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Footwear recommendation - decent from Mt. Whitney on Mountaineer's Route in June


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S. M. Q. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 160

Climbing the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney mid-June, and not sure what footwear to bring for the descent down the Mountaineer's Route. We are leaving next week for a 6-week road trip; need to make up our minds soon and can't wait until June to assess the conditions.

We have mountaineering boots (La Sportiva Nepal), which would be ideal for the descent especially if there is ice/snow and we need to use crampons. However, they are pretty heavy to wear for the hike in if they end up being unnecessary, and packing three pairs of shoes (approach, climb, descent) seems excessive.

I'm currently leaning towards using them and putting up with the weight for the approach, but would love to hear some input from anyone with experience on this route in June.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

You'll be fine with approach shoes or lightweight hikers. Might want a pair of lightweight, strap-on crampons, but I'd read condition reports closer to your date. Hard to imagine needing mountaineering boots for that.

Allen Sanderson · · On the road to perdition · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,188

I would just go up and over and down the hiking trail. Overall you would be carrying less.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Allen Sanderson wrote: I would just go up and over and down the hiking trail. Overall you would be carrying less.

Unless you set up a camp at Iceberg Lake and you need to come back to camp.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,897
Allen Sanderson wrote: I would just go up and over and down the hiking trail.

Does a normal wilderness permit for doing a route from North Fork Lone Pine Creek also include permission to descend the Mount Whitney Trail (in South Fork Lone Pine Creek)?

If doing it car-to-car in a day, do you get single-day permits for both North Fork and South Fork?

For convenience (though not necessarily speed), going over the Mt Whitney summit makes great sense. But if I were to guess the place in the Sierra with most frequenct enforcement / checking for wilderness permit violations, it would be South Fork Lone Pine Creek.

Ken
S. M. Q. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 160

My assumption, although I haven't called to confirm, is that our North Fork permit does not allow descent via the South Fork. That being said, our plan is: Day 1 - hike in, Day 2 - climb, Day 3 - hike out.

Unfortunately our crampons are the style that only work with mountaineering boots, and can't be strapped to approach shoes. We don't own the strap-on crampons.

splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 17

just a hunch, but I think you'll be fine without crampons this year in June.  You can avoid descending the upper face part of Mountaineer's route (above the couloir section) by descending down the west? flank then dropping in at a pretty obvious spot with carins, then traverse over to the top of the couloir.  You should be able to avoid any remaining snow/ice in the couloir.

rockklimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0
kenr wrote:

Does a normal wilderness permit for doing a route from North Fork Lone Pine Creek also include permission to descend the Mount Whitney Trail (in South Fork Lone Pine Creek)?

If doing it car-to-car in a day, do you get single-day permits for both North Fork and South Fork?

For convenience (though not necessarily speed), going over the Mt Whitney summit makes great sense. But if I were to guess the place in the Sierra with most frequenct enforcement / checking for wilderness permit violations, it would be South Fork Lone Pine Creek.

Ken

I am doing the East Face in early June.  The North Fork Wilderness permit does not cover the mt whitney trail descent.  

Allen Sanderson · · On the road to perdition · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,188
rockklimber wrote:

I am doing the East Face in early June.  The North Fork Wilderness permit does not cover the mt whitney trail descent.  

It depends on how you set up your permit. One can set it up so that one has to return to their camp - "Overnight Visiting Mt. Whitney" In that case a single permit is needed.

OR

set it up so that one is "Overnight Exiting Mt. Whitney"

which then selects Exit Trail - "Mt. Whitney (Trail Crest Exit)"  in which case TWO permits are issued thus one can top out and hike down the trail.

Go to this link : recreation.gov/permits/Nort…;parkId=72203&entranceId=315516&permitTypeId=1009487185&entryType=1
rockklimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0
Allen Sanderson wrote:

It depends on how you set up your permit. One can set it up so that one has to return to their camp - "Overnight Visiting Mt. Whitney" In that case a single permit is needed.

OR

set it up so that one is "Overnight Exiting Mt. Whitney"

which then selects Exit Trail - "Mt. Whitney (Trail Crest Exit)"  in which case TWO permits are issued thus one can top out and hike down the trail.

