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#53351 - 06/06/18 02:51 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: 203WEST]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 426
Loc: Reno, NV
Originally Posted By: 203WEST
It might be on to Plan B, with an attempt to get walk-ins later in the summer before my son heads off to college. Bummer.


Not a bummer. You can likely score walk-in permits (especially midweek - All through August and September by clicking the above link you'll see Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays have many unused permits in past years.) You'll have less (almost no) worries about snow (I did forego summitting late August a few years ago because of snow above Iceberg Lake).

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#53352 - 06/06/18 03:40 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
DavidK Offline


Registered: 06/06/18
Posts: 3
Loc: UT
Going up Friday. Can't wait! I wish there were more current reports - things change daily this time of year. I will post update after we return.

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#53353 - 06/06/18 04:30 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: DavidK]
Adventurous Offline


Registered: 04/09/18
Posts: 5
Loc: California, Los Angeles
Thank you DavidK. Wishing you best of luck and looking forward to your updates. Summiting on the 18th. Iíd appreciate any updates on the 99 switchbacks.

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#53355 - 06/06/18 08:53 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Adventurous]
Mermaid14 Offline


Registered: 06/06/18
Posts: 2
Loc: Ohio
Some people have been posting trip reports on All Trails. We are also summiting the 18th and fingers crossed the switchbacks are open! From the Tioga road data posted here, and weather forecasts, Iím staying positive they will open within the next week

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#53356 - 06/06/18 09:23 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Mermaid14]
Adventurous Offline


Registered: 04/09/18
Posts: 5
Loc: California, Los Angeles
Thank you for the info Mermaid14. I am hopeful too and super excited! Come on switchbacks, open up! smile

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#53357 - 06/06/18 09:44 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Adventurous]
al_novice Offline


Registered: 02/28/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Alabama
I will be making an attempt on the 13th and hoping to post my about my efforts a day or two after.

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#53358 - 06/06/18 09:55 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
samkhal Offline


Registered: 06/06/18
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
We summited this Monday (June 4th) after spending the night at Trail Camp. We planned to camp at Consultation Lake, but that lake is still frozen over. After reaching camp, we spent some time practicing self-arrest on the nearby snowfields.

We left camp at 3:45am and reached the top of the chute by 9:15. Snow conditions were good and it was easy going with ice axe and crampons. There were a number of people going up with just hiking poles and no traction; definitely would not recommend.

The switchbacks are still covered in lots of ice; one group we talked to tried to take the switchbacks, but turned back, came down, and went up the chute instead due to the conditions.

The section from trail crest to the summit has a number of short sketchy icy sections. It's quite a hassle to put crampons on for each one, so we left them in our packs and made do with careful ice-axe placements. Microspikes+axe here would be ideal.

After summiting we reached trail crest at about 11:30 on the way down. Conditions at this time were perfect for glissading, so we slid down the length of the chute and got back to camp pretty quickly.

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#53360 - 06/06/18 10:39 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Jim O Offline


Registered: 05/10/18
Posts: 4
Loc: California
I appreciated all the previous updates from others in my planning. My daughter, son and I went up yesterday. The weather was great, but the warmer temperature had the chute softening up earlier. Hearing reports from the day before and worried about slushy conditions, we moved out portal start time up from 3:00 to 2:00 am. That got us to Trail Camp by 8:00 after a detour and a break to filter water for all of us

We were topping out the chute around 9:00 am and it was already getting pretty soft by then. Iím glad we were not much later. A few made it up with microspikes, but I was glad we had crampons and axes. Earlier is better. We didnít see or hear of anyone using the switchbacks, except for one group that used the lower portion and then cut over to the chute.

The trail from Trail Crest to the summit is mostly clear, but there are still a few tricky places with some slippery snow. They were too short to bother putting on any kind of spikes, but they required a little bit of attention. There were also some longer snow covered areas that were not much of an issue. That segment was slower than expected for us, and we didnít get to the summit until around noon.

Conditions were great for glissading mid-afternoon, but by the time we were going down most people had used one track that was dug down at least a couple of feet from the surface and down to visible rocks in a couple of places. I opted for another path and speed control was very manageable.

A few other miscellaneous notes as a first-timer:
ówater level seemed fairly high at a few of the stream crossings. In a few places it would very difficult to keep socks dry if you donít have water-proof boots, and it is still to cold to hike with wet feet.
óthe segment from the Muir Trail intersection to the summit is the longest 1.9 miles ever. We again proved altitude is tricky; it affected my very fit 21 year-old son more than his older sister or me.
óit is stunningly beautiful. The magnitude of the grandeur of everything from the canyon rock walls to the vistas in every direction from the top are on a different scale than other beautiful places I have been.

