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#53488 - 06/14/18 06:43 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Adventurous]
al_novice Offline


Registered: 02/28/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Alabama
Summited on 06/13/18. Hike Time= 8:00 ascending, 1:05 at the summit, and 6:40 descending, total time 15:45.

Left the portal at 12:45a

Got to the chute at around 5:15, conditions were perfect for climbing wearing "Hillsound Trail Crampons" and an Ice axe.

Summited around 8:45 and stayed for about an hour

Made it back to the chute around 11:00 and glissaded down. I had an ice axe, but 0 experience. It was probably one of the scariest things i've ever done.

Made it back o the portal around 4:30p

My take away: The chute is serious. Like I took it serious, after reading about it and seeing pictures on this forum, and I still under estimated it. I'm an endurance athlete, did a half ironman May 20th, and the chute killed my legs and energy going up. I only took one break from the portal to the chute, took one break before and after the chute, but then had to take 3 breaks between the chute and the summit. This may have been contributed to by the altitude as well.

Like i said I have 0 experience glissading, so maybe 11 o'clock is perfect for descending, but the snow was absolute slush and I felt like I didn't have control some of the time. I went slow, took me like 30 min to glissade, but there were a couple times i didn't think I was going to be able to stop. I would aim to try to descend the chute by about 10 o'clock.

I would not make an attempt at the chute without an ice axe, just my opinion.

Switchbacks are getting close. Like an admin said, all it will take is a couple groups to trudge through the remaining snow, and it will melt quick.

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#53489 - 06/14/18 08:39 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7785
Loc: Fresno, CA
Stephen S posted a video on Facebook of a person sliding/tumbling completely out of control down "the chute" above Trail Camp, west of the switchbacks. I think you need to be a facebook member to view it.

https://www.facebook.com/stephen.schneider.969/videos/1746826488726698/
His main videos: https://www.facebook.com/stephen.schneider.969/posts/1747914878617859

WZ thread: Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18

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#53492 - 06/14/18 11:47 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
SWriverstone Offline


Registered: 06/12/18
Posts: 9
Loc: Oregon
Can someone enlighten me as to the cables on the route up? Where exactly are they? (I'm assuming along the trail/switchbacks somewhere, but don't know where.) Are they between Trail Crest and the summit? Or between Trail Camp and Trail Crest?

A photo on page 1 of this thread showed them completely exposed and (seemingly) easy to grasp. Are they in fact there for the purpose of hanging on to while moving along the trail or ridge? Are they safe?

It sounds like many people will be taking the switchbacks over the next few days. Please keep us all posted (I wouldn't be there until Thursday June 21). I'm still waiting on a decision to go for Whitney? Or abort completely and do a different hike.

It sounds like conditions for non-winter-mountaineering experts could become considerably safer over the next 5-7 days...(allowing for continued warm, sunny weather).

Scott

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#53494 - 06/14/18 12:10 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: SWriverstone]
sumo Offline


Registered: 06/12/18
Posts: 15
Loc: CA
See this image http://www.whitneyzone.com/docs/BobR/switchbacks_waynep.jpg
(Make sure you are viewing full resolution)
You will see the numbers on the bottom left to the top left marking the switchbacks.
(I don't know the date of this photo though)

The fence(not really cables) is between 45 and 46.

As of June 8 this is what it looked like https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Whitney/i-d9jXJ3W/0/b5184590/O/WhitCables180606.jpg

Hope this helps.

p.s. As of today my plan is to take the switchbacks on Sunday(June 17) morning.


Edited by sumo (06/14/18 12:11 PM)

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#53495 - 06/14/18 12:11 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
203WEST Offline


Registered: 06/01/18
Posts: 18
Loc: Mammoth Lakes
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Stephen S posted a video on Facebook of a person sliding/tumbling completely out of control down "the chute" above Trail Camp, west of the switchbacks. I think you need to be a facebook member to view it.

https://www.facebook.com/stephen.schneider.969/videos/1746826488726698/
His main videos: https://www.facebook.com/stephen.schneider.969/posts/1747914878617859

WZ thread: Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18
Holy smokes! In the skiing world, we call people like that a "Jerry". Is there a comparable term in the mountaineering community?

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#53496 - 06/14/18 12:29 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: SWriverstone]
Mermaid14 Offline


Registered: 06/06/18
Posts: 2
Loc: Ohio
This is my favorite map of the switchbacks: http://www.icorva.com/Photography/Whitney/Switchbacks.JPG

There is more good information on the Hiking Guy's website.

