A week after being turned back by dicey snow on Mt Russell’s East Ridge, Gordon and I returned for a multi-day hike of the Whitney area. The crown jewel for this trip was intended to be Mt McAdie, nestled between the Whitney massif and the Mallory plateau peaks. I had come close to McAdie last October when I had climbed Irvine and Mallory but deep snow and poor preparation had prevented me from making the attempt. The day before summit day, we “warmed” up on Lone Pine Peak via the crappy scree chute up the northeast side. The big day saw Gordon and myself joined by newcomer John and perennial SoCal hiking partner Monique. We cruised up the main Whitney trail just after 6:00AM making pretty good time. We lost Monique early when her work induced 3 hour/night sleep schedule finally caught up to her. Shortly before 9:00AM, the now smaller group took a break at Consultation Lake to make the final preparation for assaulting Arc Pass. Arc looked as imposing in person as it had in the various pictures we studied. With McAdie towering over the pass, we set a good pace up the snow chute. As this was John’s first time using ax and crampons, he paid close attention as first Gordon, then I broke trail through what was becoming poor quality snow in the warm, cloudless sky. We slowly zigzagged our way up the slope getting to the top of the pass by 11:30AM. The reward for our effort was a view of the gentle southern side, quite opposite of what we had endured.
After a quick lunch, we examined our options for conquering McAdie. Secor’s route has you ascending the broad chute to practically the top of the middle peak and then doing several up/down climbs until you reach the summit of the higher northern peak. By unanimous vote, we decided to climb the talus field to the right of the snow chute before putting crampons back on to climb the last several hundred feet of the chute. After ascending the easier Class 2 stuff, we convinced ourselves that a bit more up climbing would get us to the impressive notch between the middle and north peak. The loose rock quickly turned into rough Class 3 and finally into adrenaline pumping Class 4. I regretted dragging first time climber John up but he seemed to enjoy himself even as he inched his way up a very exposed loose rock face. We finally gained Secor’s ledge that overlooks the notch. After a quick examination, we located the Class 3 down climb, made our way to the north peak, and quickly made our way to the top. It was now 2PM and we were three tired spectators in a spectacular world of snow capped mountains. According to the summit log, we were the first climbers of the year.
The original plan was to descend to Crabtree Pass, scramble up the backside of Trail Crest, and check out the Whitney switchbacks. Mutual exhaustion quickly convinced us to descend back down via Arc Pass. We reversed our route except this time we followed Secor’s directions implicitly to avoid the Class 4 stuff. At the top of the middle peak, we descended on some rocks before jumping on the snow chute to glissade back to the top of the pass. John’s first exposure to glissading was somewhat terrifying as the chute was steep. But we quickly made it back to the top of the pass and began to glissade back down to the lake. The last part of the glissade was pure joy as the run out was down a long, broad snow slope. Back at the lake, we organized gear as Gordon was going on to Trail Camp to lead Group 1 of our Whitney gang while John and I headed back down the trail.
It was now 5:30PM and we knew we had to hustle to make the grill cutoff time at the Portal Store. Unfortunately, a creek foot soaking at Outpost Camp and minor misdirection at Lone Pine Lake had us back at the Store at 7:40PM, 10 minutes after the grill closed. Worse, Monique had taken the car so we had another mile to hike back down to the campsite. We got into camp about 8PM only to find out that Monique had her own adventures that included a 4 hour nap at Lone Pine Lake, day hiking up to Consultation, and bushwhacking down to Outpost Camp after losing the trail. By the time we got back, she had left for a hot meal, warm bath, and soft hotel bed in Lone Pine. But the next morning, she rejoined John, myself, and four others for our Whitney backpacking trip. The actual Whitney ascent 2 days after McAdie was anticlimactic and easy in comparison. On the way up, we threw in Mt Muir as a bonus. All told, we had an outstanding five-day trip with our 14 hour McAdie adventure definitely the pinnacle achievement of the trip. More pictures