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June 27?
#59902 03/16/23 10:53 AM
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We won a permit for June 27. I wasn't the primary person picking dates so I didn't get a chance to speak up about snowfall this year.

On average, when do the switchbacks open for hiking? We won't do the hike if the chute is the only option. We don't have mountaineering experience with ice axes, etc. Microspikes, we can do. Beyond that would be above our comfort zone.

Is there a specific site to see snow conditions for Whitney specifically? Such as how high the snow in relation to elevation? Thank you!

Re: June 27?
Casie #59903 03/16/23 11:14 AM
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Thanks for asking the question!

Also interested in possible snow and ice conditions, our overnight permit is Sat, June 17th.

This will be our first climb on Whitney.

For those with more experience on Mt. Whitney and the Sierra Nevada mountains, at what point do you think we will have a good idea of June conditions on Whitney?


Thanks so much! -- Steven

Re: June 27?
intownrunner #59904 03/16/23 11:21 AM
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Now. There will be snow. I did a trip on a low snow year in mid May - and there are always iffy portions. This year, you can guarantee the iffy portions will be more frequent and severe. Personally, I would not, will not enter the whitney zone without helmet, axe, spikes this year, until late summer. You may only need this gear for 100yds of the trail, but trust me, I have turned around over these 100yds because I didnt have the tools. Travel safely. Summiting is optional, descending is mandatory. -805

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Re: June 27?
805_backpacker #59905 03/16/23 03:07 PM
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Greetings. My first permit for Whitney was on June 27, 2019. There were 7 of us, many of whom had made the summit in previous years. That year snowpact was about 160% of normal in this area. Today it’s about 260% of normal. In the June 2019 hike there was a ton of snow. Even though we had crampons and ice axes we were exhausted going up main trail fighting through the snow. The only option was going up the Shute. That is where we made a decision to turn back. Even then it was an exhausting 11 hour day.

I would assume there will be a significant amount of snow on Whitney well into July this year. The 2019 hike gave me a taste of how I could better train/prepare. I came back in 2022 and did one day hike to summit at age 68. It was epic but brutal. Took me a solid 15/16 hours. But there was no snow and no need for any snow equipment!

I live in Calif so I did not mind the failed attempt in 2019. But if you are coming from a long distance and your permit is for June or first part of July 2023 you should expect to battle snow conditions which is much harder than simply walking up the trail with little or no snow.

Good luck.

Re: June 27?
foxtrot #59906 03/16/23 03:39 PM
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Thank you everyone! We are working hard with the group to strategize. One downside is living along the Gulf Coast, I can't get regular practice in with snow gear. We will have a great backup plan to find some others hikes to do.

By "shute," do you mean the mountaineer's route or the slope next to the switchbacks?

Re: June 27?
Casie #59907 03/16/23 03:46 PM
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Slope next to switchbacks.

Re: June 27?
Casie #59908 03/16/23 04:12 PM
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The first time I tried Whitney was June 19, 2011. The winter of 2010-11 had about the record for most snow (until this year maybe). I think we hit snow somewhere past Outpost Camp, around 11,000 feet. I would expect similar conditions this year around the same time.

In 2011 we had no experience in snow but rented crampons and gave it a shot anyway. Going up the chute was physically challenging, but I felt pretty comfortable otherwise. Trail crest was as far as we got on account of it being late in the day. I did find going back down the chute pretty intimidating, having no experience doing something like that.

Re: June 27?
Louie #59968 04/28/23 04:12 AM
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I’m glad to hear this response. I’m a fairly experienced backpacker but have 0 experience in the snow. I’m headed up with my dad on June 16 and will have all the needed gear: micro spikes, axe, etc.

Everyone seems to make it sound extremely perilous but from the videos I’ve seen and posts I’ve read it sounds reasonably safe. The chute sounds like a drag but with an axe it shouldn’t be dangerous. Just slow and hard. Might need to learn to glissade though ????

Re: June 27?
frankthevi #59972 04/28/23 09:44 PM
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Crampons would be better for going up the chute.

Look up videos on how to glissade. You NEED to know 1. how to brake using an ice axe & 2. do not wear crampons while glissading.

By late June, if people are still glissading, the chute will be a dee[, narrow, icy trench. I wouldn't want to try that myself. Walking down would be way safer.

Re: June 27?
frankthevi #59975 04/29/23 05:30 PM
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MICROspikes are not "all the needed gear". Bring real crampons.

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Re: June 27?
bobpickering #59976 04/29/23 05:44 PM
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Glad to hear. Do you think something like this: https://hillsound.com/products/trail-crampon would suffice?

Was definitely planning on 1- watching videos on how to glissade and 2 - doing some smaller hills prior to taking on the chute.

Re: June 27?
frankthevi #59979 04/29/23 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by frankthevi
Glad to hear. Do you think something like this: https://hillsound.com/products/trail-crampon would suffice?

Was definitely planning on 1- watching videos on how to glissade and 2 - doing some smaller hills prior to taking on the chute.