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#53497 - 06/14/18 01:00 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
SWriverstone Offline


Registered: 06/12/18
Posts: 9
Loc: Oregon
Thanks sumo and others for the info on the cables. Great map of the switchbacks too. I'm driving from Oregon to Bishop, CA tomorrow and Saturday (arriving Saturday). I hope by then to have reliable news about the status of the switchbacks! If not, I may just hike up to Rae Lakes and go fishing. <grin>

Thanks,
Scott

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#53499 - 06/14/18 04:25 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Snick&Boo]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 415
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Originally Posted By: Snick&Boo
Hello. I am new here, so be nice. smile
I have a day pass for 6/21. I have microspikes and an ice axe. Have used it before, but it's been awhile. I know my limitations and do not want to slide down the mountain. Que, silly question: Can I walk down the chute or sliding the ONLY option? I don't care what people think, I want to live and not see SAR on my hike. Last year we did Whitney in August, so didn't have to deal with this issue. Any advise helps!

Hello, Snick&Boo. While some of us can get frustrated and a little impatient with newbies who think they know everything, nobody will jump on you for asking an honest newbie question. We all started as newbies, and, admit it or not, we all did stupid stuff when we were starting out.

Glissading is mostly a newbie thing. Newbies usually think itís cool and fun, and ďeverybodyĒ does it. Sometimes it really is the best way down, but it usually it isnít. You can easily get hurt, you can destroy an expensive pair of pants, and you can get your ass cold and wet (which may not matter in June, but it can be a big deal in winter). The first professional guide service I climbed with discouraged glissading, and Iíve only done it a few times since.

The safest way down is to face the snow and walk backwards, kicking steps as you go. Depending on conditions, it can work with or without crampons and with or without an axe. I descended a couloir near Mt. Colosseum this way just yesterday. It was soft snow, and I got by with crappy boots, crampons, and no axe.

My favorite way to descend is to face out, and just walk down plunging my heels into the snow. Depending on conditions, you can do this with either an axe or ski poles. I did this just yesterday with bare boots and ski poles lower on the mountain.

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#53500 - 06/14/18 05:01 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: SWriverstone]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7785
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: SWriverstone
Can someone enlighten me as to the cables on the route up? Where exactly are they? (I'm assuming along the trail/switchbacks somewhere, but don't know where.) Are they between Trail Crest and the summit? Or between Trail Camp and Trail Crest?

A photo on page 1 of this thread showed them completely exposed and (seemingly) easy to grasp. Are they in fact there for the purpose of hanging on to while moving along the trail or ridge? Are they safe?

It sounds like many people will be taking the switchbacks over the next few days. Please keep us all posted (I wouldn't be there until Thursday June 21). I'm still waiting on a decision to go for Whitney? Or abort completely and do a different hike.

It sounds like conditions for non-winter-mountaineering experts could become considerably safer over the next 5-7 days...(allowing for continued warm, sunny weather).

Scott

Scott, you can see them in the upper right corner of this SAR rescue picture from Sunday's mess -- click on the second picture. The cables are visible in the upper right of the picture.
http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/53410/Mt_Whitney_multiple_injuries_o#Post53445

They are in fact there to help people navigate that section when the snow covers the trail like that. People walk on the outside until the snow melts down enough. Going up the switchbacks, until the cables section clears up, everyone should have some sort of traction devices. It is worst early in the morning when everything is icy. And things ice-up in the late afternoon when the sun drops behind the crest on the west.
- - - - - - - - - -

Mermaid14: Wayne Pyle created your favorite map. He has since passed on, but his map lives. (Big version here). He also added the switchback numbers to the picture linked by sumo (above). Here's a thread from 2011 where he posted a reply: Counting Switchbacks

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#53501 - 06/14/18 06:20 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: SWriverstone]
NaniTree Offline


Registered: 06/30/17
Posts: 7
Loc: California
I will be hiking up Whitney this Sunday (The 17th) and am trying to make the call on whether or not crampons and ice axes will be necessary for us to bring.

Last year I hiked up July 2nd and from what I'm hearing on the board, the conditions are comparable to last year in July(after the very snowy/wet winter) when it was still very snowy but clearing up.

Last year was my first time using crampons and an ice axe. After watching a bunch of YouTube videos and talking to the people who I rented the gear from, we felt pretty comfortable using it. Glissading is fun if you get the hang of it. The key is to begin the glissading decent down the snow while the snow is still soft. Also, know how to self arrest. I'll also mention that last year my sister and I glissaded to the right(facing downhill) of the chute as to avoid the traffic in the chute and the slickness of the chute. It worked out for us.

Planning on calling the Park Rangers tomorrow so I can make a good call on whether to bring the ice axes or not. I'm hoping to take the 99 switchbacks. I'm a pretty experienced hiker, I'm comfortable with scrambling, but I don't want to be stuck on a snowy/icy slope without the support and leverage of an ice axe.

