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#6258 - 07/24/10 03:04 PM Advice for Mountaineer's Route
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Murrieta, CA
I am asking advice on the Mountaineer's Route, not because I really "want" to take it, but because I want to know what I could be in for and what advice I can get to get over my fears. My buddy, his son, my son and my stepson want to do the MR, so I feel some responsibility to go with them (and mom says so too........well, she actually said NO, but we're all old enough to make up our own minds and I KNOW she won't read this.)

As many of you know, my experience is moderate. I've attempted Whitney three times, making the summit the last two times. I've hiked San Jacinto and Baldy several times and pretty much feel I can summit anything over a normal route, trail. I'm not great at rocks, but have been getting a little better. I don't like heights, though nothing on the main trail, including the "windows" effect me at all. Most of my "rock" climbing has been the last hundred feet or so of San Jacinto. I sometimes have a hard time trusting my new artificial hip.

I don't seem to get AMS as I've never had a severe headache, just a slight headache once, after I got to the summit of Whitney.

I did a reconnaissance to the Ebersbacher ledges a few weeks back and I did not feel comfortable crossing them. The stream crossings and the rocks, trees and other obstacles were a blast. the ledges weren't. The final 400 (or 1000 as they look in photos) don't look too bad, but the ledges looked pretty easy in photos also.

My questions would be:

* How long does it take an average hiker to make the summit if they do not camp at one of the lakes? If I go, I would do the loop down the main trail.

* How extreme is the final 400?

* I didn't see the need for ropes on the F 400, but would they help?

* Exactly how far is it from the Portal to the Summit using the MR?

* Any suggestions on getting over my fear of the ledges? (I can't believe I'm asking this one....I MUST trust you!) I practice on walls and curbs, but it's not nearly the same.

* The trail from Lone Pine creek crossing to the ledges is easy.....what about finding the rest?

* If you are going to try and do it in one day and taking the ledges (and seeing) into consideration, what time would you leave?

If you can help and/or answer any questions I didn't ask, then please do so. I REALLY appreciate...Joe
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#6259 - 07/24/10 04:19 PM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: quillansculpture]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Somebody has really got the bug - next you'll be doing doubles! Jack, Richard, watch out . . .

You get really good at this MR Joe, then you can guide me up next year.

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#6263 - 07/24/10 07:40 PM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: quillansculpture]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
Quote:
* Any suggestions on getting over my fear of the ledges?

Find an indoor climbing wall somewhere and spend some time learning how to do that, which will help you overcome your fear of heights, which is really the key issue. I found the e-ledges a bit daunting the first time I tried them, but still made it across with no problem. Since then, I have done wall climbing (and one outdoor rock climb) over the past 3 years. With the increased confidence and mindset wall climbing gave me, my fear of heights is under control, while at the same time I still respect the circumstances that such a vertical environment presents. With that wall climbing experience "under my belt", now I wouldn't even bat an eye at the e-ledges if I had to do them today. Another suggestion would be to ask someone who has no problem with the e-ledges take you across them. Once you've done them a couple of times, and you realize you can do them, then you will build confidence, which will allow you to move on to the next level (whatever that may be for you).


The distance from the Portal to the summit via the MR is approx. 4.5 miles, but obviously you have the same elevation gain as the MT's 11.2 miles.

Since not all of the MR "trail" is as obvious as the MT, if possible, I would suggest you hook up with someone who has done the MR and do it with them before you try to lead a small group up it, sight unseen. It would be very helpful.

CaT
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If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
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#6267 - 07/25/10 01:10 AM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: quillansculpture]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7525
Loc: Fresno, CA
Lots of questions, Joe! I'll try to answer several...

The final 400: Last time I went up, one hiker was too nervous to do it. While the rest went up, he stayed at the notch, and even lost his cookies there. On the way back down, he crab-crawled on all four some of the way down below the notch. Everyone else just walks it. Going up from the notch is mostly a no-hands climb, sometimes you can reach out and touch the rock for balance. It is not hard for those comfortable with heights. But I am worried since you had trouble on the E-ledges. I think the climbing gym stuff might be a good recommendation.

I have never day hiked the MR. But I have seen others say it takes about as much time as the main trail. But I think it should take less, since you don't have those interminable switchbacks.

I wouldn't take ropes -- if that is what you need, it would take a multi-day, due to the extra weight hauling. If you hired a guide, that is how they would do it.

If you day hike it, start in the dark, but first familiarize yourself with the route up to LBSL so you can do it as dawn breaks. As for route finding, check all the links in the Mountaineer's Route info links within... (It is linked in the first paragraph of the Orientation Notes).

