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#50689 - 07/08/17 01:33 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Mountain Goat Offline


Registered: 07/04/17
Posts: 7
Loc: Castaic, California
Hello everyone,
My husband and I successfully made it to the top on July 6 in one-day hike.

I will focus on the conditions of the trail. From the portal to the Trailside Meadows the route is fine. No worries about that part-just enjoy the beauty!

There would be snow on the trail up to Trail Camp. Crampons or micro spikes are necessary there since the snow is slushy and abundant. We planned to use the switchbacks vs. the chute. However, when we approached the chute, the access to the switchbacks was not visible. We decided to do the chute. While climbing it, we saw the cables and climbed up through the snow to the cables to use the switchbacks. The slope to the cables is steep but short, so it is manageable. We got on the switchbacks (you need to scramble up a rock to get to the switchbacks, but it is ok). We walked for 20 min on a dry switchback trail. Then we lost the trail because of a big patch of snow, so we scrambled up some rocks trying to find the trail again. From the rocks where we were standing (still could not see the trail on switchbacks), the only way to find the switchbacks was to walk through a steep field of snow. Since we had micro spikes and hiking poles, and it was dangerous to cross a steep field of slushy snow for us. So, we scrambled up on more rocks, and then walked through the snow to the steepest part of the chute and finished the climb by the chute to the Trail Crest.

We used the chute to descend. Honesty. I want to advice you all to use crampons and an ice ax for ascend and descend on the chute because the snow is slushy and the slope is very steep, and micro spikes of are no good in those conditions. For example, I was wearing micro spikes, and on the way down, the chute the slushy snow gave way and I slid a great distance, but managed to stop the slide with lots of effort. There are rocks on the chute, and it could be a dangerous slide. Crampons and an axe would have helped. If you are willing to glissade, review the techniques and, please, do not wear crampons and have an ice ax.

PS. I actually cried upon reaching the summit - my reaction to the majestic beauty of the mountains and to the sense of accomplishment.
My husband and I did not feel effects of high altitude. It depends on a person, so we were just lucky.

Happy trails, everyone!



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#50693 - 07/08/17 02:40 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Love_Himalayas]
mbb Offline


Registered: 07/08/17
Posts: 2
Loc: Utah
Do you need to purify the water and if you do how do you purify it? We are hiking 7/25

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#50695 - 07/08/17 03:11 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: mbb]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: mbb
Do you need to purify the water and if you do how do you purify it? We are hiking 7/25

I never treat or filter. I've dipped from all the streams. Only at Trail Camp, I go to the inlet to the pond for my water.

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#50714 - 07/09/17 04:19 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
jstew2691 Offline


Registered: 07/07/17
Posts: 5
Loc: Carlsbad
I have a question in regards to parking at the portal. Leaving Carlsbad late Thursday afternoon to start a 1am Friday (1 day) ascent. Will arrive at the portal around 11pm. Will finding a parking spot be a challenge or are there open spots? If I don't find a spot, what are my options?

Thanks y'all for any wise advice!

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#50716 - 07/09/17 08:39 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: jstew2691]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: jstew2691
I have a question in regards to parking at the portal. Leaving Carlsbad late Thursday afternoon to start a 1am Friday (1 day) ascent. Will arrive at the portal around 11pm. Will finding a parking spot be a challenge or are there open spots? If I don't find a spot, what are my options?

I hope you have arranged to pick up your permit in the night-pickup box in Lone Pine.

There should be spaces -- maybe right at the trail head, since some people will be coming off the trail late and opening spots. If that's not true, there is the overflow lot just below the trail head. If all are full, (I believe) you can park along the road wherever there is space.

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#50730 - 07/10/17 06:28 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Zamora Offline


Registered: 07/10/17
Posts: 1
Loc: UT
My wife and I made it to Trail Crest yesterday (July 9). We took the switchbacks up and down, at least everywhere they are not covered with snow. Would have made it to the Summit, but my legs were cramping my up and I had a big headache (should have prepared better with better fitness and acclimatization). My wife could have easily continued to the summit, but chose to stay with me.

The trail through the cables is passable, but some people will not feel comfortable, and we met one man who turned around because he felt it wasn't safe. My wife and I and 2 others made it without too much trouble, but it is something that I feel should be decided individually... in person. There are also a couple of other snowfields that cover the trail, but in all cases these can be bypassed by scrambling around them, if you don't want to cross them. My wife and I crossed them, but near Trail Crest we bypassed the snow and went straight up to the ridge.

