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#54559 - 01/03/19 12:28 PM Older Trail Conditions - Mt Whitney Trail, 2019
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
        Out-of-date Mt Whitney Trail Conditions -- 2019

The posts below have been moved from the main Current Conditions thread for trail reports during 2019.
(Posts are moved periodically after they no longer represent current conditions.)

Previous years:
    Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2018
    Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2017
    Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2016
    Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2015
    Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2014
    Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2013
    Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2012
    Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2011

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#54561 - 01/07/19 11:31 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Solarifur Offline


Registered: 01/07/19
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
Went up to check out whitney on the 29th and 30th of december last week.
There was the usual first roadsign block that you can drive around up in plce, but the 2nd roadbock that stops any vehicles about 2 miles from the trail head wasnt there. We went up in a tesla and nearly made it to the trail head parking lot but couldnt get enough traction around the last curves. a few 4x4s made it up fine. You can get up in chains probably. Even saw a toyota corolla up there. we parked close by only about a mile from the trailhead below where the snow wasnt as deep so at least we had to do less of a walk.

Theres currently about 2 - 3 feet of snow from 2 weeks ago that is still un-consolidated. difficult to put the tent pegs in such soft snow. Too early and not enough powder in the season for any real snow travel too. Also heard that the cables on the normal route up are still buried from a passing hiker we met.

I'll be waiting for the next big dumping of snow soon.






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#54562 - 01/07/19 12:44 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Solarifur]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 272
Loc: California
I'm sure this weeks storms have already piled a lot more new snow onto the area.
_________________________

http://wandering.earth

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#54687 - 02/12/19 10:34 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here's a picture posted on FB on Feb 9, 2019.

They snowshoed via the WP Road up to Whitney Portal.


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#54735 - 03/01/19 11:44 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Scott G Offline


Registered: 03/01/19
Posts: 3
Loc: Ca
Way cool! This is on my bucket list!! Awesome picture!

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#54823 - 03/17/19 09:32 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
First hike reported from the Main Trail, 2019.

March 15-17, 2019.
Reported on FB by James W.

Two on skis, two with snowshoes.

On Whitney Portal Road


Bighorn Park / Outpost Camp. They spent night 1 here.



Climbing, below Trail Camp


Night #2 at Trail Camp



Climbing toward the switchbacks and "the chute"


Looking down to Trail Camp from Trail Crest

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#54965 - 04/18/19 11:31 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
This was posted on FB by Russell B
He posted several followup videos.
They climbed Mt Whitney, April 13-15, 2019.

Quote:
Alrighty Whitney fans, my buddy and I did the Whitney Trail this past weekend and hit the summit on Sunday afternoon. Here is a quick trip report...

Day 1- Gate was locked, added 4 miles to the journey. Started at 4:30am. Trailhead was clear of snow and so was the first mile... after the first mile all snow. No snowshoes needed, it was well packed. Navigation was a little difficult but GAIA with downloaded maps makes it pretty easy. We were able to make it to camp by 5pm. We camped out just below Trail Camp.

Day 2- Woke up at 2:30am. Walked up to Trail Camp and put on crampons... The snow chute was an unbelievable challenge- took us just under 3 hours. Made it to Trail Crest around 8am. The backside trail was a little more sketchy (see pictures). It was narrow and slushy at times... Definitely need to be experienced in crampons to do this safely. Made it to the summit just after noon. We took our time and it was a difficult traverse. Coming back down was very easy after Trail Crest.

Day 3- Woke at 6am and we were back at the car by 11am. Really easy walking on the way down.

We were the only ones on the Whitney Trail... Plenty of people going up the Mountaineers Route. Definitely need all of the right winter mountaineering equipment... Warm layers, hard shells, down jacket, ice axe, crampons, etc. etc. Experience with navigation in the snow is definitely very important. Feel free to ask questions, I will try to answer along the way. Cheers!

A followup:
Quote:
We definitely did not need the snow shoes we packed.... it was dead weight. (We ditched the snowshoes after the first three miles. They were not necessary.) But if it gets softer and slushier- you will want them. So it just all depends, sorry for the squishy answer. I’d bring them.
Lone Pine lake is not too far. If the gate is open I bet you can make it there in 3-4 hours. The biggest thing is navigating. We got a little lost going up the first day but GAIA is the best. There is no trail, but there are some boot trails... you just can't trust them.
It will be awesome, enjoy!


Also, I called Inyo County road dept, and the word is that they are still working on clearing rocks, and it should be open by "the end of the month... but call again next week." wink

Looking down on Outpost Camp / Bighorn Park


Climbing above Mirror Lake


Dawn, above Trail Camp


Climbing the chute just below Trail Crest


West Side, JMT


Summit Hut is full of snow, no door


Descending the chute area.




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#54968 - 04/18/19 07:20 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Pranav Bhole Offline


Registered: 04/15/19
Posts: 1
Loc: California
Hello, we got the permit to hike on 3rd May, can you please let us know that will the gate to trailhead (whitney portal) open at that time?

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#54969 - 04/18/19 09:29 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Pranav Bhole]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
No promises, but I think it should be. It has never been closed May 1 before.

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#54983 - 04/23/19 09:05 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Doug from the Whitney Portal store reported on the road today, Tue, Apr 23, 2019:

Quote:
Road should open this Friday, soft open now to middle gate about 1 mile below trailhead. DON'T BLOCK THE ROAD,park at the overview about 1000' before the gate.

Still a closed gate near the trailhead, just before the overflow parking lot. If this gate is locked parking will be limited, about 10 spaces and then along the road meaning if like last weekend you may not find a parking spot near the Portal.

I will post as the gates open.

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#54992 - 04/24/19 10:41 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Just for fun: Here's a picture posted by Yosemite N.P. on their FB page, Apr 24, 2019. Snow plow working the Glacier Point road.


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#54998 - 04/25/19 04:17 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 431
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Yesterday, I climbed the Mountaineer’s Route and then descended the main trail (with a detour to Mt. Muir). As Doug said, the lower gate was open, but the next gate up (about a 40-minute walk from the trailhead) was locked. The road was completely clear. The parking lot next to the trailhead still had three feet of snow in the morning, but they cleared it by the time I hiked out. I didn’t go by the pond, but the road was clear as far as I could see. My guess is that they will open all the gates on Friday, as Doug said.

