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#51016 - 07/19/17 03:36 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Travis McGee Offline


Registered: 06/01/15
Posts: 10
Loc: Orange County, CA
I am curious to know if there is any snow on the trail between the trail crest and summit. It can be narrow and a slip in some places could be devastating. Can that section be passed without crampons or spikes?

Thank you,
Trav


Edited by Travis McGee (07/19/17 03:52 PM)

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#51021 - 07/19/17 06:48 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Travis McGee]
ricky90501 Offline


Registered: 07/18/17
Posts: 4
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Originally Posted By: Travis McGee
I am curious to know if there is any snow on the trail between the trail crest and summit. It can be narrow and a slip in some places could be devastating. Can that section be passed without crampons or spikes?

Thank you,
Trav


There is no snow or ice between trail crest and the summit, even the narrow sections and the "windows" are totally dry. No need for crampons or spikes.

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#51027 - 07/20/17 12:25 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: ricky90501]
QP3 Offline


Registered: 07/20/17
Posts: 2
Loc: Vermont
Thanks for the info Ricky!

Would you (or others) say the whole trail is doable without crampons or spikes?

Reservation is for this Saturday.

Thanks again to all!

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#51036 - 07/20/17 01:09 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: QP3]
ricky90501 Offline


Registered: 07/18/17
Posts: 4
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Originally Posted By: QP3
Thanks for the info Ricky!

Would you (or others) say the whole trail is doable without crampons or spikes?

Reservation is for this Saturday.

Thanks again to all!


It depends on how confident you are walking in hard snow. There are a couple of snow fields just above mirror lake before getting to trail camp and a couple on the switchbacks (see photos others have posted above) that you need to traverse. They have pretty solid tracks already laid down from all the hikers walking through them, so as long as you securely dig your heels in with each step, you should be fine. I should mention however that these snow fields are on a steep face so if you slip or lose you footing you could potentially slide down into the rocks below. This is where trekking poles can really help to stabilize yourself. Having crampons or spikes on would offer extra security as well.

Having said all that, my two buddies and I were able to do the entire hike from Whitney portal to the summit with only trekking poles and boots without crampons/spikes. If you have boots with good traction, you should be fine.

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#51050 - 07/20/17 08:20 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: ricky90501]
QP3 Offline


Registered: 07/20/17
Posts: 2
Loc: Vermont
This helps a ton. Thanks again!

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#51059 - 07/21/17 09:59 AM July 20th Summit [Re: Steve C]
Chad H Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 7
Loc: Santa Cruz, CA
I did a solo hike on Thursday, July 20th. I started at 4:30AM from the Portal after a mile or so hike from my campsite.

Smooth going the first 4.5 miles or so (about a mile from Mirror Lake). Then I followed the wrong trail. I saw a guy putting on crampons and about to head up a huge snow field. I didnít notice the trail continued to my right. I just saw a worn trail up the snow field. So, I threw on my micro-spikes. I wish Iíd known about the proper trail but didnít realize the mistake until I was already headed down later that day. I think the main trail would have been a bit quicker going.

I had a hard time finding the beginning of the switchbacks but once you get closer, theyíre more obvious. There is a section of the switch backs towards the bottom with some snow that make it a but of a guessing game. The cable area is clear, the one large bank of snow that required climbing over has enough space behind it to pass. There are a couple other areas that require crossing snow.

Once to the Trail Crest itís all clear. The challenge came in finding the final path to the summit when you only have .25 miles to go. Seems there are a couple different routes but they can be hard to see. I scrambled a bit until I found a trail.

I got to the top at 9:15AM. It was perfect up there. I was comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts. I spent an hour or so on top enjoying conversation with other hikers and sharing stories. I headed back down and found the snow was already getting slushy by the time I reached the crossings. It made my micro-spikes less useful.

