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Mt Whitney, East Face Beta
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By Keithb00ne
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 7, 2014
Grand Teton
As you can see from my profile, I climb mostly moderate trad up to 5.7 and occasionally will climb up to 5.8. I have been climbing for over a decade and climb harder than that, but have only been trad climbing for about 1 1/2 years and haven't pushed any real grades to speak of. I have climbed many multi pitch routes and have done alpine climbs such as Grand Teton, Owen Spaulding route and other alpine easy 5th class such as the Sierra Big Bear Northeast ridge. My sites are set on Mt Whitney, East Face. At 5.6, it seems to be within my comfort level. I have applied for permit two years in a row without success. Can this be done in a single epic day? I hear that storms can sneak up on you pretty quick and I would like to avoid snow. Would you recommend a late summer attempt? Hows the route finding? Any other suggestions for those that have done it?

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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Mar 7, 2014
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background
It can and is done in a day, but IMO it would be a BIG day for the average climber, especially if you were not soloing the route. Only you can answer whether you have the fitness and speed to do it in a day or not. Have you done other routes with a similar approach IAD? Did you do OS in a day?

Here's a ;link of someone who did both the classic Whitney routes in a day.
pullharder.org/2012/02/11/wint...

Impressive to me.

Personally, I think late summer would be perfect. And I did not find the route finding to be very hard.

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By GTS
Mar 7, 2014
I don't know what permit you have been applying for, but they do have separate permits for the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. 10 permits per day are issued(6 in advance, 4 for walk ins). Just call the ranger station and tell them what dates you are looking for. I have always been successful getting a walk in permit when the dates I wanted were sold out in advance.

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By Sean H
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 7, 2014
Da Bugs
It could definitely be done in a big day. It just depends on:

  • How early you're willing to start
  • How much daylight you have
  • How big of a rack do you want
  • Do you bring the kitchen sink with you?
  • Are you in decent hiking/cardio shape

To be honest, I found the East face quite easy. I'm about a 5.10- trad climber, and, after I did it a couple summers ago, I'd borderline consider soloing it if I had to do it again. Everyone is different in that respect, but my point is, I don't think it's a super stout route. It could/be done with a fairly sparse rack. I'd even say there were some decently long sections of 4th class.

Comfort with what people describe as the "crux offwidth" section after the washboard on MP is what I think would determine if one were to solo the route or not. Since it's your first time, you'll probably want gear for it.

Route finding is not bad, the crux I'd say is bringing along a good picture or two that shows the fresh air traverse, and studying the rock compared to the picture before you begin the pitch, so you don't go too high or too low.

Based on what you've done, I have a feeling you'd have it in the bag, but definitely don't forget the headlamps, and expect to be gassed by the end of the day.

Also, I think that it would be semi negligent to not bring a bare minimum bivy kit (I'm talking bare bones, not a bag+bivy sac per person) for the two of you. If you're planning on overnighting it, you'll have that stuff by default. So, if you're gonna attempt it in a day, remember that you're a LONG ways from a road, and rolling an ankle, rockfall, accidents, etc, do happen. It can get cooold up there at night.

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By Flex
From Flagstaff, AZ
Mar 7, 2014
Enjoying a rare, clear day on Mt. Sir Donald
Route finding is not too tricky and the climbing is not very sustained. There are many easier areas and big ledges to rest & relax on. That said, there are a few exposed sections that might spook people not accustomed to that. I have a pic of my buddy following the Fresh-air traverse on that route page for an example.

The Mountaineers route makes a good, quick descent as long as there aren't a ton of other parties knocking rocks down.

You should be able to get a walk-in permit at the ranger station in Lone Pine fairly easily. Just plan your trip with a few buffer days and show up in the morning. If you really can't get a permit within a few days then go for it in a day or switch objectives to one of the many other moderate alpine objectives in the Sierra.

It's definitely a lot of fun.

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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Mar 7, 2014
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background
GTS has a point. You are applying for the NF of LP, right? Not a Whitney permit.

May seem like a no-brainer if you already know that, but it is a mistake I have seen other people make.

