Mt. Whitney questions

Posted by: trident777

Mt. Whitney questions - 04/14/15 06:21 PM

After being unsuccessful at the lottery I just managed to score a SINGLE overnight permit for Fri Jul 24, I still can't believe it. I was just checking every 2 hours, one opened up and I booked it right there within seconds LOL!

Although I am excited it means I have to start some rigorous prep now. I am a little nervous as I will be doing this as a solo attempt.

Although I have done a few hikes in the Sierras I have NEVER camped or hiked solo so it's a little unnerving but I am hoping I can manage with some meticulous planning.

If anyone also solo is interested in joining me for this date that would be great as well smile

Main question - my permit is for entrance Fri Jul 24 and the pickup point is the East Sierra Visitor Center which is in Lone Pine. Sooo.. I am planning to depart the LA area at noon on Jul 23 and will be in Lone Pine on 23rd evening but the visitor center will be closed. If I pickup the permit on 24th morning my concern is that I will waste a lot of time and start my hike too late. I was thinking of camping out at the Whitney Portal trailhead but I guess now I will have to stay in Lone Pine to pickup my permit. What is the best way to do this?
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/14/15 07:04 PM

Congratulations on getting the permit online! Your persistence paid off.

In the past, Inyo N.F. would put permits in the night-drop box in the kiosk out by the road in front of the Visitor Center, but I don't know if that is still allowed. Call the Wilderness Permit office and ask: 760-873-2483 (and report back what you find out, please!)

If they won't let you use the night-drop, here is what I would do: Drive up to Horseshoe Meadows and spend the night. Doing that puts you at 10k elevation, to get your acclimation going. Just starting up the trail, with an overnight pack, without any acclimation can bring on AMS 24 hours later. In fact, consider camping at Outpost camp and starting your summit day early, rather than camping at Trail Camp.

Even if you DO get the night-drop permit, still consider the higher HM acclimation overnight. It only takes 40 minutes to drive back down to Lone Pine.

As for the solo hike: You will NOT be alone. Especially where you spend the night. There will be over 200 people using the trail that weekend. If you're friendly, you will likely find people hiking about your same pace to hike with.

Here's a good thread: Hiking Whitney alone
Posted by: jaxgev

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/14/15 07:18 PM

If you leave LA at noon, why will you get to Lone Pine in the evening? It only takes about three hours, right? Regardless, night pickups are still available: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5356869

Posted by: trident777

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/14/15 08:27 PM

awesome! thanks for the valuable info jaxgev and steve. I've decided to change my plans a bit and leave LA 23rd morning instead of give myself some breathing space. It's good to know that I will not be alone and it's going to be well a well traveled route smile
Posted by: wbtravis

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/15/15 07:31 AM

My first solo backpack was Horseshoe Meadow to Whitney Portal. I had a few seasons of backpacking experience. It was a wonderful experience.

There is enough information out there today that your trip should be anything but unnerving, if you go out a few times locally with your gear and get use to it and learn what does and does not work for you.

Just remember, there is nothing special about Mt. Whitney it is just a normal backpacking trip. You prepare for it just like any trip to the Sierra. No extra this and that.
Posted by: + @ti2d

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/15/15 07:42 AM

Trident777

Why not give yourself a meritorious day off on July 21 (option), 22 (promise your boss some pictures from the summit) and 23 and give yourself some time to acclimate (Horseshoe Meadows) or just chill at the Portal and enjoy the great food and atmosphere as well as getting the latest trail reports from other hikers completing their hikes.

I advise NOT to take a short hike to Lone Pine Lake. Save your strength, stamina, and energy for July 24. It will be like a walking a marathon.

Pace, pace, pace, nibble, nibble, nibble, HYDRATE, HYDRATE HYDRATE!

Have fun.
Posted by: trident777

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/15/15 01:51 PM

Thanks smile I wish I could take that much time off but I have very limited vacation days at work unfortunately!

Some additional questions -

My goal is to carry as little weight as possible so what is the smallest and lightest bear proof container I can carry?

I plan to overnight at Trail camp (or Outpost camp - undecided for now) so do I just leave my tent pitched up , leave unneeded items (sleeping bag etc.) and retrieve them on my way back? I'm thinking this is the best strategy to lessen my weight load on the 2nd segment to the summit?

