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#55797 - 07/24/19 09:46 AM Posting in All trails from yesterday - is distance correct?
dee desh Offline


Registered: 05/14/19
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
From Alltrails
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A group of 4 of us attempted to summit this mountain as a day hike this past Saturday, July 20th. We were on the trail hiking by 3am and made it to base camp around 8:30am. One of our team members began experiencing altitude sickness on the switchbacks at 12,500 feet and couldnít continue onward. We had them stay back at basecamp (12,000 ft), as we moved onward toward the summit. Although the switchbacks were challenging, we felt the most difficult part was traversing across the backside of the mountain once you got to the top of the switchbacks. There is a sign that says Mt. Whitney summit 1.9 miles away, but it is incorrect due to the reroute that you have to do (and we werenít aware of). Itís probably more of a 3 mile trek once you complete the switchbacks before you hit the summit. The route actually takes you away from the summit and then backtracks you to get to the peak. At this point, still 3/4 mile from the summit, and at an altitude of 14,065 feet, a couple more hikers in our group began to feel the effects of the altitude. I personally ran out of water with still 45 minutes to get to the summit. I went through 4 liters on the way and then ran out. We werenít planning for the ascend to take over 9 hrs, which was another factor of not refilling before we hit the switchbacks. We ended up turning around with less than a mile to the summit and finished at an altitude of 14,065 feet. It was an extremely tough decision after coming so far and being so close to the top. It took us 9 hrs to get to the point where we turned around, and another 7 hrs to get back down to the parking. Our group was all very experienced hikers and extremely physically fit. Without having more adequate time to adapt to the altitude, we were stopped dead in our tracks. I would highly recommend staying the night at basecamp (12,000 feet) and ascending the summit the following day so your body has time to acclimate. We only had single day permits so this wasnít an option for us. Iíd also recommend starting at either 1am or 2am at the latest if you want to get back down to your car in daylight. We started at 3am and didnít get back to the parking lot until 7pm...and we stopped 45 minutes from the summit. Make sure you top off your water at the basecamp before the switchbacks because itís still a long ways to the summit and you donít want to run out like I did. My hat goes off to all of you who complete this feat in a single day!

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#55801 - 07/24/19 12:21 PM Re: Posting in All trails from yesterday - is distance correct? [Re: dee desh]
StorminMatt Offline


Registered: 06/20/19
Posts: 22
Loc: Norcal
I feel like the 1.9 mile distance from Trail Crest is correct. It may not exactly feel like that since many people will be feeling the effects of altitude and/or fatigue by that point. But itís certainly not three miles. In any case, the length is NOT increased due to a Ďrerouteí. The trail has always hung a left to the west and came around back to the east for the final climb to the summit.

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#55802 - 07/24/19 12:24 PM Re: Posting in All trails from yesterday - is distance correct? [Re: dee desh]
ksearing Offline


Registered: 07/24/19
Posts: 3
Loc: Ca
I hiked Whitney on July 22nd. I've hiked Whitney 3 times before, and the trail did not seem different to me. I'm not sure what reroute the original poster is talking about. They might have ended up cutting across to the Mountaineers Route trail.

As a side note, the camp that the original poster is referring to is often called "Trail Camp". Mt. Whitney does not have a "Base Camp".

If you're concerned about altitude, a much better idea is to do more day hikes at altitude before attempting to summit. Onion Valley and Horseshoe Meadow are both good places to check out. There is also the Meysan Lakes trail out of the Portal. I'm not a huge fan of that one, because it is hot, exposed, and steep. Note that camping at Trail Camp will only help you with altitude sickness if you don't feel the symptoms at 12000 ft.

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#55803 - 07/24/19 12:51 PM Re: Posting in All trails from yesterday - is distance correct? [Re: ksearing]
KCMasterpiece Offline


Registered: 02/14/19
Posts: 12
Loc: California
Does this have something to do with the snowfield right below the summit? How are others avoiding that?