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 7, 2014
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suckers! <br /> <br />Photo by Samantha
If the dry Sierra winter continues as it has, you will not need to worry about snow or wait til late summer. I climbed Whitney around summer solstice in a similarly dry winter year and there was no ice or snow to navigate while descending the Mountaineer's Route (it could all be bypassed).

I don't think walk-in overnight permits are ever "guaranteed" for the North Fork, even on a week day. My partner and I beat out a group of 3 for the w/i permits only because I happened to draw the right ticket out of the lottery. However, you shouldn't have any issue with getting day use permits for this area.

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By Keithb00ne
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 7, 2014
Grand Teton
The OS took us about 20 hours from car to car. We tried to go overnight, but got rained out and had to return the next weekend without permits. I felt the light and fast method was way more comfortable. That was a party of three. I think a party of two would be moving much faster.

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By Keithb00ne
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 7, 2014
Grand Teton
I have seen youtube videos of people climbing it with a handfuls of nuts as their rack. I tend to sew things us a little more. What would you bring?

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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Mar 8, 2014
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background
Keithb00ne wrote:
The OS took us about 20 hours from car to car. We tried to go overnight, but got rained out and had to return the next weekend without permits. I felt the light and fast method was way more comfortable. That was a party of three. I think a party of two would be moving much faster.

Think of it as doing upper Exum car to car. A step up in the climbing over OS, but not a giant step up. IMO, route finding on the EF is easier than OS and the hike in not quite as bad as Teton. You be doing a lot of walking in the dark, but I'd think you'll be ok. I'd definitely make sure to get down the descent with some light out.

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By Eric Fernandez
From Dixon, CA
Mar 8, 2014
I have also been looking at doing it this summer or the EB, is the approach actually easier than that of the Grand? I would definitely not camp for the grand unless I wanted to do another route the next day, just too much crap to lug up. Whitney approach from trail head is similar to say the Lower saddle of the grand?

Keithbl00ne, dont happen to be looking for a partner do you?

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By Dow Williams
From Saint George, UT
Mar 8, 2014
Dow Williams, 2011
I soloed the route on-sight last year, in other words without any beta, it is very obvious to follow. I could have easily done it a day via that style, however, I found the bivy by the lake at the base of the route a quite impressive night under the stars and part of the overall experience I would think. It is a very scenic place surrounded by a variety of features. Larger/guided groups seemed to camp much lower, so it was quiet up there as well. I vote you do it in two days and enjoy the environment. Easy descent back to your kit and more enjoyable I would think to walk down the way you came up anyway vs the trail. Good Luck.

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By vincent L.
From Redwood City
Mar 8, 2014
First day of school
4:00 am - at the trailhead , begin hiking
8:30 am - your at Iceberg lake
9:30 am - your starting 1st pitch
3:00 pm - your on Summit of Whitney with 25 other people
5:00 pm - back at Iceberg
8:00 pm - back at your car in Portal drinking a cold one


... Subtract from any of these times if you move faster on the trail or on the rock. Add to times if you are dragging because of altitude , other parties , or weather.

It's definitely doable in a day .

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By saltlick
From gym
Mar 8, 2014
Tree-bouldering near Mt. Tam
I took a single set of nuts and several hexes from 1-3" and was very comfortable...maybe double nuts in the BD 7-11 range if you desire lots of pro.

Vincent's timeline sounds reasonable if you pack light and keep moving.

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By Ryan Watts
From Bishop, CA
Mar 8, 2014
Flatirons
I'm also considering doing whitney car to car, and I would think the size of your rack would matter less than how much of it you plan to pitch out. My "standard" light rack is C4s 0.5-3 and 1-1.5 sets of wires. I don't think ditching a cam or two would speed things up that much, but soloing most of the route and only pitching out small cruxes seems like it would...

I've never done Whitney before though so maybe that's less practical than I think.

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By saltlick
From gym
Mar 8, 2014
Tree-bouldering near Mt. Tam
Loads of opportunities for slinging horns etc. plus the shortness and infrequency of crux bits makes carrying an ultralight rack completely do-able for most teams pitching it out... unless the leader is uncomfortable with running out the big chunks of 3rd/4th class. Simul-ing through the Washboard and up to the summit once past the Fresh Air Traverse should also help speed things up.

