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#55207 - 05/21/19 06:52 AM Beta for 5/25 - 5/26
hungryhoya Offline


Registered: 05/21/19
Posts: 2
Loc: SF, California
Hi all,

Have been lurking on the forum for a while now and am excited to (possibly) be headed up to Whitney this Memorial Day Weekend.

My friend and I have previously summitted Shasta, Williamson, and most recently, Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl in Mexico. We consider ourselves decently experienced, but are unsure whether this week's weather should be a red flag. You can find the forecast here.

We intend on starting our climb at 2 AM Sunday morning. We believe we'd be out of harm's way before Sunday evening's predicted snowfall (8 inches) and would bring bivouacs just in case. The biggest question mark for us is a) the degree of avalanche risk along the mountaineers route and b) the amount of post-holing we can expect after the snowfall earlier in the week. We'd be long post Lower Boyscout Lake by the time the sun comes up, so we believe avalanche risk should still be minimal, but we did want to get confirmation.

Thanks everyone for your help!

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#55208 - 05/21/19 08:22 AM Re: Beta for 5/25 - 5/26 [Re: hungryhoya]
Anton Offline


Registered: 08/02/17
Posts: 33
Loc: San Diego
I cannot comment on actual conditions - haven't been there yet this year and I doubt anyone else has after the last storm. That said:

1) be prepared for non-trivial post holing, given the amount of recent snowfall
2) E-Ledges may be very slippery, direct path alone the creek may be a post holing nightmare
3) the slope right below Iceberg lake is an avalanche trap, IMO more dangerous than the MR proper
4) beware of powder on rocks on the final section, after exiting the notch... are you soloing it or protecting it?
5) last but not the least, storms do sometimes move in earlier than forecasted and climbing parties often get delayed ...

Have a great trip - My Best Vacation Is Your Worst Nightmare!

P.S.: Kurt Wedberg posts detailed updates on MR conditions on whitneyportal message board every time he takes his clients up. I would at least go through his older posts to get a better idea.

Edit to add: it seems that you are planning to do the route C2C. If that is the case, definitely prepare to bivy. To give you an idea: my worst approach after a recent storm was 10+ hours from car (parked ~ 2 miles below the trailhead) to camp just above UBSL. It was mid-February of high snow season and we did not have snowshoes. We climbed East Buttres on the following day and had a blast. Met a party who approached on skis and flew up and down in a day like it was a walk in a park.


Edited by Anton (05/21/19 08:52 AM)

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#55209 - 05/21/19 08:28 AM Re: Beta for 5/25 - 5/26 [Re: hungryhoya]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7781
Loc: Fresno, CA
Mountain Forecast always over-estimates the amount of snow. I use the NOAA site for more realistic numbers. You can see from the web cam view that the east side is not getting much snow at all from all the storminess.

Avalanches in May have usually been lower down due to snow melting rapidly. I don't think there will be any avalanche activity due to the cold and low snowfall amounts.

Good luck! It's going to be a cold trip!

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#55211 - 05/22/19 04:49 PM Re: Beta for 5/25 - 5/26 [Re: Steve C]
socalmountaineer Offline


Registered: 05/22/19
Posts: 1
Loc: San Diego
I was just up there last weekend. A few thoughts:

- I don't know how much snow this storm is dropping down low but we were able to bypass the E-ledges by using a pink flagged route on the left side of the creek. By the time we were coming down the next day that left route up was getting pretty burnt out. Also in that section from the E-ledges to LBSL, in the afternoon on our way down there were tons of roller balls and I could see a wet slide happening on that slope later in the afternoon. It would just be something to watch and time not being on later in the day if possible.

- Slope between LBSL to the large building sized boulder - There was evidence of a few dayish old wet slides along this slope. You could also see the snow was getting pretty saturated (had that watery sheen to it). It gets sun early so again something to watch out for and time.

- Snow on slabs above LBSL - Just above LBSL we saw some avalanche activity in this area where large sections of snow on top of the wet granite slabs released. This was outside of the area you would be hiking in, but if you were skiing down, you may accidently end up in this area. Just to be avoided.

- Bench between LBSL and UBSL - Be mindful in the middle of this bench where the creek runs. We could hear water running underneath us and sooner or later windows will be opening up into the creek.

- Above these areas I wouldn't be too concerned for avalanches unless there is some pretty rapid warming. The snow we encountered was mostly consolidated/corn. Up high there was some wintery snow with a wind crust on it.

