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#53112 - 05/13/18 07:40 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
VertC Offline


Registered: 04/08/16
Posts: 4
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Originally Posted By: Dan R
When do switchbacks generally open up?

I'm hiking it this Memorial Day (with crampon/ice axe in tow) but would greatly prefer switchbacks vs chute if possible.

Dan R, that question is asked every year multiple times. I finally put together a post showing when they opened up in past years.

I hope this helps:   When will Mt Whitney switchbacks open?

It was only two extremely dry years ('12 & '13) that the switchbacks were in use by Memorial Weekend. I think it will be a week or more later this year.

While using "the chute" aka the slope west of the switchbacks, you need crampons, and an ice axe is recommended, too. Once the switchbacks open up, microspikes are helpeful since there will still be snowy sections for several more weeks, and the section at the cables can be icy. (Yet some people navigate that only with hiking shoes and a lot of care.)


Steve C, thanks so much for posting this info. I have been lurking on here each day to try and get an idea of what June 3rd & 4th will be like this year.

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#53115 - 05/13/18 10:55 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
So.BayMark posted a trip report and a link to his pictures, in the Trip Reports forum. Here's the link to his report:   Almost to the Summit

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#53124 - 05/14/18 11:28 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Jim O Offline


Registered: 05/10/18
Posts: 1
Loc: California
Steve C: I registered to add my appreciation to VertC's for all the valuable information you (and others) share here. Our trip is June 5, and the photos and the historical switchback opening data make it look like we should not count on the trail being open. We'll be prepared for a trip up the chute. That's very helpful!

I note the typical spread between the date of the first use of the switchbacks and the date of the predominant use. Is there conventional wisdom about how to choose which route is best during that time for group that is prepared for either? Our preference is switchbacks up and chute down, but we'll take what the mountain gives us.

Thanks again!

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#53139 - 05/15/18 12:32 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
TK50311 Offline


Registered: 05/14/18
Posts: 2
Loc: The Outer Rim
Steve,

Is that a current picture that you posted on the 9th of the switchbacks?

Thanks


Edited by TK50311 (05/15/18 12:33 PM)

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#53141 - 05/15/18 02:31 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: TK50311]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: TK50311
Steve,

Is that a current picture that you posted on the 9th of the switchbacks?

Thanks

No. That switchback picture was taken some years ago. It is posted to show the switchbacks, in relation to "the chute" aka the slope west of the switchbacks.

The conditions will likely be similar to that in several more weeks. From the looks of it, it appears that people were hiking the switchbacks -- they were open -- but some were still using the chute.

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#53144 - 05/15/18 05:47 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
D00d3r1n022 Offline


Registered: 05/11/18
Posts: 2
Loc: California
Is the road closed 3 miles from the trailhead this week?

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#53145 - 05/15/18 08:38 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: D00d3r1n022]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
The road is open. Is there somewhere on this forum saying it is closed?

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#53153 - 05/16/18 11:24 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
D00d3r1n022 Offline


Registered: 05/11/18
Posts: 2
Loc: California
Not here. Sorry to waste space on the forum. I just called the ranger station this morning. duhhhhhh.
When looking up conditions I found this website.
https://www.timberlinetrails.com/WhitneyWeather.html

The "Quick summary of weather and road access" has seemingly accurate weather and then says the road is closed. I got confused.

Thanks for your help! Heading up to Trail Camp tomorrow. Summit success seems unlikely with the forecast but it'll be a great time anyway.

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#53199 - Today at 09:19 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Rayna Offline


Registered: 04/26/18
Posts: 5
Loc: CA
Just got back from a day hike on Saturday, May 19th. When we got to the chute around 8:45am a lot of folks were turning back due to an imminent storm. By the time we got to the top (around 10:00am), things looked clearer so we kept going up to the summit. At the top, clouds were rolling in so we took a few quick photos and turned right back around. Shortly after we glissaded down the chute, we could hear thunder so we picked up the pace back down. Graupel started to fall which made for a pretty fun hike back to Whitney Portal! In hindsight, we probably didn't make the wisest choice continuing up the to the summit.

In terms of gear, my hiking partner had microspikes and an ice axe for the snow-covered areas and was just fine. He used trekking poles the rest of the time. I had crampons with smaller spikes (but not quite microspikes) and an ice axe, no trekking poles. Hope this helps!

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#53200 - Today at 10:17 AM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Rayna]
Jose De La Rosa Offline


Registered: 05/22/17
Posts: 2
Loc: California
Reyna,
Thanks for posting your experience, very helpful and simple! Just what this is about!!!!

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#53202 - Today at 01:23 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Rayna]
WhitneyHiker085 Offline


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 20
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Glad you and your team made it back down safely!

Question - how are the conditions from Trail Crest to the Summit? Did you need microspikes for the last leg from TrailCrest to Summit? Any sketchy areas?

Climbed last year via Chute around July last year but the top from Trail Crest to Summit was clear of snow. Just curious what it is right now.

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#53205 - Today at 02:32 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: WhitneyHiker085]
Rayna Offline


Registered: 04/26/18
Posts: 5
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: WhitneyHiker085
Glad you and your team made it back down safely!

Question - how are the conditions from Trail Crest to the Summit? Did you need microspikes for the last leg from TrailCrest to Summit? Any sketchy areas?

Climbed last year via Chute around July last year but the top from Trail Crest to Summit was clear of snow. Just curious what it is right now.


Thank you! There was still quite a bit of (well-trafficked) snow from Trail Crest to the summit. Right at Trail Crest, I took my crampons off, but I put them back on not too long afterwards b/c of the snow. There were a few areas where the trail was narrow-ish with a steep drop off to one side. I just dug my ice axe into the mountain before each step and walked slowly (and didn't look down). That said, my hiking partner didn't use his microspikes, but he did use his ice axe. From the footprints, there seemed to be a mix of folks who did and did not wear crampons or microspikes. I think it comes down to what you're comfortable with. I personally felt better having that extra traction. On the way back down from the summit to Trail Crest, I kept my crampons on the whole time and took them off before glissading down the chute. I was able to keep them off the rest of the way down to the Portal.


Edited by Rayna (Today at 02:45 PM)

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#53206 - Today at 02:34 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Jose De La Rosa]
Rayna Offline


Registered: 04/26/18
Posts: 5
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: Jose De La Rosa
Reyna,
Thanks for posting your experience, very helpful and simple! Just what this is about!!!!


Thank you, Jose!

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#53207 - Today at 04:41 PM Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail [Re: Rayna]
WhitneyHiker085 Offline


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 20
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Thanks Rayna, for the info. Will definitely have my crampons ready.

Hiking up this weekend. Hopefully the weather is favorable.

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