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#53364 - 06/07/18 08:48 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7526
Loc: Fresno, CA
PCT hiker JJ posted on FB the first picture of the cables this year (June 6).
Edit June 16: Most people are now using the switchbacks. See the pictures below, and the report just below that from altra_ben concerning the switchbacks. ...Someone PLEASE bring back current pictures of the cables stretch!

JJ's report follows:
Quote:
Iím a PCT hiker and was trying to hitch to Horseshoe Meadows and the car ended up at Portal. I decided to just go with it and attempted to get back to the PCT via Crabtree ranger station.

I was not prepared for portal side, had done zero research, had spikes and axe but since I was following the trail and got up to the cables before deciding that wasn't the right way to go about it I went back down to camp and set up.(noonish) I told myself I'd attempt again the following day once the snow hardened. While waiting out the day and just being bored I didn't feel right about skipping PCT miles so I hiked back down to portal and hitched into Lone Pine. I'll summit Whitney from the backside (Guitar Lake) in 2-3 days.


Mt Whitney cables, June 6, 2018:

(click to enlarge)


Edited by Steve C (06/16/18 02:50 PM)

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#53366 - 06/07/18 08:31 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: al_novice]
Adventurous Offline


Registered: 04/09/18
Posts: 5
Loc: California, Los Angeles
Thanks Al_Novice! Looking forward to your updates and wish you the best of luck. Next weekís forecast is real promising (Ave H 55F). Unless Iím missing something, the switchbacks should start clearing up next week... .

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#53376 - 06/08/18 09:08 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
David Nieman Offline


Registered: 06/04/18
Posts: 3
Loc: Los Angeles
My fiancť and I summited on 6/8. We had one night at Trail Camp on 6/7. We left Trail Camp a little after 330am and hit the chute around 4am. We had been told that the switchbacks were still closed due to snow on the last few. It sounds like they could be open in the next week or so, weather permitting. The snow in the chute in the early morning was really firm which made for a safe and easy (relatively) ascent. We took our time getting to the summit and back. When we got back to the chute at around 1130, the temperature/sun had considerably softened the snow in the chute. Looking from Trail Crest down the chute, to the left there was an established glissade route. However, it goes down the steepest portion of the chute and there are several exposed rocks. We traversed over to the right and after testing the snow it made for a really controlled glissade descent. We both had no experience glissading (apart from a vast amount of internet research) and were able to make it down safe and controlled. We ran into many others without any experience and they were able to safely descend as well. Big take away: the chute is relatively safe if your timing is right. Ascend early, descend in the middle of the day.

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#53377 - 06/08/18 09:47 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: David Nieman]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7526
Loc: Fresno, CA
Thanks for the report, David. How was the path over the snow in the picture here: http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/53042#Post53042

It's a spot part way down to the west from Trail Crest, before you get to the JMT junction.


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#53379 - 06/09/18 05:55 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
DavidK Offline


Registered: 06/06/18
Posts: 3
Loc: UT
We made the climb as a single day-climb on Friday June 8, group of 10 but somewhat varying abilities and conditioning. Started at the trailhead at 3:15 and were at the chute around 8. Even at that hour, the snow was a little soft but not terrible to climb. We had a mixture of crampons and microspikes, and a few of the spikers felt a little more unsteady but all made it up with minimal problems.

Got back to the chute in mid-afternoon, and the snow was REALLY soft. But a delightful glissade, for those willing to trust their skills. I did the whole thing in two stretches, trying to urge my companions to relax and trust their stills to control speed! This technique works perfectly:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXfROxEqeEw

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#53381 - 06/09/18 12:28 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Vix Offline


Registered: 06/09/18
Posts: 1
Loc: AZ
Did MR route solo June 8th. Started abound 1:30 and after about an hour of route finding issues, made the chute about 7 am. There was no snow until the base of the chute and was starting to be ripe for post holing.

I mainly want to provide conditions on the final 400 as caution should be taken here. Many of the rocks as the bottom were glazed over in ice due to the thaw/freeze cycles. The only rocks not iced over were to the far left.

Once over the rocks, the final 400 was all sun cupped snow with some penitentes and still in shade at 9 am. Very solid snow/ice and think it would be difficult to get snow pickets in. It was pretty dicey climbing the last couple hundred feet with only one axe and the penitentes made it difficult to get good purchase with the front points.

Several boulders were already slung with rap rings and the slings looked in decent shape. If I could do it again, would have brought 50m rope for bail out just in case as down climbing would be difficult.