There is a lot of snow everywhere, once you get a few hundred feet above the portal. There is avalanche debris on the north fork (Mountaineers’ Route) in the canyon below Lower Boy Scout Lake. You don’t want to be there in the middle of the day. I don’t think anybody has been on the ledges yet. It appeared that you could take them if you wanted to, but you would be forced onto easy snow up higher. There is great snow coverage all the way to about 100’ below the notch. The final 400 is mixed snow and rock.

You can follow the main trail up to about 9,300’. After that, the tracks take some shortcuts, but more or less follow the trail. The chute has lots of snow. It will be the best way up and down for quite a while. The trail on the back side is mostly snow, but there are plenty of bare patches. There are several short, steep places that are hard to cross without crampons.

Overall, the snow is soft, which makes for a lot of extra work. Fortunately, I rarely punched into the snow deeper than my ankles. Leave the snowshoes at home. I hope this helps. Have fun!

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#55001 - 04/25/19 09:08 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: bobpickering]
Jay Garcia Offline


Registered: 02/01/18
Posts: 12
Loc: Seattle, WA
Wow amazing job, Im planing to do the same on the week of May 6, I hope by then the upper gate is open.

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#55006 - 04/26/19 11:31 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Jay Garcia]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 431
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Doug just posted that the gate is open.

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#55023 - 04/30/19 02:24 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Philippe Offline


Registered: 04/28/16
Posts: 11
Loc: CA, USA
Summited on Sunday April 28 following the Main Trail.

Tracks follow the usual winter trail:
- chute to access Outpost Camp above the snow-covered creek.
- chute to access Mirror lake above the snow-covered creek.
- Consultation lake detour (Trail Side Meadow snow-covered)
- chute to access Trail Crest (99 switchbacks snow-covered)

Observations:
- Road open all the way to the trailhead - no snow nor ice.
- Mirror lake has flowing water.
- Pond at Trail Camp is frozen.
- Snow-free spots to setup tent at Trail Camp.
- Heavy snow by the cable section of the 99 switchbacks (cf picture)
- Trail Crest has snow patches but good footprints all over.
- Wind was crazy, winter tent was a must.

You can check the pictures I took here:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZH2X2Fg1SuHhXdau8

Have fun and be safe!

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#55024 - 04/30/19 09:21 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Philippe]
MikeH Offline


Registered: 04/05/18
Posts: 43
Loc: Escondido, CA
Excellent photos, Philippe! Must have been a great time.

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#55025 - 04/30/19 09:54 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Thanks, Philippe! I appreciate the report!

Here's a picture from Hayden M taken Saturday, 4/27/19. Click on the image to see a full-size view. If you look closely, you can see the cables section.

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#55045 - 05/04/19 07:44 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
ZHIKER15 Offline


Registered: 05/04/19
Posts: 1
Loc: California
Started on the main trail about 1045 am towards the north fork went on the mountaineers route .. hit snow about about 1/4 mile up . Would say crampons is a must past lower Boy Scout . Took e Bach ledges. All clear of snow .water running off the rock are extremely slippery . Snow bridges are falling all over , so be careful. “ post-holing is a must. Took about 6 hours to get up with a few breaks . Clear weather until we got to upper boyscout , slight snowing with wind picking up towards the evening . Weather says clear tomorow for the summit , will leave camp about 3 am and head up . Inside tent as temps are pretty cold still with the wind picking up . “ have service “No water at upper Boy Scout yet as we filled up at lower before heading up the 2 hr misery hike. Will up date tomorow ..


Edited by ZHIKER15 (05/04/19 07:46 PM)

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#55133 - 05/11/19 10:32 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: bobpickering]
Donal Offline


Registered: 05/11/19
Posts: 1
Loc: Colorado
Hi Bob, a small team of us are planning on taking the Mountaineers Route next weekend (18th). I've been struggling to find a clear description of 1) how best to cross the streams without getting wet, and 2) how best to tackle the final 400. From what I've read, I understand that the traverse option is easiest/safest to the summit when we get to the top of the couloir, but I'd like to hear your opinion particularly with current conditions, because it appears that the past week has dropped a few inches of fresh snow.
We're all in good shape and have experience with crampons, self arrest, and 14ers.

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#55145 - 05/12/19 01:00 PM Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Mountaineer's Route [Re: Donal]
Hoot Offline


Registered: 02/01/19
Posts: 17
Loc: Ohio
Can anyone give a report from the Mountaineer's route in the past few days? It looked like the trail was going to get some new snow. I'm particularly interested in conditions at Upper Boy Scout Lake where we plan to camp Wednesday night. Will we be camping on snow? Can we get water at the lake or its outlet or is it likely to still be frozen solid?

Regarding the final 400', it looks like you take a left at the notch to climb the steep Class 3 route to the summit. To do the Class 2 alternative, it looks like you largely continue straight past the notch and traverse upward. Does that sound right? Will these two options be fairly obvious to first timers once we get to the notch?

Hoot

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#55146 - 05/12/19 01:37 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Mountaineer's Route [Re: Hoot]
Scott H Offline


Registered: 01/08/17
Posts: 10
Loc: San Diego
As of last weekend, crampons not long after the north fork mountaineers route, e ledges clear of snow, running water in a couple spots slippery, lower Boy Scout lake is available for water, upper boyscout still frozen, get water at lower for sure, final 400 above notch, snow, ice, rocks, take the 400 up( left) traverse down,( a little less sketchy), either sleep on snow at uppers or find a flat rock but you’ll see where people have slept, that was a large storm for this late in the season, it will warm up fairly quickly which means lots of false bridges and runoff for sure, as we all know conditions change daily/ hourly on Whitney, find that window and enjoy the route

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#55150 - 05/12/19 04:09 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Donal]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 431
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Hi, Donal. It’s been 18 days since I was there, so everything I say will be out of date. When ascending to LBSL, the “trail” crosses right to left. People usually step on rocks and branches to hop across. No wading. The next crossing goes near a small waterfall. You will probably get splashed, and you may step in a couple of inches of water, but it shouldn’t be a big deal. The ledges start shortly after the second crossing.

The “Final 400” was mixed snow (both soft and consolidated) and rock, but no ice. No telling what it’s like now. Yes, you take a left at the top of the notch. You should see plenty of tracks going up. You can follow those tracks or go up the rock to the right of the tracks.

Your description of the “Easy Walkoff” is right. It avoids the rock climbing, but it can be deceptively sketchy at times. However, it looked really easy 18 days ago.

