Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
2 registered (sumptimwong, MikeH), 15 Guests and 35 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3845 Members
10 Forums
5644 Topics
51495 Posts

Max Online: 382 @ 11/07/12 05:45 AM
Topic Options
#55391 - 06/12/19 01:09 AM 6/10 Route condition
LeeB Offline


Registered: 06/12/19
Posts: 4
Loc: CA
New here and the first time in Mt. Whitney. Really thank the forum for very useful information. I am a kinda experienced hiker but not familiar with crampons/ice axes. This time I brought crampons, an ice ax, and hiking poles with snow baskets.

Ascend via MR.
-Patches of snow started after the first stream crossing. Both crossings were fine despite the high water level. But the second one was a bit confusing and took me about five minutes to figure out the right crossing point.
-E Ledge was fine. Not as scary as I thought.
-All snow after LBSL, got some water here thinking there might not be water source further up. But I did see some water sources on the trail around UBSL
-Iceberg Lake was completely white. Hit it by 9a. I was slower than I expected.
-Because the sun was high at 9, snow in the chute became wet and loose, took 2+ hours to get to the notch.
-Took a break at the notch. Then the final 400ft was easy at the beginning. The snow/ice mixture was in good shape (at least around noon). Then the last 1/3 suddenly became kinda sketch. Especially the last 30 ft or so, was literally a 70-80 degree snow/ice wall.
-In total, maybe ~20 hikers ascended from the main trail, 3 (incl. myself) up from MR, and one guy coming down from MR.
-The main trail between the summit and JMT was okay but some sections had high drift condition, was heavily used and narrow. But I saw hikers coming up/down through the main trail with microspikes or just hiking boots (def. not recommended!)
-Trying to find the entries to Mt. Muir but was not successful. Took a wrong path and went to a small hill after Muir.
-Only arrived Trail Crest by 4p, sliding down was sketchy and scary. It became better after I got used to a higher speed. It's all hard snow/ice mixture so it can cause some injuries. I got some skin scrapes on my arms and legs.
-There was water at Trail Camp
-Snow conditions all the way to Lone Pine Lake and a bit lower.

Things I could do better:
- I got too nervous about this trip so I did not sleep well the night before. Then on the hiking day, I drove to the trailhead without any sleep. I wish I could get more zZZ.
- Should eat/drink more/often during the hike. I was definitely dehydrated at some points. Every time after a longer break and eat/drink, I felt much more energized and could speed up significantly.
- Walking down took much more time than I thought. I have seen people reporting much faster time. But I might be too slow as I was physically and mentally exhausted.
- (should not have driven the same night back to LA)

Top
#55393 - 06/12/19 08:37 AM Re: 6/10 Route condition [Re: LeeB]
penny Offline


Registered: 05/24/19
Posts: 7
Loc: CALIFORNIA
thanks for this report. The most useful part of this site(for me) is receiving timely an accurate reports.

Question, my one day permit is on June 27. Do you think there is any chance the switch backs will be able to be used then? With all the snow how feasible is it to try and make it from the portal to summit and back to portal in one day? Most reports I am reading involve a night (perhaps 2) camping at Trail Camp.

Thanks for any responses to this.

Top
#55395 - 06/12/19 09:44 AM Re: 6/10 Route condition [Re: penny]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7786
Loc: Fresno, CA
Penny:   Check the Current Conditions thread.

Top
#55397 - 06/12/19 12:39 PM Re: 6/10 Route condition [Re: penny]
LeeB Offline


Registered: 06/12/19
Posts: 4
Loc: CA
I have met (somewhat) inexperienced hikers doing the day hike on the main trail. I think it really largely depends on your fitness level. But be prepared for a very early start, like 3 am.

You can hike up and down Trail Crest without using the switchbacks... at least for now.

Top
#55410 - 06/14/19 02:20 PM Re: 6/10 Route condition [Re: LeeB]
IanS Offline


Registered: 06/14/19
Posts: 3
Loc: Northern CA
Hello, what does that mean you can hike up and down to trail crest without the switchbacks-on the main trail? We are planning to attempt to Summit on June 30th, staying first night at Trail Camp, then heading up from there the next morning, will the trail to use to get to Trail Crest be easy to follow? We have crampons and axes, and are experienced hikers, but not much experience in snow and ice conditions. Any advice is appreciated.

Top
#55412 - 06/14/19 04:14 PM Re: 6/10 Route condition [Re: IanS]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7786
Loc: Fresno, CA
> what does that mean you can hike up and down to trail crest without the switchbacks
He means you can take the non-trail direct route up the steep "chute", which is actually a snow-bowl just west of the switchbacks. It is consolidated and icy early morning, and depending on temperatures, gets slushy in the afternoon. It can freeze up again late afternoon when the Whitney crest casts a shadow on it.

People need crampons and ice axe to safely climb this area. Descending, some glissade on their butts, if they know how to brake with the ice axe and if going too fast, self-arrest.

Your alternative is to use the switchbacks, shown in the current conditions thread. I read today where a group used them, and mid-day, were post-holing in some places. Mid-day, all that snow is melting, and it often melts from the inside-out (ground-up) so any weight causes people to sink way down. I'm hoping people will use it enough to keep it packed down. That group whose report I read took 23 hours for their round trip, so they were on the switchbacks at the worst (warmest) time of the day.