Go to this link : recreation.gov/permits/Nort…;parkId=72203&entranceId=315516&permitTypeId=1009487185&entryType=1

Exactly.  You would need a second permit.  Good luck getting both

brian burke · · santa monica, ca · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 145

trail runners/approach shoes with microspikes combined with trekking poles or a lightweight ice axe will see you thru in my opinion.  

have fun! 

Allen Sanderson · · On the road to perdition · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,188
rockklimber wrote:

Exactly.  You would need a second permit.  Good luck getting both

it has been a while but once you have the North Fork permit which hard getting the exit permit is pretty easy. 

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 290

I’ve done it a dozen times and have always just used a pair of approach shoes for the climb.   No need for climbing shoes on that route.  I use high top Five Ten Guide Tennies for the hike and climb and just use micro spikes with them.  No need for two pair of shoes. 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Allen Sanderson wrote:

it has been a while but once you have the North Fork permit which hard getting the exit permit is pretty easy. 

Allen,

The permit for the two quotas (North Fork Lone Pine Peak and Exiting Mt, Whitney) are reserved at the same time, on one permit. The entry date and the exit dates have their own quota, and finding openings for both quotas, for your particular dates is very difficult. Here are some of the requirements from the Inyo NF website:

  •  permit that includes Exiting Mt. Whitney allows you the option to hike to the summit and camp along the Mt. Whitney trail as you finish your trip.
  • An exit quota will apply to the date you finish at Whitney Portal.
  • Reserve the entry trail and exit quota all in one reservation.
  • The exit quota applies for passing through the area whether or not you summit.
  • You cannot use a day pass for an exit permit.
  • Trail Crest Exit Quota is 25 people per day. 15 spaces can be reserved, 10 spaces are saved to issue with walk in permits
If you will visit the Mt. Whitney Zone as part of your trip, but are not exiting via the Mt Whitney trail to Whitney Portal, look for a permit type with “Visiting Mt. Whitney”.
Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60

Mt. boots would definitely be overkill but rely on your own judgment of what you're comfortable with.  I've never done the Mountaineer's descent with anything other than low top hikers, but conditions and skill levels vary.  Someone just died on what appeared to be a nasty fall on the Mountaineer's route.  They found a pair of ice axes and a long blood streak before finding the body a couple of thousand feet lower.  Conditions should be mellower in mid June but, for example, the early part of the down climb from the top is steep and can stay a little icy until later in the season.  

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 290

I did the East Buttress with my son last summer car to car.   My son is young and doesn't climb but wanted to climb Whitney and I figured what better way to do it than car to car since getting overnight permits are tough.  We had planned on coming down the mountaineers route but by the time we got to the summit the MR was in the shade and pretty icy.  We opted to take the trail down which was fine but long.   If we had gotten off the route a hour or two earlier I would have opted for the MR going down but I wasn't willing to take the risk with my son and his level of experience.   We had some great talks on the hike down so it was well worth the extra miles.

rockklimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 0
Allen Sanderson wrote:

it has been a while but once you have the North Fork permit which hard getting the exit permit is pretty easy. 

Good luck.  

fossana · · leeds, ut · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 13,231
brian burke wrote: trail runners/approach shoes with microspikes combined with trekking poles or a lightweight ice axe will see you thru in my opinion.  

have fun!

^ This is my standard Sierra alpine setup.  Microspikes are light, relatively cheap, fit on most outdoor shoes and work great for icy approaches/descents.  The main trail descent adds a ton of unnecessary extra mileage/time.

jt newgard · · San Diego, CA · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 210

Goodness....if it came to it, and I was uncomfortable descending the mountaineer's route, I would go down the Whitney Trail regardless of my permit situation.

I always have a wag bag on hand and could present it to a ranger to verify my leave no trace ethics. Plus all the rangers I've run into in the backcountry have been very friendly.

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 290
jt newgard wrote: Goodness....if it came to it, and I was uncomfortable descending the mountaineer's route, I would go down the Whitney Trail regardless of my permit situation.

I always have a wag bag on hand and could present it to a ranger to verify my leave no trace ethics. Plus all the rangers I've run into in the backcountry have been very friendly.

The problem is if you are camped at the base or Upper Boy Scout Lake, then going down the trail isn't an option.  

jt newgard · · San Diego, CA · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 210

Yep that is a good point, my advice not helpful for OP.

But Sadie since you are camping, you can get a nice early start and descend while the sun is still shining. Should be less slippery.

I agree with others, micro spikes and lightweight ice axe should be good

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northern California
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