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#55153 - 05/13/19 03:08 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Melissa Offline


Registered: 04/12/19
Posts: 6
Loc: California
May 9th and 10th Whitney got 24" of new snow. May 11th and 12th the main trail was very snowy and slushy.
In talking to every one going up and down, camping, towns folk etc.. 3 known people (individuals no groups) managed to summit. 1 saturday and 1 Sunday (female from group of 3 her 2 male partbers did not) plus 1 female on the mountaineers route (she was amazing started at 10pm finished at 730 am solo!) Everyone was stopping at trail crest because they were sinking to the waist in snow.
The snow storm was predicted to last thru the weekend and into Monday so there were a lot of cancelled reservations..might be open spots. Locals predict the boot tracks to be solid again by Wednesday.
For my particular group I somehow managed vomitting and breathing trouble at the midnight start lasted several hours slept til 6am and decided to take a slow scenic trip only to mirror lake and be back before dark. Ended up going a bit farther to 1100 feet. 1 couple had been camped below mirror lake for 2 days; husband had AMS, gave him diamox. They planned to go farther Monday. 1 group of 2 males stopped by a ranger below mirror lake without a permit. Tons of photos and videos here:

https://m.facebook.com/mmlasater/albums/10213961199769766/?ref=bookmarks

https://www.facebook.com/mmlasater/media_set?set=a.10213961199769766&type=3




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#55158 - 05/13/19 01:09 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Picture from May 12, 2019, at the JMT / Main Trail junction, just west of and below Trail Crest.
More fresh snow coming later this week!
Posted on FB by Richard N.


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#55181 - 05/15/19 06:39 PM 15 May 19 Conditions: Mt Whitney Mountaineer's Route [Re: Hoot]
Hoot Offline


Registered: 02/01/19
Posts: 17
Loc: Ohio
With the caveat the conditions are changing fast, the snow conditions on the Mountaineer's Route were great today. Headed up the snow was firm and covering the rocks so we followed a path of boot tracks on the left side of the creek skipping the E-ledges with no problems. The snow in the couloir was excellent for climbing - and thanks to the climbers who put in those boot tracks. We did not climb above the notch. Coming down the plunge stepping was good much of the way on softer snow. However, lower in the canyon the soft slick snow was a real pain leading to some unplanned glissades. We probably should have taken the E-ledges on our way down

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#55301 - 06/04/19 01:08 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Sauce Castillo Offline


Registered: 08/08/16
Posts: 10
Loc: Sacramento, CA
Summited via MR and returned via Main Trail on 6/2.

-No issues with the North Fork creek crossings.
-E Ledges were clear of snow and dry.
-Made LBSL at dawn. One of the last spots to take water without melting snow.
-Cramponed up and went straight to UBSL. Good boot pack here.
-Iceberg Lake is completely frozen over and covered in snow.
-Lots of snow in the chute. Final 400 was good. Some powder on top from the afternoon storms that are happening on an almost daily basis right now.
-I was told not to take the walk off and it looked sketchy.
-The main trail snow was in good shape going from the summit towards the JMT junction. No post holing if you stay right on the trail.
-Trail was narrow in many of the gullies. Be careful not to snag your crampons and take a fall down one of them.
-Took off the crampons and made the glissade from Trail Crest down with no issues. Lots of soft snow here.
-Trail Camp completely frozen over.
-It was a fast descent towards the portal on the snow. Took water at Outpost Camp. Several dry spots to camp there.
-Did not absolutely need snowshoes at any point of this trip. Not worth the extra weight in my opinion.

I hope someone finds this info helpful. I wish you the best of luck and a safe journey.

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#55307 - 06/04/19 05:25 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Wiff Offline


Registered: 07/23/14
Posts: 67
Loc: LA
Hey there, does anyone have any idea where to find current snow/trail conditions for Mt Baldy? I am missing something obvious I think. Thanks!

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#55311 - 06/05/19 12:10 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Wiff]
MikeH Offline


Registered: 04/05/18
Posts: 43
Loc: Escondido, CA
Check out Reddit's so cal hiking forum.

https://www.reddit.com/r/socalhiking/

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#55312 - 06/05/19 06:00 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Wiff]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 105
Loc: East Coast Florida
Originally Posted By: Wiff
Hey there, does anyone have any idea where to find current snow/trail conditions for Mt Baldy? I am missing something obvious I think. Thanks!


There is a forum dedicated to the San Gabriel Mtns.

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/sangabrielmnts/index.php?sid=6367f1ec9853ae65cbd5675b31b30c09

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#55314 - 06/05/19 08:32 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: RichardK]
Wiff Offline


Registered: 07/23/14
Posts: 67
Loc: LA
Thanks, Mike and Richard.

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#55317 - 06/05/19 09:27 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Wiff]
Jonathan C Offline


Registered: 03/03/19
Posts: 31
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Reviews on Alltrails are also very useful. Popular hikes like Baldy tend to have lots of recent updates. e.g.: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/mount-san-antonio-mount-baldy-notch-trail

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#55318 - 06/05/19 09:31 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Jonathan C]
Wiff Offline


Registered: 07/23/14
Posts: 67
Loc: LA
Thanks!

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#55394 - 06/12/19 09:43 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
These pictures from June 6 & 7:

View of the lower switchbacks from Trail Camp. Many of the lower ones are buried under snow. I walked a zig-zag line up to the first ones left of the main tracks thru the snow. (click on each picture to see the full-size view.)



Switchback trail thru the cables section.


The bend at the top of the cables. It is a steady incline, even though the picture doesn't look that way.


See all the pictures here: Switchbacks 2019

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#55454 - 06/19/19 04:33 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Geoff Offline


Registered: 06/19/19
Posts: 4
Loc: MA
Wow! These pictures are great! Well done!

My buds and I are hiking Whitney next week! Very excited! Coming in from Western Massachusetts. We're still deciding which trail, but leaning towards the approach that includes the 99 switchbacks. Would you say they are now in fact usable? Or will we have to navigate the chute? Thank you all for your feedback!

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#55455 - 06/19/19 05:35 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Geoff]
Bensta Offline


Registered: 06/17/19
Posts: 5
Loc: Georgia, USA
@ Geoff

You will need to assess the situation when you are on the mountain as conditions are changing rapidly with snow melt.

