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Ascent of Mount Whitney on 2017-03-17

Climber: Harvest Mondello

Date:Friday, March 17, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Whitney
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:14498 ft / 4418 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mountaineers Route, Alpine Grade III* (50 degree snow) / Class 3. 8,048 net elevation gain - 5k on approach and 3,000 on summit day including 1,700 technical climbing.

History: FA (first ascent) of this route John Muir October 21st 1873.

Party of two. H (tf). Multi day.

First ascent of the Mountaineers Route 1873 by John Muir. First winter ascent of the Mountaineers Route 1932 by Norman Clyde.

Approach: 7.5 miles

This is a long approach in the winter.

From parking lot at Whitney road closure, 6,450, follow the road 3 miles to Whitney Portal. Snow free at the time. Another mile, now on snow, to the trailhead ~8,200. Open bathrooms and good camping options here at the picknick area next to the closed Witney store. Followed Whitney trail one mile to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. Pass Lower Boyscouts Lake 10,000, Clyde Meadow to Upper Boyscouts Lake 11,500 - 4.5 miles from Whitney Portal. Camp here for a good high camp.

Route:

From Upper Boyscouts Lake (11,500) head South then North to South of Iceberg Lake at 12,800 to the base of the Mountaineers Couloir. This sections was was max 35 degrees with an average of around 25 degrees. This is about 1,200 feet of elevation gain to ~14,000. From here you have another 500 feet elevation to gain. Next is a short class 3 rock slab sections - stay to climbers right. Followed by 200 foot snow chute with the top half at 50-55 degrees snow. This chute is the crux. Walk on the side summit to the high point & summit registry is outside the hut. Descended same route.

North Slope to Iceberg Lake is a good option if the Mountaineers Couloir is crowded.

Conditions:

The snow conditions mid March is simulating spring conditions with consolidated snow and warmer temps. Mellow winds at night keeps the snow solid for alpine start climbs into the late morning.

10-15 mph winds at night. Calm on the climb until the summit - 10 mph sustained. Clear skies.

Whitney hut has had the door blown off and the inside is completely full of snow.

Logistics:

Winter Whitney Portal area permits can be obtained at (and only at) the Lone Pine inter-agency visitors center (((insert times here)). Between (((insert dates))). There is no quota and permits can be for up to the next day. No rangers in the back country in the winter.

Conditions continued (((move this up)))

Snow at lower elevations is in banks of slushy ice with bare ground here and there. Many water sources: creeks on the approach to Lower Boyscout Lake. Lower Boyscout Lake. Upper Boyscout Lake has snow melt if you dig a pit on the frozen lake and collect each afternoon.

Gear:

I recommend an ice axe, crampons & helmet for the climb. Snoeshoes a must for the approach. Trail runners suggested for snow free lower portions of the approach. If the chute was icy an ice tool would be recommended.

Optional pro for chute: 1 short sling (attach to climbers left of top of the chute) & rope 30-60 meters. Also the rock section had a new looking sling & rapel ring. And or just axe / boot belay.

*I've no idea why Mountainproject and Summitpost both list this route as an alpine grade III - I'd call it a II by PNW Standards.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:8048 ft / 2453 m
    Round-Trip Distance:16 mi / 25.8 km
    Route:Mountaineers Route
    Trailhead:6450 ft / 1965 m
    Grade/Class:AG II / Class 3
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles, Snowshoes, Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Days 
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Days 
Ascent Part of Trip: Sierras Winter '17 (5 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Mount Whitney2017-03-178048 ft / 2453 m
2Mount Russell-East Peak2017-03-192542 ft / 775 m
3Mount Carillon2017-03-197103 ft / 2165 m
Total Trip Gain: 17693 ft / 5393 m    Total Trip Loss: 8048 ft / 2453 m



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