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#53292 - 05/31/18 04:17 PM Memorial Day Summit (5/27/18)
jerryjsun Offline

Registered: 05/28/18
Posts: 1
Loc: California, USA
Hi all! I created an account to post about my recent summit experience this past Memorial Day weekend (I figured I could give back to the community since I have been using this forum to gather information prior to my summit day). Enjoy the read.

Friday-- My girlfriend, her sister, and I drove up to Lone Pine (Eastern Interagency Center) to pick up our permits and explore Alabama Hills. Then, we decided to drive to Bishop for Burger Barn burgers (the best burgers in California!! A must try if you are near or in Bishop). Afterwards, we made our way to Whitney Portal Trailhead to finalize our packs and prepare for a good nights rest (in our car).

Saturday-- Early morning, around 5:30 AM we woke up prepared breakfast then cleaned out our car leaving all necessary items in the bear bins. By 6:30 AM we began our hike to Trail Camp. My pack weighing 35lbs, girlfriend 30lbs, and her sister 35lbs. On our way to Trail Camp, our first encounter with snow was near Outpost Camp. The trail was quite distinct and had little to no snow until reaching past Mirror Lake. We arrived at Mirror Lake around 12:30 in the afternoon.The switchbacks after passing Mirror Lake had some snow coverage and there were probably only two instances where the trail was fully covered in snow for a short portion. No crampons needed but it sure was a little sketch. We then continued to Trail Camp; our first (full) snow trail was right before Trail Camp where we hiked for a good 20-30 minutes before reaching Trail Camp. Arriving around 1:30 PM we set up camp. The weather was mostly cloudy for our hike to Trail Camp-- upon arriving at camp we saw the chute completely covered with clouds and very little visibility. This did not go away since at night we experienced snow.

Sunday-- Our plan was to begin our summit at 2AM but during that time, it was snowing and my girlfriend and her sister were too cold to begin our way up the chute. We decided to hit the snooze button for a little while longer... it ended up to be 6AM... reluctant to start our summit we told each other we were going to at least attempt it. The sky was mostly clear at the chute-- we put on our crampons, tuck our ice axe in our packs and made our way up the chute. There were probably at least 15 individuals who started the chute before us. That was enough motivation for us to go at it. We had about two 20 minute breaks trying to fix our crampons that we had rented through REI.... While heading up the chute there were two distinct routes (one on the left of the rocky area and one on the right area). We chose the left side since it was not as steep as the right side. I arrived at the top of the chute and waited for my girlfriend and her sister-- during the wait, clouds came rolling in fast (coming and going... eventually staying). At around 9:15AM we all had a quick snack before continuing our hike on Trail Crest. The trail condition on Trail Crest was completely covered in snow. We kept our Crampons on the whole way to the summit. Hiking to the top, we had limited visibility since the clouds did not go away and eventually it began snowing on us. It was also windy but not extreme. There were portions of the trail that required careful maneuvering since the snow had caused a slope off the mountain (if not passed carefully, you may slip off the ledge). We finally made it to the top at around 1:20 PM. The wind and snow picked up.. we took a few pictures, signed the log and made our way back down. We met a friend, named Moe who was an extreme help in pushing us through on our way back down.

Coming back down...

On our way back down, the trail was not as distinct due to the snow. We sort of had to re-track (what rocks were familiar because our GPS was frozen and wouldn't turn on)... eventually, we found the trail and walked our way back... there were two sketchy parts that required you to use your ice axe to cross over since the trail was completely covered in fresh snow and caused a ledge off the cliff. Coming near to the top of Trail Crest we came across a group of hikers that seemed to be lost (couldn't find their way back down to Whitney Portal) so they came and joined us to glissade down the chute. There were probably 9 or 10 of us preparing to glissade down (quickly... because thunder were becoming more and more prominent). There were little visibility when we began our glissade.. we had three individuals (myself, my girlfriend, and her sister) who have experience with glissading.. Eventually, we all began our glissade and everyone made it down safely!!!

When we got back to our camp-- it started to snow on us and we decided that we did not want another cold nights sleep so we had dinner than packed our belongings and started to hike back to Whitney Portal at 6:00 PM. When we started our hike back, the chute began clearing up with blue skies... We reached Whitney Portal at around 10:20 PM.

P.S. There were so many individuals that we came across and had conversations that really pushed us through. There were also a lot of helpful, kind, humorous hikers that made our whole experience that much better.

Here are a few pictures from my trip.

#53296 - 06/01/18 12:25 PM Re: Memorial Day Summit (5/27/18) [Re: jerryjsun]
203WEST Offline

Registered: 06/01/18
Posts: 18
Loc: Mammoth Lakes
Thanks for the conditions update. It definitely looks like winter is sticking around for a while. I've got a June 19th hiking date, so I'm starting to bet the switchbacks won't be clear then. We'll see. I won't take my wife and son up the chute.

#53297 - 06/01/18 04:22 PM Re: Memorial Day Summit (5/27/18) [Re: 203WEST]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7672
Loc: Fresno, CA
Great report, Jerrysun. Thanks! Appreciate the pictures, too.

203West: The switchbacks will be in use in 3 weeks.
      When will Mt Whitney switchbacks open?

#53300 - 06/02/18 09:13 AM Re: Memorial Day Summit (5/27/18) [Re: Steve C]
DQ922 Offline

Registered: 11/02/16
Posts: 9
Loc: California,USA
What is the correlation between Tioga Pass opening and switch back opening up?

#53302 - 06/02/18 09:51 AM Re: Memorial Day Summit (5/27/18) [Re: DQ922]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7672
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: DQ922
What is the correlation between Tioga Pass opening and switch back opening up?

Only that it gives us a reference point to use for comparison. If anyone can find another measure that we can use over the years, it would be welcome.

#53324 - 06/04/18 09:47 AM Re: Memorial Day Summit (5/27/18) [Re: jerryjsun]
Kimmy Offline

Registered: 04/26/18
Posts: 15
Loc: CA
Thank you for the great report and pictures! Looking forward to my hike on July 15th.