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#55044 - 05/04/19 05:43 PM Question about Ski Touring to Trail Crest May 22/23
eanderson Offline


Registered: 05/04/19
Posts: 2
Loc: California
My ski partner and I are planning on ski touring from the snow line to Trail Crest on May 22/23, 2019. I am keeping an eye on the current conditions and trip reports but I was hoping someone could give some first-hand intel on this tour. My main question is whether the entire trail is skinnable or if I should plan on taking skis off and hiking up certain steep chutes/sections with crampons? Thanks in advance.

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#55048 - 05/05/19 07:34 PM Re: Question about Ski Touring to Trail Crest May 22/23 [Re: eanderson]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7875
Loc: Fresno, CA
I don't want to rain on your trip, but... Mt Whitney is a pretty rough trail for ski touring. There will be a few sections where skis would be ok, but then the major climb up to Trail Crest is so steep that people use crampons and ice axe to climb. Going down would be challenging at best for experienced telemark skiers. By that time in May, the freeze/thaw cycles will likely have a really icy crust when cold, and then slushy when warm.

Mt Whitney is not used by x-c skiers hardly at all. I've seldom heard of anyone going that way. Only truly experienced back-country x-c skiers would try Whitney.

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#55050 - 05/05/19 09:58 PM Re: Question about Ski Touring to Trail Crest May 22/23 [Re: eanderson]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 431
Loc: Reno, Nevada
I skied down from Trail Crest in January and again in March of 1993. It was pretty cool, but it was the limit of my ability. Down lower, it was dark, the snow was crusty, and we had heavy packs. It wasn’t much fun.

Eleven days ago, I hiked up the Mountaineers’ Route and down the main trail. There was a guy carrying skis up the Mountaineers’ Route. I never talked to him, but I’ll bet he had a super run from just below the notch to well below Lower Boy Scout Lake. (The chute is way above my ability, though.) I also think you could have had a great run from Trail Crest to about 9,500 on the trail.

Now for the bad news: by late May, there will be much less snow, which means you’ll have to carry your skis quite a bit. There will be sun cups, and, as Steve said, conditions below Trail Crest may be ice or slop. It might be possible to skin most of the way up to Trail Crest if the snow is perfect, but you’ll probably end up wearing crampons and carrying your skis.

Having said all of that, there are few pleasures in this life that can match skiing down past a bunch of people wearing boots and sinking into the soft snow.

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#55073 - 05/07/19 12:34 PM Re: Question about Ski Touring to Trail Crest May 22/23 [Re: bobpickering]
eanderson Offline


Registered: 05/04/19
Posts: 2
Loc: California
Thanks Bob for sharing your recent experience on the conditions.

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