What time do you recommend I start on the first day to trail camp and the 2nd day to the summit? I am thinking 9am to Trail camp and it should take 4 hours so I will be at Trail camp by 1pm, then start next day at 6am to the summit, reach the summit by 10:30am and then start back down by 11am, reach back to Whitney Portal by 6pm?

Posted by: + @ti2d

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/16/15 07:58 AM

Your strategy for hiking light is an excellent choice.

I use a Garcia bear canister when out in the wild. Others may have other preferences. You will have to make the decision to rent one or buy one.

Leave your tent at Trail Camp. Be sure there are no food items in your tent. Marmots can shred your tent to threads if there is a small morsel. Don't eat in your tent. Roll up your sleeping bag. You don't want surprises. You may want to break camp and have it stashed under a rock. That is my preference, others may have other great ideas. We live and learn on the board.

Your start time to TC seems reasonable. It is a matter of preference. I would prefer an earlier start around sunrise. It is roughly 6.3 miles at 12k elevation. Start early, take your time, enjoy Outpost Camp, Mirror Lake, Trailside Meadows. Your time of 4 hours seems really reasonable. Heck, stretch it out to 5 if you fee like it.

Your second day plan looks solid.

May I recommend that your bring a pair of foam Hearos earplugs just in case it may get a little too windy up there.

Hope this helps.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/16/15 08:35 AM

Definitely leave the unneeded items in your camp. Lightweight critter-proof container: Look at the Ursack

I think it might take you longer to get to Trail Camp from Whitney Portal. If you are really going to push that high the first day, you might want to consider taking a low dose of Diamox before you start, for the AMS.
Posted by: JimC

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/16/15 01:12 PM

I use a Wild Ideas Bearikade Scout for my bear can. Seems to be the lightest that is legal. Steve, is Ursack back on the approved list?

Scout Specifications:

1 pound 12 ounces
9 inch diameter base by 8 inch length
500 cubic inch volume
A bit pricey though

I have used the night drop a couple times a year for the past 5 years when just doing Whitney, but they make me come in if I go ahead north (like to Onion Valley or farther). I've been fortunate to be able to snag permits that others have returned to the pool on many occasions. Thanks to Steve's writeup for making the various options clear.

The first time I went with my girlfriend in 2009. I way over packed (54 lbs) for every conceivable contingency despite being warned by plenty of examples on the other board and this board not to do so. It would make you belly laugh if you saw the list of stuff I put in and on my backpack (11 lbs of food for which I consumed about 8 oz).

All my subsequent trips I have soloed. I still always overpack (just not as bad), e.g. 34lb pack for 9 days and 8 nights, South lake to Whitney Portal including 2L of water. I never seem to be able to leave out the comfortable stuff, cameras, lenses, batteries, and way too much food.

When I just do Whitney, I carry a REI Flash pack to stuff what I need on Summit day. Basically just some stuff in case it rains, water, snacks, and extra camera batteries, most of which seem to always go unused.

I'm never in a hurry going from the Portal to Trail Camp. I stop and talk to people and take lots of pictures. I always find new things to look at. So, I typically take 5 to 6 Hrs including all stops. This includes usually an hour at Outpost and an hour at Trailside Meadow. I like hearing from people that are just finishing the JMT (half are eager to get pancakes the other half want burgers and fries).

I like to leave at 5AM for the summit so I can take sunrise pictures part way up the switchbacks. It usually takes less than 4 hours and I am a relatively slow hiker. I always plan to stay only an hour on the Summit and then usually end up spending a lot more. I then head down, pack up camp, and head down to the Whitney Portal store for a snack.

Then dinner at Seasons if I'm lucky.

Good luck Trident777 with your trip. It should be a blast.

Posted by: Snacking Bear

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/16/15 01:43 PM

jaxgev... you deserve an award for that graphic. I'm totally using that this summer...
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/16/15 02:28 PM

Originally Posted By: JimC
I use a Wild Ideas Bearikade Scout for my bear can. Seems to be the lightest that is legal. Steve, is Ursack back on the approved list?

Jim, Inyo doesn't have an "approved list". Instead, they prescribe "the containers must be designed to prevent access by bears"."

You can find it in their Forest Order (05-04-54-13-05) on page 2. The link to the F.O. is in the 3rd paragraph of the Inyo N.F. "Recreation" web page.
Posted by: trident777

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/16/15 03:27 PM

thanks all!!

looking at the following two, they seem compact and light!!

