Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail

Posted by: Steve C

Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 06/04/10 10:44 AM

This thread is designed to hold posts displaying pictures and describing the current conditions of the Main Mount Whitney Trail (MMWT).  I hope everyone will contribute.

Please feel free to post pictures of your own or from any source (please post a reference to the original location), so that everyone can come here and easily find/read/see the conditions.

Older posts will be moved as conditions change. (As a result, some posts may appear to answer comments that are no longer in the thread.)

Thanks for everyone's help. Your posting trip reports helps untold numbers of hikers following you.

Older posts moved here:   Whitney Main Trail Conditions 2019 (Old)

Note: Sometimes this thread spans a number of pages. You can click through all the pages, or click here to display all in one page.

Posted by: Irene

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/01/19 07:14 AM

Really appreciate all the valuable trail updates! We have a group of 4 going on July 4th. We will not go all the way to the summit. We will just go to Trail Camp, camp for one night, and head back. Thus, We will not be bringing ice axe and crampon (no experience using them anyway), but will have microspike and hiking poles. We are all in good physical condition, most of us have completed or almost completed the six pack of peaks, have backpacked before, and have been to high altitude areas. Now the question, can someone please provide some insight/update on the snow condition going from Lone Pine Lake to Trail Camp? I've been reading a lot about snow cavities, snow bridge, running stream underneath the snow... How are the snows around the trails that are near the streams past Outpost Camp (as shown on the map)? Are snows on the traverse slippery? From what I've gathered from reading other people's post, staying on the main trail is critical as snow is melting fast and off trail areas might be very dangerous. We will have both paper map and Gaia GPS in phone and we will really try to stick to the main trail. But I would still like to gather more information so we know what to expect. Thank you!!
Posted by: terraelise

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/01/19 07:44 AM

You can see my & another report from the last few days: other than small runs on snow and water on the trail, getting above Mirror Lake is no big deal. After that there are snow fields, but it's still easy to follow and do in just boots and no poles. The melt is incredible right now, so the trail traverse I turned back on and the boot path that cuts across the drainages to the south both will be different by the time you go, but it seems like the boot path is deteriorating. Then again, the traverse i didn't like will probably still be there because of how much dang snow there is, but it will be more worn, likely, as more people use it. If you plant safe footholds in slushy snow, you will be fine - and in the mornings use microspikes: but all that is really only for around Trail Camp.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/01/19 09:02 AM

Here are two pictures posted on FB by Stus O. On June 28, they took the switchbacks up and down.









Here's a picture of the switchbacks shared on FB by BFR, taken 6/28/2019 from near Mt Muir:
Posted by: ChrisR

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/02/19 02:34 PM

What's the general consensus on when the main trail via switchbacks will become non-technical?
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/02/19 04:11 PM

Originally Posted By: ChrisR
What's the general consensus on when the main trail via switchbacks will become non-technical?

The Switchbacks are ALREADY less technical than the chute. We keep seeing reports, almost daily, of injuries and rescues from people descending the chute and getting hurt -- sprains, banged up, skinned up (ice peels skin!)

People can already hike the switchbacks more easily and safely than they can the chute. I don't understand why there is such reluctance to switch -- pun intended wink

They aren't NON-technical, yet. You still need spikes -- even below Trail Camp, as there is a not-so-easy side-slope traverse people have to get past. On the switchbacks, micro-spikes and hiking poles would suffice to get through several snowy sections.
Posted by: Wiff

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/02/19 06:30 PM

What's everybody's best guesstimate for the very end of July? No more snow?
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/02/19 09:00 PM

Trail runners by end of July
Posted by: IanS

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/02/19 10:38 PM

Agree with Steve, was just there yesterday, the Chute is being used by most people, but its difficult for folks without experience using crampons and axe. People are getting hurt, and the effort level required could even be more if you don't have the technical skills. Many people took the switchbacks, a couple snowy spots are passable, just require some focus, easier early in the day when snow is firm. Late in the day slushy snow is harder to navigate.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/02/19 11:44 PM

Picture at the cables, July 1, 2019.

posted on FB by Amy W.S. They climbed the chute, descended the switchbacks. She reported a helicopter was picking up a woman with a broken ankle, likely from glissading the chute.

