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Mt Whitney Trip Report

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Mt Whitney Trip Report

Postby nyker » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:07 am

For anyone looking to head up, I just posted a trip summary:

http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=11067&picsize=large

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Re: Mt Whitney Trip Report

Postby milan » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:27 am

Hi, thats a great trip report, can I have several questions? I would like to hike Whitney but its a long trip to fly to Cali, drive to East Sierra and then there are those stupid permits (I know, they help to preserve the beauty..). Whats the experience with them? If you get one ahead of time, you need to arrange the whole trip and then the weather can completely screw you over but is there a reasonable chance to get to the area and try the luck and winn them in the lotery like you did? Or, were you just really lucky? I mean I'd stay maybe several days if it does not work -hike something else and try another day..What would you estimate is the chance? What time of a day do they have the lottery or how early do you have to be in the visitor center? Another question, I guess its easier to get the permit in early/late season when there is snow, do you have a picture of the steep cable section? Is it like a ridge or a ledge (something narrow)? Thank you if you have chance to respond. M.

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Re: Mt Whitney Trip Report

Postby peter303 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:12 pm

milan wrote:Hi, thats a great trip report, can I have several questions? I would like to hike Whitney but its a long trip to fly to Cali, drive to East Sierra and then there are those stupid permits (I know, they help to preserve the beauty..). Whats the experience with them? If you get one ahead of time, you need to arrange the whole trip and then the weather can completely screw you over but is there a reasonable chance to get to the area and try the luck and win them in the lottery like you did?

There are other class 1-2 14ers nearby with easier permit access should Whitney walk-up permits not pan out. One is Mt Langely that starts from the same access road as Whitney.
http://www.summitpost.org/mount-langley/150246
Another is White Mountain across the valley.
http://www.summitpost.org/white-mountain-peak/150221

There is so much to see and do in the Hwy 395 Valley you can easily make a week of it.
I used to do warm up hikes on Yosemite Tuolomne 13ers before Whitney.

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Re: Mt Whitney Trip Report

Postby nyker » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:29 pm

Yes, Milan, as you mention, during the busy season (where permit availability is low) or shoulder season
(where risk of bad weather spoiling things is high) it can get frustrating. You also don't want to go without
a permit, since the $ fines are large.

When are you looking to go?

When I am able to go there to attempt it, I try and build in at least one backup day or another itinerary
(like in the White Mountains or something near Big Pine). I am 2 for 4 in summit attempts
- two other times getting snunked by conditions, one an another route. I'd still like to do it in Spring
snow and also complete the Mountaineers Route.

Depending on the time of year, it could be easier to get a permit if you don't get one in the initial
lottery in the late winter. During the week is always easier than weekends and if there is any
bad weather forecast, cancellations rise. Even a dusting of snow causes a lot of folks to cancel.
A lot of people come up from Southern Cal and don't like snow from what I have learned talking to many folks.

I wasn't able to get a permit before going (despite calling 3x a day for a couple weeks), so was
going to do something else if I didn't get it, but figured I'd give it a try anyway and got lucky
along with 10 other people that day. This was also during the week. There are a lot of options to
hike and climb in that area (Boundary Peak north of Bishop, White Mountain, Mt Langley, etc.)

For the in-person lottery, the Rangers hold it on the prior day before your expected climb at 11AM sharp
(not before). However, if there are more permits freed up then people wanting them, there is no lottery
and they just give them away. Also, if you plan on backpacking in and making it a multiday hike,
it is easier to get a permit as you can get one for different entrance/exit days depending on your plans.
Best bet is to call the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center and
discuss details since it's a bit confusing.

I can see if I have a pic of the cables section with snow. As long as there is not a ton of snow, this section
is usually not too bad. If there is a lot, then exposure can creep into the equation since it becomes
more ledgy. There is usually enough bootsteps through it. Poles help on this trip though given its length.

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Re: Mt Whitney Trip Report

Postby milan » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:15 pm

Thank you peter and nykes you answered most of what I needed to know... I know the area a little bit, I spend several days there this May and I loved it. That time, the road to White Mountain was closed just at the Bristlecone Pines area, so I and my friends opted out for a hike around the oldest trees there and then for other hikes in East Sierra nextto Big Pine and Independence. There was tons of snow and it was fun with crampons and Iceax. We got permits at Bishop but I did not like the approach of the ranger whose main point was generallly discourage us from going to the the mountains. He lied about the snow line, about the temperature in certain elevation and way too overrated the approaching weather. We took permits anyways but did not camp up overnight although later we realized we would have no problem. I guess they do this because there are lots of unprepared people from the coast...Whatever, it just made me feel bad about the permits to Whitney too. I did not think I would in without a permit, I agree that the mountains deserve protection.

Anyways, I'd like to do it sometimes next year, I am still recovering from my shoulder surgery. I have friends in San Diego, so its no pain for me to fly there and stay longer in the area, I even was thinking to hike it from Sequoya, the John Muir trail goes close to the summit, but it might be a week or so long. I definately would think of another, maybe 2-3 day approaches from the east but I'd like to keep it class 2+ (I am afraid, Sierras class 3 is worse than Colo) max. I'd go for snowhike as well but I have not much experience, I did just several walk-ups in crampons, snowshoes, with Ice axe but nothing steep. Also, a year and half ago I fell during winter hike on Pikes Peak and dislocated both shoulders. Although they should be ready for climbing in 2 months (I had surgery), very steep and exposed snow/ice will likely scare me. Thats why I asked about the exposed part...
Thank you, I am just preparing the planns and those information you gave to me are very helpful.

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