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#55564 - 06/27/19 04:03 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: jbinsb]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7931
Loc: Fresno, CA
Wow. frown frown

Would sure like to see evidence of the danger. Curious to see if any of those long benches that were cut would cause a slide. Guess I need to go back and look.

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#55577 - 06/28/19 09:19 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
BFR Offline


Registered: 04/07/16
Posts: 137
Loc: Santa Monica, CA
I hiked the Whitney Zone today. The switchbacks are being used now (I took the chute but I saw some people on the switchbacks and confirmed they were used to get to the Trail Crest). I got a great pic near Mt Muir (see below). The route from the trail crest to Whitney summit is mostly clear and crampons are not needed. It was not pleasant glissading down the chute today - the snow is very rough.

Whitney chute:


Whitney switchbacks (from Mt Muir area):


Whitney from near JMT:




Edited by BFR (06/28/19 09:23 PM)
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#55578 - 06/28/19 10:34 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: BFR]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7931
Loc: Fresno, CA
BFR: Thanks for the pictures! It blows me away how dry much of the switchbacks are!!! Just three weeks ago, I only walked a few sections where there was much dry ground. All the rest was snow!

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#55579 - 06/28/19 10:46 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: jbinsb]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 438
Loc: Reno, NV
Originally Posted By: jbinsb
I just spoke with the Whitney Ranger Station. The woman said that because of the work done to clear the swtchbacks, they are too dangerous and as of this moment you have to use the chutes.


Sure questions the validity of advice from the "Whitney Ranger Station"

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#55580 - 06/29/19 12:06 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: BFR]
Melissa Offline


Registered: 04/12/19
Posts: 6
Loc: California
Did you say we no longer need crampons this year??? Like at all? No crampons means no axe and that would be some mighty nice news lol

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#55581 - 06/29/19 12:16 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Melissa]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7931
Loc: Fresno, CA
> Did you say we no longer need crampons
Melissa, I wouldn't go that far yet. Though when I walked the switchbacks 3 weeks ago, my ice axe was excess baggage. My crampons were sure helpful. I think microspikes and hiking poles will be enough in a week.

> Sure questions the validity of advice from the "Whitney Ranger Station"
Frank, I've heard from several who think I may have destabilized the snow slope with the big horizontal cut I made. And that could possibly have been true, except there were no slide-planes within any snow I found. And now, based on the above picture, I'd say enough has melted that risk of anything sliding is nearly zero.

We continue to see and hear about people getting hurt, or at least really afraid of getting hurt going down the chute, so at this point I think the switchbacks are a better option.


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#55582 - 06/29/19 08:26 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: BFR]
G4u2 Offline


Registered: 08/03/17
Posts: 30
Loc: San Diego, CA
Thanks for the pictures BFR! Do you have any of Guitar Lake? I'm going westward after Whitney in a couple of weeks and need to know the need for crampons beyond the WT (Horseshoe Meadow exit). Thanks again!

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#55583 - 06/29/19 08:55 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: BFR]
IanS Offline


Registered: 06/14/19
Posts: 12
Loc: Northern CA
Great Report BFR. What is the water situation, is there water at trail camp? I was told the pond is frozen over.

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#55584 - 06/29/19 09:53 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: IanS]
BFR Offline


Registered: 04/07/16
Posts: 137
Loc: Santa Monica, CA
Some further comments:
The lake at Trail Camp is not fully frozen over. You can get water there. Same for consultation lake.

I haven't been up the switchbacks but my understanding is that microspikes and poles is all that is needed. Note that you still need to ascend low grade snow to start the dry switchbacks. My guess from looking at the switchbacks is that there are probably 3-4 snow crossings that can be easily done with poles and spikes. Hiker beware, as I haven't done it.

More pics here:
https://www.strava.com/activities/2488400572


Edited by BFR (06/29/19 09:56 AM)
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#55585 - 06/29/19 10:08 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: BFR]
IanS Offline


Registered: 06/14/19
Posts: 12
Loc: Northern CA
BFR, thanks again, we are headed up tomorrow and are relieved we can water up at Trail Camp.

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#55588 - 06/29/19 04:29 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
stressfree Offline


Registered: 06/29/19
Posts: 5
Loc: mojave desert, ca
Good Day, thanks for the great updates. Can someone say how difficult the creek crossing, or crossings, are currently? We will be enterering July 2nd.

