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#53628 - 06/21/18 05:41 AM Mt Whitney Summit via switchbacks on 6/18/18
mtnrunner Offline


Registered: 08/29/10
Posts: 6
Loc: CT, USA
Had a fantastic day summiting with my son via the switchbacks! We started from the Portal at 3:15am and made Trail Camp by 6am. The rocks and streams are icy in the pre-dawn hours so don't assume a rock is wet, it may be icy. I nearly fell into the stream below Outpost Camp and then did fall into a small stream below Trail Camp and douse my gloves due to icy rocks and carelessness.

Lucky my gloves dried fast in the morning sun as we took a break at Trail Camp. The orange morning sun started to wash over the needle spires of Whitney and it was amazing! We had planned to to go up the chute, but we saw a few people going up the switchbacks and a few going up the chute, and the switchbacks looked much faster so we decided to do the same.

We actually climbed the whole way without needing our cramp-ons or ice axe but we knew on the decent we would need them in a few areas. The areas that are still most sketchy are: the traverse at the cables just above Trail Camp, and the short traverse at the top of the 99 switchbacks just before Trail Crest. The cables section was very icy, while the traverse was just a very narrow monorail with a very long slide to the bottom of the chute if you mis-stepped. There are about 5-6 other areas where snow is still on the switchbacks but they are melting fast and we did not see them as problems.

Early in the morning some sections of the switchbacks are very icy from the prior day's melt but by afternoon they are nearly dry.

From Trail Crest on up the conditions are great! We saw a very curious marmot at the junction with the JMT and my son took a selfie with it. :-)

We gained the summit by 10am and the conditions on the summit were windy and quite chilly, but the views and experience were awesome!

On the decent we decided not to try to glissade down the chute. There are a lot of exposed rocks and the route through them is narrow so we decided the switchbacks are now more safe. The ranger at the visitor's center also said they have been doing daily rescues for people getting injured in the chute from hitting rocks.

Arrived back at the Portal around 4:30pm after a nice rest at Trail Camp to take in the views one last time!

One point that really, REALLY ticked me off... I saw numerous used WAG bags left along the trail. Don't be a dope and leave yours up there, carry it down like the rest of us do! This is a fragile ecosystem, enjoy it and help preserve it for everyone else.

[img]https://1drv.ms/u/s!AmeBI1dFJYSeg9RJMp-cpgefCRliHQ[/img]
_________________________
* If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk. -- Robert Baden-Powell
* Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- MLK Jr

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#53629 - 06/21/18 05:50 AM Re: Mt Whitney Summit via switchbacks on 6/18/18 [Re: mtnrunner]
mtnrunner Offline


Registered: 08/29/10
Posts: 6
Loc: CT, USA
Hmmm, my embedded picture didn't seem to work. Bummer ):^(
_________________________
* If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk. -- Robert Baden-Powell
* Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- MLK Jr

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#53634 - 06/21/18 12:02 PM Re: Mt Whitney Summit via switchbacks on 6/18/18 [Re: mtnrunner]
Bianca B Offline


Registered: 06/20/18
Posts: 3
Loc: CA
Hi there. Thanks for the report! Do you feel like helmets are necessary on the switchbacks? We heard there may be ice falling down from above as things are melting. We are doing 5 days of backpacking, culminating in the Mt. Whitney summit on day 5 and coming up from the south side, and then down the North side (99 switchbacks) to finish our trip at Whitney portal - so would rather not carry helmets the whole way. Also did you feel like you needed ice axes and micro spikes for the descent? We are fit and agile but not experienced mountaineers.

Also what were you wearing for the hike? shorts or pants? t-shirts or long sleeves/jackets?

Thanks!

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#53643 - 06/21/18 05:34 PM Re: Mt Whitney Summit via switchbacks on 6/18/18 [Re: Bianca B]
mtnrunner Offline


Registered: 08/29/10
Posts: 6
Loc: CT, USA
The only place I saw ice falling from above was at the cable traverse and the ice was only falling from a few feet above the shelf. It hit me but I was not hurt by it. The place I had heard there was higher risk and helmet need was in climbing up the chute where people above were dislodging rocks and snow chunks. Enjoy your backpacking trip! 5 days in the back country sounds awesome!
_________________________
* If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk. -- Robert Baden-Powell
* Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. -- MLK Jr

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