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#55805 - 07/24/19 01:21 PM Re: Posting in All trails from yesterday - is distance correct? [Re: KCMasterpiece]
StorminMatt Offline


Registered: 06/20/19
Posts: 22
Loc: Norcal
Originally Posted By: KCMasterpiece
Does this have something to do with the snowfield right below the summit? How are others avoiding that?


Iíve not been up Whitney yet this season. But I canít imagine a reroute around a snowfield lengthening the hike by a mile.

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#55807 - 07/24/19 09:12 PM Re: Posting in All trails from yesterday - is distance correct? [Re: KCMasterpiece]
dbd Online


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 216
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: KCMasterpiece
Does this have something to do with the snowfield right below the summit? How are others avoiding that?


Some years a small snow field remains across the trail below the summit. It is usually about 50 meters across. If you continue along the direction the trail has been following, you come out on the dry maintained trail. It is usually better to do this than to climb strait up in snow or on loose gravel and big rock ledges. The first image is the top of Whitney from the Caltopo tool.
[img:center][/img]

The green line follows the trail. The red circle is the section covered by snow. Sometimes even experienced hikers get confused by the snow. Caltopo also has overlays from USGS with the trail as dashed black and Mapbuilder with thin red lines for trails:
[img:center][/img]

The USGS shortcut uses swithbacks near the top to limit the steepness of the route. The Mapbuilder has a dotted blue line where the Mountaineers Route final 400 may be, the lines marked "John Muir Trail" actually are, the trail marked "Mount Whitney Mountaineers Route" is the (more often fatal than the Mountaineers Route) Easy Walkoff and a jagged red line right of the snow for its switchback shortcut.

There are a lot of free convenient tools and data on the net. Some of it is crap. It is your responsibility to figure out which. The original post seems to be from someone using data from the current USGS map. Older USGS maps had the trail correctly. At least they noticed that:

"The map is not the territory."


Dale B. Dalrymple

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#55809 - 07/25/19 06:58 AM Re: Posting in All trails from yesterday - is distance correct? [Re: dee desh]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 104
Loc: East Coast Florida
The sign that says 1.9 miles to the summit has been discussed in the past. I believe that the conclusion was it is short. I forget the actual distance, maybe 2.5 miles?

We dayhiked Whitney 5 times with this preparation. YMMV.

1. Living in SoCal, we hiked Mt. Baldy (10,064') many times.

2. About a week before the hike, start taking the herbal supplement gingko biloba available in any grocery or drug store.

3. Begin the hike well hydrated

4. Take several aspirin (not Tylenol, Advil, or Aleve) at the start

5. Drink water on a schedule. If you wait until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. It is easy to replenish water along the trail all the way to Trail Camp.

6. You need calories. Take high carb foods and sport drinks. Avoid the harder to digest proteins.

7. Rest periodically. It is a marathon not a sprint.

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#55812 - 07/25/19 07:45 AM Re: Posting in All trails from yesterday - is distance correct? [Re: RichardK]
Halfdomer Homer Offline


Registered: 04/07/16
Posts: 43
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I always refer to the back 1.9 as the "long" 1.9 because it feels like 2.5. I am hiking Whitney on Saturday the 27th so I will pay close attention to my GPS and report back the mileage recorded.

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#55815 - 07/25/19 10:57 AM Re: Posting in All trails from yesterday - is distance correct? [Re: Halfdomer Homer]
StorminMatt Offline


Registered: 06/20/19
Posts: 22
Loc: Norcal
I measured the distance by tracing a path in Google Earth. I got 2.15 miles from Trail Crest to the summit. The 1.9 miles on the sign at the JMT trail junction looks pretty correct. But like I said, how long it FEELS is another matter.


Edited by StorminMatt (07/25/19 04:17 PM)

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#55839 - 07/29/19 08:01 AM Re: Posting in All trails from yesterday - is distance correct? [Re: StorminMatt]
Halfdomer Homer Offline


Registered: 04/07/16
Posts: 43
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I hiked and summited on Saturday the 27th. From JMT to summit according to my Garmin Foretrex is 1.9- 2.0 miles depending on margin for error. Unbelievable beautiful day tho.

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