IMG_2288.jpgI have read the reports of the tough scree slog to climb it and so I made the journey last week to make a partial snow ascent. I have to drive fast from Los Angeles to make it to the Lone Pine Visitor center by the 4:45 cutoff to get my permit. I was told that I should expect snow above 11,000. ft. I come equipped with both crampons and microspikes so as to be able to take on any situation. I start on the Meysan Lakes Trail by 6:30 pm and hike for two hours to get closer for a better morning ascent.
IMG_2205.jpgI enjoy the late-day view looking back to Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills.
IMG_2221.jpgThe next morning I make the mistake of leaving the trail near the lakes, only to cut across a lot of nasty brush to reach the start of the pass. The climb is indeed lousy scree, and there is almost no snow.
IMG_2224.jpgThere is a saddle at the top of the pass, and a false summit
IMG_2232.jpgThere are actually two false summits. The ascent takes much longer and is hotter than I had expect, and I am seriously regretting bringing only one liter of water and one power bar. Fortunately, there are a few tiny snow patches where I manage to double my water, and I discover some other food at the bottom of my pack. There are easy paths around the big rocks.
IMG_2244.jpgThe views are similar to Langeley, except you are more front and center for the action. The view of the Inyo Valley is particularly good.
IMG_2247.jpgLooking to the west, everything is there: Muir, Whitney, Russel, Tyndall and Williamson.
IMG_2253.jpgI enjoy the strange forms of suncupped snow. I anticipate a sketchy descent but it isn't that bad, just tedioius.
IMG_2218.jpgI wash in a small lake at the bottom, eat, and make my way back down to Whitney Portal. I did not think that this trip would take all day, and have to remind myself that I did indeed travel rapidly from nearly zero sea level in West Los Angeles to 13,000 ft, and I am not 30 years old. I bring enough food to camp another night to enable another different ascent but decide that I am pretty beat and have had enough. For those who are wondering about snow conditions, it appears that it is now very safe to go out and play.