When I was there last Thursday the switchbacks were the far more daunting route compared to the Chute. If you have been on steep snowfields before like Mt. Adams or Mt. Shasta or even Mt. St. Helens, you will not think much or be overly concerned about the Chute on Whitney. If you have not been on these before you may be challenged. If you can, get to the Chute or the switchbacks before dawn so as to have firmer snow. Soft snow on either route will present a greater challenge. Even at 8:00am, the snow was softening rapidly and one of our group slipped on the soft snow and had to self arrest.

The traverses on the switchbacks last week looked daunting from my vantage point. My group made it from Trail Camp to Trail Crest in two hours via the Chute. Trail Crest to Summit was another issue altogether... We passed people who spent many hours trying the switchback route and 'crawled' to trail crest due to concern over the switchbacks. Again, however, this was a week ago and conditions are changing almost hourly.

Use good judgment and gather intel from descending climbers on your way up as well as at the Whitney Portal store.

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#55469 - 06/19/19 01:20 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Bensta]
Geoff Offline


Registered: 06/19/19
Posts: 4
Loc: MA
Thank you! Looking forward to making a bid at the summit next Wednesday morning.

One last quick question. Is it snowfield camping at this point? Should I invest in those snow stakes?

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#55475 - 06/19/19 04:03 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Geoff]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
There are dry spots at Trail Camp. Snow is shallow, so tying regular stakes around/under big rocks is what most do.

If you try the switchbacks, PLEASE take pictures of the key places and let us know how they look!

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#55477 - 06/19/19 05:26 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Bensta]
IanS Offline


Registered: 06/14/19
Posts: 12
Loc: Northern CA
Great info, appreciate the post. We are attempting to Summit June 30 after staying at Trail Camp. Clearly conditions are changing regularly, but our original plan was to take the Switchbacks. When taking the Chute is it obvious where you end up rejoining the trail, is at the top at Trail Crest?

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#55485 - 06/19/19 09:44 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: IanS]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
yes.

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#55487 - 06/19/19 11:16 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Melissa Offline


Registered: 04/12/19
Posts: 6
Loc: California
Reports from 6-15 (whitney fb page hikers report)
- the creeks (Lone Pine Creek for example) are rivers at this point
-"mini avalanches" are occuring frequently on the switchbacks. (Reported by most hikers posting).
(I downloaded a couple pictures but, cant figure a way to post them here...I don't have a photo upload site)


Edited by Melissa (06/19/19 11:16 PM)

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#55492 - 06/20/19 09:25 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Melissa]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Melissa, send the pictures via email to the "Contact Us" address at the bottom of each page.

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#55499 - 06/21/19 05:26 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Geoff Offline


Registered: 06/19/19
Posts: 4
Loc: MA
Great following along with all of you before our big hike next week! I'm gonna keep firing questions if that's alright.

How is the condition of the last 1.9miles leading to the summit. Trail Crest I believe. Is it more perilous/dangerous than the mountaineers route? We don't have an overnight pass for the mountaineers route but we have a party member wanting to pursue it. We have very limited climbing with ice axes.

As of right now we're climbing the chute/switchbacks, but is the mountaineers route a more manageable climb?

Thanks!

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#55504 - 06/21/19 09:30 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Geoff]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
The Mountaineers Route is where Ling Dao slipped and died. He was either intentionally or mistakenly trying to descend that route. The exposure there is higher than any areas on the Main Trail.

The Mountaineers Route is best traveled the first time in good conditions with someone else who has been up it before, as it is NOT a trail, and people need to know the key places where the route goes. It is not a once-and-done "piece of cake". The snow cover at this time of year adds to the risk (currently there can be some snow-melt avalanches--was an injury last year).

On the Main Trail, the chute poses a risk, but with ice axe and crampons, it's not that bad. Or you could try the switchbacks...they might be slower, but less risky. The crest (the last 1.9 mile beyond Trail Crest) has had some steep slopes with a 6" wide boot track along them. Slipping there would be serious! Spikes are crucial along that route.

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#55505 - 06/21/19 09:33 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Geoff]
Dirk D. Offline


Registered: 06/21/19
Posts: 4
Loc: Massachusetts
Hello All! Love all of the information and feedback from the hiking community here.

The “other member of the group that wants to pursue MR” here. Can we clarify manageable to mean that it is not in fact the sheer ice wall that is envisioned by many, but in reality is a 37 degree max grade according to GPS mapping that can be accomplished safely by fit individuals exercising caution and care?

The question at hand is one of two parts. 1) degree of difficulty - while the time spent on the trail will be more difficult on a step to step comparison, the Whitney trail adds nearly 6 miles and roughly 800’ additional feet of elevation gain. All of that considered, is MR really more difficult when all is said and done? Or does it simply offer more challenge at certain moments along the way? Looking for a total sum of the route analyses. In totality, much more difficult? Comparable? Somewhat more difficult? Easier??

And 2) degree of danger - given the current state of the switchbacks and the softening of the snow in the chute, in addition to the narrow icy condition of the crest trail with significant exposure at your side at times.....would it be fair to say that whichever route you choose has inherent risk that will require caution and care? Is the 400’ of notch at 37 degrees(45-50 if you believe hiker reports, but GPS says otherwise - even 45-50 is a far cry from a vertical wall) really any more or less of a “risk” than walking trail crest or climbing the chute? I do not believe the notch has lateral exposure. Is this correct? The danger here would be a slide back down?

Appreciate the opinions and perspectives of all. But would really love feedback from someone who has done at least one, even better both, in early season conditions such as those we have now.

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#55507 - 06/21/19 09:44 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dirk D.]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Dirk, see my post immediately above yours. I can tell you are a mapping geek based on your analyses ...but you missed it on the "roughly 800’ additional feet of elevation gain". There is a 100 to 150' descent from Trail Crest to the junction with the JMT, but outside of that, there is NO place on the Main Trail that descends in any measurable amount.

Let me underscore: The MR is NOT a trail, despite what the Inyo National Forest's description reads. You NEED to know the route, where to turn at key points; snow makes this more complicated. While people get lost in the snow on the Main Trail, a good gps app can keep you on the trail pretty well. On the MR, you need to know the route. I'd encourage you to try it between late July and mid-September--that would be a good time to try it first-time. Answering your question is MR really more difficult when all is said and done? Definitely YES.

With the right equipment, people go up the MR nearly every day now, but they really need steep ice-climbing experience. The steepest sections on the Final 400 (or access to the (deadly-when-icy) Easy Walk-off) are steeper and more exposed than anything on the Main Trail. Commercial guides take groups up that way all spring, but they are always roped up. Ropes are never used on the Main Trail.


