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Winter ascent of mount whitney?
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By coreylee
From Sacramento, CA
Dec 27, 2013

Anyone have any beta? If possible, I would love to East Buttress. Thanks for any help.


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By vincent L.
Dec 27, 2013
First day of school

What is it you wanna know specifically?

I've not done it in winter ... I know the Whitney Portal Rd. will be closed , just how far from the Portal it is closed will be the question , this will add a few extra miles the approach .

Depending on snow conditions , ebersbacher (spelling ?) ledges might be a little spicy, and icy.

The route itself should be relatively snow free , it gets a lot of sun . The MR descent, I'd take an ice axe for self arrests , safety , etc.

Other than that , short days , frigid temps at 14,000 feet , and logistics of getting there are probably the cruxes .

Good luck , at least you won't need a permit or run into any people !


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By Mike Belu
From Indianapolis, IN
Dec 27, 2013
Summit of Rainier.

I don't have a lot of info, but I've looked into it a little bit. From what I understand the approach becomes significantly more difficult. Potentially parking the vehicle much farther from the trailhead (miles) and snow shoeing in.

I was up there in June a couple years ago and there was still a lot of snow. It was a huge snowfall year, they aren't all like that. I was trying to do Russell; however we were camped by some guys that went up the rock climbing route on whitney. Hiking all their gear up to boyscout lake, then to the climb really wore them out. They did the climb, but cut their trip short and they didn't do the other climbs they planned on.

So, I think the snow travel would be a significant factor to consider.

That being said, people climb the mountaineers route in winter, so people do frequently go up there. Just probably harder lugging full racks and climbing gear.

Not sure how cold the rock would be.


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By coreylee
From Sacramento, CA
Dec 27, 2013

Specifically, if you have made a winter ascent of the peak: (1) how was the approach; (2) any ice on the route; (3) did you encounter any possible avalanche danger (approach, on climb, or descent); (4) did you bring crampons and picks for the climb and/or the descent; (5) do you recommend ski touring to the base of the route; and (6) any other helpful info?


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By TFerguson
Dec 28, 2013
Seneca Rocks, WV

Some mountaineers route beta from mid march last year:

-we were able to drive all the way up to Whitney Portal and didn't hit snow until a mile or two up the North Fork trail
-the snow was consolidated enough that we were unconcerned with avi danger, however that doesn't mean it wouldn't exist at another time. Essentially the whole approach is in avalanche terrain if conditions are right.
-we brought touring skis with the intention of skinning in, though we talked to some folks at the TH and learned that they weren't necessary, given the conditions
-the e ledges were free of snow and easy to climb up and down. If you go earlier in the season you may be able to plow straight up the valley instead of ascending the ledges, though make sure the snow pack is deep/sturdy enough that you won't fall through to the creek below.
-crampons and a piolet are strongly recommended for the descent down the mountaineers route
-have you done the E. Buttress prior? I've done it in June. It is a lot of easy 5th that you could climb with gloved hands, but the more difficult sections would be wicked cold in the winter! Props.

Good luck!


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By tahoe tom
Dec 30, 2013

Hey I climbed in the alabama hills a few weeks ago and whitney looked great I believe you could drive all the way up to the portal. It was cold at the low elevations at night though Let me know if you make a trip or need a partner


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By SirTobyThe3rd
Dec 31, 2013
Hello

"Specifically, if you have made a winter ascent of the peak: (1) how was the approach; (2) any ice on the route; (3) did you encounter any possible avalanche danger (approach, on climb, or descent); (4) did you bring crampons and picks for the climb and/or the descent; (5) do you recommend ski touring to the base of the route; and (6) any other helpful info?"

If you climb it you will need crampons and an axe to descent the Mountaineer's route. NOW you could probably drive all the way up to the trailhead, but still would need snow shoes to get up to the base. Conditions change with weather, and weather changes could be monitored on NOAA. If there is possible precip when you will be up there, I would not want to park at the TH because no one will clear the road for your vehicle to drive out. Unless you climb the route after a storm there is not much of a chance of encountering much ice on route, but there will probably be snow if you go after a storm. Even though that is not for sure, if it is a windy storm the face might be stripped of any snow. Basically winter conditions change with weather (access, approach and amount of snow on the route). You will need crampons and an axe, and some bail webbing if you stop enjoying being up there in the cold. Good luck.


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By bognish
From Sandy, UT
Dec 31, 2013

To avoid getting a car stuck at the trailhead by snow or rockfall, we dropped of packs and one person drove back to the road closure to park the car. We left a couple beers and some comfy road walking shoes at the trailhead to lessen the pain of retraiving the car on the way out.


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By Aaron Slaven
From Fresno, CA
Dec 31, 2013
South Crack - Stately Pleasure Dome

bognish wrote:
To avoid getting a car stuck at the trailhead by snow or rockfall, we dropped of packs and one person drove back to the road closure to park the car. We left a couple beers and some comfy road walking shoes at the trailhead to lessen the pain of retraiving the car on the way out.


That is a great idea, can't believe I've never thought of that. I've done the road hike with a heavy pack too many times because I was afraid to leave my car at Portal.


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By Jamie Dial
From TN
Dec 31, 2013
Jamie Dial Looking at the Palisade Ridge from the top of Temple Crag. Photo Mark Cartwright.

I did a car to car trip up Whitney on this day (New Years Eve) in 1999. Unless someone summited after us that day, we managed the last ascent of the 20th Century. Weather was mild that winter up to that point, and Tioga Rd was even open...


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By fossana
From Boulder, CO
Dec 31, 2013
West Overhang

Per the USFS website :
Whitney Portal Road is CLOSED for winter approximately 4 miles from Whitney Portal. For information, contact Inyo County Road Dept. at 760-878-0202

I climbed the E Buttress in May of 2012 and it was definitely frigid in the shade. There is at least one slabby section, which may be a bit difficult in gloves. According to ST the route receives sun from early morning to ~2pm, but this window is undoubtedly shorter this time of year.


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By kovarpa
Jan 1, 2014

I have done E Butt in March a couple years ago. Doable in plastic boots, kincluding a 5.10 variation I accidently took. One of the most fun climbs overall I have ever done.
Approach 1 day, climb day 2, descent day 3. Very doable and enjoyable.


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By Sheets
From Livermore, CA
Jan 6, 2014

I tried to do it one January maybe 6 years ago.

Very deep snow shut us down. Even in the deep snow the EB looked fine. The MR descent route was what caused us the most concern. But I doubt this year is going to see that type of snow on the EB. Go up and do it!


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By George Bell
From Boulder, CO
Jan 6, 2014
Hip trouble ...

Here's a photo of the "trail" at about 13K in April. The trail is a great ski route ...


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By Frank Pudding
From South El Monte, CA
Jan 8, 2014
On Serpent Scales JTree

I climbed at the Alabama hills the 1-5 and took a drive up the mountain. The road is closed once it starts to climb the mountain there was ice on the road about 50 yards past that.


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