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#54658 - 02/05/19 03:56 PM Hiking Whitney in May
Jai Offline

Registered: 02/05/19
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
Is hiking Whitney around May 20 dangerous? I have hiked a fair bit but have only used crampons once before. If I have an ice axe and crampons, is it mostly a matter of endurance or can it be perilous e.g. falling down a crevice or valley.

I have done a day summit once before but that was in Aug when the snow was gone.

I am planning to do it again this year in May but don't want to do it if there's a serious danger of hurting myself.

#54659 - 02/05/19 08:31 PM Re: Hiking Whitney in May [Re: Jai]
Brad Calvin Offline

Registered: 05/27/18
Posts: 6
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
It will not be just a matter of endurance.
Rather, it could be very dangerous, especially if you are not skilled w/ an ice axe and crampons. I decided against hiking on June 1 due to the trail being covered w/ ice, and after reading for weeks of people trying to go up, or down, the steep "chute" (to avoid the ice-covered switchbacks) and often falling and tumbling down several hundred feet and injuring themselves and others. If you are not familiar w/ the chute, it is a very steep slope (probably about 40 degrees incline) that takes you directly from Trail Camp to Trail Crest, a vertical gain over 1000'. It is not used by hikers once the snow melts, as then the less steep switchbacks are used.
Anyway, those are my thoughts.

#54660 - 02/05/19 08:44 PM Re: Hiking Whitney in May [Re: Jai]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7975
Loc: Fresno, CA
Well, yes, it can be dangerous. But many people go when the snow covers everything. You have to be the judge of your own abilities, and know when to turn around.

The main problems are when people try to climb or descend on hard and slippery ice, and they don't have the right gear. If you cover the steeper areas when the temperatures are higher, so the snow is softer, you would be a lot better off.

Here are two accidents from last year. Don't be like them:

Watch the videos of this one: Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18. I think people with less than the best ice gear got too high on the mountain where it was too cold and icy for their equipment.

Nobody noticed this guy took the wrong way down: Fatal: Hiker fell on Whitney 2018-05-05

#54661 - 02/05/19 09:51 PM Re: Hiking Whitney in May [Re: Jai]
Jai Offline

Registered: 02/05/19
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
Thanks Brad & Steve.
It definitely doesn't sound like a comfortably safe option. I guess it will really depend on the conditions on a given day.