Helpful information I gathered through my own experience and talking to others:
- Take at least 3 liters of water with you from Trail Camp. Maybe more.
- Drink frequently
- You can make it with hiking boots or trail runners (with good tread) but having some micro-spikes would be a plus
- The chute is now more effort than itís worth from what people were saying. People I spoke to outpaced their companions who took the chute
- I tried counting the switchbacks. It took my mind off the effort and before I knew it, I was at Trail Crest
- Keep an eye out for stacked rocks. These are stacked by hikes to mark the trail. Itís very helpful when disoriented even if some people don't like them.
- Give yourself plenty of time. The last two miles to the summit takes a while. Take it slow and easy. Itís worth it!

Have fun out there!

Cheers,
Chad


Edited by Chad H (07/21/17 10:01 AM)

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#51062 - 07/21/17 12:07 PM Re: July 20th Summit [Re: Chad H]
jille Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 4
Loc: California
Chad H - Or anyone else reading these posts who might be able to answer....

A couple of questions:
1) Is the main trail now visible and usable below Mirror Lake where many hikers are still traveling the snow field?

2) Did you use the old Mt. Whitney trail from the portal or the 'newer' trail. And if you used the newer trail, was the first water crossing still a rushing river foot soaker?

I know our first 5-6 hours will be in the dark. I want to make the best choices during these early morning hours. Our permit is on Aug. 2nd - Any feedback will be much appreciated!

Jill

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#51063 - 07/21/17 12:16 PM Re: July 20th Summit [Re: jille]
Chad H Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 7
Loc: Santa Cruz, CA
Hi Jill,

1) Yes, the trail is visible and useable I just missed it because so many before me had been using the snow field
2) I used the newer trail and it depends on your shoes whether you get wet. I wore running shoes so I got wet. The old trail is open. I went up that for fun the day prior. It comes out about 25 yards after the water crossing.
The beginning of the Meadows has some water. It's shin high.

Have fun!
Chad

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#51084 - 07/22/17 04:12 AM Re: July 20th Summit [Re: Chad H]
Chetan Offline


Registered: 06/03/17
Posts: 11
Loc: CA
We'll be heading to Lone Pine on July 27 and our permits are for July 29. From the recent posts, it sounds like the switchbacks are usable, which is great!

Are there any smoke-related issues (visibility/breathing) currently due to the Detwiler fire? Recent webcam pictures look rather hazy/yellow.

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#51114 - 07/23/17 08:40 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
RockGardener Offline


Registered: 07/22/17
Posts: 2
Loc: Blacksburg, VA
Date of Hike 7/20/17
Start Time 02:04 am
Summit time 10:05 am
Time on Summit ~1 hour
Completion Time (return to portal) 4:16pm
Size of group 3
Previous experience 0

We really had no idea what to expect from the Mt Whitney trail. We were making a trip to NV/CA for the TRT endurance runs with zero elevation training or experience and decided that since we were there we should check out Mt Whitney while relatively close.

About a week prior to our trip we discovered this forum and decided we may want to do a little more research into what we should expect from the trail conditions. We already had trekking poles packed for other activities and purchased basic inexpensive 'micro spikes' ( Yak Trax XTR) and hoped they wouldn't be needed by the time we arrived.

When we started up the trail in the dark we all quickly felt the effects of the elevation coming from our home elevation of ~2000 feet. We reduced our pace and kept it comfortable through the duration of our hike. We encountered our first snow crossing, requiring us to step off of a ledge where the trail 'disappeared', across about a 2' gap between the surface of the ~ 60 yard wide snow field and the trail tread. None of us used our micro spikes for this crossing and none of us had any issues, however this crossing was exciting enough for us that two of us decided that we would wear our spikes for any future crossings.

[img:center]https://photos.app.goo.gl/gpESvkttl12gxWLq1[/img]



For the most part the trail was easy to follow as long as we stopped for a moment anywhere that seemed less than clear. Around trail camp we had to take a few extra moments to find the proper trail, but ultimately it was not difficult to continue up through this section.
[img]https://photos.app.goo.gl/6KOCcxWmuPZ3nwCx1[/img]


On the way up, just prior to Outpost Camp we made the mistake of crossing the marsh when we found the trail submerged by 6-8" of water. With a little care one of the three of us was able to make the entire trip with dry feet, but most likely you will get wet feet at one of the early crossings.

