Our crew set out to attempt a summit of Mt Whitney via the Mountaineers' Route this week.
We attended the 11am lottery on Sunday. Of the 20 groups, we drew #18. There were no overnight North Fork of Lone Pine creek permits available to us, a group of 3. So, we opted to return to the 2pm lottery and try and get a day pass.
To kill time, we drove a few miles north to Manzanar, a federal historic site of a Japanese-American internment camp during WWII. This turned into not 'killing time', but learning a great deal about US history. If you are going to be in the area and not hiking, I'd recommend spending an hour or two here. It is free (donations accepted) and very well presented.
We return for the 2pm lottery. There are about 12 groups. After handing out the numbers, the USFS rep speaks out: "You are all here for day passes, right?" All answer yes, except 1 or 2. They had reserved passes, but during the lottery people with reserved passes are entered into the lottery because that will be the order in which the reps see everyone. She speaks out again: "We've got more than enough day permits for all of you, so relax."
We were given a free day permit, group of 3, for the Mountaineers' Route and wag bags. We asked, and the USFS rep said that because we had day permits, we could return via the main trail.
Went to sleep just after dark that night at Lone Pine Campground (not my choice). Had a 2am wakeup, and entered the trail at Mt Whitney Portal at ~4am with day packs.
Twilight was when we crossed the E-Ledges. Upper Boy Scout Lake was around 8:30am.
We headed up the MR trail toward Ice Berg Lake and encountered a USFS ranger. She must have been around 23 years old, and asked for our permit. This is the second time in a row that I've been asked for a permit by a USFS ranger on the MR. All is in order. She asks if we have our wag bags. Then she says that some people think it is the rangers' job to pick up wag bags from the trail. We are all sympathetic with her and exchange sarcasm and say goodbye.
After an hour we reach Ice Berg lake and encounter another hiker. We chat. His name is Wolfie (from Santa Cruz). Said he was thinking about doing the MR to the summit, but was walking in the opposite direction. I ask if he wants to join us and he (disbelieving) accepts. This was a win/win for both of us.
We look up at the chute with the scree and talus. I mention what I learned weeks earlier, but Wolfie points out what he read and believes: using the spur off the east buttress would spare us the work of ascending scree. He was right.
Everyone we saw on the MR had helmets.
My hiking partners (daughter and friend), fell behind. I kept up with Wolfie, until the two fell too far behind. Wolfie ended up at the summit and sent message with a descending hiker that he would wait for us there. I waited for the two to make it to the final 400 detour up the blocks.
The 3 of us negotiated the blocks, while Wolfie was descending. He gave us advice on routes up. Said he wanted to cross the ledges before dark, and thanked us for inviting him to hike along.
We summited around 2:30pm and exited the trail via the main route around 9:30pm. Hiking partners did not want to descend via the MR because it was 'sketch'. I'm totally OK with that and proud that they did this all the way up.
There was smoke in Owens Valley, but the wind blew it away. Then it came back.
This was fun to see.
Since there has been talk of the 'walk off' detour, here is this picture as of 8/6/2018. Not sure of the conditions around that bend.