Ascent of Mount Whitney on 2017-07-11

Climber: Dean Gaudet

Date:Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Whitney
    Elevation:14498 ft / 4418 m

Ascent Trip Report

the attached track definitely isn't useful outside of snow conditions...

there is so much water flowing across the trail in various places that it's impossible to avoid. it was ankle depth or worse in one long section near mirror lake, and flowing quite strongly at lone pine creek.

there's so much snow still on the mountain that it's difficult to follow the main trail: this would prove beneficial at 11200' where the snow is gently graded and shortens the trip up to trail camp.

i made a total snow noob mistake after trail camp: at that point there's enough snow it's not obvious where the switchbacks start. someone had made a rather compelling snow trail headed toward the chute which leads up to trail crest. me, and dozens of others, took this path... up a 50%+ grade chute.

i figured out i was headed the wrong way rather early because i spotted the cabled section of the switchbacks above me. i was too bull-headed to retreat and find the switchbacks. once in the chute i couldn't see any way out other than up and down: the rocks surrounding it looked to be class 4. in the middle of the chute was a rock outcropping which had lost its snow already, and i traversed over to it and removed my crampons to climb the rocks (class 3). i made good progress on the rocks, but any time i gained was lost to removing/applying crampons. this chute took at least 2h, probably an hour longer than the switchbacks could have. it would end up sapping my energy for the rest of the hike (i didn't go for muir because i could barely climb by that point).

for the summit climb everyone was using the old whitney trail: the new trail was buried under snow. the old trail was cairned, and generally easy to follow.

on descent i took the switchbacks: they were definitely better than the chute, but no cakewalk either. there were at least three snow field crossing at steep enough angle that if you were safety minded you'd want to apply crampons and use ice axe, but few people were gearing up. there were a few other sections where people were resorting to scrambling up/down rocks to cut the switchbacks because snow was in the way around the corners. in the cabled section was a big snow drift which many folks slipped off of and were saved only by grabbing at the cables... in this case i actually applied crampons despite how short it was, it just didn't look safe to me otherwise.

on a personal note: when i mention to people that i hike lots of mountains, the first question is always "have you climbed mount whitney?" it was always awkward saying "no". i usually don't plan my trips far enough in advance to deal with permits, i prefer to see how the weather goes, and follow my whim. last summer i bagged other 14ers, and completed day hikes of similar length, but the question always remained: could i do whitney.

my indecision on when to hike whitney would cause me to miss the lottery, but since i was a solo hiker it was easy enough to pick up three different reserve dates post-lottery: one in june, two in july. i skipped the june date because i wanted to go hiking with pals (bagged thurston peak). i also didn't want to have to use the second date in july because again i plan to go hiking with pals. fortunately the weather played out well and i could use the one remaining date.

special thanks to marie and erin whom i met on the summit, and again during the descent. they were great company on the long slog out.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6761 ft / 2060 m
    Total Elevation Loss:6761 ft / 2060 m
    Round-Trip Distance:19.8 mi / 31.9 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Headlamp, Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:6461 ft / 1969 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 6161 ft / 1877 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Loss on way in:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:9.4 mi / 15.1 km
    Start Trailhead:8337 ft / 2541 m
    Time:9 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:6461 ft / 1969 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 6161 ft / 1877 m; Extra: 300 ft / 91m
    Gain on way out:300 ft / 91 m
    Distance:10.4 mi / 16.7 km
    End Trailhead:8337 ft / 2541 m
    Time:7 Hours 45 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Dean Gaudet
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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