The 'Ice Bridge' on the cables was melted enough that we could easily walk around it on either side.

The remainder of the trip was very straight forward until reaching the final set of switchbacks to the summit. Here the trail appeared to end at a snow field with the hut just out of sight up the hill. Two of us made a hard right at the snow field and simply walked up the boulder field to the summit. After climbing a short distance I was able to find a very well buffed out trail that was also marked by cairns at every switchback that I believe to be the proper trail, either way this section was easy to navigate for all of us, as the hut quickly came into view, and all three of us arrived at the summit, happy with our routes.

On our return trip, which took just over half the time of the ascent, we noticed that the snow had melted very quickly throughout the day. This did not cause us any issues and in many places where the trail had been covered in the morning there was now bare ground exposed.

Ultimately we had an amazing experience and were very excited to have had the opportunity for a successful day in the mountains. We saw several people wearing trail shoes, and some without spikes or poles. I would say that neither spikes, or poles are necessary, but I was very happy to have both with my limited experience with high elevation snow crossings.

We all used sunscreen, but we also all got burnt, the sun exposure was very significant. None of us had any significant issues with altitude, but all of us felt it was a distinct and limiting factor to our pace. I had a very minor headache at times but at no point was it any worse than I would normally expect from wearing a headlamp for 3.5 hours.

Using weather.gov and selecting the summit area on the point forecast map, seemed to be accurate enough regarding hourly temperature on this day. Had we trusted it we could have left at least one additional layer behind and still been comfortable throughout the early hours.

It seemed that the majority of the people we encountered that summited this day had camped at trail camp or came up from the JMT. As first timers to this type of experience, we were very happy with our decision to make an early start for the single day event, appreciating the additional time during the cooler hours, but it was definitely a long day in the mountains and was certainly worth every step.



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#51115 - 07/23/17 08:47 AM Re: July 20th Summit [Re: Chetan]
RockGardener Offline


Registered: 07/22/17
Posts: 2
Loc: Blacksburg, VA
Originally Posted By: Chetan
We'll be heading to Lone Pine on July 27 and our permits are for July 29. From the recent posts, it sounds like the switchbacks are usable, which is great!

Are there any smoke-related issues (visibility/breathing) currently due to the Detwiler fire? Recent webcam pictures look rather hazy/yellow.


We thought the visibility on July 20th was amazing! We did not experience any issues with smoke during our hike. I don't know if smoke has become an issue since that day though.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/pG1wXEWTLsskv6Pf2


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#51126 - 07/23/17 04:30 PM Re: July 20th Summit [Re: RockGardener]
1 step at a time Offline


Registered: 07/15/17
Posts: 4
Loc: CA, Berkeley
Just got back from my 2 day summit. Started on the 21st (camped just before Trail Camp) and summited/descended on the 22nd.

No issues with visibility or any more trouble breathing than usual at that altitude.



Regarding footwear.
I ended up doing the stretch from the portal to Trail Camp with hiking boots and the rest in running shoes. No microspikes or ice axe though my treking poles were great. Had I carried spikes and an ice axe, I would have happily used them on the long stretch below trail camp and the two smaller stretches near the top of the switchbacks. That said, I felt comfortable assuming the risk with my non-snow gear.

One note on the snow stretch below trail camp. A lot of it is melting off which means that a section of that block of snow might not be able to hold a person's weight for long. We got over it fine on the afternoon of the 22nd though there was a hole opening up on the side which made it look a bit like a bridge. (Sorry, no picture)

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#51127 - 07/23/17 04:41 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: drdrew]
Braudanhike Offline


Registered: 07/23/17
Posts: 1
Loc: United States
Successful summit yesterday 7/22

My thoughts-
No need for crampons or ice axe.
Take the old trail in the am not new trail to skip creek.
All switchbacks were good to go a few covered in snow but easy
To manage.

Was a great 22 Mile day. Drank over 17 litters of water for the day so bring tons and have a pump to get more. We filled up twice and ran out at the top.

