Friday, June 17, 2011

Knocked the bastard off again ! (via snow chute)

22 miles RT, (12 miles backpacking + 10 miles day hike)
Elevation Gain: 6500+ ft
Trailhead: 8300 ft
Summit : 14500 ft.

Bill, Sarah, Arun & I did a 2-day backpacking trip to Mt Whitney. We camped @ Trail Camp (Elev. 12,000 ft) on Saturday night and day-hiked to the summit via the snow chute on Sunday morning. The chute was precarious and some sections were over 70 degrees in slope, requiring crampons & ice-axes. Bill, Arun & I summited, while Sarah almost made it, but had to turn back to Trail Crest, a mile away from the summit, due to AMS. Glad she got better later.

This was my second ascent, the last being in sep 2009 as a day hike. It was a fantastic experience, my first experimenting with winter skills, crampons, ice-axes and glissading. As always, Whitney did not disappoint !

As of 2 PM, I think only 10 people summited, I saw 2-3 people who had come up the MR to the summit and another group of 6 who summited after 3 PM (probably less than 20 people summited on June 12 - seems quite low).

Weather forecasts indicated a temperature of 32 F at the summit, however, it was blazing hot at 60+ F.

There are sections in the chute that are actually 60-70 degrees in slope.

Couple of observations:
- Best time to climb up the chute is early in the morning, when the snow is still hard and frozen.
- The main trail is hard to locate in some sections after Mirror Lake.
- There is a snow slope that leads from Trail Camp, all the way to Lone Pine Lake, and this is the quickest and perhaps the easiest way to descend. (We got to LP lake from Trail camp in an hour, with our backpacks).
- There is a lot of snow from Lone Pine Lake, this is one looooong winter.