Other things to note... water crossings are a bit of a time sink... we removed our shoes 4 times each way. There is still a lot of snow, and even though we found the switchbacks, it was after hiking on snow for probably about one mile (felt like more). It was pretty warm on the trail and I didn't use the pants and jacket that I brought, but my wife used hers and was glad to have them. We used microspikes and trekking poles and those seemed suitable for our route choices. Oh, and there are a few spots where bugs are an issue, so I recommend bringing repellent. My wife got bit about 10 times - through her shirt and her pants !!

I took pictures and I can post them later today when I get home if people are interested.

We had an amazing day and I am so glad that we came! The scenery along the trail is just stunning, and we saw deer, marmots, pikas, and even a sage hen and her chicks.

Be safe up there. I like what it says at the Portal, something to the effect of... It's more important to return home safely than to make it to the summit.

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#50738 - 07/10/17 10:22 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Zamora]
Ruslvmusl Offline


Registered: 07/10/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Lincoln, CA
Originally Posted By: Zamora
...
I took pictures and I can post them later today when I get home if people are interested.


YES, please post pictures! Our success will start 7/22 and end 7/23! smile

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#50739 - 07/10/17 10:24 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Ruslvmusl Offline


Registered: 07/10/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Lincoln, CA
not optimistic to sleep at Whitney Portal night before our climb, any other HIGH elevation (=>8kFT) camp sites near by that dont require a permit?

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#50740 - 07/10/17 10:44 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Ruslvmusl]
JMH Offline


Registered: 06/09/16
Posts: 18
Loc: Aurora, Illinois
Rus-

Google search horseshoe meadows recreation area which is around 10,000 ft. and can be reached by turning off the same road that heads from lone pine to Whitney.

A second choice at 11,600 feet is the "locked gate" where the white mountain trail starts. The disadvantage here is that it is up by Bishop and it is a longish drive on an older ruff dirt road.

Those are the 2 best that i have found. I'm interested to see if anyone has any better ones.





.

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#50745 - 07/10/17 12:05 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
HE_i Offline


Registered: 06/30/17
Posts: 19
Loc: CA
Hello all. I've been quietly watching this thread like a hawk and reading it like my life depends on it. Sorry if I haven't post anything.

this will be our groups second attempt (first one last Oct and the strong wind stopped us reaching the Mirror Lake). Our schedule is like this:
7/14/17: Arrive at Whitney Portal Parking Lot to sleep after checking Alabama Hills.

7/15/17: From Whitney Portal to Trail Camp (will spend most of our time at that elevation to get acclimated and check out the rest of the area)

7/16/17: Actual Summit day (leaving the camp around 4 am) and will head back down to our car after.

We are prepared with crampons, ice ax and helmet and other backpacking gear (thanks to all your tip, it help us minimize the weight and be prepared mentally)

now my major concern is, I'm afraid the history will repeat itself again...the weather this Sat and actual summit day turns sour, rain showers and risk thunder storm :-(

Our group is now consist of two people. What should I do?

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#50747 - 07/10/17 12:39 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Ruslvmusl]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Ruslvmusl
not optimistic to sleep at Whitney Portal night before our climb, any other HIGH elevation (=>8kFT) camp sites near by that dont require a permit?

Rus: see this:

Backpacker and Walk-in camp sites and locations at Whitney Portal: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal

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#50748 - 07/10/17 12:44 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: HE_i]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: HE_i
...
now my major concern is, I'm afraid the history will repeat itself again...the weather this Sat and actual summit day turns sour, rain showers and risk thunder storm :-(

Our group is now consist of two people. What should I do?

Weather for Sunday 7/16 is currently: "A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms."

In the summer "monsoon" style weather, the T-storms usually come in the afternoon. If you get to the summit early, as it appears you are planning, you can be back to your camp almost by noon. If the chance stays at 20%, just carry rain gear, and get off the crest before they hit.

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#50749 - 07/10/17 01:03 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
HE_i Offline


Registered: 06/30/17
Posts: 19
Loc: CA
THANK YOU VERY MUCH! That is really helpful...I really, really appreciated your response.

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#50757 - 07/10/17 03:01 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
leondelmonte Offline


Registered: 07/10/17
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
a friend and I climbed on sat july 8th
for gear needed, I would recomend
1. crampons or spikes (microspikes), the snow sections are very long and there are many, you will use them.
2. axe
3. water shoes, there are many, and I mean many water crossings that will go above your ankles, even up to your knees
4. a good flashlight to see farther just in case it takes longer to descend
5. water proof pants for glassing down the chutes or any other steep part with snow.