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#6275 - 07/25/10 10:30 AM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: Steve C]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
You might want to up the MR to Lower Boy Scout Lake this coming winter/spring. This way you can get very good look at the E-Ledges to figure out where to enter and the route. We did this about 5 years ago and still haven't done the MR for a myriad of reasons. My guess it is easier to go get to LBS in this time period than in the summer.

Also, start doing trips off-trail. This will help you with route finding, a skill that is necessary for trips like the MR.

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#6277 - 07/25/10 11:13 AM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: wbtravis]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Murrieta, CA
Thanks so much.....I am listening to all of the advice and passing it on to my buddy, who is a bit more "gung-ho" than me. I am an extremely cautious person who reads and ingests information from everywhere before I make a decision about what I believe can be a dangerous situation.....so I REALLY appreciate it and please keep giving more advice.

I have already checked into a climbing gym in Riverside, called THRESHHOLD. My wife and I talked about it and the gym looks like it could be something we can have a lot of fun doing with our teenagers, since it's harder to find things to do with them and spend quality time, as they get distracted by .... well, everything teens get distracted by.

My wife told me about a place called Black Mountain/Boulder Basin in the San Jacinto Mountains that I could possibly do a bit of light rock scrambling, so I may check that out. There's also Tahquitz Rock. I've gone very near it on hikes, but never actually gone to the rock, so I don't know what it entails.

My memory goes back to a buddy of mine who went to Yosemite when he was a teen, about 30+ years ago. He "thought" he was a climber and decided to try going up a steep formation. I vividly remember him telling me how easy it was going up......and how embarrassing it was having the Park Personnel rescue him!

Thanks and I will keep checking in and passing on the info.
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#6289 - 07/25/10 09:37 PM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: quillansculpture]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Joe:

The climbing gym can indeed be a step in the right direction. You might also want to look into the intro mountaineering course offered by the LA chapter of the Sierra Club, called the Wilderness Travel Course . I am a graduate, and they focus on the basics of backpacking, Class 2-3 rock (which is what is required on the MR), navigation, and snow travel. It's extremely reasonable price-wise, and it gave me an excellent basis of knowledge on which to build. Courses will start up again after the new year. If you have any questions, drop me a p.m.

Scrambling up the Final 400 is definitely easier than coming down it, but it is nice to have the option (if you're dayhiking) to come down the Main Trail. I disagree with Steve about the no-hands thing. In all the ways I've ascended that chute (snow, mixed, and dry rock), holds were needed and it is easy to lose footing or balance if you're not paying attention (ie: when my friend Ellen fell and I caught her and blocked her into a hole between the rocks to avoid falling further).

As for time, I would answer by asking how you do maintaining your speed on steep terrain. While similar in structure to the Main Trail of steep sections followed by short, lower angle areas, remember the MR gains the same elevation as the MT in about 1/3 to 1/2 the mileage. While I can set up and maintain a good pace on the MT, I find that much more difficult on the MR since I get burned on the steep stuff time and again. I really should go up there and time myself, but I just can't get motivated to climb Whitney, again, for strictly that purpose.

Hope this helps somewhat! Good luck!

-L cool
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#6296 - 07/26/10 05:31 AM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: quillansculpture]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: quillansculpture
My memory goes back to a buddy of mine who went to Yosemite when he was a teen, about 30+ years ago. He "thought" he was a climber and decided to try going up a steep formation. I vividly remember him telling me how easy it was going up......and how embarrassing it was having the Park Personnel rescue him!


I'm just a hiker, but I can relate to this. I was hiking in Death Valley (winter) a few years ago and hit a rock wall formation in one of the canyons of about 15 feet height and maybe a 70-degree slope. It looked do-able and I scrambled up it pretty easily and continued my trek. On the return I just stared at that 15-foot downclimb and couldn't quite figure out how I was going to negotiate it in reverse. Those rock nubs that looked so wide and supportive and perfectly placed going up seemed to have disappeared. I hadn't seen another soul during the hike and studied the problem for about half an hour before I eventually managed to get down it without damaging anything.

Minor event, but it gave me an appreciation of the need to be sure I can get down a scramble before I get too far up it. There is definitely a seperate skill to downclimbing that isn't evident during an ascent.

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#6301 - 07/26/10 08:22 AM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: Bulldog34]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Bulldog,

It's always the down that gets you into trouble. Up is "easy". When I have thought about doing the MR my thoughts have always been on the down...the "first" 400 and the staying on track on the E-ledges. The rest to me is cake.

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#6302 - 07/26/10 09:00 AM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: wbtravis]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Guess that's where the old saying comes from - that no one's ever fallen "up" a mountain . . .

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#6355 - 07/30/10 04:23 PM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: Bulldog34]
thenine Offline


Registered: 03/28/10
Posts: 14
Loc: San Diego, CA
Quote:

There is definitely a seperate skill to downclimbing that isn't evident during an ascent.