If you are not a competent climber, you may want to consider doing a different route given current conditions. The final 400 seems like it would stay pretty slick well past conditions allowing for no post-holing up the previous chute. But The "easy walk off route" looked like it was in good shape from what I could see.

Have fun out there everyone.

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#53399 - 06/11/18 08:04 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: DavidK]
Twee Offline


Registered: 06/11/18
Posts: 10
Loc: San Diego, CA
Hi David, we are heading up Sun and would love a detailed report once you get back. Not sure if you would be able to write about it right away when u get back so that we can have some updates by the time we go. Are u doing a day hike or overnight trip?
We are a little nervous with the ice and snow condition because we have no experience with them so Iím really hoping the trail conditions are better this week than it has been.
Good luck on your trip, have fun, and be safe out there

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#53400 - 06/11/18 08:12 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Jim O Offline


Registered: 05/10/18
Posts: 4
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
How was the path over the snow in the picture here: http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/53042#Post53042

It's a spot part way down to the west from Trail Crest, before you get to the JMT junction.



Steve, my recollection from earlier last week is that the trail was entirely clear from Trail Crest to the JMT. There were some snowy patches after though.

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#53401 - 06/11/18 08:41 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
robbie Offline


Registered: 06/11/18
Posts: 1
Loc: Orange County
Did a two day trip this weekend (June 9th-10th) with a group of 10.

We camped at trail camp which had patches of snow, but was mostly clear. The wind was pretty bad the entire time we were there. I saw several tents pretty much destroyed from the wind and someone said a tent had blown into the lake the day before. Temperatures dipped below freezing (maybe high 20's) Saturday night with many of the small puddles freezing over by morning.

I left trail camp around 5:20am, reached the top of the chute around 6:20 and summited just before 8:00am. I was moving pretty quick thanks to a night of acclimating at 12,000'. The slower people in my group started at 4am and summited around 9:00am.

At 6:00am the chute was slightly icy, but I felt very solid with micro spikes and an ice axe. Most people in my group had micro spikes and hiking poles and had no problem going up. There were a few snowy/icy areas past trail crest, but nothing that required me to put on micro spikes or use my ice axe.

On the way down from the peak we were warned that several people were seriously injured on the chute. I heard a couple different stories, but from what I can gather a girl and her boyfriend were ascending the chute with Yaktraxs and hiking poles when one or both of them slipped and crashed into another group below them. They all slid down the chute and crashed into the rocks at the base. The girl broke her arm and one guy may have fractured his skull. By the time I got to them they were wrapped in sleeping bags so I did not see the extent of their injuries. People who saw them earlier said it was really bad and that they were not doing well. I could see a search and rescue helicopter for the rest of the day going back and forth trying to evac them.

After hearing about this incident everyone in my group was pretty nervous descending the chute. Using an ice axe I glissaded very slowly to the first rocky area and scrambled down a couple hundred feet before glissading down the less steep area. Everyone else inched their way down with micro spikes on facing the chute and stabbing the ground in front of them with shortened poles. It took some of them 2+ hours to get from the top of the chute to trail camp.

I would highly recommend an ice axe if youíre planning on going up in the next couple weeks. I bought one specifically for this trip and only had a couple hours at trail camp to practice the night before. Even with my lack of experience I was much better off than other people in my group. Everyone was wishing they had purchased/rented one.

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#53402 - 06/11/18 08:57 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: robbie]
203WEST Offline


Registered: 06/01/18
Posts: 18
Loc: Mammoth Lakes
Thanks for the report Robbie! I hope those other hikers are OK. We're heading up next week, but I probably won't take my wife/son past Trail Camp without the switchbacks clear.

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#53405 - 06/11/18 10:55 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: robbie]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7526
Loc: Fresno, CA
Robbie, thanks so much for the report.

It is good that people are being warned by reports like yours.

What I don't understand this year, is that usually, a couple of hiking groups will push up or down the switchbacks, which will make a good boot track, and then everyone hears the news and uses them. It takes about a day for the masses to really open up the switchbacks.

I just don't understand why that hasn't occurred yet this year!!!

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#53413 - 06/11/18 08:06 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
PeteK. Offline


Registered: 03/07/17
Posts: 13
Loc: CA
WOW. If anyone read my trip report from Thursday, and other peoples, they would see that microspikes/Yaktraks and hiking poles are not the way to go up or down the chute....you need an ice axe and crampons to ascend and axe to descend safely. My buddy and I saw lots of people really struggling to ascend with 'spikes and poles...no idea how they fared on the way down..luckily no one got hurt that day (I don't think!?).
Stay safe out there folks!!

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