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#50863 - 07/12/17 06:42 PM 7/12 solo hike - turnaround before trail camp
Bullet777 Offline

Registered: 12/26/10
Posts: 18
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Here is a summary of my day, probably different to most of the other reports:

I'd been following all the posts on this site for a while
I've basically had no snow experience (live in Sydney, Australia)
I have summited Whitney before in July with less snow
I'd purchased some microspikes recently but only briefly tried them out
I was reluctant to rent/buy crampons and ice axe based on comments about don't try them on Whitney if you have had no experience using them.
So I took poles and microspikes and based on recent trip reports I thought the summit was totally doable again.
Saying that, my goal was Trail Crest and if and only if everything was going well at this point I would continue towards the summit.
I hiked to just past Mirror lake on Monday as a practice run and to check out the 'old trail' as well as the water crossings.
I started at 4.35am this morning taking the old trail. Easy and bypasses the first water crossing. Took my shoes off going through Bighorn park.
Got up to Trailside Meadow with no problems. Feeling great, going at a comfortable pace, chatting to others. Oh.. one problem was the mosquito bites, hundreds of them, I didn't have any repellant.
Then a little past Trailside Meadow the trail hits a snow field.
At this point there was no other hikers on the trail I was on but I was sure I was in the right place. I looked to my left and about 150 yards away I saw some people heading down the snow. I thought they were lost and in the wrong place. But they looked like they knew what they were doing. Then I saw some people going up in that same area. I thought that's the path I should have taken as the slope was a lot less than what was in front of me. It was flat to walk across (existing foot prints) but a slip and slide would be disastrous in my mind. I was a little uneasy about it especially at that time there was no one near me. I thought I would probably do it easy with or without the microspikes, but what if on the off chance I did lose my balance.
So I looked at other options going further up the rocks and thought about backtracking and taking the slope other hikers were using, but in the end decided to call it a day and come back next year.

Was I being over cautious?
Did anyone else use this path (the actual normal trail up to trail camp) and think twice about it?

Anyway I still had an enjoyable day and chatted to lots of lovely people on the trail.
Wow, there was a lot of people heading up to camp tonight. Hope you all found a camp site.

#50882 - 07/13/17 09:13 AM Re: 7/12 solo hike - turnaround before trail camp [Re: Bullet777]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7075
Loc: Fresno, CA
Hi Bullet777,
Thanks for the report. People are reporting using the snow and following the creek drainage to the south of the Main Trail, heading up to Consultation Lake, instead of using the Main Trail. But I don't think everyone is going that way. Was the main trail path nonexistent through the snow at that point?

I hope someone who traveled your Main Trail route will comment here.

Unless the snow is really icy or extremely steep, a fall usually doesn't result in anything serious. With the warm temperatures we've been having, it was probably less than icy.

#50918 - 07/14/17 10:38 AM Re: 7/12 solo hike - turnaround before trail camp [Re: Bullet777]
Bulldog34 Offline

Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Atlanta
Sorry to hear that, Bullet. Better safe than sorry, though. The old adage about the mountain still being there is so true, but coming from so far it has to leave a bad taste in your mouth.

I think we met on the mountain a few years back. I was with Joe Quillan and we knew you were on the mountain the same day. 2010 maybe?

#50919 - 07/14/17 11:25 AM Re: 7/12 solo hike - turnaround before trail camp [Re: Bullet777]
david_garza Offline

Registered: 03/28/17
Posts: 11
Loc: Glendale, California
"Was I being over cautious?"

Best advice I ever got, from a motorcycle instructor: "there's no shame in going into a turn too slow; there's shame in going in too fast and crashing." Compliments on your self restraint; only you know how much risk is too much.
Permit for Aug. 10-11, 2017.

#50941 - 07/15/17 08:34 PM Re: 7/12 solo hike - turnaround before trail camp [Re: Bulldog34]
Bullet777 Offline

Registered: 12/26/10
Posts: 18
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Yes you are correct Bulldog!!
2010 it was, my only successful summit.
2011 I got to the 98th switchback and turned around because I didn't like the look of the snow slope (another big snow year)
2012 I had my permit and was driving up to the portal around 5.30am but didn't start due to threatening weather.
2014 I started on the trail and something got in my eye (or maybe an insect bite). I got to the first creek crossing and decided to turn back because of the increasing irritation of the eye.
And 2017 I turned back as described above.
Hopefully I'll be back in 2018.
My obsession with this mountain started when I first laid eyes on it in 2008.
I had no idea at the time whether it was climable/hikeable or not, or that it was the highest peak in the lower 48. But I wanted to get to the top. When I got there for the 1st time in 2010 all I wanted to do was to get back to the summit.

#50945 - 07/16/17 08:16 AM Re: 7/12 solo hike - turnaround before trail camp [Re: Bullet777]
Benc Offline

Registered: 03/18/17
Posts: 14
Loc: Socal
I hiked this route on 7/13. I safely crossed it with microspikes however there were many people crossing without spikes due to the snow being slushy. Many people are taking the creek drainage south of the main trail because it is so direct and doesn't have any steep snowy slopes.

This is a picture looking back at the snowfield Bullet777 turned around at.

This is a picture showing the beginning of the trail up the creek drainage.

I took the main trail up and the creek drainage down, both of which worked fine. However if I were to do it again I would take the creek drainage both up and down because it is such a direct route and a well-beaten trail in the snow. Microspikes are helpful for the creek drainage but not necessary.

#50946 - 07/16/17 10:43 AM Re: 7/12 solo hike - turnaround before trail camp [Re: Benc]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7075
Loc: Fresno, CA
Benc, thanks for the pictures and the explanation! I altered your post to embed the pictures (Google's image url is about a mile long and requires some special steps to include here.)

Can you describe where people usually leave the Main Trail to get to the creek drainage above Mirror Lake? Is it obvious when descending, where to go to get back on-trail?

#50963 - 07/17/17 12:12 PM Re: 7/12 solo hike - turnaround before trail camp [Re: Steve C]
Benc Offline

Registered: 03/18/17
Posts: 14
Loc: Socal

Most people that we saw take the creek drainage up left a few hundred feet after the water crossing on the rock steps, and before trailside meadow. It is essentially the first large snowfield that you see and is very hard to miss if you know it is there. There is a well worn path in the snow that is visible and leads right up to the trail.

When descending you essentially descend to Consulation Lake via a path through the snow and along the side of a small creek. From here the trail through the creek drainage is very easy to follow.