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#54980 - 04/22/19 12:07 AM 4/20/2019 Conditions Report
123Zero Offline


Registered: 04/21/19
Posts: 3
Loc: Nor Cal
I summited via the regular route in a party of three over the weekend spanning Friday, April 19 to Sunday April 21, 2019.

Pardon the brevity of this posting. I just got back from the eight hour drive from Whitney to the Bay and wanted to post some beta for anyone who is heading to Whitney over the week, as I think a lot of people are trying to beat the no-walk-in permit lottery system. I'll add pics tomorrow, but feel free to ask questions.

Summary
1: Winter conditions in full effect about 1 mile above Whitney Portal.
2: Switchbacks 80%+ covered in snow.
3: Trail above the Chutes is 90% clear but has gnarly snow obstacles; don't go if you're afraid of exposure.
4: Expect and plan for unpredictable, dangerous changes in weather.

Report

The road is still closed three miles below Whitney Portal, so expect an additional three-to-four mile, 1800' walk up the road just to reach the trail head. From Whitney portal, the first .75 mile of trail is clear of snow (to the stream crossing) but immediately after that the trail is covered in snow. The trail and all terrain are covered in deep consolidated snow up to the top of the Chutes. There are lots of tracks, but they are not always easy to follow, especially at night. Have a map and GPS with you and/or someone who knows the trail.

The Switchbacks are 80%-90% buried in snow and only traceable with GPS; they look like an unbroken snow slope from the bottom. The Chute is climbable in the early morning and glissade-able in the afternoon.

The trail from the Chutes to the summit is 80%-90% free of snow, but there are approximately three dozen snow obstacles in the trail as tall as 15 feet, which must be crossed with significant exposure. Fatal falls are possible.

Weather was ideal until we reached the summit, when a sudden windstorm struck, along with snow. The storm was not forecast, and caught us by surprise. The temperature dropped significantly; sustained winds were around 30 to 40 mph with higher gusts. Visibility above the Chutes was under 50 yards during the storm.

We moved quickly back towards the Chutes, stopping for rest occasionally behind rock formations that blocked the wind. The wind increased in strength until we reached the Chutes where we glissaded down to Trail Camp. The winds continued to increase in strength as we walked back to Outpost Camp, where our tents were.

There we met another party who had planned to ascend but decided against it after the windstorm began; they told us that the storm had not been predicted when they left the parking lot below Whitney Portal that morning.

Overnight the windstorm ended and in the morning weather was placid. The walk back down to the parking lot three miles below Whitney Portal was in warm sunlight and a cool breeze.

Recap

The standard route is almost entirely covered with snow. The weather can change within minutes with little warning; forecasts can't be trusted. If in doubt, turn around. If heading up to the summit this week, or any time soon, good luck. Stay safe and use your best judgement.


Edited by 123Zero (04/22/19 12:48 AM)

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#54981 - 04/22/19 02:26 PM Re: 4/20/2019 Conditions Report [Re: 123Zero]
hiiker Offline


Registered: 03/02/10
Posts: 12
Loc: SoCal
Wow, thanks for the report. Hopefully those planning to go up in the next few days will read your report.

BTW, what type of tent did you have? Was it still standing when you got back to Outpost and was it damaged any? By your descriptions of the winds they must of been blowing near hurricane strength.

I'm looking forward to seeing your photos.

Great advice, forecasts can't be trusted.

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#54982 - 04/22/19 08:45 PM Re: 4/20/2019 Conditions Report [Re: hiiker]
123Zero Offline


Registered: 04/21/19
Posts: 3
Loc: Nor Cal
No problem! I was in my buddies new two-man Black Diamond. I can’t remember the model name. The third team member had a mountain hardware tent. Tents were ok- we joked about them blowing away but Outpost Camp was much more sheltered than even a few hundred feet above, so they weren’t in too much danger of damage. The highest winds were in front of the windows on the ridge, and right above Mirror Lake. The winds blowing through the last window on the ridge were strong enough to trip me up, and we had to shout at each other to be heard. It is definitely not an “easy” or “beginners” climb right now, so I hope people exercise caution.


Edited by 123Zero (04/22/19 08:45 PM)

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