Edited by Steve C (06/21/19 09:50 AM)

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#55510 - 06/21/19 11:28 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Dirk D. Offline


Registered: 06/21/19
Posts: 4
Loc: Massachusetts
Thanks for the quick response, Steve! So on the 800’ comes from reviewing route recordings of hikers that have done both routes as found on various websites. The general consensus is about 5,975’ for MR, 6,775’ for Whitney.

I totally agree on the route finding. It should be taken seriously, and I certainly do. I have GPS coordinates for many points along the way to log into my InReach as outlined in the Mt Whitney Hiker’s Guidebook. I also have a detailed write up that describes all of the critical junctures along the way.

I like to push limits. But I would never do so without being fully prepared and well researched.

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#55512 - 06/21/19 11:49 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dirk D.]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Dirk... Note that gps locations and elevations don't work well in the Lone Pine Creek drainage -- the GPS satellites that are low on the horizon are out of reach due to the high mountain ridges. So GPS readings can be way off.

Now, if you're determined, then go here and pick up as much info as possible: Mountaineers Route info links within... Much if the info is old--broken links, etc, but what is there is well worth reading.

A note about the MR Notch: View these two pictures from last year, May. The first one is looking eastward toward the Notch, from the Easy(deadly) walk-off. Second one is looking westward from the Notch, tracks following the walk-off. The Final 400 is immediately to the left not in the picture.
http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads...tney_#Post55459

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#55513 - 06/21/19 12:03 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Here's a picture of the more exposed snow sections between Trail Crest and the Summit.
Posted on FB by Josh R.

His comment:
Quote:
On 6/19 there were still 5 or so stretches where I felt crampons were required for a safe traverse. But I spent more time on dirt and rock than snow. There's also a steep snow slope when you make the final push for the summit. The snow/ice is melting fast and the trail is getting better by the day.



From Grant A:




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#55514 - 06/21/19 01:24 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Dirk D. Offline


Registered: 06/21/19
Posts: 4
Loc: Massachusetts
Steve, thank you for this! Good info on the GPS. Not having known I might not have packed the trail book. The book also offers very detailed descriptions of junctures with landmarks, so that should be helpful. But I agree, the route finding, for me, is really the critical thing here. Your videos of the final 400 were great. They actually made me feel much more confident in my thinking that it’s not as bad(steep) as is fabled.

Ultimately I will probably be out-voted, so it will all be moot. But I’ve climbed very similar terrain with very similar grades. That part isn’t an issue for me at all. Its hard. But it’s very manageable for cautious, fit folks. It’s the altitude variable(which is present regardless of route), and it’s the route finding, which I fully acknowledge is critically important, but I feel confident we could manage with preparation and care.

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#55515 - 06/21/19 03:30 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dirk D.]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
> Not having known I might not have packed the trail book.
What book are you referring to?

> Ultimately I will probably be out-voted, so it will all be moot.
If you have the experience, confidence and knowledge, then this is really sweet: Climb the MR, meet your friends at the summit (you would likely wait several hours), and then descend the Main Trail. (It would be really helpful if both parties had an InReach to text back-and-forth. Cell reception is spotty at best; FRS 2-way radios only work line-of-site.)

> It’s the altitude variable(which is present regardless of route)
Take Diamox before you start (half a 125mg tab 2x per day) starting 12 or 24 hours before you ascend above 8k. Better yet, all your group should overnight at Horseshoe Meadows 1 night then Whitney Portal the next, THEN start the climb. First timers on the MR should definitely do the Ebersbacher Ledges the day before in daylight!


Edited by Steve C (06/21/19 03:35 PM)

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#55517 - 06/22/19 05:14 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Dirk D. Offline


Registered: 06/21/19
Posts: 4
Loc: Massachusetts
This is the book. It seems to be pretty comprehensive.

https://www.amazon.com/Mount-Whitney-Complete-Trailhead-Summit/dp/1594850429

As confident as I am that not only myself, but everyone in the group could handle it, doing it for the first time completely solo doesn’t seem like a good decision. If we don’t end up doing it this time, I’ll be back within a few years, either with a group that is comfortable with it or the same group if they eventually come around. One way or another, I will be getting it in soon.

On the ledges, we are doing this over the course of 3 days for two reasons. One, we’re coming from 3,000 miles away to do it and want to take it all in at a leisurely pace to get good photography and enjoyment along the way. And two, to acclimatize slowly, as we live at sea level.

We are spending one night prior to hitting the trail at either onion valley (12,000’) or the portal(8,000’) to begin the process of acclimatizing.

I worry about going right from sea level to staying the night at 12,000’ at Onion night one. Seems like too much, too soon, for too long to me and would seem to be asking for trouble. But again, I was outvoted. My preference was to stay further down the portal road at 6,000’ night one before hitting the trailhead the next morning.

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#55518 - 06/22/19 09:14 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dirk D.]
Jonathan C Offline


Registered: 03/03/19
Posts: 31
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Onion Valley campground is 9200 ft. 12k is roughly the elevation of Kearsarge pass, so maybe you're getting confused by that?

Regarding the steepness of the final 400 (which I have never done, but hope to some day soon): the best pictures I have seen of it in the snow are the ones in this thread, which sadly is about a tragic accident there a couple years ago: http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/49640

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#55527 - 06/23/19 09:35 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Brett Dean Offline


Registered: 03/18/13
Posts: 28
Loc: Rancho Santa Margarita, CA.
My wife and I are thinking about hiking up to Mirror Lake for a little fly fishing this week.

Quick question: How is the trail heading up to mirror lake? Is the lake still frozen?


Edited by Brett Dean (06/23/19 04:55 PM)
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#55531 - 06/25/19 07:57 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Brett Dean]
bc3 Offline


Registered: 06/20/19
Posts: 2
Loc: Chicago IL
Originally Posted By: Brett Dean
My wife and I are thinking about hiking up to Mirror Lake for a little fly fishing this week.

Quick question: How is the trail heading up to mirror lake? Is the lake still frozen?


I climbed on Sunday. The trail is generally fine although there is some snow and minor route-finding necessary above Lone Pine Lake. In looking at a picture I took of the lake on my descent, I'd say maybe 1/6 of the lake had ice on it.

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#55544 - 06/26/19 03:44 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Dagmara Offline


Registered: 06/26/19
Posts: 2
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Summited Monday, June 24, 2019.

