Ascent of Mount Whitney on 2012-09-08

Climber: BMS 914

Others in Party:Alex Straub
Date:Saturday, September 8, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Mount Whitney
    Elevation:14498 ft / 4418 m

Ascent Trip Report

Alex and I left the Dow Motel in Lone Pine around 5:00am, arriving at the Whitney Portal trailhead in about 22 minutes, and started our ascent with headlamps about 5:40am. The road up to Whitney Portal is paved as are the parking spaces, and any normal vehicle can make the trip. The trailhead has USFS outhouse toilets, bear-proof trash receptacles, and even a general store/restaurant that sells beer and some tasty looking burgers (and I don't even like hamburgers).

We opted for the Mountaineers Route (east route) up, and took the trail (west route) down, so we could climb Mt Muir as a side trip (see my separate description of that trip). The main trail and the Mountaineers route share a path for the first 0.9 miles or so, then a sign saying <--Main Trail--> North Fork Lone Pine Creek--> appears. Take the smaller path toward NF Lone Pine Creek. Before long, the Ebersbacher Ledges appear. There is some mild Class 3 climbing here; very easy with no exposure. Once up on the ledges, there is some exposed Class 1/2 on faint pathways. Unless you are terrified of heights you should be fine.

After the ledges, the faint path leads to a series of lakes (Lower Boy Scout, Upper Boy Scout, and Iceberg), with intervals of talus scrambling and hiking in between.

Once at Iceberg Lake, the route goes up a steep gully to the right (north) of Whitney. The gully is filled with loose talus and there is potential for rock fall hazard here, though we had no problems; even with a party 100 ahead of us in the gully/chute. We encountered one or two areas of Class 3 climbing, including one awkward chock stone in the middle of the gully that I struggled with for a few minutes.

Once at the top of the gully, a saddle appears. To the right (north) heads to Mt Russell, the the left is Mt Whitney. We found no clear route from here. The group ahead of us was trying to climb the north face just above the gully, and struggling. One guy was about six feet up from the faint trail and kept having to come down, as water dripping down the granite was making his climbing tough. We went further west past a projection and went up there to avoid the traffic and water. More light Class 3 scrambling here with a few more difficult moves, some exposed. There are a myriad of ways to get up here, so if you encounter something that is more than you feel comfortable with, it only is a matter of searching to find something easier to get you to the top.

Once on top the throngs of people appeared. Brief and very light rain/hail on the summit, which cleared up shortly. We took the long but easy path down to Whitney Portal to enable a climb up Mt Muir, and also to avoid any potential down climbing in rain (which never came back in any significant amount). 99 switchbacks later (so they say) and we were down.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:6783 ft / 2065 m
    Elevation Loss:6783 ft / 2065 m
    Distance:16.4 mi / 26.4 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Low Clouds
Cloudy with Thunder, but dry
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:6511 ft / 1983 m
    Extra Loss:370 ft / 112 m
    Distance:6.2 mi / 10 km
    Route:Mountaineers Route
    Trailhead:Whitney Portal  8357 ft / 2547 m
    Time Up:6 Hours 11 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:6413 ft / 1953 m
    Extra Gain:272 ft / 82 m
    Distance:10.2 mi / 16.4 km
    Route:Standard Trail
    Trailhead:Whitney Portal  8357 ft / 2547 m
    Time Down:4 Hours 24 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Whitney_Muir

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Whitney2012-09-08 a
2Mount Muir2012-09-08 b
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by BMS 914
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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