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Mount Whitney questions?

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Mount Whitney questions?

Postby dehrlich101 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:46 am

Hello all, I am in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Mt. Whitney and had a few questions...

1) When does the lottery for the 2014 season start? Looks like 2013 started on February 1st, is it the same date every year?

2) When is the best month to go? Preferably snow free, I am going with my cousin and she'd like to do the Whitney Trail.

3) If we do the Whitney Trail is there a way for me to add on Mt Russell or can that only be done from the Mountaineers Route?

4) Any advise for the standard route on Mt Whitney? Experiences on that route?

Thanks in advance.

Dan
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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby pbakwin » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:01 am

1) 2/1-3/15
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5150055

2) I've been the a few times in July, Aug & early Sept & never encountered significant snow.

3) Don't know. By the regular route you can easily tag Muir.

4) It's an easy trail & VERY popular. FS did major trail work below Trail Crest last year, so likely it's in good shape.

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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby mtgirl » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:10 am

When I did Whitney, I went in early July and encountered some snow. Nothing drastic, but I did use microspikes in a couple sections. I got an overnight permit and camped at Trail Camp - was happy with that decision. It's a great place to see the alpenglow on the peaks first thing in the morning and made for a more relaxing trip. I figured if I was going that far, I may as well enjoy it, even though it can be done as a dayhike. The Whitney Hostel, in Lone Pine, is a clean and comfortable place to spend the night before or the night after. Very friendly people.
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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby anthony156 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:22 am

Dan,

I had the fortune to hike this June 28th with [u]epacalicious[/u]

We hiked the Mt Whitney Trail up and back. We were thinking about the Mountaineers Route, but agreed on taking the long way for the first summit attempt.

Had a great 2am start, getting on and off the mountain earliest possible was ideal. We arrived back at the TH about 3pm, just before the weather started to roll in.

This hike was very long (approx 22 miles) and never got technical. We got very lucky and had great conditions, sunny, no wind and mild weather.

The route never gets steep, or exposed, but those switchbacks that everyone mentions seem endless. The windows section was the best part with those views.

If I had to do this again I would recommend getting a later start with more visibility, and going after the Mountaineers Route since this will decrease dramatically the trip distance.

Don't forget a burger at the Whitney Portal store.
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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby ChrisinAZ » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:41 am

Tagging Russell on would be a challenge from the standard route; if you go up the MR though, it's a more direct side trip. I'd budget an extra day if you want to include it.

I was on Whitney in mid-August and found it to be almost entirely snow-free, definitely so along the trail.

Should you have bad luck with the lottery, and have the ability to take a full week off, I'd strongly recommend doing the longer route from Horseshoe Meadows. If you can score an exit permit and have a car shuttle set up/bum a ride off someone, hiking out via the Whitney Trail is a possibility too. This route is longer (30 miles each way, almost) but the terrain is relatively easy and conducive to backpacking.
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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby spiderman » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:17 am

If you are honestly thinking of doing Russell, you will much prefer going up the Mountaineer's Route for Whitney than the stampede up the main trail. Doing the circuit (up MR and down main) is a preferred path. Bring ice axe for MR except in August in low snow year! My son and I did that route when he was 8; started hiking at the crack of dawn and returned to TH to catch the last photon of light. It is quite a reasonable day if you are already acclimated and can handle 6k of elevation gain. There is no rule in CA about being off the peak by noon. Thunderstorms are infrequent and do not follow a particular pattern from my experience.

Russell: remember that California Class 3 routes can be tougher than Colorado class 4...

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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby rijaca » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:29 am

Muir from the Whitney trail is very doable. Russell would be best approached from the Mountaineers Route. And regarding thunderstorms in the Sierra, while infrequent, they can be nasty and develop similarly as in CO. Got chased off both Williamson and Tyndall by t-storms on days that started nice, and were stormy by 10 am.
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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby melias » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:37 pm

It really depends on the snowpack in any given year (this year is a very low year) but the Whitney Trail should be clear by mid-to-late July in a normal snow year. Before then, you may encounter some patches on the 99 (actually 97) switchbacks and for a short stretch around 14,100k (although there is limited-to-no exposure for this section). There actually is exposure on some of the switchbacks as a fall off parts of this section would not be good but the trail is plenty wide enough to make the risk low/managable. Overall, the standard route is pretty relaxed and enjoyable with the only minor drawback being that it has a lot of traffic.