If anyone comes back and can share the conditions before Saturday, it would be much appreciated! I'll make sure to loop back here and share my experience next week when I return.

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#53504 - 06/14/18 09:05 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Robert W]
highsierramike Offline


Registered: 07/06/17
Posts: 11
Loc: Fresno, CA
I too will be summiting on the 21st. Party of four. We are planning for switchbacks. Staying at trail camp on Wednesday the 20th. My son and I summitted last year on July 11th. From photos Iíve seen, it doesnít look much worse now than it was then. We did switchbacks then too. Just be safe and smart!!!

Iíll post photos after the trip as well as trail conditions.

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#53507 - 06/15/18 08:01 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
AC780 Offline


Registered: 06/15/18
Posts: 1
Loc: TX
I am planning on climbing Whitney as a day hike on June 27th. I hear that the switchbacks should be usable very soon and plan to take them. Does the trail after trail crest have snow/ice on it as well? Also, do you think the conditions will still require microspikes/crampons by the 27th?

Thanks

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#53512 - 06/15/18 09:17 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: highsierramike]
Robert W Offline


Registered: 06/04/16
Posts: 7
Loc: California
Thanks and have a great hike! My team is doing the 22miles in and out same day starting at 2:30 am on the 21st. Say hi if you run into a 6'6" guy on the trail

Robert is my name.

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#53521 - 06/15/18 02:03 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: sumo]
sumo Offline


Registered: 06/12/18
Posts: 15
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: sumo
Heard from a PR past Monday that the switchbacks are open already. But she still recommended taking the Chute.

Yesterday, I heard (will try to post the FB link once I get it) the warm weather today and tomorrow should pretty much clear the switchbacks of snow.

We are planning on using them on Jun 17th (this Sunday).


Spoke to a PR again and as of today they are still recommending the Chute with crampons and ice axe. She claims the cabled section of the switchbacks still has snow and no traffic through it yet for any hiking path.

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#53524 - 06/15/18 02:20 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: sumo]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7785
Loc: Fresno, CA
sumo, who is this "PR" you are talking to? By "PR" do you mean "Park Ranger"?  
The Whitney Zone isn't in any "park", so PR is confusing. It is in the Inyo National Forest. While the peak is in Sequoia National Park, I doubt anyone from that park is paying any attention to trails outside their park.

Whoever it is, I wish they would stop telling people this. It is now way past the time, compared to other years, when people have switched over to using the switchbacks. If you have an ice axe and crampons, there is NO place on the switchbacks that cannot be easily navigated. If you DON't have traction equipment, then using the chute is highly dangerous when it is icy (mornings and later afternoons through the night).


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#53527 - 06/15/18 03:19 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Adventurous Offline


Registered: 04/09/18
Posts: 5
Loc: California, Los Angeles
Is it easier/safer to ascend the Chute before the sunrise (3am) while it is icy or it is best to do so when the snow soften up in early morning (7am)? We will be using ice axe and crampons. Also, any last updates on the switchbacks? The conditions change daily in this time of the year so I thought to check for one last time before summiting on Monday. Iíd really appreciate your help.

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#53529 - 06/15/18 03:50 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Adventurous]
BohemianJess Offline


Registered: 06/14/18
Posts: 7
Loc: California
Hopefully weíll hear something by later this evening of people starting to use the switchbacks!

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#53530 - 06/15/18 03:56 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
sumo Offline


Registered: 06/12/18
Posts: 15
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: Steve C
sumo, who is this "PR" you are talking to? By "PR" do you mean "Park Ranger"?  

Yes. But I'm getting my information from calling the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center. Is US Forest Service better? I can edit my posts so no one else is confused.

Originally Posted By: Steve C
Whoever it is, I wish they would stop telling people this. It is now way past the time, compared to other years, when people have switched over to using the switchbacks.

I'm hoping you are right! Will be there tomorrow.

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#53533 - 06/15/18 04:17 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: sumo]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7785
Loc: Fresno, CA
> But I'm getting my information from calling the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center. Is US Forest Service better?

Well, the desk-rangers at the VC seem to love to dole out advice to people, and sometimes it isn't quite on the mark. I've seen cases where they got their information dead wrong.

Good luck tomorrow!! Let us know how the switchbacks look. smile

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#53535 - 06/15/18 05:53 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
BohemianJess Offline


Registered: 06/14/18
Posts: 7
Loc: California
Great news the switchbacks are good to go! Just got a response on my Instagram that about 10 people cleared them a few days ago!

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