#trailbabes

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#51132 - 07/24/17 06:59 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Traumatized Offline


Registered: 07/24/17
Posts: 3
Loc: California
7/23 day hike: Some of our group made it to the summit in about 9 hours and my fiancť and I got about 1000 meters away by 9 hours, could see the summit before the hail and lightning storm started and we had to turn back. Those storms gear up quick! It lasted several hours and felt like we just couldn't get off the mountain soon enough. Very scary.

On our way down we dreaded going back across the snow patch at the top of the switchbacks and the one below trail camp. These felt very sketchy on the way up, and on our way down we saw a man fall about 20-30ft off the one under trail camp. He was badly injured and thankfully there were a lot of people around to help get him out as he was unconscious . He had to stay on the mountain overnight because helicopters can't rescue this late in the day because it's too dark (6pm-ish). We started booking it down to the portal to get help as no one had a radio or working walkie talkies. On our way down no one we passed had these either. A lady who was with the man came up on the trail behind us as we descended, she passed us up and was able to bump into search and rescue who had just finished helping another man down that made this exact same fall earlier in the day.

These two patches of snow are very scary especially because of the snow melt. There are a lot of loose rocks on the one at the top of switchbacks, and the one below trail camp is very unstable. If you have microspikes or crampons be smart and USE THEM! If not, then invest in your life and buy them!

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#51145 - 07/24/17 11:19 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Traumatized]
tomrm09 Offline


Registered: 07/24/17
Posts: 2
Loc: California
Is there a lot of pure ice on the trail right now? I'm doing an overnight hike in about 1.5 weeks and was considering going from trail camp to summit before sunrise on the second day so I could watch the sunrise from the top. But if there will be ice or loose rocks from melting snow then I might reconsider hiking through that in the dark.

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#51153 - 07/24/17 12:39 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: tomrm09]
kikoaco Offline


Registered: 07/22/17
Posts: 13
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: tomrm09
Is there a lot of pure ice on the trail right now? I'm doing an overnight hike in about 1.5 weeks and was considering going from trail camp to summit before sunrise on the second day so I could watch the sunrise from the top. But if there will be ice or loose rocks from melting snow then I might reconsider hiking through that in the dark.


I'm hiking the weekend of Aug. 12 and was hoping to do something similar in regards to camping at trail camp and starting for the summit around 4am the next day. Please let me know if that's what you end up doing and how it goes. Thank you.

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#51155 - 07/24/17 12:57 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: tomrm09]
Traumatized Offline


Registered: 07/24/17
Posts: 3
Loc: California
If you have microspikes or crampons you should be safe. After what I saw yesterday I wouldn't recommend going without.

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#51156 - 07/24/17 01:37 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Traumatized]
pnw100 Offline


Registered: 07/24/17
Posts: 1
Loc: Seattle, WA
Can the snow patches be avoided? When do you anticipate the snow to be clear?

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#51160 - 07/24/17 04:47 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: pnw100]
Traumatized Offline


Registered: 07/24/17
Posts: 3
Loc: California
Our friends were behind us and the guy who fell, and they took the boulders down after seeing what happened and not having spikes. They said it was scary and a lot of loose rocks... it isn't part of the trail, but they made it down to avoid that particular crossing. I don't see a way to avoid the ones at the top of the switchbacks.

I'm not experienced with snow enough to know how much longer it will be around. My guess is a couple weeks.

Also to note, the man who fell was not an inexperienced hiker. This was his 19th time doing Mt. Whitney.

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#51163 - 07/24/17 08:33 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Carlitos Offline


Registered: 05/17/16
Posts: 3
Loc: Bay Area
Hey guys, got overnight permit for Saturday night/Sunday morning. Had a couple of questions:

- There seems to be some debate if micro-spikes are necessary. Me and my hiking partner have trekking poles and are willing to get micro-spikes if they are deemed necessary. We are leaning towards getting them as the weather seems like it will keep trail conditions slushy.

- Speaking of weather. It seems as if Sunday morning has a chance of showers. We had planned to summit during sunrise but am wondering if people think we should alter our plans due to the 20% chance of showers.

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