If you overnight at Trail Camp, there are lots of tracks to follow to the summit. Getting to Trail Camp when the trail is under snow is more difficult/confusing, than from there to the summit.

Top
#55416 - 06/14/19 10:33 PM Re: 6/10 Route condition [Re: Steve C]
IanS Offline


Registered: 06/14/19
Posts: 3
Loc: Northern CA
Steve, thanks for the response and all the great info on your other posts. I will keep checking the updates and hope the trail is broken in better by the end of the month. Sounds like getting an early start from trail camp is recommended to try and avoid the post holing experience.

Top
#55421 - 06/15/19 07:22 PM Re: 6/10 Route condition [Re: IanS]
LeeB Offline


Registered: 06/12/19
Posts: 4
Loc: CA
Steve gave a great answer, just add my two cents here.

It is my first time doing glissade...the trick is you have to use your feet to shave ice/snow and let it pile under you. And even with that, depends on the snow condition (soft/wet/icy/hard), you might still go very fast.
Ice axes can be used to slow down a bit, do not count on it (maybe I didn't do it right). In my case, ice ax is like binary: either it bites into the snow and stops you completely, or it barely offers any help.

Also, pay attention to the icy surface, it might cause pretty bad skin scrape.

Top
#55429 - 06/16/19 12:58 PM Re: 6/10 Route condition [Re: LeeB]
Kascadia Offline


Registered: 07/23/18
Posts: 8
Loc: PNW - Cascade Foothills
I would not recommend the use of one's feet to try to brake on a glissade for the same reason you don't wear crampons. If your feet catch on something (a piece of ice/rock/etc), you can easily be flipped over/around and break an ankle or leg in the process before you start sliding out of control. Best to review proper use of the ice axe pick and spike/self arrest for glissading and then PRACTICE it before going into a situation where your life/health (and anyone else that may be inadvertently affected) is on the line.

Top
#55431 - 06/16/19 02:20 PM Re: 6/10 Route condition [Re: LeeB]
Paul A Offline


Registered: 06/22/17
Posts: 2
Loc: CA
5 of us went up Friday the 14, and 3 made it. For 2 of us, it was our 4th year in a row making the summit in one day. We always choose mid June for ease of attaining permits, less crowd and the challenge. I will say this year was the most challenging of all 4 years for us for sure. Dont let that discourage you, just know it's a beast this year.

Snow starts before Outpost Camp. We started at 1am knowing the snow was heavier this year. We also lost the trail several times. I use an app called GAIA. It's a topographic map. I download the area on the map prior and while in "airplane" I can still track our location versus the trail. In plenty of areas before Outpost Camp you'll see the tracks through snow banks cutting off many switchbacks. We did this many times, but unless you have this, or a similar app or GPS be very cautious. We ran into a guy at 7pm who was starting up on Thursday as we were coming down from a warmup hike. As we were descending at 12pm Friday from the summit we ran into him again. He was still ascending. He got lost for hours in the night. So, very easy to lose ones self out there.

The area around Mirror Lake is marshy and easy to get lost in as well. Once above Mirror Lake you're in the snow fields the rest of the way. You skip all the switchbacks and the rock steps. You're just on a path straight to the chute. We got there at 630 am and started ascending the chute. We were to the top before 8am, but even by then the top of the chute was extremely difficult. We were on all 4 almost, sinking our axes all the way in to get a hold as the snow by then was extremely soft. We use, and in all our years used microspikes.

Crest Trail had the most snow I've seen on it, and was precarious in spots, but nothing to be worried about. Kept on our microspikes the whole way to the summit. Just take your time in done areas, watch your footing and make sure your solid before transferring weight.

Submitted at 1030 am. In all, 3 out of 5 made it. 1 guy had a major chest congestion and peeled off around Mirror Lake. The other guy started feeling the altitude part way up the chute and called it. I commend both of them for knowing that the mountain is always there.

Glisading down is a breeze. Doesnt mean it's not dangerous, or should be taken lightly, but the snow is so soft in the late morning, early afternoon that you dont need to be too anxious about losing control. About half way down you'll naturally slow down because it's pure slush. I use the shovel side of my ace to maintain speed, but truth be told I just jump into the path and sit back and enjoy the ride. 5 minutes later you're down and soaked, but so worth it!

Anyways, I know it's long winded, but after 4 successful summits in 4 years, I wanted to share this years experience.

Top
#55433 - 06/16/19 08:56 PM Re: 6/10 Route condition [Re: Kascadia]
LeeB Offline


Registered: 06/12/19
Posts: 4
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: Kascadia
I would not recommend the use of one's feet to try to brake on a glissade for the same reason you don't wear crampons. If your feet catch on something (a piece of ice/rock/etc), you can easily be flipped over/around and break an ankle or leg in the process before you start sliding out of control. Best to review proper use of the ice axe pick and spike/self arrest for glissading and then PRACTICE it before going into a situation where your life/health (and anyone else that may be inadvertently affected) is on the line.


I take it back...but I really didn't know how to use ice axe pick to get the right amount of slowing down

Top