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Mount Whitney-Mountaineer's Route - 2 members in 7 triplogs have rated this an average 5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jul 05 2014
oceanwithin
avatar

 Photos 337
 Triplogs 557

female
 Joined Jun 19 2009
 AZ
Mount Whitney-Mountaineer's RouteSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Jul 05 2014
oceanwithin
Hiking16.00 Miles 6,200 AEG
Hiking16.00 Miles
6,200 ft AEG15 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
"...Whitney's summit looms in the west above a serrated horizon of dull silver peaks. It's high. It's stark. It's aloof. If mountains could talk, this one wouldn't. Yet it beckons with a force that will push regular folks to do irregular things." (Jordan Rane, journalist)

Ah. Mt. Whitney, we meet again. Despite thinking I wouldn't be back for awhile, the lure of the Mountaineer's Route could not be quelled. Having only taken the traditional trail up before, I wasn't sure what to expect but was excited about being back in the beautiful Eastern Sierras.

After a night of sleeping out under the stars at Whitney Portal, we hit the trail at 3:45 am. Through the darkness we hiked, stopping at one point when we saw a pair of feline eyes glowing at us from afar. They slowly blinked and looked away as we continued into the night. We scrambled up the Ebersbacher Ledges just as the first hints of dawn were starting to light up the sky. Took a break at Lower Boyscout Lake where the golden pink alpenglow warmed across the mountains while two deer grazed nearby. Continuing on we passed by Upper Boyscout Lake, another peaceful alpine oasis. Onward and upward the miles quickly passed until finally we reached Iceberg Lake.

It was here that we could see the final ascent to the summit, up to what is known as "the notch". It looked impossibly steep and rocky and definitely a bit intimidating. We rested at the lake for awhile, filtering water and refueling our bodies while chatting with some friendly backpackers and climbers who were camped at the lake. And then it was time to get going, so up we went.

Despite how the notch appeared at first glance, there is a pretty good cairned route up to the far left of the snow chute. This was mostly an easy scramble up rocks and sometimes crumbly scree, not exactly for the faint of heart but still nothing too crazy or scary. It was slow going in that thin air and eventually we made it to the top of the notch, where just around the corner we were faced with a selection of routes and gullies to take up to the summit. We opted to do the far traverse up to the snow ridge, which had been recommended to us by a group of climbers who had just come down from the same route. I thought this section was sketchier than the notch, as we were traversing over rocks that would sometimes groan and move under your weight. If you were to start sliding out of control here it would not be good at all, and our acute awareness of this helped motivate us to get it over with as quickly as possible.

Before long we were at the top--it felt like a victory to reach the summit and be surrounded by that incredible view. We hung out there for quite awhile, admiring the scenery and debating which route we wanted to take back down. We decided to take the traditional Mt. Whitney trail back down, giving us all the best views of both trails in one day. While zooming down the switchbacks we encountered a really confusing rescue situation which is a story in itself, hopefully everything turned out okay for the gentleman involved.

I absolutely LOVED the Mountaineer's Route and would definitely do it again, it's completely worth it to skip all those switchbacks and just go direct. Surprisingly there were no ill effects from the altitude which was a nice change for once. I forced down a ton of water all day and regularly took Salt Stick capsules (the caffeinated ones!) which kept my appetite up all day. All in all it was an incredible adventure up the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. I am still smitten with the Sierras and can't wait to return. After summiting three times now, Mt. Whitney is starting to feel like an old friend. :y:
_____________________
Jul 05 2014
azflyguy
avatar

 Guides 1
 Routes 2
 Photos 337
 Triplogs 311

35 male
 Joined May 31 2009
 Scottsdale,AZ
Mount Whitney-Mountaineer's RouteSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hike & Climb avatar Jul 05 2014
azflyguy
Hike & Climb16.00 Miles 6,200 AEG
Hike & Climb16.00 Miles
6,200 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
_____________________
Canyoneering gear beta tester and supplier. Visit http://www.shadowcatadventures.com for canyoneering, climbing, hiking and backpacking gear.
Feb 06 2011
Jim_H
avatar