Firstly, there were two paths we followed interchangeably, the actual Mt Whitney trail (partly covered by snow) and the “snow trail” made by other hikers before we got there. In some cases it was safer to follow the “snow trail”.

Secondly, it was in our best interest to be at the chute by 5:00 AM PST, before the snow started to get soft. We stayed overnight at the Outpost Camp and left at 2:00 AM PST to get there before sunrise.

Thirdly, having crampons, ice axe, and a helmet were lifesaving to get through the chute. The lake at the Trail Camp was frozen, which meant we could not fill up our water reservoir. However, there were plenty of water streams on the way to the Trail Camp. I had 4L, which was enough for me and the hike from Outpost Camp to the summit and back to the camp.

Fourthly, on our way back from the summit, right at the top we followed the trail. Not recommended! It took us too far to the right, far from the snow trail we used to get to the top.

Fifthly, once we got back to the chute the fastest way to get down was to glissade (slide down), using our ice axe to slowdown. I have never done this before. It was a scary experience to say the least. Would I do it again? Yes. I would learn more about it for sure. Also, I would make sure the shirt and other layers were tucked in my pants. Otherwise, I would end up having nice snow tattoos on my belly and back, again. Gladly they are not permanent!:)

Sixthly, in order to avoid walking through many waterfalls and getting our feet wet we came down via the Old Trail, which goes from the Whitney Portal Parking lot Picnic Area and to the John Muir Wilderness sign on the trail. On the way to the Outpost Camp I walked through one of the water falls barefoot. It was very refreshing!:)

Lastly, I highly recommend for everyone who is doing this hike to stop at the Lone Pine Lake on the way in and out. Trust me, it will be worth your time!!!:)

HIKER NOTES: For only $7 one can take a shower at Mt Whitney Hostel. The price includes a towel, soap, and shampoo.
As a treat to ourselves for job well done we treated ourselves to a nice meal at Alabama Hills Bakery (they close at 3:00 PM PST). OMG their food and baked goods are absolutely mdelicious!:)
We split into two groups of three each. One group completed the trip from Outpost Camp to the top and back in 14h and the other group in 17h.

I love this mountain and hope you will find this information helpful. Have a safe and enjoyable adventure!:)

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#55545 - 06/26/19 03:49 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dagmara]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 144
Loc: The OC
Originally Posted By: Dagmara
In order to avoid walking through many waterfalls and getting our feet wet we came down via the Old Trail, which goes from the Whitney Portal Parking lot Picnic Area and to the John Muir Wilderness sign on the trail.


Seems a lot of people are going back to taking the original hiking trail vs the newer, super long equestrian trail. Might cut off almost 1 mile?

You can see the switchbacks 50 yards to the east of the wilderness border. That is, basically parallel to the main trail between N fork and the next set of switchbacks heading up towards LP lake:

https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=36.58663,-118.24454&z=19&b=sat&o=r&n=0.3&a=c%2Cmba

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#55546 - 06/26/19 06:48 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Hobbes]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 112
Loc: Novato, CA
Originally Posted By: Hobbes
Originally Posted By: Dagmara
In order to avoid walking through many waterfalls and getting our feet wet we came down via the Old Trail, which goes from the Whitney Portal Parking lot Picnic Area and to the John Muir Wilderness sign on the trail.


Seems a lot of people are going back to taking the original hiking trail vs the newer, super long equestrian trail. Might cut off almost 1 mile?



The old trail is about a half mile shorter, but it leaves you perhaps a quarter mile further from your vehicle (assuming it was parked near the equestrian trailhead). I figured I saved at most 5 minutes descending it, but it's not a very good trail and steep, so it takes more effort IMO. I prefer the mindless descent of the newer trail, particular if I'm jogging down (which I do now and ends up being faster). So the faster you descend, the less appealing the old trail is, of course except when the water crossing is too deep to not get wet (I always go in September so not an issue then).

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#55551 - 06/26/19 09:18 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: bruce]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
I descended the Old Trail two weeks ago, and a couple I was hiking with took the Main Trail. We agreed to keep hiking our regular pace. It takes an extra 3 minutes to walk past the store to the regular trail head. I was unloading stuff and changing at the car when they finally showed up. I was at least 10 minutes -- maybe 12 -- ahead of them.

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#55560 - 06/27/19 10:38 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dagmara]
Wedggy Offline


Registered: 07/12/18
Posts: 5
Loc: 91387
Originally Posted By: Dagmara
Summited Monday, June 24, 2019.



HIKER NOTES: For only $7 one can take a shower at Mt Whitney Hostel. The price includes a towel, soap, and shampoo.


If it's too late you can always use the do it yourself car wash !!

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#55563 - 06/27/19 03:22 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Bensta]
jbinsb Offline


Registered: 06/27/19
Posts: 5
Loc: CA
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.

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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: 7877
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: 133
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: 7877
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: 437
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: 7877
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: 133
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: 7877
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: 7877
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: 7877
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: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Trail runners by end of July

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#55619 - 07/02/19 10:38 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
IanS Offline


Registered: 06/14/19
Posts: 12
Loc: Northern CA
Agree with Steve, was just there yesterday, the Chute is being used by most people, but its difficult for folks without experience using crampons and axe. People are getting hurt, and the effort level required could even be more if you don't have the technical skills. Many people took the switchbacks, a couple snowy spots are passable, just require some focus, easier early in the day when snow is firm. Late in the day slushy snow is harder to navigate.

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#55620 - 07/02/19 11:44 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Picture at the cables, July 1, 2019.

posted on FB by Amy W.S. They climbed the chute, descended the switchbacks. She reported a helicopter was picking up a woman with a broken ankle, likely from glissading the chute.

She wrote
Quote:
The switch backs were mostly clear. There were a couple of areas where you had to traverse a couple of snowfields and by this time of day (2ish) the snow had melted fairly significantly and sometimes you were postholing you’re way across. The biggest sketchy area of the switchbacks were the cables. The snow was thick enough in areas that you were outside the chains and a fall there would cause pretty significant injury. Watch your step, use strategic foot placement, utilize your ice axe and you’ll be fine. The rate of the snow melt right now I’d imagine the switchbacks will be snow free very soon.






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#55629 - 07/03/19 03:21 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Dru1962 Offline


Registered: 07/03/19
Posts: 1
Loc: Idaho
I have climbed Mt. Whitney about 17 times mostly by switchbacks also the chute. I have a permit for next Tuesday and based on recent trip reports, I plan on using the switchbacks. Would a climbing harness and clip ( connecting to cable section) be helpful on the dicey areas at cable ?

