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#56623 - 01/21/20 11:45 AM Needing tips for a March attempt
mclanier Offline


Registered: 01/21/20
Posts: 1
Loc: Alabama
Going to be in California for a work trip in March and was thinking about trying to get up Whitney, but had a few questions

1. How bad is the snow on the 99 switchbacks? aka will I even be able to go that route?

2. If I have to take the chute, I'll have an axe, helmet and spikes. What other essentials are there?

3. Where can I rent a bear canister/do I even need on that early in the season?

Thanks y'all!

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#56625 - 01/22/20 09:53 AM Re: Needing tips for a March attempt [Re: mclanier]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 464
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Forget the switchbacks in March. The chute is a much better route when it has enough snow, and it will have plenty in March. Bring stiff boots and real crampons like these. Microspikes and other crampon substitutes won’t cut it. The helmet isn’t a bad idea, but rock fall shouldn’t be a problem. They rent bear canisters where you pick up your permit. You won’t NEED one in March, but the rules might require it.

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#56626 - 01/22/20 09:59 AM Re: Needing tips for a March attempt [Re: mclanier]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7979
Loc: Fresno, CA
Hi mclainer,
In March, the road will be closed, so you have to park at the gate, and walk up an additional 3 miles to the trail head. At some point going up, and likely lower, maybe even at the trail head, you will be walking on snow.

The guiding services that take people up in March and April all use the Mountaineers Route access, going up the North Fork Lone Pine Creek. Usually there is enough snow then that they are able to walk up the valley above the brush and stream.

Whitney in early spring is not a simple walk up the trail.

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#56627 - 01/22/20 11:29 AM Re: Needing tips for a March attempt [Re: mclanier]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 464
Loc: Reno, Nevada
I only answered the questions you asked. Steve was smart enough to answer the questions you probably should have asked. Everything he said is right. I will add that the Mountaineers’ Route is much shorter because it’s also much steeper. People who summit via the North Fork in winter tend to have a ton of experience or they hire a guide.

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#56633 - 01/26/20 07:21 PM Re: Needing tips for a March attempt [Re: mclanier]
BFR Offline


Registered: 04/07/16
Posts: 145
Loc: Santa Monica, CA
Originally Posted By: mclanier
Going to be in California for a work trip in March and was thinking about trying to get up Whitney, but had a few questions

1. How bad is the snow on the 99 switchbacks? aka will I even be able to go that route?

2. If I have to take the chute, I'll have an axe, helmet and spikes. What other essentials are there?

3. Where can I rent a bear canister/do I even need on that early in the season?

Thanks y'all!


Judging from the nature of the questions, please hire a guide and/or get more experience before trying this.
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#56637 - 01/27/20 02:28 PM Re: Needing tips for a March attempt [Re: BFR]
tiptop Offline


Registered: 03/15/16
Posts: 5
Loc: San Luis Obispo, CA
Originally Posted By: BFR
Originally Posted By: mclanier
Going to be in California for a work trip in March and was thinking about trying to get up Whitney, but had a few questions

1. How bad is the snow on the 99 switchbacks? aka will I even be able to go that route?

2. If I have to take the chute, I'll have an axe, helmet and spikes. What other essentials are there?

3. Where can I rent a bear canister/do I even need on that early in the season?

Thanks y'all!


Judging from the nature of the questions, please hire a guide and/or get more experience before trying this.



I couldn't agree more. The MR in the dead of winter is no joke and shouldn't be taken on without plenty of physical, mental, and technical prep. Also, I would never recommend doing the MR route alone unless you've done it dozens of times. Weather and conditions can change so quickly on the ridge you could be caught in a bad spot, and without a buddy the chances of survival drop.
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see you at the tip-top

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