Monday, October 7, 2013

Mt. Whitney Mountaineers Route - 10/4/13

Mt. Whitney (center) from the nearby Alabama Hills

Near Iceberg Lake Gazing at the Summit
 Over the weekend, Jerry Thomas hiked Mt. Whitney. Although several of our club members have accomplished this formidable hike, this is the first that the writer has heard of anyone doing the "Mountaineers Route." Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states and is located in California near the Nevada border. The western slope is in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (read "closed"), however, the eastern slope (the steeper side) on which they hiked is in the Inyo National Forest. The peak is officially 14,505 feet above sea level and was created by the rising of a fault. The trailhead is located on a small road called the Whitney Portal Road. There are a few campgrounds on this road and the group, no doubt, stayed in one of these campgrounds the night before "The Assault." These are some photos that Jerry sent and a small narration to the gorgeous hike.

The Gully near Summit
We started at the trail head at 4am with headlamps on Friday, October 4th.  It was a pitch black night with no moonlight at all and no glow from Las Vegas.  We started up the main trail and about 1 mile up the trail took a fork up the "North Fork of Pine Creek" which is what the sign reads.  We hiked up what's called the Mountaineer's Route which follows an intermittent trail and cairned route.  About 2 miles up the trail we had to negotiate a series of ledges to avoid trudging through Pine Creek.  This required some ginger scrambling with some exposure.  The sun rose about 6:15am and the views were spectacular.  I was glad the sun came up because it was getting very cold.

View from Mt. Whitney Summit
 We reached Ice Berg Lake where there are views of a glacier nearby and we looked up the very steep gully just to the north (right in the photos) of the summit.  This was the route to the summit.  The steep gully had lots of loose scree and a few steep slabs of rock that we had to climb up.  At the top of the gully we traversed around the back of the summit and then scrambled up steep boulders to the summit.  It took us 7 and 1/2 hours to go 6 miles while gaining 6112 ft of elevation.  We decided to hike down the nicely maintained trail back to the trail head; its much longer but the windy, cold conditions did not make negotiating the gully very attractive.  We reached the trail head at 5:30pm.  It took us 13 1/2 hours to go a total of 16 1/2 miles. ~ Jerry


Total elevation gain for this hike was 6769 feet.

The Entire Route

Mountaineers Route at Gully in Foreground

Descent Route Across Ridge

Upper Parts of Routes

Lower Parts of Routes


Unknown said...

So is the mountain reopened? We have been looking forward to our trip all year and are supposed to pick up our permits the 15th. Being only 8 days away getting nervous we won't be able to go and was happy to see someone was hiking the mountain!! Just wondering if it was officially open?? How do you close a mountain anyway...

Las Vegas Cockapoo said...

The east side of the mountain is open because it is only a national forest. The west side of the mountain is closed because it is a gated, developed national park. I hope this doesn't hurt your plans.

Las Vegas Cockapoo said...

Of course, this entry was made in 2013 when a forest fire threatened Yosemite NP. The park has assumably reopened since then.