I think most people would call those microspikes, not crampons.

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Re: June 27?
frankthevi #59993 05/04/23 11:06 AM
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Will not suffice - crampons MANDATORY as previously stated. Lived the main trail one week ago. The chute is not to be underestimated. Please see my post from earlier today in another thread in General Discussion. BTW - current guidelines are to leave crampons on during glissading (unless obviously not required, Freedom of the Hills is outdated). I put my crampons on MID CHUTE due to a slide last week. Please be fully prepared before attempting Whitney this year in these conditions!

Re: June 27?
Louie #59996 05/05/23 02:36 PM
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Nodding. That does not inspire confidence.

Something like this would be better: https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/product/contact-crampon

Augmented with an ice axe and a leash, and the willingness to turn around, if needed. That last item belongs on the top flap of your pack.

Re: June 27?
frankthevi #59998 05/06/23 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by frankthevi
I’m glad to hear this response. I’m a fairly experienced backpacker but have 0 experience in the snow. I’m headed up with my dad on June 16 and will have all the needed gear: micro spikes, axe, etc.

Everyone seems to make it sound extremely perilous but from the videos I’ve seen and posts I’ve read it sounds reasonably safe. The chute sounds like a drag but with an axe it shouldn’t be dangerous. Just slow and hard. Might need to learn to glissade though ????


Sounds like you won the lottery. Score! However, i think you need to think with your head and not your heart. Watching videos on how to glissade on youtube is not going to help you at 11,500 feet if you need to actually perform. And is your dad ready for that challenge? Whitney and the sierra's in general are going to pose so many problems this year, from snow, to avalanches, river crossings, etc. And lets be honest, June 16? That area is going to be buried in snow until mid-July at the earliest. June 16th is cutting it close for snow on the trails in a normal year. I don't want to rain on your parade. My Whitney permit was cancelled when there was a fire above the portal a few years ago. I know the feeling. Just be smart. Good luck!

I watched this video the other day. It is the Mountaineer's Route, but you get the point in how much snow is up there. https://youtu.be/tfK7GL6tHcE

Last edited by gohike; 05/06/23 12:36 PM.
Re: June 27?
805_backpacker #60020 05/17/23 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by 805_backpacker
BTW - current guidelines are to leave crampons on during glissading (unless obviously not required, Freedom of the Hills is outdated).

Who issued these new guidelines superseding decades of sound advice? Wearing crampons while glissading isn’t a clever innovation that the authors of Freedom of the Hills were too dumb to think of. It’s an unsafe practice that mountaineers learned not to do decades ago. If you catch a crampon point on the snow or ice, you can easily snap an ankle or tumble ass over teakettle down the mountain. If you can’t hike out, you could conceivably spend your last night waiting for a rescue that turns into a recovery. This kind of misinformation could get someone seriously injured. Never wear crampons while glissading!

If the snow isn’t too steep or icy, you know how to glissade safely, there are no hidden rocks, and you don’t care about damaging your pants or getting soaking wet, feel free to take off your crampons and glissade. Otherwise, just walk down the mountain. This is much safer than glissading and almost as fast.

Last edited by bobpickering; 05/18/23 04:29 PM.
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Re: June 27?
805_backpacker #60025 05/18/23 07:42 PM
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Glissading is already a weird move, but wearing crampons while doing it is a recipe for disaster IMO. Because what happens when, due to the forward motion and speed, one of the crampons catches and stops, while your body is still moving forward; knees, ankles, etc. Freedom of the hills has been updated a million times and isn't that outdated when it comes to first principles.

As far as the main poster, and like 805 said, be prepared, not sure if I would be going up there this time of year with no snow experience, considering the year we had. I am not saying it cant be done, but you will need some once you get to the switchbacks (and even earlier) considering most of the mountain is still snow. Maybe I' am wrong, but with all the snow we had its not currently just a "hike" up there.

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Re: June 27?
bobpickering #60026 05/18/23 08:57 PM
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If you were doing a lot of mixed down walking and glissading where you would have to take your crampons on and off I think it would be cool if there was some type of "glissade-ers" product that covered the sharp spikes on your crampons with hard plastic and/or Stainless Steel or something so the wouldn't catch during glissading and glassade induced self arresting. If they could be designed so you could slap them on really quickly and easily, that would be great. Probably would need some type of leash to make sure you didn't lose them.

Re: June 27?
jaym #60029 05/19/23 10:22 PM
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I can't think of a place where you would want to down-climb with crampons, then glissade for a bit, and then walk again. Might as well just down-climb the entire thing.

Re: June 27?
Casie #60065 05/26/23 05:09 PM
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My dad and I have a day hike for the 27th as well!! Have fun out there and be safe! Maybe we’ll run into each other on the trail. I’m going into this adventure with a positive mindset but also a realistic one lol we are going to go as far as we can but likely won’t summit. We will take notes and be back next year as ready as ever!


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