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Mt. Whitney MR input

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Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby apasquel » Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:23 am

Alright 14ers community...looking for your input. I am heading to Mt. Whitney in mid-September and attempting the MR route. I've spend hours researching the route, reading trip reports, looking at pictures, Topos, google earth, etc, etc, etc. What I really want to know is what are the one or two things (beta wise) that stood out to you that surprised you...that you wont find on any trip report. Also, what is your suggestion on the gully leading up to the notch. Stay left, right...or is the rock the same. And my only other concern at this point is the fork in the trail right before the E-Ledges...I prefer to not climb the Elephant's ear (flake below E-Ledges) with my backcountry pack on. What do I need to know to avoid the Elephant's Ear and remain on the "standard" approach to the E-Ledges. I appreciate all the input I can get. I hear this section of the MR route can be confusing because their are many faint trails that lead in all directions...

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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby susanjoypaul » Sun Jul 29, 2012 7:15 am

apasquel wrote:Also, what is your suggestion on the gully leading up to the notch. Stay left, right...or is the rock the same.

Stay left - out of the gully altogether - and enjoy a fantastic class 3 climb. Once it gets to class 4, traverse over to the gully and pick your best route up the rest of the way. For me, it was more solid on the left side at first, and then I crossed to the right and followed that up to the notch and the bottom of the "Final 400."

We came down the same way. This was the best part of the whole climb!
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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby apasquel » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:10 am

So is this a picture of you on the left side of the gully? It looks steep! Solid, but steep!

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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby susanjoypaul » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:26 am

Yup, that's me. It's steep, but not as steep as the Ebersbacher Ledges (which you'll be doing with a heavy pack) or the Final 400.

The rock is very ledgy - no smearing at all. I did it in mountaineering boots!

This was a very demanding peak for me, but very rewarding as well. And this really is the best section of the whole climb, because it's long, easy, class 3 with lots of holds on solid rock. The gully (chute, trough) is loose and there's a lot of rockfall. Wear a helmet, and you'll have a great time up there.

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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby nyker » Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:40 am

Susan, is that pic from the final 400 or the top part of the first gulley from Iceberg lake?

I got up to around the notch last time I attempted before being turning around due to weather, so never got to see the final section :-(...yet...

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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby Monster5 » Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:05 pm

The junction is fairly obvious at a clearing - the larger trail will head off to the left (crossing the creek) and another social trail will head to the right behind a tree (up to Elephant's Ear). From there, I believe the standard route becomes a bit annoying. Just hop/dodge your way up the left side of the creek and re-cross at just about the only spot possible to rejoin the E Ledges. This part would be hard to spot in the dark and should be scouted, if one were looking at a day trip. Also, take note of the major switchback on E Ledges right after gaining them; it is easy to miss and more so on the descent.

Elephant's Ear honestly isn't that bad and far preferred over bushwacking through willows (don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of that). Just don't head up the wall on the right too early. You'll know the ledges and cleared willow paths when you see them.

Image

Susan's advice to stay left when dry seems the popular option. It can get nasty in the couloir proper.

The final 400' has endless route-finding options as well. Most of our party ascended center/left initially, crossed over at an obvious spot, and continued up the right side. This is the easiest option and rather intuitive.

Like this but dry (not as steep as it looks):

Image

Image

A couple of us climbed the ledges on the left and that was a fun option as well. Straight on also works when dry with a bit of ledge traversing/route finding.

Image

Edit - also, we ascended the variation that goes right above Lower Boyscout Lake and descended the standard route. In post-hole snow conditions, the technically harder right variation is probably nicer, but the jury's still out. The standard route left is easier when dry. Also, we had no bear worries at UBSL and noticed a number of parties had immorally ditched their WAG bags in rock crevices, so be carefull when digging around rocks as a tent stake.
"The road to alpine climbing is pocked and poorly marked, ending at an unexpectedly closed gate 5 miles from the trailhead." - MP user Beckerich

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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby susanjoypaul » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:33 pm

nyker wrote:Susan, is that pic from the final 400 or the top part of the first gulley from Iceberg lake?

I got up to around the notch last time I attempted before being turning around due to weather, so never got to see the final section :-(...yet...

That photo is the section above Iceberg Lake and below the Notch. The trip report is here. The Final 400 is just a bit further up...

Based on those pics ^^^, the route looks a lot dicier under snow!

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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby JenGa » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:13 pm

Hi. I did the MR in Spring snow two years ago. The Ebersbacher Ledges were snow-free. I remember feeling much more nervous about them then was justified by the actual hike. We had to walk in the creek the last 20 feet or so to get to the base of the route, but it was no problem. There was still plenty of snow up at Iceberg Lake; we used crampons and ice axes to go up the couloir. The last 400 feet was not nearly as scary as I had expected based on trip reports that I had read. Maroon Peak was way harder.

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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby Taillon75 » Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:22 pm

Climb it on snow in the spring. No permits or tourists.....
Catchy saying from someone famous.

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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby spiderman » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:50 am

Good luck on your hike. The Mountaineer's Route is infinitely better than the standard highway (although it is is better to head back on the standard trail). Definitely learn how to find the old trail from the portal to avoid the neverending initial switchback. If you are in decent shape and acclimated to Colorado 14ers, the trip should be a piece of cake. My son loved that route as a day trip when he was 8. He was a little bit tired at the end and we needed every moment of daylight to complete the circuit. I seem to recall a little over 7 hours up, and a similar time for the descent. At least you don't have to follow the "off by noon" rule that is mandatory in the Rockies.

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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby apasquel » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:12 am

All right...this is good stuff guys!

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Re: Mt. Whitney MR input

Postby nyker » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:22 am

Thanks Susan.

Have you found your newly discovered flexibility useful in other situations?

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