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#53069 - 05/09/18 10:27 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: dunavice321]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: dunavice321
And if my understanding is correct, here is how reaching the summit via the trail and chute goes:

Whitney Portal, go along the regular Whitney trail 'til trail camp, where it breaks off and you go to the chute?

Please fill me in.

Thanks!!!

Here is a picture (from a previous year) showing the switchbacks and the chute, BobR took this from Wotans Throne, and (the late) Wayne Pyle edited it and added the switchback numbers to the picture. Trail Camp is just out of view, lower left. The "chute" is actually the slope to the right of the switchbacks in the picture (upper right corner). It is NOT a part of the MR section where the recent death occurred.

You can click on the picture, and zoom in and scroll around for the detail. This is Wayne Pyle's switchback chart


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#53074 - 05/10/18 07:14 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
G4u2 Offline


Registered: 08/03/17
Posts: 14
Loc: San Diego, CA
Great picture Steve. Not to go off on a tangent,but is there a proper trail to Wotans Throne from MWT or MR?

Quote:
Here is a picture showing the switchbacks and the chute, BobR took this from Wotans Throne, and (the late) Wayne Pyle edited it and added the switchback numbers to the picture. Trail Camp is just out of view, lower left. The "chute" is actually the slope to the right of the switchbacks in the picture (upper right corner). It is NOT a part of the MR section where the recent death occurred.

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#53075 - 05/10/18 08:20 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: G4u2]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
> is there a proper trail to Wotans Throne from MWT or MR?

No. You just hike up and around WT, off trail. The northwest side is third class. You can descend from that approach down to Mirror Lake, but it is ugly steep.

Pinnacle Ridge lies between WT and the Mountaineers Route. I have never heard of anyone crossing it. It is definitely accessible on the south side, but the north side not so much.

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#53076 - 05/10/18 08:32 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Daniel S Offline


Registered: 04/27/17
Posts: 2
Loc: TX Texas
The chute on the right looks pretty steep. Maybe 30 degrees, possibly even more, but would it be an easier alternative to the switchbacks?

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#53077 - 05/10/18 09:03 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Daniel S]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
When the switchbacks are buried under snow, the chute is the only way to go. Ice axe and crampons are highly recommended, pretty difficult without.

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#53083 - 05/10/18 12:42 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Dan R Offline


Registered: 05/10/18
Posts: 4
Loc: CA
When do switchbacks generally open up?

I'm hiking it this Memorial Day (with crampon/ice axe in tow) but would greatly prefer switchbacks vs chute if possible.

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#53088 - 05/11/18 11:02 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 497
Loc: Saugus, CA
Thanks so much!
_________________________
@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for landscape and mountain photo spamming...

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#53095 - 05/12/18 10:49 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dan R]
marc g Offline


Registered: 05/21/14
Posts: 3
Loc: United States
Usually, the switchbacks are unsafe (at the cables, and beyond) until after Memorial day. The Chute is the preferred route, for sure. Just start very early and try to get on the base of the chute before 6. morning sun can soften the snow quick and make it more challenging to go up.

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#53098 - 05/12/18 12:35 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
WhitneyHiker085 Offline


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 21
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Anyone summit recently? Planning on going memorial day weekend via main trail and chute.

How are the conditions from trail Crest and onward? Any questionable or sketchy areas? Will you need crampons for the last 2 miles or so?

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#53103 - 05/12/18 10:41 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dan R]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Dan R
When do switchbacks generally open up?

I'm hiking it this Memorial Day (with crampon/ice axe in tow) but would greatly prefer switchbacks vs chute if possible.

Dan R, that question is asked every year multiple times. I finally put together a post showing when they opened up in past years.

I hope this helps:   When will Mt Whitney switchbacks open?

It was only two extremely dry years ('12 & '13) that the switchbacks were in use by Memorial Weekend. I think it will be a week or more later this year.

While using "the chute" aka the slope west of the switchbacks, you need crampons, and an ice axe is recommended, too. Once the switchbacks open up, microspikes are helpeful since there will still be snowy sections for several more weeks, and the section at the cables can be icy. (Yet some people navigate that only with hiking shoes and a lot of care.)

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#53112 - 05/13/18 07:40 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
VertC Offline


Registered: 04/08/16
Posts: 4
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Originally Posted By: Dan R
When do switchbacks generally open up?

