descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

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milkfish
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descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

Post by milkfish » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:36 am

Hey all,

Trying to get a feeling for how difficult it is to find your way down the Mountaineer's Route for someone who's never been up or down it before... I'm Starting in Lodgepole, coming across Table Lands, Lion Rock Pass, Pyra Queen Col, Russel Carillon Col, so I'm fine with off-trail travel. I'm more concerned about the difficulty in finding the route, if one isn't familiar. Especially through the ledges.

Appreciate the feedback!
-milkfish








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tie
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Re: descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

Post by tie » Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:46 pm

Maybe you would get answers on the Whitney forum. Personally, I wouldn't want to do it. There's a really easy route down to the Notch, but you have to start at the right rock, and I don't know how you'd find it. Maybe with a good GPS track.

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Re: descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

Post by milkfish » Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:10 pm

You mean the “easy walk off”? I am sort of considering it. I should have clarified I’m coming up from UBSL up the Mountaineers route then deciding to descent that to north fork lone pine creek or go via main trail. I found good info on Whitney portal forum but checking here for second opinions.

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Re: descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:32 pm

Not sure what you mean. If you put up a map it would help.

I do not think there is any "easy walk off" to NF Lone Pine Creek. I have descended the Mountaineers route twice, early season, always had snow, had ice axe too. I do not know what it is like without snow. As for the "ledges" lower down, just get a good route description and do not try them at night.

Personally I would just go down the main trail, since you are going up the Mountaineers Route. That way you get to see new scenery. It is full of people but scenery is stunning. The only reason not to is if you cannot get a permit for it.

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Re: descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

Post by bobby49 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:11 pm

Once the snow has melted off the route, there is a certain amount of rockfall, so a helmet can save your life.

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Re: descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

Post by CAMERONM » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:37 pm

It is not hard, but frustrating. Don't start out too late, as you may follow a few dead ends. There is a reason why gps tracks look all scratchy in some spots- those people also got lost in the bushes. It is not well marked.
Some have a hard time with the ledges. I don't, but one time while descending my light went out and I spent the night on a 30" ledge. A somewhat sleepless night.

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Re: descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

Post by milkfish » Fri Jul 26, 2019 5:11 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:32 pm
Not sure what you mean. If you put up a map it would help.

I do not think there is any "easy walk off" to NF Lone Pine Creek. I have descended the Mountaineers route twice, early season, always had snow, had ice axe too. I do not know what it is like without snow. As for the "ledges" lower down, just get a good route description and do not try them at night.
The "easy walk off" is the dog ear that bypasses the final 400' from the notch to the summit. If you look at the summit with the map builder topo maps, you can see what I'm referring to. I have been down the main trail before and it is beautiful, but I was looking to mix it up this time if possible. After coming over Russell Carillion Col, down to UBSL, I will probably camp at Iceberg Lake for a start at first light. So I'm just torn between how to descend - Final 400 or walk off, down to North Fork LPC. I should have no trouble reaching after dark - indeed I need to hitch out that day as well so I'd like to be down no later than 3-4pm. If you're telling me the main trail is more scenic, that might be enough to sway me. It might also be a good bit faster, which could also persuade me to go that way.

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Re: descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:59 am

"Scenic" is in the eye of the beholder. For some people the crowded trail detracts from the scenic; I have never felt that way, particularly the day I walk out, because I really expect to see more people. I usually do a little side trip to Consultation Lake to fish going down the main trail.

It is hard for me to compare the scenic aspect of NF Lone Pine, because every time I went that way, I was totally focused on climbing (East Face and East Ridge routes, descending Mountaineers Route). Now that I no longer do technical climbing, I am less stressed and enjoy the scenery more. The main trail is "brainless" (when clear of snow) but beautiful walking. Often after a lot of off-trail route finding, I am happy to just put one foot in front of the other on a big trail.

I would just keep both routes in mind, and when the time comes to make the decision, base it on how you feel and the weather. If different permits are needed for each option, then get the one most likely. I have never felt I had to stick to the permit exit exactly; if an alternative is safer and more appropriate at the time, I just go for it. Your permit never over-rides safety.

NF Lone Pine is shorter, but not sure how much faster. Depends on your speed on off-trail vs trail.

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Re: descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

Post by milkfish » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:13 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:59 am

I would just keep both routes in mind, and when the time comes to make the decision, base it on how you feel and the weather. If different permits are needed for each option, then get the one most likely. I have never felt I had to stick to the permit exit exactly; if an alternative is safer and more appropriate at the time, I just go for it. Your permit never over-rides safety.

NF Lone Pine is shorter, but not sure how much faster. Depends on your speed on off-trail vs trail.
I've basically concluded the same. I might be ready to shut my brain off from navigation duties by the time I get to the summit. Of course this means I'll be bringing all my gear up, which by this point in my trip really isn't a burden except for the bulkiness of the bear canister, but it gives me the option for whichever descent I prefer at the time. Despite the shorter mileage, I really wouldn't expect the MR to be any quicker.

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Re: descending Whitney via Mountaineer's Route

Post by tie » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:48 pm

I didn't realize you were ascending the MR, though I should have. :)

I think the "easy walk-off" that you are referring to actually traverses a really nasty (and occasionally deadly) ice field. Here's a picture, not mine: https://philbrown.smugmug.com/Other/Whi ... /i-f9MzzQg (To be fair, I last climbed it in the winter, and that photo looks much nicer than I remember. Maybe it is easy in the summer.)

When I said "really easy route," what I meant was a route that avoids the snow field up the last 400'. Basically, ascending from the Notch, you start to the left, then at around the snow field move to the right, staying mostly on rocks. All class 3. You hit the summit plateau through a little tunnel. I can't find a diagram showing this, but I know they are there.

Personally, I would descend the MR if that's the way you are going up. I find it a lot more scenic, and, especially for the descent, it is much faster.

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