 Guides 57
 Routes 50
 Photos 7,854
 Triplogs 1,670

40 male
 Joined Sep 08 2006
 Phoenix, AZ
Mount Whitney-Mountaineer's RouteSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Climbing avatar Feb 06 2011
Jim_H
Climbing14.00 Miles 7,400 AEG
Climbing14.00 Miles   16 Hrs   30 Mns   0.85 mph
7,400 ft AEG
Solo III  • 3rd  • 2000 Feet 4 Pitches
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Pro: A helmet of some sort is required. Lots of rock fall on the snow this day.
My arch nemesis, the wind, impacted my sleep the night before and I got a slow start. I parked above the first switchback at 7200, started at 715 and made really good time on great snow conditions. The North Fork is buried under 30 feet of it, and most of the snow is hard and crusty, or it was for me. I made UBSL in 3.5 hours and Iceberg in 5.75 hours. Fatigue was setting in by the time I made Iceberg Lake, but I think that is reasonable after 5000 feet. I moved slowly for the next couple of thousand feet and summited in under 8 and a half hours. Included in that time are numerous breaks, lunch, and about 30 minutes making water. I think I did well.

I spent about 60 minutes on the summit and started down. The conditions were great and the views fantastic. I love the way you can see a lot of the range, and California's features. The snow was not as good today as it was in 2009 and I went slowly for the initial descent to Iceberg. Below Iceberg, it was dark and the snow was ice. I stopped and had tea in the area above UBSL with some climbers who had done the East Buttress. After 45 minutes of water and tea, I started down. The stars were incredible and I stopped every so often to shut off my headlamp and look at them. I tried not to fall asleep when doing that. Descent with a light pack(20 lbs) is much easier than with a heavy pack, but the hard icy snow still works your legs, a lot, and after more than 7000 feet I was exhausted when I got back to my car. Car to car it was around 14 miles and 7400 feet in 16 hours 30 minutes. Probably 2 hours of summit, eating, resting, and making water could be subtracted, but it still took me the 16.5 hours to do this. I ate a can of baked beans, a tortilla, and put up my tent on the Portal Road and went to bed. It was a well deserved rest, I think.
Geology
Geology
Granite
_____________________
:o
2 archives
Aug 06 2009
Misubri
avatar

 Guides 2
 Photos 193
 Triplogs 4

male
 Joined Apr 06 2002
 Gilbert, AZ
Mount Whitney-Mountaineer's RouteSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Climbing avatar Aug 06 2009
Misubri
Climbing9.00 Miles 6,200 AEG
Climbing9.00 Miles
6,200 ft AEG
Solo III  • Boulder • 3rd Granite Excellent • 2000 Feet 4 Pitches
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Pro: A helmet of some sort is required. You will want something to protect your head from rocks that may be dislodged by fellow climbers. The route can be busy, especially when the day climbers arrive. Rope, and any other specialized gear is not necessary for Summer. In Winter, you will need a full compliment of gear from crampons and ice axes to avalanche beacons and possibly a satellite phone. Its typically a 3 day, 2 night climb in winter.
Although I went with a good friend of mine who is in great shape, he was not able to make it above Upper Boy Scout Lake, so I did the Mountaineers Route solo (I know I know). There was a bit of ice on the class 3 section, so it was a bit dicey. But I did it OK and made it to the summit.