She wrote
Quote:
The switch backs were mostly clear. There were a couple of areas where you had to traverse a couple of snowfields and by this time of day (2ish) the snow had melted fairly significantly and sometimes you were postholing you’re way across. The biggest sketchy area of the switchbacks were the cables. The snow was thick enough in areas that you were outside the chains and a fall there would cause pretty significant injury. Watch your step, use strategic foot placement, utilize your ice axe and you’ll be fine. The rate of the snow melt right now I’d imagine the switchbacks will be snow free very soon.





Posted by: terraelise

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/03/19 09:56 PM

Trail runners bu end of July? Nay, I saw 3 Sat 28th.

The chute is deteriorating and indeed the source of recent injuries... the rescue photo shows so much less snow than even a week ago, See post on FB:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2408178136086602&id=1752442271660195

Posted by: abbey

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/05/19 06:28 AM

Has anyone been up on the JMT from Guitar Lake to the summit? Seems like everything posted is focused on the chute & switchbacks on the east side.

With snow melting fast, I'm still hoping we'll be able to make the summit on 7/13 via the west side and then back down to continue a northbound JMT hike. Any intel on this side would be much appreciated, thanks!
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/05/19 08:47 AM

The west side of Whitney always melts out sooner than the east side, so Whitney should be no trouble. Some of the passes to the north will likely give you more trouble than Whitney.
Posted by: Joethebadape

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/06/19 08:58 AM

Any one know if the earthquake had any effect on Whitney?
Posted by: Avi

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/06/19 01:21 PM

Any idea on the trail condition from Kearsarge to Whitney via Guitar Lake?

We are looking at an end of July/early August trip.

Thanks.

avi
Posted by: IanS

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/06/19 05:06 PM

We went up the main trail on 7/1 and met a guy on the Summit who came from Guitar Lake area solo that day, and he was headed back there from the Summit, so its passable but not sure what the actual conditions are like.
Posted by: Avi

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/07/19 10:10 AM

Originally Posted By: IanS
We went up the main trail on 7/1 and met a guy on the Summit who came from Guitar Lake area solo that day, and he was headed back there from the Summit, so its passable but not sure what the actual conditions are like.


Thanks for the feedback. Anyone come through Forrester Pass recently?
Posted by: tpherson

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/07/19 01:38 PM

Looks like 7 day forecast shows a rise in temps for Mt Whitney. Hopefully, speeding the snow melt. Any estimate from those with experience when the main trail will be clear of snow? Seems like a good portion is clear but several sketchy areas still remain.
Posted by: frozengogo

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/08/19 09:25 AM

What is the trail like from Trail Crest to the summit? Icey, patchy snow? Hiking in from Guitar Lake the morning of July 16th.
Posted by: Ian B

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/08/19 12:59 PM



A recent reminder of conditions from the Whitney Rangers.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/08/19 03:15 PM

Originally Posted By: frozengogo
What is the trail like from Trail Crest to the summit? Icey, patchy snow? Hiking in from Guitar Lake the morning of July 16th.

The trail is dry, except the patch on the last summit push. There is a well-packed path going through it.
Posted by: mpark

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/08/19 08:27 PM

I posted this in the JMT 2019 FB group earlier today — We did Horseshoe Meadow to Whitney Portal via Crabtree Meadow and Guitar Lake, which covers some of your route. Summitted Whitney yesterday, July 7.

Almost no snow from Horseshoe Meadow through Cottonwood Pass to Crabtree Meadow, just a few feet to step over at the top of the pass. Rock Creek crossing manageable. Crossings around Crabtree Meadow from the bottom of the meadows toward the ranger station were also manageable and preferable to the steep ascents and descents of that stretch of the PCT/JMT where the two meet. The ranger station path meets up with the JMT right before the ranger station itself. No snow until close to Guitar Lake—and we managed to get there without walking on snow at all, opting to walk on rocks instead. Some sun cups (walked on rocks when we could) on the way to the switchbacks up Whitney from Guitar Lake, and then a couple snow traverses on the switchbacks themselves. Had ice axe and microspikes. There’s one long sketchy traverse here—It looked like some people shortened it by scrambling up to a spot with a shorter traverse, which is one option. I opted to scramble up on the rocks and sand to the left of the snow far enough to avoid that snowy spot altogether. Stashed packs once up the switchbacks and summitted—again avoiding snow near top by scrambling up rocks (not as sketchy as first scramble). Glissaded down from Trail Crest with axe—a good option if snow is soft enough and if switchbacks down to Whitney Portal seem sketchy.
Posted by: Climber Joe