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By Chris Owen
Administrator
From La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Mar 9, 2014
There's more than one use for an Ice Hammer. Lake District (UK) late '70s
If you do the route in May you can reserve permits at recreation.gov.

Why beat yourself up? I'm sure someone super-conditioned could have a good time in the mountains and on the climb, but I know I wouldn't, I'd be too exhausted/frantic/focused/driven. Anyway, I like camping in the mountains too.

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By Keithb00ne
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 9, 2014
Grand Teton
Does anyone know off hand the current snow conditions?

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By vincent L.
From Redwood City
Mar 10, 2014
First day of school
whitney , 3/10/14
whitney , 3/10/14



Cam shot from today ...

whitneyportalstore.com/ is a great resource for info ...

If I was in your shoes I'd bivy overnight at Iceberg lake. You could acclimate a little better , enjoy the scenery , get on the route early ... and not be rushing to beat the sun if you are moving slow .

The approach trail up Lone Pine creek is not complicated , but the Ebersbacher Ledges have caused routefinding problems for some .

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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Mar 10, 2014
I'm like Dow, I soloed the thing onsight in a day, but I have also done an overnight to the East Buttress, so I guess I can comment on both.

You will not need a huge rack for the East Face. Some wires and perhaps a couple each of your smaller cams and one #3 should be fine. Even if you're skittish, you can probably simulclimb much of it (assuming you're doing it in a day). Those pitches you'll rope up for are the Tower Traverse, Fresh Air Traverse and the squeeze up top. The 4th class pitches above that can be harder, and airy, depending on which way you go, so a rope wouldn't be bad there either. However, you'll be burning lots of time if you pitch out the whole Giant's Staircase. Do what you feel comfortable doing however. Don't feel like you need to coil your rope because some dude on the internet said to.

Whether you do a day or overnight will really depend on your ability to get a permit for the N. Fork. If you only get a day permit, your legs and lungs will be much more determinative of your success than the size of your rack. It's close to a 7,000' day. Make sure to sleep at the trailhead, since you body will start acclimating during the evening. It's always really ugly when I start hiking when I've slept down in the Valley. I'd avoid a 4 a.m. start too. You don't want to be doing the Eberbascher (sp?) Ledges for the first time in the dark.

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By vincent L.
From Redwood City
Mar 10, 2014
First day of school
If doing it in a day , I think 4:00 am start, if not earlier , is crucial . I would not delay my start until say , 6:00 am , just to get the E ledges in the light ... just an opinion .

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By csproul
From Rancho Cordova, CA
Mar 10, 2014
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the background
If I read the regs correctly:
fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinter...

There is no quota before May1st. Go before then and get a self service permit. Problem solved.

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By Keithb00ne
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 10, 2014
Grand Teton
I guess we will see if the snow melts off by then.

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 10, 2014
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suckers! <br /> <br />Photo by Samantha
I would agree that the E Ledges could easily be missed when descending in the dark (also ascending, but descending they are REALLY hard to see from above -- even in the daylight!).

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By Keithb00ne
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 12, 2014
Grand Teton
Does anyone know if 'Climbing Mt Whitney' by Peter Croft has an accurante East Face description?

amazon.com/Climbing-Mt-Whitney...

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By Cory
From Boise, ID
Mar 12, 2014
Relaxing in the Tuttle Creek Campground after a fun day in the Hills
Based on the "tend to sew things up" comment, I would think even 4am is a bit of a late start. I'd consider starting to hike at 1 or 2am and then getting to enjoy the beautiful hike out the NF drainage in the daylight. Better to start in the dark then finish in the dark.

Also, if you end up on top late, you can always hike the trail out, but just know that it is way longer than the MR/North Fork.

As for Owen Spalding on GT vs. East Face of Whitney, Whitney has a much shorter (although still not "short") approach, but much longer technical climbing (about 15 pitches if you pitch everything out).

Good luck and have fun!

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