Day 1 - Whitney Portal to Upper Boy Scout Lake - 3.8 miles.
Day 2 - Upper Boy Scout Lake to Whitney Summit, all the way down to Whitney Portal - 9 miles.
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Mar 19 2009
Jim_H
avatar

 Guides 57
 Routes 50
 Photos 7,854
 Triplogs 1,670

40 male
 Joined Sep 08 2006
 Phoenix, AZ
Mount Whitney-Mountaineer's RouteSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Backpack avatar Mar 19 2009
Jim_H
Backpack9.00 Miles 6,400 AEG
Backpack9.00 Miles2 Days         
6,400 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We got a late start at 10:30 am on the 18th and carried our very heavy packs up to about 12,100' in the valley which is in front of Whitney. We parked lower than the trailhead and added some elevation, making it a 4000' climb on day one. Conditions were really good before and after the steep section of trail in the North Fork; the part from the 1st creek crossing to LBSL. Above LBSL it was a nice winter climb, despite it feeling like spring.
Summit day was really nice. We had hard conditions the entire way up, and it was a good climb in both the main gully and the final 400. It was hazy high clouds on most of the summit day, but we had nearly calm winds, and perfect temperatures. Descent went fast. My pack weight was the only thing that made descent from our camping area difficult. 56 and 45 pounds is too much to carry for something like this. If I do this again, I would just try to day hike it. We left the same day as we summited, and had we not had to deal with all the camp issues that you do in winter, it could have been a 12 hour trip, max.
Flora
Flora
Jeffrey Pine
_____________________
:o
Dec 28 2008
Jim_H
avatar

 Guides 57
 Routes 50
 Photos 7,854
 Triplogs 1,670

40 male
 Joined Sep 08 2006
 Phoenix, AZ
Mount Whitney-Mountaineer's RouteSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Backpack avatar Dec 28 2008
Jim_H
Backpack8.00 Miles 2,600 AEG
Backpack8.00 Miles   17 Hrs      0.47 mph
2,600 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This was an unsuccessful attempt to summit under conditions that were anything but conducive to hiking. Deep powder combined with un-crusted snow, dangerous un-scalable ledges, and thick willows in the valley to make just horrible climbing conditions. What took me 2 hours in summer took 12 hours on the 29th. Myself and two other fellows from CA only made it to Lower Boyscout Lake before we decided to turn back. According to frequent climbers this was a safe move as the boulder fields that follow are treacherous under those conditions. Break a leg after falling through the snow type of thing. Still, I wish we would have gone further.
We parked about 1 to 1.25 miles below the trailhead and made good time to the first creek crossing. Then it was a very slow go in waste and chest deep snow. This meant cutting tracks in snow that collapsed as you entered it and would slide down with each step. The 3 of us all agreed that it was the hardest thing we ever did. A group we met camping at the Portal told us they had turned back in our tracks. They also said that last year in January the North Fork had enough snow to cover the willows completely. Those willows were 15 feet tall out of the snow this year. We hope to try again in March.
_____________________
:o
1 archive
Aug 31 2008
Jim_H
avatar

 Guides 57
 Routes 50
 Photos 7,854
 Triplogs 1,670

40 male
 Joined Sep 08 2006
 Phoenix, AZ
Mount Whitney-Mountaineer's RouteSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Climbing avatar Aug 31 2008
Jim_H
Climbing9.00 Miles 6,200 AEG
Climbing9.00 Miles   12 Hrs   30 Mns   0.72 mph
6,200 ft AEG
Solo I G  • Boulder • 3rd Granite Excellent • 2000 Feet 4 Pitches
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Pro: A helmet of some sort is required. You will want something to protect your head from rocks that may be dislodged by fellow climbers. The route can be busy, especially when the day climbers arrive. Rope, and any other specialized gear is not necessary for Summer. In Winter, you will need a full compliment of gear from crampons and ice axes to avalanche beacons and possibly a satellite phone. Its typically a 3 day, 2 night climb in winter.
I did the Mountaineer's Route as an overnight backpacking trip that started on 8/31. I summited on 9/1, but the elevation will be counted in one day on 8/31. I spent the night sleeping under the stars under some cold and (early on) windy conditions at Iceberg Lake. Fantastic display of stars up high under pretty dark conditions. New moon. Descended alone on 9/1.
Fantastic hike with incredible scenery.
Geology
Geology
Granite
_____________________
:o
average hiking speed 0.78 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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