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#50922 - 07/14/17 12:46 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Chetan]
highsierramike Offline


Registered: 07/06/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Fresno, CA
Okay, I think I have successfully created a link to an Imgur album with a few Whitney pics showing trail conditions as of 7/11/17:

Here is a link to the album:

Mt. Whitney Photos


Edited by highsierramike (07/14/17 01:14 PM)

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#50923 - 07/14/17 01:16 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: HE_i]
highsierramike Offline


Registered: 07/06/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Fresno, CA
If you are camping at Trail Camp, you might want snow gloves. It got pretty chilly at night. Otherwise, no one in my party needed them. It is actually pretty warm during the day.

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#50924 - 07/14/17 01:18 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: highsierramike]
Chetan Offline


Registered: 06/03/17
Posts: 11
Loc: CA
Thanks for the pictures, Mike!

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#50925 - 07/14/17 01:42 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Trey Offline


Registered: 07/06/17
Posts: 5
Loc: Pasadena, CA
Is there still enough snow for glissading down?

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#50928 - 07/14/17 04:55 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Trey]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7224
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Trey
Is there still enough snow for glissading down?
Trey, the switchbacks just became useable last week. The glissade area should still be ok for a short time. The extra-deep "half-pipe" / "super-chute" / "bobsled trough" that was most heavily used this spring has exposed rocks, so don't use it.

Originally Posted By: highsierramike
Okay, I think I have successfully created a link to an Imgur album with a few Whitney pics showing trail conditions as of 7/11/17:

Here is a link to the album:

Mt. Whitney Photos

Thanks Mike!!! Including some of the pictures here. They are exactly what people need to see so they know what current conditions are. (Click on each picture for full-size view)

This is a photo of the "snow bridge." This 15 foot or so snow bridge is the only area of the cables that is still snow covered.


A photo of the cables that lead to the "snow bridge".


Snow bridge



This is one of about three snow crossings on the switchbacks.


Switchback snow crossing right before Trail Crest.


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#50931 - 07/15/17 09:38 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Neil B Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 4
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
My trip 7/12-7/14
Camped at the portal on 7/11
Hiked to Trail camp on 7/12:
Still two good sized snow fields as you approach Consultation lake and trail camp. Spikes/crampons not necessary but will help. Trekking poles help.

Summit day 7/13:
We climbed the chute. Crampons/ice axe are a must. Took us 3 hours from trail camp to Trail Crest. Start early, snow gets slushy and slippery as the sun comes up. As we approached the top it was increasingly difficult. People were making it up the switchbacks. There is still snow to cross at the base of the switchbacks. Snow crossing at the cables, one decent snow crossing about half way up, and one snow crossing as you approach Trail Crest. There are also a few small scrambles to cut a few switchbacks that are under snow. Easily makable but bring spikes for the snow, you'll be glad to have them.

After climbing the chute we were exhausted and felt we took too long and didn't have time to Summit as thunder clouds had been rolling through the last two afternoons.
We took a break at the top of the chute and decided to start back down the switchbacks.
But we noticed the weather was holding up nicely and people were still making their way up to Trail Crest to summit. We turned around and headed back to the top of the Crest and on to the summit. Best change of heart ever. When the sun was out it was hot up there along the way. Got occasional wind and hail/ snow. Those last two miles are tough, but once at the top, it's all worth it! Hiked back to Trail Crest and decided against glissading the chute due to our late descent and the conditions of the snow. Looked extremely difficult to slow down. Saw at least one person almost lose control and the screams could be heard throughout the entire area. Take extreme caution in glissading. We hiked down the switchbacks ( put our crampons on for the snow crossings) and it was a breeze. We broke off the trail near the cables and did a shorter glissade down towards Trail Camp.
Stayed at Trail Camp and packed up and out the following morning after getting up at 4am to watch the sun rise. Everybody going up early this day were taking the switchbacks up.

Incredible trip and so glad we were able to summit. This was our first time up Whitney.

We had trained hard and were physically prepared. The challenges were the elevation and staying hydrated. I had difficulty sleeping at 12000'. Rest and stay hydrated. On our way down from the summit we encountered a group who had a member suffering from severe AMS. If anyone is feeling effects of AMS turn around immediately. Before this trip I had never been above 11,200' and I was concerned about AMS. I felt great and I feel camping at Trail Camp helped a lot.

Overall an amazing trip, one of the most beautiful places on earth. We can't wait to go back. Our biggest fears were having to climb the chute as we had no experience with crampons and ice axes. But we made it and had a great time.