My friends and I just summited Whitney via the Mountaineer's Route. It also just happened to be our first attempt on Whitney.

From my standpoint the way down was much much harder than the way up. I didn't have much a problem with the last 400 ft up or down and was surprised how little I was bothered by the exposure. However I hated going down the chute. Perhaps it was the route we took but I felt like I was just skiing on skree the entire time and I couldn't keep my footing. For me this was the scariest part of the trip.

Additionally, I was quite scared of the eledges on the way home until I actually got there. We were behind a group who knew the ledges really well and they took us through a short cut that avoids one of the most exposed sections of the route. That said... it was still pretty exposed and one member of our group had a hard time with it.

In terms of preparing... not sure what to say. I can really only share my experience as I am not an expert myself.

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#6415 - 08/02/10 08:29 PM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: quillansculpture]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Joe, I know you've mentioned some of the MR vids you've seen on YouTube - have you seen the 3-part series below? I stumbled on it last night. It's from 2007 and was made by BeachAV8R on the WPSMB, during a group climb with Richard P, Tomcat, Graham and a few others on the board. Exceptionally well done - the intro in the 2nd video gives the best sequence I've seen on the skinnier E-ledges (begins about 0:20 in). Well worth the time spent watching - I was very moved by the effort that clearly went into this.

Video # 1

Video # 2

Video # 3



Edited by Bulldog34 (08/03/10 06:51 AM)
Edit Reason: Corrected E-ledge info

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#6417 - 08/02/10 09:14 PM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: Bulldog34]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
I don't mind saying that the e ledges and the final 400 scare the beegeesus out of me. I am going to do the MR someday but it will be roped through those 2 areas.I will probably go with Kurt Wedbergs SMI.

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#6422 - 08/02/10 10:17 PM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: Rod]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2240
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
SMI! You're on Candid Camera! grin
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#6423 - 08/02/10 11:34 PM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: Bulldog34]
Tomcat_rc Offline


Registered: 11/05/09
Posts: 49
Loc: Ridgecrest
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
Joe, I know you've mentioned some of the MR vids you've seen on YouTube - have you seen the 3-part series below? I stumbled on it last night. It's from 2007 and was made by BeachAV8R on the WPSMB, during a group climb with Richard P, Tomcat, Graham and a few others on the board. Exceptionally well done - the summary in the 3rd video gives the best sequence I've seen on the skinnier E-ledges. Well worth the time spent watching - I was very moved by the effort that clearly went into this.

Video # 1

Video # 2

Video # 3



Thanks for bringing this back. It brings back some of the memories like they were yesterday. I have met a lot of good friends here on the mountain. I hope there are many more to come.

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#6424 - 08/03/10 06:33 AM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: Rod]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
Originally Posted By: Rod
I don't mind saying that the e ledges and the final 400 scare the beegeesus out of me. I am going to do the MR someday but it will be roped through those 2 areas.I will probably go with Kurt Wedbergs SMI.


I have a decent fear of heights so I wonder how I will do in these areas. My son wants to go and it looks like he may have secured himself an invite. Just waiting for him to get healthy and then do a tune up over on San J. If it happens and IF I don't wet my pants it will make for a great TR!..................................................DUG

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#6425 - 08/03/10 07:03 AM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: Tomcat_rc]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Tom, that looks like just a great time had by all. I especially liked Chris's honesty about his fear during the Final 400 and his emotions on the summit after several failed prior attempts. Lotta good people in the Sierra - as much as you're up there, your list of life-long friends will continue to grow exponentially!

Maybe I'll do the MR some day - I don't have an overpowering fear of heights, but I have a healthy respect for the splat-factor of a long fall. Maybe I'll take a few local rock-climbing classes before next year's trip out there. The E-ledges get my vote for the next Whitney cable install . . .

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#6429 - 08/03/10 12:32 PM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: Bulldog34]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Murrieta, CA
I appreciate it all.........DUG, Bulldog, Rod, wagga, tomcat, moose, et al.

My hands are SWEATING just reading these!!!!! Glad to see others are as nervous as me.
_________________________
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twitter: @josephquillan

If less is more, imagine how much more, more is -Frasier

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#6443 - 08/03/10 10:19 PM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: quillansculpture]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Bulldog, the idea of taking a rock climbing class is a great one. Doing that will give you skills that will make the climb trivial, compared with otherwise.

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#6445 - 08/04/10 04:00 AM Re: Advice for Mountaineer's Route [Re: Ken]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
What Ken said.
It's nice to approach the e-ledges without sweat. wink
Seriously, getting some wall/rock climging under your belt will go a long way toward reducing your pucker factor in exposed situations such as the e-ledges.

CaT
_________________________
If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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