Album: Mount Whitney (5x) - Mountaineers Route
- Outdoor Adventures
- A hike up to Mount Whitney via the Mountaineers Route (4/15/05 - 4/17/05)
- Album Date
- 4/16/2005 12:00:00 AM
- Date Added
- 1/1/2013 12:00:00 AM
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Here's most of what I packed. Starting pack weight was about 42 pounds. I'll definitely be trying to lighten that up next time.
Mount Whitney (as seen from near the Lone Pine Campground)
8:40am. Our trek begins. The dozer had created an impassable barricade of trees so we had to park down at the first switchback at 7100 feet. Ugh. That meant we would have 7400 feet of gain to reach the summit of Mount Whitney (and 2.5 miles just to reach the trailhead).
Here's the impassable berm of debris. It was gone when we came back down.
This rock was too big for the bulldozer but fortunately it's not in the way.
Taking a break at the trailhead. It was 2.5 miles and 1200 ft of gain from where we parked.
First mile of the trail is almost entirely clear of snow (except around the trailhead)
Ben's a pack animal. He probably had the heaviest pack and was still leaving Matt and I well behind.
Looking down at all the snow in the North Fork drainage
Looking down at the upper region of the Ebersbacher Ledges.
Another 1000 feet of gain and we'll be at Upper Boy Scout Lake
A hungry bird. He was quite interested in what we were having for lunch.
Ok, we've eaten lunch. Now it's time for our final push up to UBSL.
On the way up to Upper Boyscout Lake. Snow is now becoming soft in the afternoon sun.
Not too much further to Upper Boy Scout Lake, but dang this snow is getting soft!
Finally, below UBSL we relunctantly put on our snowshoes for the final push to base camp (at UBSL).
View from below looking at the slope leading up to the Russell/Carillon saddle. Looks like you might be able to remain on snow all the saw to the saddle.
6:19pm. My new Sierra Designs Solemente AST (4 season solo tent). This was my second time using it. It would again be blasted by high winds just as it was the first time. It survived just fine.
Day 2. 6:05am. 24 degrees F. Rising sun begins to color the sky.
The rising sun colors the sky and reflects off the snow
Up around the corner from UBSL our goal comes into view.
Gets a bit steeper below Iceberg Lake but only for a short distance
Just a little further to Iceberg Lake. Mount Whitney looms before us.
8:24am. Near Iceberg Lake. Climbers ahead of us. Several are going up. One is coming down.
Climbers heading up the Mountaineer's Route on Mount Whitney
Here's a good view of the route up to the Whitney Notch.
The "Notch" and Mountaineer's Route on Mount Whitney
Another view of Mount Whitney's East Face (as seen from Iceberg Lake)
Snowboarder with Keeler Needle in the background
Ben and Matt on the way to the Notch. Helmets on.
Now about a third to a half of the way up to the Notch
Ben, Matt, and other climbers heading up to the Notch. Iceberg Lake (frozen) is far below.
Ben (top) and Matt (below) heading up to the Notch. This shot shows the typical slope angle that is present almost all the way up.
Mount Carillon (left rear) and Iceberg Lake (below center)
Another shot of Mount Carillon. There's still good snow coverage on the plateau.
We managed to pass all the other climbers heading up.
Getting close to the Notch there are some bare spots with loose rock.
10:22am. We arrive at the Whitney Notch. Matt (left). Ben (right). We decide to drop our packs here. This way we can maintain better balance and will have a better chance at self arrest.
Mount Carillon (rear) and the Russell/Carillon saddle (left)
First view of the traverse. Looks a bit daunting. A set of tracks is visible at the top of the snowfield.
Looking down Whitney's North Face. If you slip on the traverse this is where you'll go. It's a long way down.
This is the lower portion of the chute. No problem here.
Looking further up the chute. In the center of the photo is a small rock band (perhaps 20 feet at it's narrow point) that must be crossed.
Fantastic views into the backcountry from the Notch
Great snow coverage in the chute. You can just make out the cornice on the top. You'll notice that the tracks divide half-way up. Some went left of the cornice. Some went to the right. We chose the left since it was slightly less steep. Everyone else went left too.
Two paths up the chute. I should have been different and went up the middle. Maybe next time.
Matt and Ben crossing the thin rock band. This is a bit awkward with crampons on.
Inside the chute. This shot gives you some idea of the angle. It might be slightly exaggerated by this shot but it is steep.
