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#55266 - 05/30/19 06:56 PM how steep is the MWT snow?
BFR Offline


Registered: 04/07/16
Posts: 113
Loc: Santa Monica, CA
I've never done the MWT in alpine conditions, only the MR. Where is the snow the steepest? What's the grade / how does it compare to the Whitney MR gully up to the notch?

Thanks
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#55267 - 05/30/19 07:24 PM Re: how steep is the MWT snow? [Re: BFR]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 413
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Hi, Ben. I’ve never measured “the chute” (really just a slope) on the main trail or the Mountaineers’ Route, but I used to carry a slope gauge, and I try to be accurate. I would estimate the steepest point on the main trail at 30-35° and the MR at 35-40°. I skied down from Trail Crest in January ’93 and again in March ’93. Skiing the MR is above my skills.

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#55268 - 05/30/19 07:55 PM Re: how steep is the MWT snow? [Re: bobpickering]
Baudin Offline


Registered: 05/08/19
Posts: 2
Loc: CO
Cal Topo has a slope shading option that will show the slope angles for all terrain. It looks like the mountaineering route cuts through section that is 46-50 degrees. And the snow climb through the chute is about 35 degrees. I have not done either route yet (soon ...), but use the slope shading often, and it is accurate.

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#55269 - 05/30/19 09:11 PM Re: how steep is the MWT snow? [Re: Baudin]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 413
Loc: Reno, Nevada
I haven’t measured the Mountaineers’ Route, but I have measured North Peak at 45-46°. The MR is not as steep as North Peak, let alone 4° steeper.


Edited by bobpickering (05/31/19 09:30 AM)

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#55272 - 05/31/19 10:18 AM Re: how steep is the MWT snow? [Re: bobpickering]
Hoot Offline


Registered: 02/01/19
Posts: 17
Loc: Ohio
We measured 37 degrees a few weeks ago where it looked steepest in the couloir above Iceberg Lake and below the Notch. I understand the snow above the Notch is significantly steeper.

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#55275 - 05/31/19 12:50 PM Re: how steep is the MWT snow? [Re: BFR]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 140
Loc: The OC
I've done both in May - my impression was that the gully is steeper.

This seems to be born out by my notes. According to my calcs, the gully starts above Iceberg around 12,600, and climbs 1,500 to the notch at 14,100. The chute begins above Trail camp at 12,050 to reach the crest at 13,400, or a climb of 1,350.

The one hiccup in the MWT is of course the 1.9 miles there and back (3.8). Depending on conditions, it can be fairly slow if there is a lot of climbing around/over ice/snow blocks.

If you have mountaineering skills (I don't, I was on a guided trip), then the MR might even be slightly easier from an endurance stand-point. The added miles on the MWT, and the sort of round about way to get there is pretty exhausting.

One item to note is if there is sufficient snow coverage, for those who are experienced & have been in the area before, you can literally walk a straight line down from Trail camp to Outpost by skirting the waterfall*. Then, cutting across Bighorn park down the creek outlet (usually an impossible bushwhack with sharp willows) will pop you out below LP lake.

One last note is it seems more people are using the old trail from behind the store, rather than taking the super long, switch backed equestrian route. It essentially puts you right at the main trail/N fork junction, so you can cut off around a mile or so on either route.

* Stay well towards the cliff side away from the waterfall. Also, avoid if the snow is melting and there are pockets forming. A girl fell and died there a few years ago by crashing through the melting ice cover over the precipice.

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#55276 - 05/31/19 12:52 PM Re: how steep is the MWT snow? [Re: Hoot]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 140
Loc: The OC
Originally Posted By: Hoot
We measured 37 degrees a few weeks ago where it looked steepest in the couloir above Iceberg Lake and below the Notch. I understand the snow above the Notch is significantly steeper.


Hey, how did your trip go?

Yeah, the way I've described climbing the final 400 with full snow cover is like going up a ladder. You're literally facing the mountain. It's even harder on the way down, since you have to backwards step down, again just like coming down a ladder.

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#55277 - 05/31/19 05:48 PM Re: how steep is the MWT snow? [Re: Hobbes]
Hoot Offline


Registered: 02/01/19
Posts: 17
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: Hobbes

Hey, how did your trip go?


We had a great time on very good snow conditions, but ran into some complications at the Notch and decided not to climb further. Had I known it was all steep snow above that, we might have pressed on as I've climbed some pretty steep snow before and conditions were quite good, at least below the Notch. Anyway, I'll be back!

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#55281 - 05/31/19 08:57 PM Re: how steep is the MWT snow? [Re: Hoot]
Anton Offline


Registered: 08/02/17
Posts: 33
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Hoot
Originally Posted By: Hobbes

Hey, how did your trip go?


We had a great time on very good snow conditions, but ran into some complications at the Notch and decided not to climb further. Had I known it was all steep snow above that, we might have pressed on as I've climbed some pretty steep snow before and conditions were quite good, at least below the Notch. Anyway, I'll be back!


FYI (from Steve C):

http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/39561/Whitney_Easy_Walkoff

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#55282 - 06/01/19 04:31 AM Re: how steep is the MWT snow? [Re: Anton]
Hoot Offline


Registered: 02/01/19
Posts: 17
Loc: Ohio
We were told the class 2 route up from the Notch can be treacherous in snowy and possibly icy conditions and that several climbers had fallen to their deaths along this section. Doug at the trailhead store suggested that whomever associated the word "easy" with this alternative route did the community a major disservice. When dry, as in the video, it does look pretty straight forward.

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#55288 - 06/01/19 04:20 PM Re: how steep is the MWT snow? [Re: Hoot]
Anton Offline


Registered: 08/02/17
Posts: 33
Loc: San Diego
While it is certainly easier when there is no snow and ice, I am not sure if I agree that the direct path is safer. It all depends on conditions but consequences of taking a fall will likely be equally bad. Also, people died or had serious injuries in various sections of the route, including E-ledges, the gulley, and area right above the notch.

I hope you summit next time!

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