I guess that's a long winded way of saying, the avalanche risk would be much higher down low and would be dependent on how warm it is and if it re-froze overnight. There is a ton of snow up there so bring avi gear, know how to use it, and just be mindful of the conditions as you are trekking along.

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#55214 - 05/23/19 09:29 AM Re: Beta for 5/25 - 5/26 [Re: hungryhoya]
Ian B Offline


Registered: 05/23/17
Posts: 6
Loc: Bishop, CA
At this point, I would be mindful of the avalanche risk from storm slab and wind slab avalanches, especially up high. After this week of stormy, cold weather, I would be less concerned about the wet avalanches you reference in your post. Multiple inches (or more) of fresh cold snow on top of melt/freeze crusts would be a red flag for me.

I spoke to a friend that skiied out of Rock Creek (Toms Place) yesterday and he got 6" of fresh snow over the course of the day. NWS predicted 2". I would bring skis or at least snowshoes to deal with the fresh snow.

I personally would not be anywhere in the Whitney Zone this weekend without full avalanche gear and the ability to correctly assess avy risk (i.e. formal avy training).

It's still 100% alpine mountaineering condition up there. FWIW, SAR will almost certainly not be flying helicopters this week, and may not send ground team if conditions are too risky.

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#55217 - 05/24/19 09:26 AM Re: Beta for 5/25 - 5/26 [Re: hungryhoya]
janna g Offline


Registered: 05/24/19
Posts: 1
Loc: san francisco
for those who are going this memorial day weekend, do any of you have an extra space in your permit for 2 ? thank you

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#55219 - 05/24/19 11:55 AM Re: Beta for 5/25 - 5/26 [Re: janna g]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 140
Loc: The OC
Originally Posted By: janna g
for those who are going this memorial day weekend, do any of you have an extra space in your permit for 2 ? thank you


Um, with projected highs below freezing, snow showers and stiff winds, I'd be surprised if anyone is going up. Well, maybe to UBSL (MR), LP lake and/or Outpost just to get a look-see, but no further:

https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.ph...74#.XOg824hKiM8

IOW, I'm pretty confident you can waltz right in and grab a same day permit if so inclined.


Edited by Hobbes (05/24/19 11:56 AM)

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#55220 - 05/24/19 12:18 PM Re: Beta for 5/25 - 5/26 [Re: hungryhoya]
hungryhoya Offline


Registered: 05/21/19
Posts: 2
Loc: SF, California
Thanks all for your commentary - looks like we'll be driving the opposite direction to Mt Hood instead. It's a bummer, but hopefully we'll see great weather next month!

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#55222 - 05/24/19 04:42 PM Re: Beta for 5/25 - 5/26 [Re: Hobbes]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7781
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Hobbes
IOW, I'm pretty confident you can waltz right in and grab a same day permit if so inclined.

Just a reminder, this year, there is no waltzing in and grabbing a permit. You have to go online and reserve and pay for the permit first. The new policy is:
NO Walk-In Permits.

As I write this, recreation.gov shows 11 Day Use permits available for tomorrow, and 5 overnight permits.

It makes sense to reserve the overnight permit today, and show up at the Visitor Center tomorrow to pick it up. For serious day hikers that want to start at Oh-Dark-Thirty, they would need to:
1. reserve the day use permit online
2. call the wilderness permit number and request that the permit be put into the night box.

And all of that requires this to be done before 4:30 PM, since they don't answer the phone after that.

...It's the new way to pick up no-show permits.

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#55223 - 05/24/19 04:49 PM Re: Beta for 5/25 - 5/26 [Re: Steve C]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 140
Loc: The OC
I wonder if you can still waltz in, sit down (preferably by the big window), go online (with your phone), order the permit, and then walk over to the desk and pick it up?

At least that's how I'm imagining it. Anyhoo, Sunday has been upgraded to yet another winter storm watch:

https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.ph...74#.XOiCFohKiM8

Not only do I not expect many (if any) to be heading up, I'd wager they won't even bother cancelling.

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#55224 - 05/24/19 10:28 PM Re: Beta for 5/25 - 5/26 [Re: Hobbes]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7781
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Hobbes
I wonder if you can still waltz in, sit down (preferably by the big window), go online (with your phone), order the permit, and then walk over to the desk and pick it up?


For next day permits currently, that would work. I'm waiting for the new software to open up current-day no-shows to online purchase. That's the objective, so I've been told. But there were bigger bugs to work out first.

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