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#53571 - 06/18/18 10:22 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
sumo Offline


Registered: 06/12/18
Posts: 15
Loc: CA


Confirm this is how it was as of yesterday. This is only 10 feet long. Be safe, feel safe and use micro crampons or yak tracks and ice axes to cross these parts.

It helped that we had a person in our group who had experience using ice axes for support.


Edited by sumo (06/18/18 10:30 AM)

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#53572 - 06/18/18 10:30 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: JMH]
sumo Offline


Registered: 06/12/18
Posts: 15
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: JMH
We have overnight permits for june 26th. No one in our group has ever used an ice axe, crampons, or micro. The plane tickets can be rebooked. So we are on the fence as to whether we should reschedule. For me these snow fields are too sketchy. So my question is how much melt might occur in this next week. This is my 5th trip to Whitney so I know the exposure with snow being at the cables and last switchback is more than I want to deal with.


This is a bit tricky. The snow is melting fast and it's possible it will all clear by the 27th. Watch the weather reports. (I assume you will stay at the trail camp on 26th and attempt to summit on 27th).

I can tell you having someone with ice axe experience helped me tremendously. Without this person I would have turned around at the cables. I summited and returned through the switchbacks on June 17.

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#53580 - 06/18/18 02:27 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: sumo]
sumo Offline


Registered: 06/12/18
Posts: 15
Loc: CA
Pic(taken on June 17, 2018) of the snow covered trail near Trail Crest.

https://prnt.sc/jwh1qf


Edited by sumo (06/18/18 03:05 PM)

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#53583 - 06/19/18 05:14 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: WanderingJim]
Twee Offline


Registered: 06/11/18
Posts: 10
Loc: San Diego, CA
Hey everyone, I just got back from Whitney today 6/18/18 (same day as Andrew W, pretty sure his date was a typo but I totally understand heís probably exhausted because Whitney was no joke)

First of all, I notice there are lots of people here with different experiences such as altra-ben who is Superman, people who hike long distance/high elevation a lot, and there are people like me (37 y.o) who hike 3-6 mile trails and work out everyday thinking that Iím fit enough for Whitney.

Iíll skip the hike to Trail Camp since thatís pretty straight forward but the elevation on that hike was like level 6/10, and since we were camping on Sunday the 17th, we did take our time, took us 7.5hrs

As for the switchbacks, we started at 4:30am and got to trail crest 9am. Parts of the trail were very icy that early in the morning so be very careful. We found that there were 3 ďdeath obstaclesĒ and about 4 ďoh shitĒ parts. Some ďoh shitĒ parts were scrambling rocks but on a steep hill with lots of sliding rocks and some snow. Scary yes, difficult no. Going up was way easier than going down

Death obstacle 1: by the cables, that picture that Andrew W posted is accurate. Itís a steep drop off and icy because ice melts coming down on it and the sun doesnít hit it as much but itís a short stretch. The 4 of us were very scared for our lives since we have no experience with ice axe or microspikes. It literally scared the shit out of one girl in our group and she took a shit right after that snowed in cable

Death obstacle 2: after the cable thereís a long stretch of thick snow that covered the trail but there were deep obvious foot print and the snow was hard enough so we didnít use spikes but itís kinda long but half as scary as the first one

Death obstacle 3: right before trail crest, this one is a little sketchy, not enough snow to feel safe because on the mountain side it was down to rocks in some parts so I couldnít stab the axe in. Couple foot path spot were wet dirt, and not enough foot print to follow so I would say scariness level close to the first but this part will probably clear next week since thereís not much snow left

Trail crest: like veryone said, longest 1.9 miles ever! We took 2-3 breaths per step because elevation. Level 9/10 for sure. Took us 2.5hrs to summit

The switchbacks on the way back was not as scary because weíve done them before but they were more difficult because itís hard to stablelize your axe in slushy snow and steps were a little more icy but we took our time and made it back

The hike back to portal same day was as brutal. Elevation wise no problem but I was hurting everywhere and it seems like Iíve been walking for days. Took us 4hrs down from trail camp

I know our pace may seem really slow but I just wanted to put some perspectives for novice hikers on here so they know what to expect. We did see a lot of people blazing that trail fast like elevation was no big deal (although they did have only a day pack and we had 35lbs each). We did see some people going thru those death obstacles with ice axe and no spikes so it depends on how confident you are with ur footing and whether you want to take that risk

Anyway, have a good day everyone. I think those snow patches will completely clear in a couple of weeks but not before that unless another big group will trek through and clear it.