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/08/19 08:32 PM

Guitar lake to summit down to Portal yesterday today. Switchbacks from Guitar lake, there was a scary icy traverse. I recommend scramble on rocks to avoid it. On the final summit stretch, the snow path is slippery and draining. Much faster safer to scramble up rocks to the right of the snow. Descending on East side: still plenty of snow for glissading. I think safer than long switchbacks with some ice. Just watch snow softness, and be mindful of those fore and aft.
Posted by: mpark

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/08/19 08:37 PM

You might find my reply to Avi helpful. We actually started out wanting to do the same as you (JMT NOBO) but decided to bail out through Whitney Portal. The west side of Whitney was doable—I think easier than what you might encounter on passes farther north on the JMT. Whatever your trip ends up being, wishing you happy trails!
Posted by: Climber Joe

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/08/19 08:37 PM

See my post below. I think by then it may be very different. For the better.
Posted by: Avi

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/08/19 09:19 PM

Originally Posted By: mpark
You might find my reply to Avi helpful. We actually started out wanting to do the same as you (JMT NOBO) but decided to bail out through Whitney Portal. The west side of Whitney was doable—I think easier than what you might encounter on passes farther north on the JMT. Whatever your trip ends up being, wishing you happy trails!


Super useful. I am tentatively looking at an August 8th start from Kearsarge Pass.....really praying that we are done with snow and ice in a month's time!

I will keep checking. Thanks for sharing your feedback.
Posted by: Jon from AZ

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/12/19 07:53 PM

Summited the 11th. Used my microspikes in a few places, my friends did not. The cables were sketchy but I went left of the giant snow pile. It was icy in the early morning. It was way different than the dry years. So fun 👍
Posted by: Konrad

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/14/19 02:39 PM

Really appreciate everyone who contributes to this web-page. Googling Trail Conditions found it and believe it provides the most useful and current updates. Starting on the JMT with my daughter on July 25, from Whitney Portal. Most interested in learning whether will need to bring micro-spikes (appears increasingly like probably will not be necessary). Also, like post, am interested in updates regarding Forester Pass conditions. Again, thank you to all who post and share your knowledge and experiences.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/16/19 08:45 AM

Pictures shared on FB by Mitch G. July 15, 2019.

At the switchbacks:


Here's a picture of the top switchback just before Trail Crest. Looks like shoveling the section worked. ...or someone came in and re-shoveled it.

Posted by: AdventureUSA

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/16/19 10:50 AM

I'm taking a relatively inexperienced crew up the MR the second weekend in September. Do we think most of the snow will be cleared from the chute/4th class above the notch by then?
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/16/19 11:23 AM

It will be clear of snow/ice, unless there is a freak early storm, or an especially heavy hail storm just before you go.
Posted by: AdventureUSA

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/16/19 01:49 PM

Awesome, thank you Steve
Posted by: futbol

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/16/19 07:51 PM

We did the MR the first week of August last year and this is what we encountered. There were small snow patches in the shade, but easily avoidable. There is more snow this year, but it will probably be melted, however you can always get an early storm in September, as Steve said.



[Note the small crescent moon in the sky in the vee.]
Posted by: Sean Lopez

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/17/19 12:52 PM

Hi everyone, thank you for the amazing information and updates. We have a trip scheduled first weekend in August. Is there a need for microspikes going up the main trail, through the switchbacks, and between trail crest and summit? Thanks in advance.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/17/19 09:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Sean Lopez
Hi everyone, thank you for the amazing information and updates. We have a trip scheduled first weekend in August. Is there a need for microspikes going up the main trail, through the switchbacks, and between trail crest and summit? Thanks in advance.

No, not in August.
Posted by: Kascadia

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail - 07/21/19 10:35 AM

Originally Posted By: futbol
We did the MR the first week of August last year and this is what we encountered. There were small snow patches in the shade, but easily avoidable. There is more snow this year, but it will probably be melted, however you can always get an early storm in September, as Steve said.



[Note the small crescent moon in the sky in the vee.]


Thanks for this picture. It puts the words, "stay left of the main gully" in context.