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Ascent of Mount Whitney on 2014-04-18

Climber: Tye Scott

Date:Friday, April 18, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Whitney
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:14498 ft / 4418 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a quick trip with too much time spent in the car but sometimes you can't help it. Got off work at 730 am grabbed the rental car and my buddy and started the 15 hour drive down to Lone Pine. We drove down to Walker Lake just outside of Hawthorne, NV and camped at the recreational area there (aka - the side of the road). Since the Ranger Station in Lone Pine didn't open up until 8am there wasn't much reason to get there beforehand to grab out wilderness permits.

The guy we spoke to at the RS was very friendly and informative but he neglected to mention one little detail...that being the road was closed to the TH. Thus, we had to tack on an additional 2.5 miles and 2000' in elevation before reaching the summit. After packing up and taking some photos we started trekking up the road to the TH. The weather was beautiful, sunny, clear, slight breeze, it felt great. At the TH we weighed our packs (34 & 44 lbs - Pete likes his trail mix) and hit the trail. Up until Lone Pine Creek the trail is pretty gradual and easy going with pretty views. Thankfully we ran into a group of Koreans sitting at the creek who pointed out the Mtn'eers route to us as we would have walked right past it. For those looking for it, once you get to the Lone Pine Creek sign take a right and head uphill. There was no sign or arrow indicating the fork in the trail so just keep watch.

From where the trail splits it begins to get considerably steeper right off the bat compared to the standard route. We ran into snow just below the E-ledges which was softening up from the warm weather. The ledges themselves were free of snow and not terribly difficult. I had read various reports on them. From the E-ledges we worked our way up towards Lower Boy Scout Lake which provided us with our first view of what lied ahead. After a couple photos we took off towards Upper Boy Scout Lake. This section was troublesome from the standpoint that neither of us brought our snowshoes so we did a fair amount of post holing. We tried to make use of the giant slabs of rock as much as possible but some areas were still covered pretty heavily with snow.

Eventually we reached Upper Boy Scout Lake, filled our water bottles and discussed our plan. Btw, there was only about a 10' section of open water in which to fill our bottles. If we had held out to fill them higher up we'd have found out that everything else was frozen. Being that there was still daylight for several more hours Pete and I headed up higher to find a camp spot. Somewhere between Upper Boy Scout Lake and Ice Berg Lake we took refuge within a large group of rocks with a nice sandy bottom. Dinner consisted of mostly trail mix and jerky that was washed down with iodine water but somehow it felt gourmet-ish. Neither of us were very tired but we tried to catch a few hours sleep.

At 330am we woke up beneath a beautiful moonlit sky. The spires and summit were silhouetted in the backdrop and made for some awesome photos. At 430 we took off for the summit. Halfway up the ridge leading up the chute from Ice Berg Lake Pete decided to turn around as he was beginning to get dizzy, suffering from a headache, and getting an upset stomach. It was the first time he'd really experience symptoms this bad before and I think it was partly due to a cold he was getting. So we departed ways and I began the hike up the chute to the notch. The snow here was still surprisingly soft but better from the day before. It wasn't until later that I recognized how few footprints I noticed but then it made sense; I was going up the chute that was next to the common route (it's one chute to the East). they merge near the top so it didn't make much difference aside from fewer steps to follow and a bit narrower.

From the notch I worked my way south and went a just a short way before deciding to simply head straight up and over to the summit. I believe during the summer months this is a class 3 scramble. Add snow and it makes you cringe a bit looking back over your shoulder and seeing nothing for a couple thousand feet but the snow was well consolidated and I moved quickly.

Finally, I reached the rock field that leads up to the lightening house, grabbed the Mt Whitney flag that was inside then made my way over to the geographical marker where I took some photos and called the little lady to let her know I was still alive. Surprisingly the wind was completely absent. In fact, it was eerily silent but welcoming. The views were amazing. The sun had risen approximately 30 minutes beforehand and there was a high cloud cover which made for lots of cool colors. After eating a snack and signing the registry (no one had signed it in the previous 3 days) I made my decent back down. The only change was I walked further west and then traversed my way over to the notch instead of going back down the steep class 3 stuff.

The hike back was much easier (naturally) since the snow was still frozen from the night. Pete began feeling better around 8ooo'. Once we reached the start of the TH we took the Lone Pine Campground trail back to our car....except it didn't lead us there so we had to bomb down the side of a big ole hill, cross a river, and then hike back up the road. Naturally, about 100' from our car the forest crew stopped to inform us that the road was now open and that they would have happily given us a ride. Oh well.

Overall another great trip! A special thanks to Officer Jackson of Oregon who pulled me over doing 80 in a 65 and let it slide. Turns out he's a climber too. Hope to see you on the Mtn sometime!
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:8003 ft / 2439 m
    Route:Mountaineer's
    Trailhead:Closed Road Gate  6495 ft / 1979 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles, Bivouac
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Cold mornings, hot afternoons



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