Good view of the cornice at the top of chute. The two paths up bypassed it by going to the left and right of it.
Approaching the top of the chute to the left of the obvious cornice.
We pop up near the latrine not far from the summit.
The door to the hut is off it's hinges. Snow inside is piled up to within 6 inches of the ceiling.
Snow inside is piled up to within 6 inches of the ceiling. No room here for a bivy.
11:10am. We stand on the summit. Matt (left). Ben (right).
Mount Williamson (easily identified by the two "horns" or sub-peaks to the right of the higher summit).
Looking down toward Trail Camp from the summit of Mount Whitney
Looking toward the upper switchbacks from the summit of Mount Whitney
Over the years a large number of lightening rods have been added to the summit hut, but people still get fried.
Hard to see, but Richard Ferrari's name is at the bottom of this torn register page. Sadly, Richard fell while descending and was killed. Weather may have played a part. The page behind this one has Patrick Wang's entry. He too died from a fall in the upper chute.
Our register entries. Another climber's entry, Patrick Wang, appears on the third line of this page. It was very sobering to realize that this was the last register that he would ever sign. He too, like Richard Ferrari, fell while descending. This makes two tragic deaths so far this year.
Time to head down. We decide to wait for the other climbers who are coming up.
Another shot of the cornice at the top of the chute.
Mount Russell (as seen from the top of the chute)
This is a shot looking down the second chute from the Notch. It looked like a set of footprints may have been present, though it's possible it could just be due to rockfall.
Another shot looking down the second chute from the Notch.
The chute now clear we head down (facing the slope).
Matt and Ben downclimbing. I guess I was a little fast on the descent. No I did not glissade.
If you slip in the chute you'll probably go down the North Face which is visible here.
This is the narrow rock band that must be crossed in the chute. There were some loose rocks present at the top of the band.
Matt takes a look to see how much further it is to go.
Four other climbers now start their descent above us.
At about this point Matt (lower) was hit in the head by rock or icefall from above. Fortunately he was wearing a helmet (as all three of us were) and was only briefly stunned.
Ben (middle) carefully crosses the rock band. Matt (lower) is nearly down.
Back to the Notch and looking again at the traverse.
Two climbers decided to descend back to the Notch via the traverse.
At this point I was getting a bit nervous photographing these two climbers. Would this be their last photo?
At this point I think the lower climber uttered something like "whoops". I think I skipped a heart beat.
Ok, now it's time to descend from the Notch back to Iceberg Lake.
Matt attempts a glissade. We were only able to glissade some of the lower part of the slope due to hard spots up higher in the shady spots.
2:11pm. Back down near Iceberg Lake. Time for lunch!
This camp was located halfway between Upper Boy Scout Lake and Icerberg Lake. I wonder if their night was as windy and unpleasant as ours.
3:18pm. We arrive back at our camp at UBSL. It's very hot now and there's no shade.
My Sieras Designs Solemente tent. I brought a snow saw and had grand dillusions of constructing a castle from blocks of snow. Silly me. That's too much work! This pitiful start is as far as I got.
The group of six packs up and heads out - postholing all the way.
Day 3. 8:18am. We're packed up and heading down. There was a ferocious wind all night that threatened to rip out tents to shreads. We got no sleep. Morning temp: 30 degrees F.
Here's another shot at the start of the Ebersbacher Ledges.
This lower snow bridge over the creek is getting a little thin.
9:20am. We've made good progess and take a break once we reach the main trail. We take off our crampons which we had used all the way down from UBSL. Snow was already getting soft but we decided not to mess with the snowshoes today.
Just a little further down to the Portal. Thor Peak is visible in the background.
9:47am. We arrive back at the Whitney Trailhead. Whew! That was a lot of work.
The three of us back at the trailhead (Ben, Matt, Rick).
On our way down we noticed the road had been plowed (one narrow lane only) almost all the way to the Portal's overflow parking area.
Two cars were parked near the overflow parking lot. We dropped our packs here, hiked the 2.5 miles down the road to our vehicle and then drove back up to retrieve our packs.
Here's the dozer that foiled our plans to park as close to the Portal as possible. We were just a day too early. He cleared the road probably not long after we had to hike past his barricade.
Looking down at vehicles parked in the lot at the base of the switchbacks. Thankfully we didn't have to park there, but we didn't get much further.
10:45am. We arrive back where we parked (at the first switchback).
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