so we started at 4am, temperatures were nice, didnt really need a jacket until we got to the top of the chutes, it got a little windy there for a bit, which made me pull out my windbreaker.
there is a stream in the first few miles which will be knee high, we had read about it, so we had water shoes, there were plenty more sections where the water shoes came in handy.
I dont know all the sections names but all I can say is that at about mile 4 or 5, we were walking mostly on snow up to the chutes or the switchbacks sections. walking on the snow so long with crampons made our shoes wet, and socks too. A few pairs of socks are recommended to change from wet to dry.
this was our first time up whitney, so we were pretty much looking up and following the herd.
when we came up to either climbing the chute or doing the switchbacks, we heard the chute was the way to go, and so we went.
for me it was a 2hr battle up the chute, my bud took 2.5 hrs up it.
it was not easy, but we made it. the crampons came in very helpful here.
we saw many people slidding down the hill in this sections.
to make it short, we made it up, and on the way down we got a bit lost, so it took us longer to get down
it got dark and we had a bit of trouble finding the trail back.
we didnt glassade down any of the snow sections because we didnt have water proof pants and didnt want to get wet so it took us a bit longer to get down. For us it was a very long and strenuous day, but we made it.

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#50758 - 07/10/17 03:21 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: leondelmonte]
HE_i Offline


Registered: 06/30/17
Posts: 19
Loc: CA
Thanks leondelmonte for the detailed info. Me and my friend too will be our first time this weekend. We prepared for it mentally and physically by doing multiple hikes in different condition at Sierras and Yosemite.

Your tips helps a lot!

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#50762 - 07/10/17 04:39 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: HE_i]
leondelmonte Offline


Registered: 07/10/17
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
I forgot to mention, I didnt pay attention, and went to the portal expecting to see a ranger station to pick up my permits, and WRONG!!

the place where you pick up the permits is in LONE PINE, on the 395, at the visitor's center.
I had to drive back to town to get them, also gave me an excuse to pick up more beer.

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#50764 - 07/10/17 04:48 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: leondelmonte]
HE_i Offline


Registered: 06/30/17
Posts: 19
Loc: CA
HA! and you thought there's a drive thru for permit :-D hahahaha. Thanks again for the tip.

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#50776 - 07/10/17 06:27 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
mbb Offline


Registered: 07/08/17
Posts: 2
Loc: Utah
How far up the trail is the water where you refill?

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#50777 - 07/10/17 06:46 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: HE_i]
IdEaMaNi Offline


Registered: 04/19/16
Posts: 21
Loc: Texas
Hi everyone!!

Here is my report from July 8th summit.

We started our climb on 7th morning from the portal at around 4.45 AM and reached the trail camp at around 1 PM. We took our time and took a few breaks at Lone pine and outpost camp. There were only two major water crossings one at the beginning of the hike within like a 1 mile from the portal and the second is at the meadows. While on our way up, we were able to cross them without getting wet as there were enough rocks popping up to step on. This was however not the case on our way down as the water levels had risen quite a bit and required wading through water but again it wasn't bad at all. Once we set up our camp and retired for the day, it started hailing and there was thunder and lightning. It was really scary but luckily it cleared by in an hour's time.

We planned to start out ascent up at 1 AM the next day but ended up starting only at around 5 (alarm malfunction! :/) and we initially decided to go up the chute as we didn't see many people go up the switch backs although a few from the previous day summit said they did. The initial climb on the chute was fairly easy in terms of the steepness. At one point we noticed the cables on the left but the path to it was pretty steep. I would say it was more like 60-70 degree incline. With crampons and ice axe we managed to climb up the slope which was probably not more than 25-35 ft. Once we reached the cables, we basically jumped over the cables to get to the switch backs. the rest of the switch backs were completely clear. We had to scramble up a few rocks at two spots in the switchbacks to get on the trail and there was one spot before the trail crest where you have walk across 20ft or so on snow that was again a steep incline. It had a lot of foot marks and so was not too hard or scary. Just use caution and put your crampons on. The snow started to get slushy right around 8-8.30 AM.

Once at the trail crest the trail was super clear and it is purely the altitude and climb. It slowed us a down a little but we finally managed to summit at around 11 AM. It took us solid 6 hours from the camp to the summit. After spending a few minutes up there, we made our way down to the trail crest. Going down the switch backs was out of question due to the initial slope we had climbed. So we decided to glissade down the chute. We had never done it before and the slope was pretty damn steep. There were a couple before us who said they have done it a few times and so we decided to follow them. We walked down the chute to the middle and clear of the rock section. (As many had mentioned, there is a big rock scramble right in the middle of the chute). Walking down the chute was a nightmare with the slushy snow. I had to dig deep with my heal and cement myself strong with every step. It was scary. Finally we got the tubeline and decided to glissade down that. That was probably the WORST idea ever. DONT USE THE TUBELINE TO GLISSADE. It is completely shaven and rocks are popping up at many locations. In fact a week from now if the weather holds like it did , most of the switch backs will probably be open. I lost control in the tube line trying to glissade and lost my axe one ( thank god to the harness I had). Finally down by around 2.30 PM , we took a long break and started back down to the portal at around 5 PM and were down by 8.30. The walk down was not hard at all.

