Mount Whitney Trip Report (#7896)
- Signed By: Joe Kuehn
- Date submitted: July 13, 2004
Mid-June ascents one would normally expect to find snow and/or ice on parts of the trail. In June of 1998, as a result of the infamous El Nino, trail conditions were what one might normally encounter in April or May. That is, snow on the trail wasn't a problem, because there was no trail.
Most of the hike was snow pack of 3 to 6 feet deep, but melting fast. The 99 switchbacks from trail camp to the crest were nowhere to be found. Traversing that huge pile of snow and ice was accomplished with the use of ski poles and an ice axe. It would have been a little more manageable had I had a pair of crampons.
The backside of the ridge was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, but super dangerous under those conditions.
During summer months, Mt. Whitney is one of the most hiked mountains in the country. Due to the difficult conditions, most people did not venture the climb. I foolishly accomplished all of this solo, which I would strongly recommend against. On the day I summited, a total of 10 people, including me, went the distance.
The trip had the potential of providing some of the most spectacular photos, but most were not taken, because I was more concerned about holding on for dear life.
So, what should have been an uneventful, enjoyable hike to the top of the lower 48, turned out to be an "E-Ticket" adventure. I hope to climb it again some day under better conditions.