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Mt Whitney

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Mt Whitney

Postby treadwell » Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:14 pm

While I cherish solitude on my backcountry trips the graying hair says it's time to complete this trip. We are planning a six day trip with a Trail Crest exit the last week in August and would be interested in your past experiences either of Cottonwood, New Army or Kearsarge Passes as an entry point based on difficulty the first day or two, scenery and any other info you'd like to share. Thanks.



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Re: Mt Whitney

Postby maverick » Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:00 pm

All entries are good.
If coming from the south I'd go into Miter Basin and go over Crabtree Pass and visit
Crabtree Lakes and then climb up to Discovery Pass and climb Mt. Hitchcock(easy
class 2) then hook up with the trail.
While in Miter Basin there a several peak worth climbing, The Major General and Langley
are class 2 from Miter Basin.
Kearsarge is the easiest pass but then you'll have to climb Forester Pass which combined
with Kearsarge makes it more taxing than the other two.
With that said the Kearsarge, Center Basin, Big Horn Plateau, side trip to Wright or
Wallace Lakes make this trip the winner by a long shot for me, unless your into
climbing then Miter Basin and the Whitney area may be more appealing to you.
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Re: Mt Whitney

Postby hikerduane » Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:37 pm

I was able to make Kearsage Pass in a couple hours at my age, maybe stay in the Vidette Meadow area the first night. I want to do Miter Basin sometime, worth the side trip I have heard and most people stay on the JMT highway.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Mt Whitney

Postby trav867 » Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:42 pm

Cottonwood Pass will give you an easy day 1, with about 1200' of elevation gain over 4 miles. Camping after the pass is a little limited with the exception of Chicken Spring lake about a mile west. After that, its about 9 miles to Rock Creek, the next consistent water source.

New Army Pass is 2300' gain over 9 miles, and all of the Cottonwood lakes are beautiful, and perfect for camping. If you arrive at the TH around noon, you can just walk until you're tired and do the pass over 2 days.

Kearsarge is the most difficult option with 2700' of elevation gain over 5 miles. After the pass there are a million potential campsites from Kearsarge Lakes to Vidette Meadows.

You really cant lose with any of these entry points, though!
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Re: Mt Whitney

Postby GigaMike » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:23 pm

Don't let Cottonwood Pass fool you. It might only be 1,200' gain to the pass, but you still have to gain another 500' as you pass Chicken Spring Lake. Just something to think about.

I would suggest New Army Pass. IMO, the scenery is some of the best in the Sierra.
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Re: Mt Whitney

Postby hawkfeather » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:33 pm

My choice for entry point would be New Army. The trailhead is high, and if you can spend the night there before going in, it can help with acclimation problems. The walk in to Cottonwood Lakes is pretty easy; I've always liked to spend a night there before going over the pass. Even though it gets a lot of traffic, you can always find a private spot to camp. Then when you do go over the pass, the switchbacks are just about perfectly graded. In early season there's a snow cornice at the top that can be a little interesting, but by late August it'll be long gone. If you can, do make a detour into or through Miter Basin. It's one of the most beautiful places in the Sierra, IMHO. Several years ago my husband and I went over Crabtree Pass to connect with the southern end of the JMT and complete the last section of our version of it, bypassing Whitney entirely. Ok, we prefer lakes, meadows and high passes to peakbagging; that's just us. And there are just too many people doing Whitney, for our taste. Crabtree Meadow, where everybody congregates, looked like Grand Central Station.

Cottonwood Pass was boring by comparison, and Chicken Spring Lake, the only thing going in that immediate area, is where everybody camps. Ugh. Kearsarge is scenic; we've gone out twice that way, but it would be a tougher climb going in than New Army.
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Re: Mt Whitney

Postby Snow Nymph » Thu Feb 12, 2009 3:07 am

I like Old Army Pass
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Re: Mt Whitney

Postby treadwell » Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:28 pm

Thanks to everyone for the info and recommendations. If we can get a permit I think we'll opt for New Army pass and the Miter Basin route. Might head up to Miter Basin even if we can't do Whitney, thanks again.
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Re: Mt Whitney

Postby gdurkee » Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:34 pm

Although it's a nice route, you might want to reconsider Miter Basin to Crabtree Lakes &/or Discovery Pass. Although it's true it's second class, it's pretty gnarly -- depending on who the "we" is of who's going. In any given group, it's pretty common for that route to be beyond the skill and comfort zone of one or two people per group which, of course, is all you need for problems. Time-wise, I don't think you'd find the trail to be much slower.

George
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Re: Mt Whitney

Postby SPeacock » Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:24 pm

I agree with Snow Nymph about Old Army Pass. Trail begins at west end of Cottonwood Lake 5 (the lake that snuggles up in a basin and faces east/west). It will save you about 300 feet of extra altitude instead of going via New Army. It is an unmaintained route but is easy to follow. Will no snow at top of pass in August. But either Old or New Army are good.

6 or 7 days gives you lots of options for sight seeing. A night at Cottonwood Lakes area. A night perhaps at Citadel area or at least Soldier lakes and maybe day hike up to higher lakes. Then a night at bottom of Rock Creek. This might be too short a day, so plan on longer day to Crab Tree for the 3rd/4th night. You could day hike over to Wallace Creek and up the drainage to visit the seldom seen lakes. Its on the thoroughfare so few are tempted. Then over Ridge Cress and down for your last night someplace or press on to the hamburgers.

Going over Kearsarge adds another entire landscape of vistas it is more strenuous over all. It is worth the extra strain on the body. You are going to be out there anyway, soooooo. What I have found to be true, is that you pay for the scenery -- one way or the other. That way might be Kearsarge lakes the first night, upper Vidette the second, lazy day at Tyndall Creek crossing with perhaps a sneak up to Tyndall Creek to Shepherd Pass or even the other way to South America Lake and maybe Harrison Pass look see. Then easy day to Crabtree and above as far as your energy will take you. Big Horn Flats and the upper Kern drainage are spectacular. A faster access is over Shepherd Pass, however, it is a long hike up hill.
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