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#55589 - 06/29/19 09:29 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: stressfree]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7931
Loc: Fresno, CA
In the past week or more, the crossing about a mile above the trail head has been causing people to wade. The easiest way to avoid that is to start up the old trail. It is not maintained, but is shorter by 10 minutes, and joins the Main Trail just after the worst creek crossing. I used it several weeks ago and it is in pretty good shape.

Read this thread to learn about it: Old Trail

Trails higher up are less of a problem. But people have been talking about taking:
--water shoes (cheap crock knock-offs are what I use ..."garden shoes"
--wear plastic bags over your boots when you cross
--take a dry pair of socks to change into if your feet get wet.

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#55590 - 06/29/19 10:09 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
stressfree Offline


Registered: 06/29/19
Posts: 5
Loc: mojave desert, ca
Good to know. We will do the Old Trail and bring some water shoes too. Those are good for around camp and while boots dry anyway.

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#55595 - 07/01/19 07:14 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Irene Offline


Registered: 07/01/19
Posts: 1
Loc: Orange County, CA
Really appreciate all the valuable trail updates! We have a group of 4 going on July 4th. We will not go all the way to the summit. We will just go to Trail Camp, camp for one night, and head back. Thus, We will not be bringing ice axe and crampon (no experience using them anyway), but will have microspike and hiking poles. We are all in good physical condition, most of us have completed or almost completed the six pack of peaks, have backpacked before, and have been to high altitude areas. Now the question, can someone please provide some insight/update on the snow condition going from Lone Pine Lake to Trail Camp? I've been reading a lot about snow cavities, snow bridge, running stream underneath the snow... How are the snows around the trails that are near the streams past Outpost Camp (as shown on the map)? Are snows on the traverse slippery? From what I've gathered from reading other people's post, staying on the main trail is critical as snow is melting fast and off trail areas might be very dangerous. We will have both paper map and Gaia GPS in phone and we will really try to stick to the main trail. But I would still like to gather more information so we know what to expect. Thank you!!

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#55596 - 07/01/19 07:44 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Irene]
terraelise Offline


Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 30
Loc: CA
You can see my & another report from the last few days: other than small runs on snow and water on the trail, getting above Mirror Lake is no big deal. After that there are snow fields, but it's still easy to follow and do in just boots and no poles. The melt is incredible right now, so the trail traverse I turned back on and the boot path that cuts across the drainages to the south both will be different by the time you go, but it seems like the boot path is deteriorating. Then again, the traverse i didn't like will probably still be there because of how much dang snow there is, but it will be more worn, likely, as more people use it. If you plant safe footholds in slushy snow, you will be fine - and in the mornings use microspikes: but all that is really only for around Trail Camp.


Edited by terraelise (07/01/19 07:45 AM)
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#55597 - 07/01/19 09:02 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7931
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here are two pictures posted on FB by Stus O. On June 28, they took the switchbacks up and down.









Here's a picture of the switchbacks shared on FB by BFR, taken 6/28/2019 from near Mt Muir:

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#55611 - 07/02/19 02:34 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
ChrisR Offline


Registered: 04/22/18
Posts: 2
Loc: Missouri
What's the general consensus on when the main trail via switchbacks will become non-technical?

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#55612 - 07/02/19 04:11 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: ChrisR]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7931
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: ChrisR
What's the general consensus on when the main trail via switchbacks will become non-technical?

The Switchbacks are ALREADY less technical than the chute. We keep seeing reports, almost daily, of injuries and rescues from people descending the chute and getting hurt -- sprains, banged up, skinned up (ice peels skin!)

People can already hike the switchbacks more easily and safely than they can the chute. I don't understand why there is such reluctance to switch -- pun intended wink

They aren't NON-technical, yet. You still need spikes -- even below Trail Camp, as there is a not-so-easy side-slope traverse people have to get past. On the switchbacks, micro-spikes and hiking poles would suffice to get through several snowy sections.

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#55614 - 07/02/19 06:30 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Wiff Offline


Registered: 07/23/14
Posts: 67
Loc: LA
What's everybody's best guesstimate for the very end of July? No more snow?

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#55616 - 07/02/19 09:00 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Wiff]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7931
Loc: Fresno, CA
Trail runners by end of July

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