Please be careful and be safe out there. Remember to wear sunscreen or better yet one of those neck uv protection thing and cover your face. My face is completely sunburn, windburn, chillburn and itís kinda dusty out there so it helps protect your throat and nostrils since youíre breathing pretty hard

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#53585 - 06/19/18 09:32 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Twee]
Mauricio Offline


Registered: 06/25/14
Posts: 8
Loc: CA
Excellent report, Twee. I thank you profusely for it, as I'm leading a group of 6 this Friday (to Trail Camp and Saturday to the summit and back).

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#53591 - 06/19/18 03:51 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Twee]
shri Offline


Registered: 06/19/18
Posts: 1
Loc: San Jose, CA
Very true Twee!
Our group (3 of us), summited the same day (Mon, 06/18) and we had the same moments that your report mentions.

We started at 3.30 am, and the icy patches on the switchbacks were very slippery. At times, we were using the ice axe to break the ice on the trail to get a better grip. We did carry crampons, it was too taxing to put them on and remove them for the occasional patches, and walking with them on for all the other rocky parts of the trail would have taken a toll on our knees. As of the snow patches, since it was a cold early morning, neither could we kick in steps.

I have climbed the shoot last year, but this time, one of us was a first timer, so preferred the switchbacks.

Apparently, I think the mistake on our part was that we came prepared to climb the shoot, but not the switchbacks. Microspikes would have been easier to use.

Here are some of the images - https://imgur.com/a/4XWA5OV

Overall it was a great hike, but for folks attempting for the first time, please look the pictures being shared and be careful on the trail.

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#53592 - 06/19/18 09:03 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: 203WEST]
Evelyn Offline


Registered: 06/19/18
Posts: 10
Loc: CA
I was also hoping for someone to post the latest on the switchbacks. We are hiking this Friday and hoping the snow patches are gone.

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#53593 - 06/19/18 09:09 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Twee]
Evelyn Offline


Registered: 06/19/18
Posts: 10
Loc: CA
Thank you for your detailed update. We are going on Friday and I am like you, hiked shorter trails and work out but nothing like Whitney. My biggest fear is the icy and slippery parts. So you would say crampons or microspikes? I just got my permit this morning for Friday and running around trying to get all my gear. Microspikes were expensive at REI and they only had one kind at my REI. Can't order online because we are leaving Thursday morning.

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#53602 - 06/20/18 09:18 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Evelyn]
WSC Offline


Registered: 06/07/18
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
Maybe just buy some at REI and keep them in your pack, then return them unopened if you don't end up using them! For future trips, Amazon has some for $20-30 FYI

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#53604 - 06/20/18 11:04 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Evelyn]
OChikers8073 Offline


Registered: 06/12/18
Posts: 22
Loc: CA
Lone Pine also has some mountain shops that are pretty well stocked surprisingly. I'm sure you can find some there!

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#53607 - 06/20/18 11:34 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Evelyn]
Twee Offline


Registered: 06/11/18
Posts: 10
Loc: San Diego, CA
Evelyn, if youíre sure footed and not afraid of height unlike me then I think you can do without (But please donít take that as good advice) and I would hate to get all the way up there and have to turn around because you donít have the right tools to summit. I agree with the others to get into town early and check their supplies.
Good luck!

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#53615 - 06/20/18 05:02 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Evelyn]
MikeHallahan Offline


Registered: 06/20/18
Posts: 1
Loc: Orange County, California
Evelyn
I hiked the switchbacks on tuesday. I used just hiking boots and trecking poles. I would call it very unsafe. Clearing the cables was the most dangerous thing I've done in a looong time. I crossed without incident but if I was a praying man i would have been praying to the lord incessantly that the snow didn't give out as I was holding on to it. It is a very precarious situation. I'm not sure what it will look like Friday but it was still very much an obstacle on Tuesday.

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#53616 - 06/20/18 06:22 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: MikeHallahan]
JMH Offline


Registered: 06/09/16
Posts: 24
Loc: Aurora, Illinois
Thanks Mike and all who posted updates. What is everyones best guess for how much will melt by june 26th. We are scheduled to fly out Friday. We can reschedule because we don't want to cross that snow field. We don't know how to use an ice axe or any of the traction shoes. I've seen the exposure at the cables and the last Switchback and the snow is not for us.