I'm hiking it this Memorial Day (with crampon/ice axe in tow) but would greatly prefer switchbacks vs chute if possible.

Dan R, that question is asked every year multiple times. I finally put together a post showing when they opened up in past years.

I hope this helps:   When will Mt Whitney switchbacks open?

It was only two extremely dry years ('12 & '13) that the switchbacks were in use by Memorial Weekend. I think it will be a week or more later this year.

While using "the chute" aka the slope west of the switchbacks, you need crampons, and an ice axe is recommended, too. Once the switchbacks open up, microspikes are helpeful since there will still be snowy sections for several more weeks, and the section at the cables can be icy. (Yet some people navigate that only with hiking shoes and a lot of care.)


Steve C, thanks so much for posting this info. I have been lurking on here each day to try and get an idea of what June 3rd & 4th will be like this year.

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#53115 - 05/13/18 10:55 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
So.BayMark posted a trip report and a link to his pictures, in the Trip Reports forum. Here's the link to his report:   Almost to the Summit

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#53124 - 05/14/18 11:28 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Jim O Offline


Registered: 05/10/18
Posts: 4
Loc: California
Steve C: I registered to add my appreciation to VertC's for all the valuable information you (and others) share here. Our trip is June 5, and the photos and the historical switchback opening data make it look like we should not count on the trail being open. We'll be prepared for a trip up the chute. That's very helpful!

I note the typical spread between the date of the first use of the switchbacks and the date of the predominant use. Is there conventional wisdom about how to choose which route is best during that time for group that is prepared for either? Our preference is switchbacks up and chute down, but we'll take what the mountain gives us.

Thanks again!

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#53139 - 05/15/18 12:32 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
TK50311 Offline


Registered: 05/14/18
Posts: 2
Loc: The Outer Rim
Steve,

Is that a current picture that you posted on the 9th of the switchbacks?

Thanks


Edited by TK50311 (05/15/18 12:33 PM)

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#53141 - 05/15/18 02:31 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: TK50311]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: TK50311
Steve,

Is that a current picture that you posted on the 9th of the switchbacks?

Thanks

No. That switchback picture was taken some years ago. It is posted to show the switchbacks, in relation to "the chute" aka the slope west of the switchbacks.

The conditions will likely be similar to that in several more weeks. From the looks of it, it appears that people were hiking the switchbacks -- they were open -- but some were still using the chute.

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#53144 - 05/15/18 05:47 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
D00d3r1n022 Offline


Registered: 05/11/18
Posts: 2
Loc: California
Is the road closed 3 miles from the trailhead this week?

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#53145 - 05/15/18 08:38 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: D00d3r1n022]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
The road is open. Is there somewhere on this forum saying it is closed?

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#53153 - 05/16/18 11:24 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
D00d3r1n022 Offline


Registered: 05/11/18
Posts: 2
Loc: California
Not here. Sorry to waste space on the forum. I just called the ranger station this morning. duhhhhhh.
When looking up conditions I found this website.
https://www.timberlinetrails.com/WhitneyWeather.html

The "Quick summary of weather and road access" has seemingly accurate weather and then says the road is closed. I got confused.

Thanks for your help! Heading up to Trail Camp tomorrow. Summit success seems unlikely with the forecast but it'll be a great time anyway.

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#53199 - 05/21/18 09:19 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Rayna Offline


Registered: 04/26/18
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
Just got back from a day hike on Saturday, May 19th. When we got to the chute around 8:45am a lot of folks were turning back due to an imminent storm. By the time we got to the top (around 10:00am), things looked clearer so we kept going up to the summit. At the top, clouds were rolling in so we took a few quick photos and turned right back around. Shortly after we glissaded down the chute, we could hear thunder so we picked up the pace back down. Graupel started to fall which made for a pretty fun hike back to Whitney Portal! In hindsight, we probably didn't make the wisest choice continuing up the to the summit.

In terms of gear, my hiking partner had microspikes and an ice axe for the snow-covered areas and was just fine. He used trekking poles the rest of the time. I had crampons with smaller spikes (but not quite microspikes) and an ice axe, no trekking poles. Hope this helps!

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#53200 - 05/21/18 10:17 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Rayna]
Jose De La Rosa Offline


Registered: 05/22/17
Posts: 3
Loc: California
Reyna,
Thanks for posting your experience, very helpful and simple! Just what this is about!!!!

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