Summary
1) Use your decision on taking the chute or switch backs based on the conditions on the day of your hike.
2) If chute is still usable, never use the TUBELINE to glissade. Find some fresh space to do so, since the snow is slushy it provides a much better control and helps arrest especially if you are novice like me.
3) There is plenty of water on the trail and so you can filter and use water all the way upto the trail camp.
4) Carry crampons and ice axe if you are hiking within the next couple weeks. We saw a lot of people who didnt summit because they weren't prepared with the gear. Worst case you carry it up and bring it back down without using it. It is good to have them.

Good luck everyone trying to summit! It is definitely worth the exhaustion and effort!! Thanks to all the earlier reports, it helped us a lot to prepare for the hike.

P.S I didn't have a camera on me but my friend did. I will post the pictures when I get them.

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#50786 - 07/10/17 10:09 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
M&M Offline


Registered: 07/10/17
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
Hi all!

I want to thank everyone who posted here--without your information, I don't think we could have made it. You have provided more and if not better information than the rangers! I want to give back by posting our experience.

We did a two day hike. Day one we started at 8am, reached Consultation Lake Camp by 3pm. We took many breaks due to the high heat (I would def go earlier to avoid the heat), the sun was blazing! We spotted a lovely deer strolling on the trail, too, and she was standing super close to us. There were several water crossings.

We had to change to trail runners for two of them--I'm 5'2" and the first big water crossing was up to my knees, due to the snow melt from the heat. The next big water crossing was to my mid calf. the mosquitoes were hungry!! Be very careful and use bug spray! I am still recovering from them, they bit me through my long sleeve shirt and long pants. on the way up, we talked to many hikers who were coming down the trail. About 70% of them turned around at the chute and about 30% made to the top. Out of the 30% who made it, most of them used the chute. There was a group of men who used the switchbacks and they seemed very happy.

Once reached camp, my fiance and I practiced self arrest and glissading at the snow patches. At night, the sky was very cloudy, but the camp site was gorgeous. We camped by the water and there was one lonely frog who sang so loudly the entire night. Sadly we couldn't see the stars due to the clouds. It rained a lot during the night and the strong wind shook our tent violently. We were worried about the next day's climb.

Woke up at 4 am to check weather again, the sky was clearing up so we decided to go. a group of 6 of us, we all had ice axes and crampons, left camp at 4:45am. Once we were on the trail, we decided to take the chute up. None of us were experienced with ice axes nor crampons. Needless to say, we were all very cautious and careful. I made sure that I kicked each step at least twice with my crampons and really jammed my ice axe in the snow before taking each step. Toward the end, it gets very very steep, do not look down! Take your time! there were 6 people next to our group that were only on their micro-spikes and hiking sticks, and they made the chute; I was amazed by them. From what I saw, the switchbacks were covered by snow but the mid and upper part were snow free. There was a group of 6 girls took the switchbacks up and down and they did just fine.

Once the chute was over, I got a hiker's high! I was going fast toward the summit. But oh boy, that was the longest 2 miles in my life! but the view was breathtaking. I wish my camera did its justice. Some of our team members started to feel the altitude so they slowed down, which was very smart of them--I saw a guy suffering from major altitude sickness at the top frown Going slowly and take your time in high altitude is key. We only spent 5 minutes at the summit because the clouds were rolling in. Soon, it started to snow, so we started to descend. We got lost at first when descending, so we spent quite some time scrambling on rocks and traversing (Thanks, Olancha peak for the training). Finally we got on the main trail and reached back at the Trail Crest.

Glissading scared the air out of me at first, because I have never done it. The girl went before us cried and was yelling due to being scared and that made me want to take the switchbacks instead. But eventually I made myself do it. There was a 6 or 7 feet drop before the chute starts so grab on your ice axe when jumping if you are short like me. Once started I went really really slowly. I really dug my ice axe in! There was two rocks on the way, make sure you stop yourself and go to their right. Although super slowly, I did glissade all the way to the bottom. I was freezing because so much snow got into my shirt and pants, and my body was shaking. There was no sun so it was very cold, as well. We hurried back to the tent and it took me a while to warm back up. Almost at 4pm, we started descending, no shoe changing this time and finally reached our car by 7:45pm.

That was definitely one rewarding hike! We have done many hikes in the sierras but none was like Mt Whitney that left me feeling so grateful. Hope this post can help a little bit.

Happy trails, everyone! laugh

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