Bear Vault: $59 shipped

https://www.austinkayak.com/products/4367/Bear-Vault-BV450-Bear-Resistant-Food-Canister.html

Bare contender 101: $69 shipped

http://gossamergear.com/bare-boxer-contender.html


btw, i'm leaning towards buying the container as renting is one more thing to worry about. I may have to choose from containers not to my liking in terms of size and weight!!
Posted by: + @ti2d

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/17/15 12:39 PM

Originally Posted By: trident777
thanks all!!

looking at the following two, they seem compact and light!!

Bear Vault: $59 shipped

https://www.austinkayak.com/products/4367/Bear-Vault-BV450-Bear-Resistant-Food-Canister.html

Bare contender 101: $69 shipped

http://gossamergear.com/bare-boxer-contender.html


btw, i'm leaning towards buying the container as renting is one more thing to worry about. I may have to choose from containers not to my liking in terms of size and weight!!


With the Bear Vault, you can use it as an aquarium when not in use! grin
Posted by: WanderingJim

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/18/15 10:00 PM

Originally Posted By: trident777


That's the one I got. Seemed to be the smallest out there. Seems light enough and took me a couple tries to get it opened, so it'll be very unlikely that a bear will figure it out. smile


I didn't think the 'sack' style bear containers would work on Whitney. Don't you have to hang them from a tree... and there's aren't a lot of those high on the mountain, are there?

In fact, this page seems to indicate the the bear canisters are required in the Whitney zone: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/inyo/recreation/?cid=fsbdev3_003846&width=full
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/18/15 10:24 PM

Originally Posted By: WanderingJim
I didn't think the 'sack' style bear containers would work on Whitney. Don't you have to hang them from a tree... and there's aren't a lot of those high on the mountain, are there?

In fact, this page seems to indicate the the bear canisters are required in the Whitney zone: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/inyo/recreation/?cid=fsbdev3_003846&width=full


The latest, greatest Ursack withstood an hour's worth of bear mauling without giving anything to the bear. Of course I wouldn't want mine chewed on for an hour -- the supplies inside would be unusable. But then if I am going into real bear country, I take the aluminum liner that is made for it.

As for the Whitney area, the bears only bother hikers in the parking area and campground, where the bear boxes are. Higher up, it is marmots and mice, not bears. So the sack would hold up just fine. I would hang mine off the side of a big boulder to discourage the little critters.

The Inyo page you linked to is the same one I used above. Note that they do not specify which brands or models are approved or rejected. All they say is "the containers must be designed to prevent access by bears". Ursack fits that requirement.
Posted by: wbtravis

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/19/15 08:45 AM

Wandering Jim,

The problem at Trail Camp is not bears. It is marmots. All you really need is a nylon sack, which is secured off the ground, since marmots cannot climb. I have used this technique above the tree line many times and still have not had food taken by any type of varmint.

The rule in the Inyo...and I will paraphrase, a container designed to deny food to a bear. The Ursack meets that criteria.

I am still waiting for either of my Ursacks to be attacked, let alone compromised. I have been using one since 1999.
Posted by: trident777

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/19/15 10:34 AM

what is the risk of mice or marmots getting into the tent by chewing through it in the night? I understand that the bear canister should be left 50 feet away from the tent outside but I am assuming the rest of your gear is inside the tent correct?
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/19/15 06:05 PM

Mice will not bother your gear that is not associated with food. Their sense of smell is way better than humans. You can keep your gear in your pack or in your tent, it doesn't matter.

As for the 50 foot rule: 5 or 10 feet works for me. If it is really bear country, I tie a bell to my Ursack, and tie it to a tree at a distance where I can throw rocks if an animal does bother it.
Posted by: WanderingJim

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/19/15 07:57 PM

Thanks for the clarification. Yeah, I wasn't that worried about bears (they'd have to be nuts to climb that high with the rest of us crazies smile ), just trying to wade through the rules.
Posted by: trident777

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/21/15 03:36 PM

great, and I am assuming there are no snakes at High camp smile
Posted by: wbtravis

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/26/15 08:29 AM

The conventional wisdom is there magical barrier at 8,000' for snakes...give or take. Imagine my surprise when I saw an 8' black snake at almost 11,000' above Crabtree Ranger Station in late September.
Posted by: Paul

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/26/15 10:11 AM

I can't disagree....I was up at Wallace Lake and came across a Gopher snake (black), about 5 feet long, laying on a rock, waist high, next to trail. Talk about total adrenalin rush. The snake moved so fast..... at this elevation!!!!