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#55632 - 07/03/19 04:40 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Dru1962]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
A mom took her 9-y-o daughter through the cables section several days ago. She reported they had to climb outside the cables to get by one spot. And someone helped the daughter there, when they came back down.

I don't think a harness is necessary -- lots of people are getting through. (all the injuries are people descending the chute rather than the switchbacks.)

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#55635 - 07/03/19 09:56 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
terraelise Offline


Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 30
Loc: CA
Trail runners bu end of July? Nay, I saw 3 Sat 28th.

The chute is deteriorating and indeed the source of recent injuries... the rescue photo shows so much less snow than even a week ago, See post on FB:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2408178136086602&id=1752442271660195



Edited by terraelise (07/03/19 09:57 PM)
_________________________
@terraelise anything (fb, ig, etc.)

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#55643 - 07/05/19 06:28 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
abbey Offline


Registered: 07/05/19
Posts: 1
Loc: US
Has anyone been up on the JMT from Guitar Lake to the summit? Seems like everything posted is focused on the chute & switchbacks on the east side.

With snow melting fast, I'm still hoping we'll be able to make the summit on 7/13 via the west side and then back down to continue a northbound JMT hike. Any intel on this side would be much appreciated, thanks!

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#55645 - 07/05/19 08:47 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: abbey]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
The west side of Whitney always melts out sooner than the east side, so Whitney should be no trouble. Some of the passes to the north will likely give you more trouble than Whitney.

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#55651 - 07/06/19 08:58 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Joethebadape Offline


Registered: 06/09/19
Posts: 2
Loc: Texas
Any one know if the earthquake had any effect on Whitney?

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#55658 - 07/06/19 01:21 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Avi Offline


Registered: 02/15/18
Posts: 26
Loc: CA, USA
Any idea on the trail condition from Kearsarge to Whitney via Guitar Lake?

We are looking at an end of July/early August trip.

Thanks.

avi

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#55662 - 07/06/19 05:06 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Avi]
IanS Offline


Registered: 06/14/19
Posts: 12
Loc: Northern CA
We went up the main trail on 7/1 and met a guy on the Summit who came from Guitar Lake area solo that day, and he was headed back there from the Summit, so its passable but not sure what the actual conditions are like.

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#55671 - 07/07/19 10:10 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: IanS]
Avi Offline


Registered: 02/15/18
Posts: 26
Loc: CA, USA
Originally Posted By: IanS
We went up the main trail on 7/1 and met a guy on the Summit who came from Guitar Lake area solo that day, and he was headed back there from the Summit, so its passable but not sure what the actual conditions are like.


Thanks for the feedback. Anyone come through Forrester Pass recently?

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#55673 - 07/07/19 01:38 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Avi]
tpherson Offline


Registered: 03/24/19
Posts: 2
Loc: IN
Looks like 7 day forecast shows a rise in temps for Mt Whitney. Hopefully, speeding the snow melt. Any estimate from those with experience when the main trail will be clear of snow? Seems like a good portion is clear but several sketchy areas still remain.

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#55681 - 07/08/19 09:25 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: IanS]
frozengogo Offline


Registered: 07/08/19
Posts: 1
Loc: Irvine, CA
What is the trail like from Trail Crest to the summit? Icey, patchy snow? Hiking in from Guitar Lake the morning of July 16th.

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#55683 - 07/08/19 12:59 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Ian B Offline


Registered: 05/23/17
Posts: 8
Loc: Bishop, CA


A recent reminder of conditions from the Whitney Rangers.

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#55684 - 07/08/19 03:15 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: frozengogo]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: frozengogo
What is the trail like from Trail Crest to the summit? Icey, patchy snow? Hiking in from Guitar Lake the morning of July 16th.

The trail is dry, except the patch on the last summit push. There is a well-packed path going through it.

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#55685 - 07/08/19 08:27 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Avi]
mpark Offline


Registered: 07/08/19
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
I posted this in the JMT 2019 FB group earlier today — We did Horseshoe Meadow to Whitney Portal via Crabtree Meadow and Guitar Lake, which covers some of your route. Summitted Whitney yesterday, July 7.

Almost no snow from Horseshoe Meadow through Cottonwood Pass to Crabtree Meadow, just a few feet to step over at the top of the pass. Rock Creek crossing manageable. Crossings around Crabtree Meadow from the bottom of the meadows toward the ranger station were also manageable and preferable to the steep ascents and descents of that stretch of the PCT/JMT where the two meet. The ranger station path meets up with the JMT right before the ranger station itself. No snow until close to Guitar Lake—and we managed to get there without walking on snow at all, opting to walk on rocks instead. Some sun cups (walked on rocks when we could) on the way to the switchbacks up Whitney from Guitar Lake, and then a couple snow traverses on the switchbacks themselves. Had ice axe and microspikes. There’s one long sketchy traverse here—It looked like some people shortened it by scrambling up to a spot with a shorter traverse, which is one option. I opted to scramble up on the rocks and sand to the left of the snow far enough to avoid that snowy spot altogether. Stashed packs once up the switchbacks and summitted—again avoiding snow near top by scrambling up rocks (not as sketchy as first scramble). Glissaded down from Trail Crest with axe—a good option if snow is soft enough and if switchbacks down to Whitney Portal seem sketchy.

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#55686 - 07/08/19 08:32 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Climber Joe Offline


Registered: 10/13/15
Posts: 7
Loc: California
Guitar lake to summit down to Portal yesterday today. Switchbacks from Guitar lake, there was a scary icy traverse. I recommend scramble on rocks to avoid it. On the final summit stretch, the snow path is slippery and draining. Much faster safer to scramble up rocks to the right of the snow. Descending on East side: still plenty of snow for glissading. I think safer than long switchbacks with some ice. Just watch snow softness, and be mindful of those fore and aft.


Edited by Climber Joe (07/08/19 08:33 PM)

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#55687 - 07/08/19 08:37 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: abbey]
mpark Offline


Registered: 07/08/19
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
You might find my reply to Avi helpful. We actually started out wanting to do the same as you (JMT NOBO) but decided to bail out through Whitney Portal. The west side of Whitney was doable—I think easier than what you might encounter on passes farther north on the JMT. Whatever your trip ends up being, wishing you happy trails!