Thanks for all the info, we followed this forum daily leading up to our trip.
Happy trails!

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#50932 - 07/15/17 09:51 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Neil B]
Neil B Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 4
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
We also took water shoes. Still a good sized water crossing right before outpost camp, ankle to shin deep. Took the old Trail at the bottom to avoid the first water crossing.

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#50947 - 07/16/17 12:05 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7224
Loc: Fresno, CA
Pictures shared July 15 on Facebook by Roger N: (Note that pictures from facebook disappear after a short time. While they're visible, click for full-size.)

Roger's text:
"we also used "OLD Whitney trail" to bypass lower water crossings"

"just above mirror lake"



"lots of talk about the switchbacks but not these snow fields. the good-it is a straight shot up,
saw people going crampons, microspikes, and no micro or crampons, we used micros on way down
"



"to get to switch backs, we did not need crampons or spikes in the AM, after you
"cross here" there is a short trail to go up to switch backs
"



"Cables July14, inside the whole time"



"1st of 2 snow crossings"



"last snow crossing then trail crest! be smart if you have crampons or spikes use them"



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#50965 - 07/17/17 02:31 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
parentialdo Offline


Registered: 07/17/17
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
Conditions for July 13th -- https://youtu.be/qrdkArX_Yek

Firstly, many thanks to the valuable info my partner and I gathered from this forum. We felt prepared and confident. Thank you!

Secondly and in summary, micro spikes, trekking poles and an ice axe are absolutely useful. That extra 2 pounds of gear will keep you feeling confident and secure while you're traversing some 40 degree, slushy and slippery snowfields. Use the switchbacks. 80% clear is a fair estimate. Do not glissade. Add at least 2 to 3 hours on your hike to adjust for these conditions. Our packs weighed about 18lbs fully loaded. It included:

3 liters of water
2 pounds of macro bars and food
ice axe
trekking poles
micro spikes
gaiters
purifier
first aid/survival/hard map/gps
extra socks
light sweater
rain shell
duck bag
2 wag bags
toilet paper

Sun protection is a must. That sun bouncing off of the snow and onto your skin is gnarly. We both had hats, sunglasses and wore sunscreen and often used our face sleeves to shield us from the glare. Perhaps some light duty gloves also.

JULY 13th, 2017

0230 Starting our hike on the Old Mt Whitney Trail
We chose this path to avoid the first water crossing. It's an easy deviation and gets you passed the crossing in the same amount of time, or sooner, as the Main Whitney Trail takes to get you to the crossing. I mapped it on my viewranger. If anyone would like the topo or gpx file, hit me up.

0350 Arrived at Lone Pine Lake
Trail is clearly marked and easy to stay on with our headlamps. Some snow along the slopes but none on our path yet. The sunrise was spectacular. We ran into one water crossing before Out Post Camp where you were forced to get wet. It was deep to only about 4 to 6 inches but it was about 40 feet long. Wet boots or wet feet. You choose. I choose to keep them on and walk through and my partner choose to take her boots and socks off and walk through. I was happy while she instantly regretted it.

0515 Arrived at Out Post Camp
So far so good. Starting to see more snow now that the sun is giving us light and warmth. About a mile passed the camp we ran into patches of snow on the trail. Once we got to the meadows, we donned our micro spikes and used them for traction through the icy snow and rock and found that we had to traverse across 2 snow fields. We each had trekking poles and an ice axes as part of our gear. They came in handy through this section.

0730 Arrived at Consultation Lake/Trail Camp
We took a good 45 minute break here. We saw lots of marmots and ate and refilled our water. We both carried a 2 liter water bladder for clean water and a 1 liter Nalgene which we were using for electrolytes. We elected to purify our water. We probably saw 20 wagbags that were left behind during our whole hike. The bulk of which we spotted at this lake. Although we picked up empty water bottles, empty bags of dehydrated food, wrappers and other trash, we didn't touch the wagbags. We felt guilty that we didn't. That won't happen again. Anyhow, our break is over and now comes the hard part of the hike. The decision to use the switchbacks or hike the chute. If you have crampons (not micro spikes) and an ice axe, go for the chute if you'd like. However, I do think that the switchbacks are the way to go. 80% percent clear is a fair estimate. Although the beginning of the switchbacks are off and on, snow covered for the first 20 switches, you'll find that the rest of it except for a small section at the cables, are free of snow. Your last 50' feet is across a snow field. Once you cross it you'll be at Trail Crest. On our ascent, we headed for the chute, following the track line in the snow until we saw the cables to our left about 20 mins later and at around 12,600 feet. We turned towards them and were happy we did since our micro spikes weren't providing efficient traction on the slush. We used the switchbacks all of the way back down.