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#53618 - 06/20/18 07:33 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: JMH]
Professor Offline


Registered: 06/20/18
Posts: 4
Loc: San Diego
Thanks to everyone who has posted current conditions and pics. If anyone is going soon please keep us updated right after until the snow/ice conditions are gone. I am going June 28th and will post the next day for those going right after me.

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#53622 - 06/20/18 09:49 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
NA327 Offline


Registered: 06/12/18
Posts: 3
Loc: Tulsa, OK
Here's an excellent series of pictures/videos from Instagram showing the cables section. I don't know when these were taken-- I don't know this person, I just searched Instagram for #mtwhitney-- but they were posted just a few hours ago.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BkREJ-jAbHQ/?hl=en

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#53630 - 06/21/18 07:04 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
WhitneyHiker085 Offline


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 21
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Thanks to those who posted trip reports. Appreciate it. Looking to do the hike this weekend, day trip.

For those who recently did the hike, at the cable section - it looks like the foot path is well defined for crossing. Is it as scary as people make it seem? Even if something happens and you accidentally slip, wouldn't the cable stop you from continue down further or no.. unless you slip underneath the cable, if that makes sense.

I haven't been on the switchbacks before so just curious. Did the chute last year.

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#53631 - 06/21/18 10:29 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Brian in VT Offline


Registered: 06/11/18
Posts: 1
Loc: Vermont
Like others posting, I will be hiking Whitney via the switchbacks soon and am anxious for information on conditions, particularly at the infamous cables and any other trouble spots, as well as for advice on gear.

My permit is for June 28. Day hike with my adult son.

I realize conditions will be changing over the next week, but I am flying out from Vermont on 6/23 and 6/24 will be my best chance to buy any gear I might need, so I'll have to make some decisions ahead of time.

I plan to take my ice axe, but not my crampons. I have traction devices - one pair StabiLicers, one pair Diamond Grips (made by YakTrax, I think). Will these suffice or should I buy microspikes?
I plan to pick up an ice axe for my son and then was thinking of getting one pair of hiking poles, so we'd each have an axe and one pole at the icy spots. I have never felt a need for poles, but looking at the photos posted here, I can see how they might give an extra sense of balance at the difficult spots.

Of course, it would be great to not have to buy anything or to carry the extra weight, so if anyone can tell me that it has melted enough that gear is not necessary, it would be great to hear that.

Opinions? Advice?

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#53633 - 06/21/18 11:59 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
WSC Offline


Registered: 06/07/18
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
I'm hiking this weekend (overnight permit for Saturday 6/23). Can anyone tell me what temps to expect at Trail Camp overnight? From this site I'd estimate lows in the 40s, does that sound reasonable for folks that have been up recently?

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#53636 - 06/21/18 01:52 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: WSC]
Evelyn Offline


Registered: 06/19/18
Posts: 10
Loc: CA
Thank you. Was able to find 3 permits for July 12th so now going in three weeks and will order my microspikes on Amazon.

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#53637 - 06/21/18 03:40 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Evelyn]
203WEST Offline


Registered: 06/01/18
Posts: 18
Loc: Mammoth Lakes
Hey all... My wife, son, and I just finished our hike. We started Tuesday (6/19) and summited from Trail Camp on Wednesday (6/20). The switchbacks are clearing, but as noted, there are few snowy/icy spots that need a little caution, but aren't too scary for most hikers. I would recommend taking microspikes for the next couple weeks, since those snowy/icy spots are tramped in solid, and not a lot of sunlight hitting them.

Oh, and if the rangers at the permit desk pull out the photo posted above of the helmeted kid clinging to the snow, and tell you that the Chute is the preferred route - don't believe them. I didn't see a single person ascend or descend the Chute on our trip.

The cable section is mostly clear (a dry path downhill of the snow, but uphill of the cables). Two to three switchback sections are being bypassed, which makes for a little bit of scrambling, but not too difficult. It's unstable ground though, so I found these spots the most precarious. Careful scrambling up these as you might send a bowling ball-sized stone down on your climbing partner.

There are two straight-line sections (photo posted earlier by someone else) with one of them being right before Trail Crest. These spots will probably remain for a while, but aren't difficult with microspikes and hiking poles. There is one funky path that's been created at the western edge of the last section that takes you up and over a muddy spot. Be careful here as you're probably so focused on the snowy stuff and might forget the muddy stuff.

Hope that helps! Good luck to all, and thanks to those prior that helped us out with important info!

If I can get this to work right, here are some shots looking west through the cable section on Wednesday, June 20th (6am ish)





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