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#55688 - 07/08/19 08:37 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: frozengogo]
Climber Joe Offline


Registered: 10/13/15
Posts: 7
Loc: California
See my post below. I think by then it may be very different. For the better.

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#55689 - 07/08/19 09:19 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: mpark]
Avi Offline


Registered: 02/15/18
Posts: 26
Loc: CA, USA
Originally Posted By: mpark
You might find my reply to Avi helpful. We actually started out wanting to do the same as you (JMT NOBO) but decided to bail out through Whitney Portal. The west side of Whitney was doable—I think easier than what you might encounter on passes farther north on the JMT. Whatever your trip ends up being, wishing you happy trails!


Super useful. I am tentatively looking at an August 8th start from Kearsarge Pass.....really praying that we are done with snow and ice in a month's time!

I will keep checking. Thanks for sharing your feedback.

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#55714 - 07/12/19 07:53 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Jon from AZ Offline


Registered: 07/08/19
Posts: 2
Loc: AZ
Summited the 11th. Used my microspikes in a few places, my friends did not. The cables were sketchy but I went left of the giant snow pile. It was icy in the early morning. It was way different than the dry years. So fun 👍

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#55736 - 07/16/19 08:45 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Pictures shared on FB by Mitch G. July 15, 2019.

At the switchbacks:


Here's a picture of the top switchback just before Trail Crest. Looks like shoveling the section worked. ...or someone came in and re-shoveled it.


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#55737 - 07/16/19 10:50 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
AdventureUSA Offline


Registered: 07/09/19
Posts: 15
Loc: Santa Monica, CA
I'm taking a relatively inexperienced crew up the MR the second weekend in September. Do we think most of the snow will be cleared from the chute/4th class above the notch by then?

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#55738 - 07/16/19 11:23 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: AdventureUSA]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
It will be clear of snow/ice, unless there is a freak early storm, or an especially heavy hail storm just before you go.

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#55739 - 07/16/19 01:49 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
AdventureUSA Offline


Registered: 07/09/19
Posts: 15
Loc: Santa Monica, CA
Awesome, thank you Steve

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#55740 - 07/16/19 07:51 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: AdventureUSA]
futbol Offline


Registered: 06/27/17
Posts: 75
Loc: San Diego, CA
We did the MR the first week of August last year and this is what we encountered. There were small snow patches in the shade, but easily avoidable. There is more snow this year, but it will probably be melted, however you can always get an early storm in September, as Steve said.



[Note the small crescent moon in the sky in the vee.]

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#55748 - 07/17/19 12:52 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Sean Lopez Offline


Registered: 07/17/19
Posts: 1
Loc: California, USA
Hi everyone, thank you for the amazing information and updates. We have a trip scheduled first weekend in August. Is there a need for microspikes going up the main trail, through the switchbacks, and between trail crest and summit? Thanks in advance.

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#55752 - 07/17/19 09:42 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Sean Lopez]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7877
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Sean Lopez
Hi everyone, thank you for the amazing information and updates. We have a trip scheduled first weekend in August. Is there a need for microspikes going up the main trail, through the switchbacks, and between trail crest and summit? Thanks in advance.

No, not in August.

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#55781 - 07/21/19 10:35 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: futbol]
Kascadia Offline


Registered: 07/23/18
Posts: 20
Loc: PNW - Cascade Foothills
Originally Posted By: futbol
We did the MR the first week of August last year and this is what we encountered. There were small snow patches in the shade, but easily avoidable. There is more snow this year, but it will probably be melted, however you can always get an early storm in September, as Steve said.



[Note the small crescent moon in the sky in the vee.]


Thanks for this picture. It puts the words, "stay left of the main gully" in context.

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#55804 - 07/24/19 12:54 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Kascadia]
ksearing Offline


Registered: 07/24/19
Posts: 3
Loc: Ca
I hiked up on July 22nd. My group brought microspikes, but didn't use them. We all wore trail runners, which gave enough grip on the snow. We didn't bring hiking poles, but they would've been helpful. If you do have poles, try to get baskets on them so they don't sink in the snow.

There are a few stream crossings that either require taking off your shoes or risking getting your feet wet. I'd recommend bringing an extra pair of socks.

The cables were pretty easy to walk past.


The rest of the switchbacks were pretty easy to navigate. There is snow on some of them, but you can clamber on rocks adjacent to the trail to avoid most of it.


The worst area was at the end of the ridge where the trail turns to go up Whitney. I would expect that to have snow for at least another week.


There's some snow in other places, but it is all easier to cross. Here's a patch below Trail Camp.

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#55806 - 07/24/19 01:27 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: ksearing]
Wiff Offline


Registered: 07/23/14
Posts: 67
Loc: LA
Very helpful, thanks. Going up Sunday. Is that "worst area" right before the summit?

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#55808 - 07/24/19 09:44 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Wiff]
ksearing Offline


Registered: 07/24/19
Posts: 3
Loc: Ca
Yep, it was right before the summit. If you look up Mt. Whitney on Google Maps satellite view, it shows snow in roughly the same spot.

I forgot to mention in my previous post, but I'd also recommend bringing light weight gloves. I wore canoeing gloves and was able to keep my hands on the snow to steady myself.

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#55813 - 07/25/19 08:04 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: ksearing]
tpherson Offline


Registered: 03/24/19
Posts: 2
Loc: IN
Ksearing, thank you. This is really helpful. We will be going up in 2 weeks. conditions keep improving, maybe in 2 weeks we will have little to no snow to cross.

Read someone broke an ankle post-holing on the snow below the switchbacks. How were conditions between trail camp and the switchbacks, still quite a snow crossing?

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#55814 - 07/25/19 09:06 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: tpherson]
SIDdhu Offline


Registered: 07/25/19
Posts: 1
Loc: Bay Area, California
Thank you @ksearing, it was very helpful!!

@tpherson and @Wiff, I will be attempting in 3 weeks, so it'll be great if you can post your update after you summit smile

Thanks in advance!!

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#55816 - 07/25/19 11:12 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: SIDdhu]
Wiff Offline


Registered: 07/23/14
Posts: 67
Loc: LA
I will provide a full report!

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#55844 - 07/29/19 03:25 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: ksearing]
DQ922 Offline


Registered: 11/02/16
Posts: 12
Loc: California,USA
How often Google map gets updated?

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#55847 - 07/30/19 09:35 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: DQ922]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 431
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Originally Posted By: DQ922
How often Google map gets updated?

The Google Satellite image of my house still shows me riding my horse in 2013.

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