1030 Arrived at Trail Crest
My partner is feeling her first signs of AMS. Unfortunately, do to work schedules, we didn't have time to acclimate. We arrived at Whitney Portal on July 12th at noon and started our hike 14 hours later. My partner went the Diamox route and I choose the Ibuprofin route instead. Google Diamox vs Ibuprofen at altitude for more info. We took our time through the rocky trail, being extra careful around the scree, resting a few minutes here and there until roughly 3/4's of the way up Trail Crest. We got some summit beta from a few who were descending. All of them used a cairn route to summit because of the rather large and slippery snow field that's in the way, so we did. It was pretty easy to spot the cairns. We made our way up through the rock and scree all the while watching as the hut grew closer and closer.

1220 Arrived at Summit
We made it! Spectacular, amazing, grateful.

We started our descent some 45 minutes later. We used this time to contemplate some big decisions that were soon approaching. To glissading or not to glissade. At this point in the season, I would advise against glissading from the top of the chute. It may save you up to a couple of hours but it can seriously cost you a lot more. Use your head. Especially if you've never done it before. There's a lot of shallow snow which means you're likely to hit a rock and if you can't self-arrest or otherwise slow yourself down, the rock islands certainly will. The chute at the start is 60 degrees for the first 300 feet or so before it decreases in slope to 40 degrees for the next 800 feet. Elect to use the safer switchbacks and perhaps glissading down from the much easier slope at the cables if you feel antsy for a wet ass. Glissading from the cables may save you about 30 minutes. The decision is up to you. As I said, we used the switchbacks all of the way down. Not much to it.

1950 Made it to the car 17 and a half hours later.

All and all, we felt we did great. Even though it took us over 17 hours, we never rushed, soaking it all in and taking loads of picture. We felt privileged to see the beauty of the Eastern Sierras. PLEASE don't leave your shit behind! We certainly left it cleaner than we found it. I hope this info helps. I'll update this post with pics later this evening. Good luck and leave no trace!!

https://youtu.be/qrdkArX_Yek



Edited by parentialdo (07/17/17 04:16 PM)

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#50983 - 07/17/17 09:36 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
DrKen Offline


Registered: 07/17/17
Posts: 2
Loc: California, USA
Condition on July 14-15th-

Switchbacks are completely doable, just be sure to have good traction on your hiking shoes for some of the snow patches. If you're don't have the snow gear don't need to buy/bring any. Trekking poles do help with the confidence of walking on snow (and the water-crossings) though. Have fun!

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#50997 - 07/18/17 10:42 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: parentialdo]
Ruslvmusl Offline


Registered: 07/10/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Lincoln, CA

Thats $ucking $ick people leave that $hit.
disappointed!
Great job!

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#50998 - 07/18/17 02:02 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Ruslvmusl]
14ers Offline


Registered: 07/12/17
Posts: 5
Loc: Santa Monica
Given all the recent reports of the Switchbacks being open and relatively clear... is there any need for Axes or Crampons?

I was kind of hoping to do the Chute to practice some mountaineering but if Switchbacks are open, is there any real benefit to climbing the Chute and/or Glissading down (assuming good enough sections of snow exist)?

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#50999 - 07/18/17 03:02 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: 14ers]
Bobby49 Offline


Registered: 07/04/17
Posts: 41
Loc: California
I haven't been on the mountain very recently. However, in forty successful ascents, I never had to carry an ice axe. I think that I had one trekking pole a time or two.

Assuming that one goes up the Switchbacks or maybe has to take a few shortcuts across snow, I can't imagine the need for full crampons. OTOH, microspikes are good if you've got a thin layer of ice or hard snow. YakTrax are good if you've got softer snow.

One year we got just above the cables around Switchback #45 or so, and then the switchbacks disappeared under the snow, so we just climbed straight up the snow slope until we hit Discovery Pinnacle, which is slightly off-course.

Climbing straight up the chute is shorter, but probably not quicker. As soon as its rocks melt out, it's probably more dangerous for up or down.