In terms of water, you can travel light as unlike a number of CO peaks, there is plenty of water for refilling up to and at Trail Camp. After that there may be a handful of smaller meltwater flows but once you reach Trail Crest it does get limited. Spending the night at Trail Camp is great although check the weather as it got down to 26 degrees in late June the night I stayed there. The Marmots are pretty aggressive too.

One person mentioned tagging Muir -- it can definitely be done as a side trip but be aware that even though it's ranked as a Class 3, this would be a Class 4 by CO standards. It is not uncommon for people to rope up for Muir.

If you are looking for other 14ers in the area besides Muir and Russell, Mt. Langley is a reasonable Class 2 hike that can be done in a single day or as part of a multi-day hike where you can continue on to Whitney (you'll have to figure out car logistics if you enter via Horseshoe Meadows but then exit via the Whitney Portal). FYI on Langley: Old Army Pass is faster/nicer than New Army Pass although if you're going with someone less experienced, make sure Old Army Pass is melted-out (usually by late July or early August) as there are 2-3 spots with exposure when ice/snow is present.

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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby Wildernessjane » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:19 pm

[quote="ChrisinAZ"]Tagging Russell on would be a challenge from the standard route; if you go up the MR though, it's a more direct side trip. I'd budget an extra day if you want to include it."

+1 on budgeting an extra day and going up the Mountaineer's Route on Whitney (a very fun route, by the way, but make sure you bring a helmet). Although I'm sure it's "doable," I can't imagine it would be very enjoyable to do Russell from the standard route. We backpacked in and camped at Upper Boyscout Lake on Day 1, went up Whitney via the Mountaineer's route on Day 2, then climbed Russell Peak and hiked out on Day 3 (you could probably combine Days 1 and 2 if you wanted to push it and weather looked good). Although the final summit block of Russell was a lot of fun, the hike up to gain the ridge seemed like a never-ending pile of loose rock and scree (one step forward, slide two steps back--miserable!).
Last edited by Wildernessjane on Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby Wildernessjane » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:32 pm

Oh and, if you decide to camp up at Upper Boyscout Lake or Iceburg Lake, don't let the Forest Service ranger convince you that you need to rent a bear canister. Bears are a huge problem at the parking lot and TH area (you have to basically empty out your car and put everything into storage lockers) but no bear in it's right mind would go up to those lakes because there is so little vegetation/wildlife. A local guide we ran into was shocked that we were told we needed to bring one.
Last edited by Wildernessjane on Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby Alpinegoat » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:12 pm

dehrlich101 wrote:Hello all, I am in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Mt. Whitney and had a few questions...

1) When does the lottery for the 2014 season start? Looks like 2013 started on February 1st, is it the same date every year?

2) When is the best month to go? Preferably snow free, I am going with my cousin and she'd like to do the Whitney Trail.

3) If we do the Whitney Trail is there a way for me to add on Mt Russell or can that only be done from the Mountaineers Route?

4) Any advise for the standard route on Mt Whitney? Experiences on that route?

Thanks in advance.

Dan


See feature topic on permits and lottery info in attached link. http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/20/Wilderness_Permit_Options#Post20

If you are not able to get it in the lottery there is a good chance of getting it online. Excerpt from the permit as below -

"After the lottery is complete: Starting April 1 the remaining space will be made available for reservations on a first-come, first- served basis either online or through the Recreation.gov call center."


I got my overnight permit for May last week in April 2nd/ 3rd week online from recreation.gov.

It was snowfree in all through except for a short stretch above the cables and I used regular hiking boots (no traction / ice axe ).

You can do the standard route as a day trip but we found it so much enjoyable to do it as a backpacking trip. Will be glad to answer questions, if you have any.


Whitney forum for weather and trip reports are in the forum link - http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/

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Re: Mount Whitney questions?

Postby jsdratm » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:40 pm

If you want to avoid the lottery you can also come from the south side and summit from guitar lake. I went in August and had rain on several days, but it wasn't too bad.

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