Mt. Whitney in June - California dreamin?

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Mt. Whitney in June - California dreamin?

Postby Happy_dog » Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:55 pm

Hello! The lottery selection application forms to climb Mt. Whitney are due next month and as I select dates for the trip I thought I would post a question to gather comments. Is June an ok time to hike Mt. Whitney? Does anyone have any thoughts or comments on hiking Whitney in general? Is this a dry/wet winter for the Sierra? Thanks, any comments are appreciated I would love to hike this in June. :D

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Postby Joe Miner » Sat Jan 13, 2007 1:16 pm

We did it last year during the first week in June after doing Mt. Hood. It was a pleasnt trip, but the side of the mountain from high camp up to the ridgeline was covered in snow and required crampons and ice axe. Unfortunately there is so much pressure to get permits that the June dates are the easiest. It is easily doable but you probably need to add an extra 1-2 hours for the round trip from high camp.

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Postby Happy_dog » Sat Jan 13, 2007 1:43 pm

Thanks Arkie, good info. I am inexperienced with crampons and ice axes. Do I need any training for this? pretty dangerous or are the crampons precautionary? is it the inclination of the slope that requires traction or is there exposure?

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Postby Joe Miner » Sat Jan 13, 2007 3:33 pm

You can learn how to use crampons with some instruction. Unles there is fairly fresh snow, the snow on the slopes wil be somewhat icy, hence the need for the crampons and the ice axe. The reality is that this early in the season (June) there is no way of knowing what the conditions will be like. Based on what I have observed thus far, I would say that there is a resonably good chance that the Sierras will receive as much snow as they did last year. The pass from the Owens Valley into the high country of Yosemite was closed until mid-June if I remember correctly, and did not open at all in 2005. I would recommend renting the gear from REI and getting someone to give you instructions before taking off. While not extremely high tech, like anything else, reliance on equipment and a little knowledge can be a receipe for a train wreck.

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Postby JasonF » Sat Jan 13, 2007 5:30 pm

Happy_dog wrote: any comments are appreciated I would love to hike this in June

I have not climbed it yet but done some research online where there are some great resources. Suggest checking out book from library on the Sierra Mountains as well.

Have you thought about the Mountaineers Route? It is Class 3 however the lottery system does not apply. I've heard you can then descend via the normal route.

Good luck
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Postby acwilson » Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:48 pm

Which route are you planning to do? I tried the mountaineers route in June, and even with crampons, ice axe, and a little snow experience the snow was scary. We turned around. Too hard packed, and right above some serious exposure.

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Postby MtHurd » Sun Jan 14, 2007 5:40 pm

Trust me, you will not want to do the standard pedestrian route. I did it in 83 and it was a joke, it is even more so now. It's like doing Mt. Sherman but 3 times the altitude gain. If at all possible, I would do the Mountaineers Route if I were you.

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Postby thebeave7 » Mon Jan 15, 2007 12:20 am

I lived in Cali for 24 years(now in Fort Collins), and have climbed Whitney twice by the "pedestrian route". I agree it was by far NOT my favorite climb, both for the hike/climb and the views. Here's my suggestions, in June you will often see snow on the "Switchbacks", which can be very icy and exposed. Also there is usually a snow field just before the summit, but this is much less exposed. So far Cali is having a low snow year, but with El Nino the snow usually comes late, so it is hard to tell what the snowpack may look like in the end.
If there is quite a bit of snow then ice axe and crampons may be necessary in June. Since you don't know how to use these, unless you get an experienced person to teach you(not just once, but practice also), then I would say do not attempt to use the crampons/axe. Whitney has had a bad track record, killing several inexperienced(and one experienced) climber in the past few years. Definately don't do the mountaineers route, it is class 3 and in June will definately require good crampons/axe skills.

There are many other Cali peaks I'd suggest over Whitney, but people seem to like Whitney because of that # it has. Check the messageboard over at for Whiteny specific updates and info. Also checkout ... itney.html for route info and pictures. Good luck.

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Postby spaceman » Mon Jan 15, 2007 9:07 am

Thanks for the reminder on the Whitney permits.

I have tried climbing it twice when I lived in Cali, once on June 25 and once on July 4. Both times there was snow on the swithcbacks, the June 25th trip, the snow was deep enough the it was easier to cut the switch backs and climb straight up the snow bank. The July 4th trip, the snow had receded quite a bit and the trail was doable, with some spots becoming dicey because of the snow forced you to the edge.

Both times I did not have crampons and although they would have probably helped, they were not entirely neccessary.

I will need to try again this year, now that I am in better shape, both times before, I turned back once in the middle of the switchbacks and once at the top.

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