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#51000 - 07/18/17 03:18 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: 14ers]
ricky90501 Offline


Registered: 07/18/17
Posts: 4
Loc: San Francisco, CA
A group of us got to the summit on 7/15 using only the switchbacks and we did not need crampons or ice axes. There are a couple of snow fields that you need to traverse (one about halfway up and one right before trail crest) but both have well-traveled tracks which give you pretty solid footing. Having said that, crampons could help in giving you more stability and grip on the snow, especially earlier in the morning when the snow is still solid. Trekking poles also help for balance but ice axe is not necessary.

As for glissading the chute, the snow is quickly melting and rocks are starting to become exposed. Unless you are experienced in glissading and self-arresting with an ice axe, it is not recommended.

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#51001 - 07/18/17 04:13 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: ricky90501]
14ers Offline


Registered: 07/12/17
Posts: 5
Loc: Santa Monica
Originally Posted By: ricky90501
A group of us got to the summit on 7/15 using only the switchbacks and we did not need crampons or ice axes.


Were people using the Chute at all when you went up or just the Switchbacks? If so, Which route seemed faster at this point?

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#51002 - 07/18/17 05:16 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
parentialdo Offline


Registered: 07/17/17
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
As of July 14th, there were at least 2 significant snow fields that need crossing. And they will be there for another couple of weeks. For some, both can be done butt naked while drinking a beer, for the vast majority, it will require a better sense of confidence. I understand that the 18 inch wide path carved by the thousands of boot steps, looks navigable but think about it this way.. Depending on the time of day it will either be icy or slushy. Both circumstances would benefit from some kind of traction device. If you're going to attempt these traverses without crampons, then at the very least you should have micro spikes with an ice axe or trekking poles to help balance your naive attempt at surefootedness in these conditions. However, if you slip and begin sliding down a 40 degree slope (60 degrees at the top of the chute), good luck trying to self arrest with trekking poles. This is why an ice axe is the way to go when you're dealing with a scenario that may require you to self arrest. I know I know, an ice axe is another piece of equipment to lug along and at 18 ounces, yes ounces, it's just too much to carry. But when you slip and you start sliding down a 100 foot slope (at the meadows) or 1000 foot slope (at the top of the switchbacks and down the chute), if you survived and are injury free, you now have to ascend that section all over again. And from the top of the chute, that's at least another 2 hours and more than likely will ruin your summit attempt. When you stab your ice axe into the snow, you instantly feel in control and that makes all of the difference in the world. Use some good judgment and take an ice axe with you until the snow fields have melted away. They can be rented in town for $15. If you're concerned on how to use an ice axe for self arresting, below are two links that will serve as primers which will give you the basics for the conditions you will likely come across this month. Practice these easy maneuvers on some easy slopes at the meadows or at Consultation Lake. It will serve you well. Be safe and don't leave your wag bags or trash behind!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94QFImjdEAo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BStGfLMHaS8

Side note: I wore my micro spikes and used my ice axe for confident stability. I also had my trekking pole with a wide basket on the downhill side for the snow field at the top of the switchbacks while using my ice axe for the uphill slope. If you plan on getting to the top via the chute (a much harder approach), then you would absolutely want the ice axe.

One last thing: Don't try glissading down the chute. The snow is too shallow and you'll be busting your ass and breaking bones for 1,200 feet. If your feeling the itch to try some glissading, the slope at the cables is a much safer alternative.

Happy hiking!

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#51005 - 07/18/17 09:35 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: 14ers]
ricky90501 Offline


Registered: 07/18/17
Posts: 4
Loc: San Francisco, CA
I saw three people climbing the chute. Looked like a slow slog. At this point, the switchbacks are clear enough that it is definitely the faster way up.

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#51009 - 07/19/17 09:09 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7224
Loc: Fresno, CA
This is a spot on the trail, above Mirror Lake, before Trail Camp. Near Trailside Meadow.

It appears to be pretty easy to walk on the rocks along the side.

Posted on Facebook, July 18, by Heera D.


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#51013 - 07/19/17 12:45 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7224
Loc: Fresno, CA
Posted on Facebook by Juan S, July 17:

Quote:
There are three crossings during the 97 switch backs that require it. To get to the switch backs you have to hike up snow. Also there was a spot before getting to the trail camp that required walking a short ledge of snow with a long drop.

This is the spot just before Trail Crest.
(click for full-size)

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#51014 - 07/19/17 12:53 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7224
Loc: Fresno, CA
Also by Juan S:

The snow below Trail Camp.

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