) it was probably about knee deep in the deepest areas but you could hit rocks that allowed you to step and not have any water bleed into your boots. The only other one I would mention would be the small stream right before you hit Outpost camp. We were forced to take off our shoes and just wade in the freezing waters barefoot. If you choose to use your shoes, just note that it'll seep in as the water gets about knee deep in the middle.

Our first true snow was after you summit the rocks leading out of Outpost Camp and hit the middle boulders heading to Trail Camp. Strap on as you'll likely need your spikes in this area.

Trail Camp was relatively snow free in the camping areas with snow only on the sides and middle. We summited the next day (6/30) up the Chute which took us 3-4 hours. Our group was slower than the average. I didn't find the difficulty to be terrible but you just want to take your time and really dig your poles or axe into the snow. I liked the technique of kicking into the snow with my toes first vs trying to land flat footed.

Once you get to the top of the Chute, the next 2 miles to the summit are snow free and offer gorgeous views of Sequoia. Keep note that when you're close to the Summit, you'll have a tough climb with switchbacks and mini bouldering. Keep an eye out for the Cairns as those will lead the way the last .2-.3 miles.

On our descent, we didn't want to walk down the chute and wanted to experience glissading. We had never done anything like it, however, were told to lean a little on your side and use the handle of our trekking poles to dig into the snow and brake. Putting your weight onto this allowed us to easily slow down. If we felt unsafe at any moment, self arresting by putting more weight onto the handle and using our feet spread out helped us stop. We were able to go down the Chute in a couple mins.

The next day leaving Trail Camp to Outpost can get a little tricky as the path we followed in the snow led us to the right of the boulders where there's a steady stream of water under thin snow pack. Not sure how to exactly pinpoint, but once you get closer to the boulders, but staying a little left center allows you to get onto the rocks easily. We did see some Cairns that indicated where we should go.

After Outpost, it's a pretty easy hike down and definitely recommend stopping at lone pine lake to visit.

Overall: We had a wonderful experience. It was definitely a struggle at times with our pack weight, our fatigue at high altitudes, and just the exhaustion from lack of sleep that naturally comes with a trip of this sorts. We didn't really understand the strong concerns for people who aren't familiar with Glissading or hiking in snow. Think you just can practice a bit at the lower levels and be okay after a few mins.


Edited by matchoow (07/03/17 07:11 PM)

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#50556 - 07/03/17 02:09 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Yueming Offline


Registered: 06/19/17
Posts: 20
Loc: Utah
Hi All

Our group finally successfully make the top in July 1st, I learned a lot from here, so I want to share my experience here. (My English is not very good, sorry for the bad writing.)

We have four people in our group, and we are intermediate hiker, we arrived to lone pine at 12:00 pm, then picked up the permit and go to the trailhead to check out the conditions there. We hike a little bit from old trail to the junction of the main trail and meet three group heading down, none of them make the top, but they give us some good suggestions, like don't bring too much clothes but bring additional watershoe (basically the same suggestions I learned from this forum)

1. We start and meet Jack at 1 am from old trail, the old trail is very easy to follow as long as you find the trailhead from that big rock, I think everyone should take the old trail to avoid the first water crossing, but sadly seems still not too many people know about it.

2. We hiked a little fast at the beginning, one of our member feel leg cramps after 1 hour before we reach Lone Pine Lake, so we slow down a little bit, so my suggestion is to make your backpack as light as possible and slow down but keep going.

3. The log crossing is fixed, so no water crossing necessary there, but there is deep water between Lone Pine Lake and Outpost Camp where you have to cross, so we change to watershoe, then we take off the watershoe and hide it behind a rock when we head to the mirror lake.

4. There is still a lot of snow on the trail after Mirror Lake, we put on crampons there, and reached Trail Camp at 5:30 am, just about sunrise. We each ate some food and pumped water at Trail Camp, we make sure everyone have 3 L water when we start from Trail Camp.

5. We start to use ice axe to hike up the chute at about 6:30 am, the snow is still solid at that time, but it's already a little slushy when we reach the top at 9:20 am, there is a big rock area on the chute, some people take off crampon and walked from that rock to avoid part of the snow, I think it's a good idea if you are not very good at climbed on snow. And I meet one guy make the chute with ice axe and microspiker, but according to him, microspiker is not as useful as crampon at chute.

6. We rest for a bit and leave some gear at Trail Crest to make the backpack a little bit lighter, then head to summit, the last 2.8 miles traverse to summit is exhausting and endless, we don't feel sick but can only hike up very slowly at that altitude. Then we finally make the top at 11:30 am. I see some people leave wag bag on trail and summit, that's horrible.

7. We get back on trail crest at 2:00 pm, and glissade from chute, the "tubeline" from glissade is pretty cool, the snow is quite slushy at that time, we can able to control our speed with feet and ice axe. Actually, other three people in our group don't have much experience on snow, but they still successfully glissade down from the tubeline. Most of people with ice axe choose to glissade down, but Jack is able to hike down because he don't have a ice axe, so hiking down is also doable as long as you take your time and be careful, especially you can use the rock area to help you avoid half of the snow in chute.

8. Then we get back to the car at about 7:30 pm. A very very long day, but worthwhile. The last suggestion I have is that try not break too long each time, we mistakenly break for about 1 hours at least 3 times, just slow down and keep going is better I think.

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#50559 - 07/03/17 07:55 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Yueming]
Love_Himalayas Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 4
Loc: CA, USA
Very helpful!! Thanks a lot. Can you comment on the temperature along the trail - starting with what it was when you started the hike, to what it was at sunrise, then around noon? Trying to figure out what sort of layers will be needed. Thanks a lot.

