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Mt. Whitney Mountaineer's Route, 21-23 March 2014

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Mt. Whitney Mountaineer's Route, 21-23 March 2014

Postby orbitor » Thu May 08, 2014 4:42 pm

Though over a month and a half passed since we did this climb, my schedule has been so busy that I simply couldn't find time to write a TR. Still pressed by other things, I wanted to share some photos here.

Background: We did the standard 3-day trip. Since the road to the Portal was still closed at the time, the first day "graced" us with an extra 3.5 miles of distance and about 1800 ft of gain. Took the Ebersbacher Ledges, which were clear of snow and pretty easy to negotiate even with full packs. Made it to Upper Boy Scout Lake with plenty of time to set up tents and cook dinner. The lake was completely frozen over, but we were able to get liquid water out through a hole that one person accidentally punched in the icy crust. Temps were in the teens at night. We got lucky that no wind bothered us - would have made things quite more miserable. On the second day it was crampons and ice axe all the way to Iceberg Lake, then straight up the chute to the Notch. While sunny and with only the slightest breeze, it got quite chilly at 14,000 ft. We waited for over an hour I think for a guided group to rappel the left gully on the north face. After everyone cleared, we set up two fixed lines to about two-thirds of the way up (which weren't really necessary, but good to practice) and just self-belayed with the ice axe up the steepest part to the summit plateau. After everyone popped over, we walked to the very top, which we had all to our ourselves. It was amazing to see no one on top of Whitney, and also to take in the views under different conditions with all of the High Sierra under deep snow. On the way down, we rappelled the entire gully back down to the Notch, followed by plunge-stepping down the chute at individual speeds. After regrouping at Iceberg Lake, it became clear one person had bonked and was severely dehydrated. We divided the group, sending the faster people ahead while the rest stayed with the affected climber, who kept going. His condition worsened despite giving him fluids and food, leading to an increasingly slow pace. We eventually got him back to camp in the dark. He recovered enough overnight to be able to make the descent on day 3. The descent was uneventful, we passed the guided group from the previous day and another going up. We took the ledges again, the drainage has snow coverage but postholing was an unappealing proposition. It was difficult to stay mentally focused while walking the road down to the cars, that too passed and we celebrated with real food in Lone Pine. It was a fantastic trip, everyone in the group was strong and experienced, my lead climbers solid in setting up the protection at all critical junctures. We got incredibly lucky with the weather as just the following week another storm came, if I remember correctly. Most of the folks who went are also on my Rainier team and we all agreed doing Whitney MR was an incredible confidence booster for that upcoming huge climb.

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My pack on the scale at the Portal TH

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One of the many crossings of the North Fork Lone Pine Creek

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Getting a helping hand up the ledges

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Traversing above the ledges, big drop on the side

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Setting up camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake

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Mt. Russell from above Iceberg Lake

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Getting ready to head up the chute

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Taking a break in the chute

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View northwest from the Notch

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Fixing the lines for the north face gully

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Ascending unroped up the final part of the gully

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About to pop out on the summit plateau

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Not really that difficult, just the altitude

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Group shot on the summit

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Summit panorama covering 186-degree field of view

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Heading down

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Rappelling down the gully back to the Notch

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Sunrise, day 3

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Approaching the ledges on the descent
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orbitor
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Re: Mt. Whitney Mountaineer's Route, 21-23 March 2014

Postby Shawn » Thu May 08, 2014 6:25 pm

Wow, that's awesome. Terrific photos too.
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Re: Mt. Whitney Mountaineer's Route, 21-23 March 2014

Postby maverick » Thu May 08, 2014 6:38 pm

Thanks for taking the time to write up this beautiful TR Orbitor. No snow on
Ebersbacher in March, you know its a drought year. What's the huge climb?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Mt. Whitney Mountaineer's Route, 21-23 March 2014

Postby orbitor » Thu May 08, 2014 10:03 pm

Mav,
Heading to Rainier in June.

Shawn,
Thank you kindly. The credit for most of the photos goes to my teammates.
Connect, Learn and Climb: Sierra Mountaineering Club
http://www.sierramountaineeringgroup.org
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Re: Mt. Whitney Mountaineer's Route, 21-23 March 2014

Postby Snow Nymph » Sun May 11, 2014 10:33 pm

Great photos! Thanks! :D
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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