Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:31 pm

Also, the PCT Journals are a good source of information on snow conditions on Forrester Pass.

If you cannot get a reserved permit for the Whitney exit, get the reservation or exit to Horseshoe Meadow (put it as your second choice). Then, when in Lone Pine, try to get a first-come Whitney exit. There may be cancellations. In 2017 I planned a trip from Onion Valley to Horseshoe, assuming I could not get a Whitney exit. When I got my first-come permit (11AM is the free-up time for permits from the Mono RS- not sure if Lone Pine RS has the same timing) I asked about Whitney exit permits and there were several available, so I changed my exit. It worked out great. Also check and see if you just walk through the Whitney zone on the way out, and do not camp, would you still need an overnight permit, or would a day-use permit suffice. It is only 2-3 hours down from Outpost to the trailhead. Someone else here on this forum may be able to clarify that.

I am only saying the following because I gather you are ex-military and accustomed to heavy packs which may seem normal to you. With the light gear nowadays, a 5 day trip could easily have a pack weight in the 25-30 pound range, which would do a lot mitigate the altitude. You are required to have a bear can, so take that into account if you decide to buy a new backpack. Many PCT hikers use trail runners, not boots. I use low-cut light hikers which I can also strap on traction devices (be it crampons or microspikes) as long as I do not have to have them on all day. DEFINITELY bring trekking poles! Also there will be plenty of water sources along the way, so a filter like the Sawyer Squeeze is nice so you do not have to carry that much water.

Never know about altitude until you do it. Going slow and steady is the best for the first few days. People in good shape tend to start out too fast, then get out of breath. At altitude, that will likely draw you into altitude sickness. Right from the start at Onion Valley you are at a fair altitude and the trail immediately goes up. If in doubt, you may check with your doctor about getting some dramidine? (whatever the pills are that are used to mitigate altitude sickness). Not everyone can tolerate them, so be careful.








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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by bobby49 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:38 pm

"At altitude, that will likely draw you into altitude sickness. Right from the start at Onion Valley you are at a fair altitude and the trail immediately goes up. If in doubt, you may check with your doctor about getting some dramidine? (whatever the pills are that are used to mitigate altitude sickness). Not everyone can tolerate them, so be careful."

Dramamine is for motion sickness, and it acts as a mild sedative. I admit that I have used that on a backpacker who was sick as a dog one time.

For altitude, acetazolamide (Diamox) is the standard drug, but it is a sulfa drug, and some people are allergic. Talk to your M.D. or a travel clinic.

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:24 pm

Thanks for providing the proper name of the pill. I have never taken either medicine so cannot say much about them. I am lucky in that I can easily go from living at sea level to 10,000 -11,000 feet in one day with only loss of appetite and a mild headache. I do take it pretty slow and steady the first day and take two Advil the first night, just as a preventative.

Food is important too- I find that bland, easily digestible food, nibbling all day helps. Soup and mashed potatoes go down easy the first night. When I was in High School, I climbed Mt Rainier and felt great, but popped open a two cans of sardines at the top and after eating them just about lost my lunch!

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by c9h13no3 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:15 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:24 pm
popped open a two cans of sardines at the top
Not to hijack this dude's thread, but what the hell is up with climbers eating sardines as summit food? They're gross at any altitude, packed in a heavy can, and guaranteed to make me toss my cookies.
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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by newossab » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:53 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:31 pm
Also, the PCT Journals are a good source of information on snow conditions on Forrester Pass.

I am only saying the following because I gather you are ex-military and accustomed to heavy packs which may seem normal to you. With the light gear nowadays, a 5 day trip could easily have a pack weight in the 25-30 pound range, which would do a lot mitigate the altitude. You are required to have a bear can, so take that into account if you decide to buy a new backpack. Many PCT hikers use trail runners, not boots. I use low-cut light hikers which I can also strap on traction devices (be it crampons or microspikes) as long as I do not have to have them on all day. DEFINITELY bring trekking poles! Also there will be plenty of water sources along the way, so a filter like the Sawyer Squeeze is nice so you do not have to carry that much water.
Thanks for the input. I have ditched that military mindset. I definitely have embraced lightweight hiking. We will be splitting up some shelter weight but I will definitely be carrying the bulk of the communal gear. Looking to have a total weight around 25-30 lbs and keeping the wife around 13-15 lbs.

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by wsp_scott » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:22 am

You might consider picking up your permit and then shuttle to Onion Valley and camp at the campground for the night to help with acclimatization. There are a couple nice dayhikes in the area and a night sleeping at ~9000' would almost certainly help make the trip easier. You could then start very early the next day for the actual backpacking.

I did this the past summer (2 nights at Onion Valley) and had no problems coming from KY (~1000').
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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by davidsheridan » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:04 pm

I agree, I would spend the night at onion Valley at the campground, which can be reserved in advance, or you could backpack in and stay at one of the lakes well below and east of kearsarge pass after a shorter hike in. This would help you acclimate. It also seems like day 2 does not have a full day.

I've been here over kearsarge pass twice once I acclimated at onion Valley, the second time I did not, and a friend of mine who's with me got some moderate altitude sickness and we needed to change our itinerary and cut our itenerary short.

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by newossab » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:03 am

Update to the trip:

I was able to get permits for July 13th-July 18th exiting via Whitney Portal. Because of the advice I received, I added a day to the trip and shorten the first 2 days significantly.

Thanks for all the help.

Cheers

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by lambertiana » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:29 pm

I took a scout troop on this route in 2010, we took six days. Day one Onion Valley to Vidette Meadows, day two to the tarns at 11,400' north of Forester, day three to Wallace Creek, day four to the tarns above Guitar Lake, day five to summit and then camp at Lone Pine Lake, day six a quick exit.

We had scouts as young as 12 on that trip.

If you catch the shuttle the day you get to Lone Pine and camp at Onion Valley or even a little way in on the first day it will really help your timetable.

Make sure you understand the conditions of the Whitney exit permit. If I am not mistaken, it is for the day you cross Trail Crest, not for the day you actually exit at Portal.

I highly recommend going to the tarns a little above Guitar Lake. Guitar Lake gets quite crowded.

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Re: Trip Plan Review: Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney (7/14-7/18)

Post by newossab » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:46 am

lambertiana wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:29 pm
I took a scout troop on this route in 2010, we took six days. Day one Onion Valley to Vidette Meadows, day two to the tarns at 11,400' north of Forester, day three to Wallace Creek, day four to the tarns above Guitar Lake, day five to summit and then camp at Lone Pine Lake, day six a quick exit.
This is basically the same plan I have right now. I think our first day is slightly shorter thought but we are going to be flexible based on how we feel with the elevation.
lambertiana wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:29 pm
Make sure you understand the conditions of the Whitney exit permit. If I am not mistaken, it is for the day you cross Trail Crest, not for the day you actually exit at Portal.
I looked this up on the Inyo National Forest website and this is what it says, "An exit quota will apply to the date you finish at Whitney Portal." Looking to camp at Outpost Camp for the final night before exiting the portal on the exit date of my permit. Hopefully, I am understanding this correctly.
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