I no longer think of snakes only at lower elevation. And don't get me started at the Kern River.

paul
Posted by: trident777

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/27/15 01:51 PM

One more q - is there adequate parking by Whitney Portal campground? The reserved camping spot I have got says type "Walk to". I am assuming this to mean that I cannot park at the campsite itself but have to park somewhere along Whitney portal rd??
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/27/15 02:16 PM

What is the campsite number? Might help someone answer.
Posted by: + @ti2d

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/27/15 03:59 PM

Site 44?

Considered a "walk in" -- heavy bear traffic.

Sleep well...
Posted by: + @ti2d

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/28/15 08:07 AM

Site 44

Since I cannot edit the next day...

Why Site 44 is a walk-to is beyond me. This is the first time I heard of this term. You can park your vehicle and you walk 10 yards to the campground. Guess that is why.

Site 44 is the furthest away from the Whitney Portal Store. There is a table and fire ring.

There is enough parking for two medium-sized vehicles (no RVs).

The pit toilets are about 100 yards from the site.

There are also bear lockers. I STRONGLY recommend you use these boxes and do NOT leave any items such as food or wrappers with scent on them in your vechicle. That includes fishing tackle.

There is a spigot about 30 yards from the site as well as a trash receptacle.

Lone Pine Creek flows adjacent to the site.

There is a lot of bear activity due to the underbrush downstream from the site. It is highly recommended to keep your site clean at all times.
Posted by: trident777

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/28/15 03:14 PM

So, is this a risky area to camp due to bear activity? Am I putting myself at risk for bear attacks?
Posted by: Wiff

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/28/15 03:59 PM

Follow the standard bear camping rules, be hyper-vigilant about smelly things and you'll be fine.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/28/15 10:29 PM

California bears do not attack. (...unless you corner one or challenge it when it is eating someone's snacks). But they often do the "grab and dash" in the campground, especially at dusk or after dark. Keep your food items within your control or inside the bear locker. Leaving food unattended invites the thieves.

You are not in danger of an attack at all.

Trident777: You never gave us the campsite number.
Posted by: + @ti2d

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/29/15 07:40 AM

Originally Posted By: trident777
So, is this a risky area to camp due to bear activity? Am I putting myself at risk for bear attacks?


No worries about any attack unless you provoke it or get between a mother and her cub(s).

My wife and I, along with BruinDave and his wife, BruinJane at Site 44 a six years ago. It was early morning as we were preparing for our dayhike. My wife pulled out her bagel with peanut butter and placed it on the picnic table. She turned around to get jelly for her bagel and turned back around and her headlamp flashed upon this black bear. She screamed and the bear hissed at her. BD and I were dumping the trash when we heard, "Bear!" BJ yelled, "Bear, Bear!" and started blowing her whistle. BD and I came running up and the bear took off. It must of wrung its neck on BD's hammock. That would have been a sight to see. SPROING! My wife was visibly shaken but was okay. What a way to get your adrenaline going for a dayhike and what a way to celebrate your first anniversary with your wife! Looking back on that day, we laugh. Since that day we have been very vigilant whenever we go camping.
Posted by: trident777

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 04/30/15 01:08 PM

excellent thanks! i'll just keep some bear spray handy just in case
Posted by: + @ti2d

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 05/01/15 07:28 AM

Originally Posted By: trident777
excellent thanks! i'll just keep some bear spray handy just in case


You won't need it.

Just bring your whoop@ss @ti2d for your hike...

Keep in mind...the mountain doesn't care.
Posted by: trident777

Re: Mt. Whitney questions - 06/19/15 10:17 AM

Just ordered a BearVault 450 from Campsaver for $50 even (free shipping and no tax to CA)! That is a great deal. This is with a 15% first time discount.

Weight is 2 lbs and for myself it seems more than adequate smile I checked the rentals available for $5/day or whatever and they seem like huge bear canisters which will be a pain to carry... especially it's rather silly to be carrying such a large thing when one is a solo hiker.