Mt Whitney in April

12:25 a.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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Been thinking about this or Yosemite. Having been to Yosemite a couple times I was looking into Whitney. I've read you need to enter a lottery after May. Can I just call and reserve one for April? This would be the first week of April. Is the weather that bad this late? crampons, ice axe, etc.??? I have most gear for a night of cold weather backpacking just might need to pick up a few things depending on snow/ice hiking to the summit. I would be looking to hike stay a night at outpost or trail camp then heading to the summit early in the morning. Any info or tips would be greatly appreciated so I can decide if this is worth doing with a months notice.

11:28 a.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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1,137 forum posts

Crampons, ice axe and a rope.  Get off the mountain before noon.

1:14 p.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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2,285 forum posts

Check summitpost.org for several route descriptions.  Basically the easiest route is taking the snow ramp that leads directly to the pass on the crest above.  You need to assure the ramp is safe however before ascending.  Dig a pit.  Additionally if you can stick a ski pole basket end first into the snow up to the grip then it is NOT a good idea to take the ramp route, as such conditions foretell a giant snow pillow above, and probably an unstable slab condition.  I would not suggest taking the trail up to the crest, as it is icy and treacherous, relative to the alternatives.

Generally you need solid snow mountaineering skills for this trip that time of year.  Technical rock skills may also come into play.  Crampons, rope, axe(es), helmet, pickets and, some ice screws, and even some rock hardware, depending on route selected and prevailing conditions.

It can get very ugly that time of year.  It is not uncommon to start out on under clear skies, only to have gale force winds develop on the shoulders by mid afternoon.  If you have traveled up 395 in the past along there that time of year do recall the plumes of spindrift often seen streaming from the crest line thereabouts.  The final stretch along the crest to the summit is often exposed to bare rock from these winds.  Ergo why PPine suggests to travel early:  start your summit bid before 4am, but 1am is better.  Your summit pack should include gear facilitating an exposed bivouac in high winds and the low single digits, should that become necessary.  Stay off the summit if a storm over takes you, and especially stay out of the summit hut in these conditions.  Lightning has claimed its share of folks in the shelter or on the crest in these conditions.  But if the mountain is kind, this is a great, classic, spring time climb.

Ed

8:14 p.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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475 forum posts

REI has had a February guided climb up the Mountaineers Route in the past.  Check to see if they have anything going in April.  You would have some experienced help.

Its a longer walk from where the snow plow has stopped. Big feet or snow shoes/skis might be worth the effort of dragging them along for the road part.

August 30, 2014
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