The Mountaineer's Route
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Negotiating the mixed semi-technical difficulties ...
The "other way" up Mt Whitney. A bit more challenging, far more interesting, and very direct, this is the path for those wishing to escape the crowds and embrace a little alpine adventure. The Route has been climbed countless times and in all conditions - at times it's a low-angle ice climb with a horrendously long and snowy approach, at others it's a scorching scree-slog - and is only becoming more popular as years go by. Perhaps the best time to go is late spring/early summer (depending on snow levels and conditions): if you're lucky, you can catch warm and calm weather, a dry approach, plenty of water and perfectly firm, stable snow all at the same time! Though often climbed car-to-car in a long-ish day, most parties will elect to pull a camping permit for one of the Boy Scout Lakes and enjoy a multi-day excursion in the Whitney Zone. Permit details here. Current conditions, other info here.
Follow the main Whitney trail from the Whitney Portal for approx. 1 mile until reaching the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. Turn uphill here and follow a steeper trail up the drainage and into the willows. The FS has made a concerted effort to establish an obvious route up to Lower Boy Scout Lake, and the trail is apparently much better than it once was, though some climbers still manage to lose the trail and embark on a steep and dirty bushwhack up the creek. Immediately after crossing the creek for a second time (back to the north side), scramble up an obvious weakness in the granite wall (3rd class) to access the Ebersbacher ledges and a decidedly less bushy route toward Lower Boyscout Lake. Pass by both Lower and Upper BS Lakes to the south, and find yourself at the base of the Route as you reach Iceberg Lake.
Ice axe and crampons are necessary, and some parties will appreciate a snow picket or two, if snow will be encountered in the couloir. 30M rope is desirable in most conditions for descending exposed 3rd class steps 350ft. below the summit.
From: Hampton, GA
Jan 25, 2015
Climbed the Mountaineer's route 1/16 - 1/20 of 2015. Very light snow for this time of year and very mild weather. Some ice in the usual spots below Lower Boy Scout Lake. Used Moraine camp as a high camp and made the summit from there via the Couloir, which was snow covered 75% of the way to the Notch. Overall mild conditions made this Winter climb much easier than expected.
From: Los Angeles, CA
Apr 15, 2015
04/08/2015 - Snow started just above lower boy scout lake. Ice on slabs below UBSL. From iceberg lake to the notch, it's possible to stay on snow the entire time. Above the notch, it's pretty icy. Snow coverage is about 80% on the route.