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#50566 - 07/04/17 09:11 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Love_Himalayas]
Debster Offline


Registered: 07/02/17
Posts: 4
Loc: Ca, Seal Beach
Timberlinetrails.com tells current weather conditions.

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#50567 - 07/04/17 09:28 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Love_Himalayas]
Yueming Offline


Registered: 06/19/17
Posts: 20
Loc: Utah
It's actually pretty warm all day, we start with a long T-shirt and a windproof jacket and bring two more T-shirt in my backpack, then I take off the jacket just hike with my long T-shirt, it get a little chill near mirror lake, then I put back my jacket, then just hike with my jacket for the rest trail, I don't use the extra T-shirt at all, so I think you should check out the weather at summit, if it's not super windy or cloudy, I think T-shirt and one more windproof jacket should be fine.

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#50568 - 07/04/17 11:52 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Yueming]
Bobby49 Offline


Registered: 07/04/17
Posts: 41
Loc: California
Anecdotal information from one person or two is not very valid.

I've been on the summit once per year for forty years, so I have seen a broad spectrum of weather during June and July.

Most of the times I can get by with a couple of thin layers with a good wind shell over that. However, when the wind blows, it can get very cold. I've often had to add a thick sweater and a puffy down jacket, plus a warm hat and gloves. I've been rained on, snowed on, and sleeted on. On top of that, you can get a serious sunburn up there.

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#50569 - 07/04/17 12:38 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Bobby49]
CEric G Offline


Registered: 07/04/16
Posts: 4
Loc: Henderson, Nevada
Originally Posted By: Bobby49
Anecdotal information from one person or two is not very valid.

I've been on the summit once per year for forty years, so I have seen a broad spectrum of weather during June and July.

Most of the times I can get by with a couple of thin layers with a good wind shell over that. However, when the wind blows, it can get very cold. I've often had to add a thick sweater and a puffy down jacket, plus a warm hat and gloves. I've been rained on, snowed on, and sleeted on. On top of that, you can get a serious sunburn up there.


Good advice. Even on day hikes I carry cold weather gear. It's a small insurance premium to pay but once or twice every few years, worth it.


Edited by CEric G (07/04/17 12:38 PM)

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#50570 - 07/04/17 12:56 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: CEric G]
Mountain Goat Offline


Registered: 07/04/17
Posts: 7
Loc: Castaic, California
First, thank you all for taking your time to share Whitney’s experiences and offer suggestions! Particularly, I want to thank Matchoow and Yueming for the recent updates. We are going to climb Whitney on July, 6 so any information is greatly appreciated.

I know majority of hikers climb the chute, avoiding the snowy switchbacks, but I came across the following details from the Whitney Portal Store Message Board:

Posted by jshuttle5 on June 30, 2017

“…if climbing the very* steep and challenging chute is not what you want to do, then you will be out of climbing options and out of luck.
However, if you are able to identify the general route of the switchbacks, then you will be able to pull off something cool. The beginning of the switchbacks is covered in snow. The only track in the snow goes straight to the switchbacks, turning slightly to the right.
However, if you merely go straight to the rock field in front of you, you will find that the upper portion of the switchbacks (which, like all of the prior route) are free of snow. The switchbacks are easy going, and aside from a difficult stretch near the cables and a few snow patches that may require some careful navigation, the switchbacks are alive and well, hiding in plain sight”.

Posted by Jim F on July 1, 2017

” Yesterday I saw several people on the switch backs at one time or another. As I enjoyed a snack at Trail Crest, several hikers descended from Discovery Pinnacle. I asked if they had just come up from the Crabtree Lakes drainage. No, they said they had just come up the switch backs. They were on the switch backs for much of their ascent, but did some scrambling when they lost the trail or snow/ice was a problem”.

If someone attempted the switchbacks recently, please, post what you think! We are going to try the switchbacks and see what happens!
Thanks again for sharing your experiences.


Edited by Mountain Goat (07/04/17 01:03 PM)

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#50571 - 07/04/17 02:09 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Mountain Goat]
Bobby49 Offline


Registered: 07/04/17
Posts: 41
Loc: California
Part of the problem is that a first timer up there in mostly solid snow isn't going to have a clue as to where the normal switchback trail is above the cable section. You can look at photos all you want, but you better have excellent navigational aids. If you have a detailed GPS track stored in a GPS receiver, and if you know that you have plenty of extra battery power for it, then you might be able to follow it. On the other hand, climbing up a loose scree slope isn't for everybody, either.

One year, back about year 2 or 3 for me, we ran into solid snow at the cable section, so we just climbed straight up until we got to the Discovery Pinnacle. Then we had to ridge-walk over and down to Trail Crest.

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#50572 - 07/04/17 02:58 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Bobby49]
Mountain Goat Offline


Registered: 07/04/17
Posts: 7
Loc: Castaic, California
Bobby49,
Absolutely: " but you better have excellent navigational aids".
Also, I count on my husband's good navigation skills and on our general ability to re-strategize. Gathering any helpful information helps too! So, thank you for your response, Bobby!

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#50574 - 07/04/17 03:19 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Mountain Goat]
Bobby49 Offline


Registered: 07/04/17
Posts: 41
Loc: California
I guess part of the problem is that lots of Whitney hikers get a little hypoxic up there. When your brain gets that way, one of the first things to be lost is good judgment. So, if you can keep comparing notes with the rest of your teammates, it tends to contribute to a successful climb, and it also diminishes the business for the local county coroner.

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