Wow what a fun climb! Six hours from Iceberg Lake to the summit under perfect Sierra skies made for an unforgettable day.
This was my second time of rock climbing on Mt Whitney. On this occasion, my second son Alexander joined me. In comparing this route with my previous experience on the East face (climbed 2 years ago with my older son Christoph), the most notable differences were the somewhat more difficult and sustained quality of technical climbing on solid rock, and the great variety of crux moves on the East Buttress. The airy setting of most pitches on the Buttress was really spectacular although the very dramatic Fresh Air Traverse [on the East face] has no counterpart. Both climbs entail good preparation & endurance (it took us 5.5 hours with a guide to reach the top of Buttress). Highly recommended route for trad climbing!
Bill flew down from Portland to join me for this climb. It was sweet until I felt a little altitude sick on the descent. I ended up puking several times on the hike out.
Turned out to be a longer day then expected, 12 hours round trip from Iceberg Lake. Loved the climb.
So here we are 4th of July weekend, suffering with hypothermia, getting off-route and getting snowed on and wind blasted, then spending a thirsty frozen night sleeping on ropes in the hut. Glad we did it!
San Diego to Big Bear (7000') spend the night.
Big Bear to Lone Pine four hours drive time. Arrive at 9:30am and hang out at the ranger station for the 11:00am lottery for back country permits. Lucky, more permits than hikers. Spend the night at Whitney Portal (8300'). Very windy, with light sprinkles all afternoon but the rain dries as it hits so nothing gets wet. Report of snow on the peak.
Forecast for today. Wind advisory, 30mph wind with gusts to 50mph. Calming tonight. We thought about pushing everything back a day but decide against changing plans. We hiked out of Whitney Portal at 7:30am. About a mile up the main trail to Whitney summit we take the North Fork trail, following the Mountaineers route. The lower part of the trail is well protected from the West wind so the wind was not an issue. Above Lower Boy Scout lake we came out of the trees and we were less protected. The forecast was accurate, it's very windy. We arrive at Iceburg Lake (12,600') at 12:30pm. We find a protected spot for the tent and set up camp. Winds about 20mph with gusts, temps in the 40's. As soon as the sun sets behind the mountain the temp drops in to the 30's Brrrrr. By 5:00pm we are in our bags with all of our cloths on.
We here the footsteps of the first group heading to the East Buttress of Whitney pass by our camp at at 5:30am. The weather has changed and we are in luck again. Calm, clear and cold. At 6:30am we head up the Talus slope to start of the climb. There is light snow on route but mostly only in cracks and protected spots. The rock is cold so we start climbing in our approach shoes and gloves. The sun hits us as we are starting the third pitch and after that very nice conditions and almost no wind. The pitches tended to be very long and we brought walkie talkies to communicate, that was very helpful because my partner was often 60 meters away and out of sight, if the wind was blowing you just could not here the shouted commands. We caught up to the first party but never came very close. On one pitch I topped out right after the woman who was following in the first team had left the belay, we waved from about 50' away. That was the closest we came to anyone on the climb. Another group was several pitches below. We used the SuperTopo route and gear list and that worked very well. Nine pitches of moderate climbing on excellent rock brought us to the peak right at the survey monuments (14,497') at 1:30pm. We headed down the Mountaineers Route, there was significant snow on the upper part of the route but it was not too hard to avoid it when you needed too. Then on down through the scree. Our closest call came there, we were well down the canyon when someone kicked loose some rock above us, we heard them coming, bouncing down the canyon. Luckily both my partner and I found bolders to duck behind before the shelling began, I saw a bowling ball sized rock bounce off the rock my partner was ducked down behind. We arrived at camp at 2:45. We set around a little and then decided we could make it out before dark. We headed back down the Mountaineers route to the car. We made it out to the car by 7:00. Pizza and a motel in Lone Pine. Up early and back in San Diego by 8:00am.
Thank you Lou for a great trip!!! We hiked up in one day andt he next morningclimbed the EB..great stuff. Down by 8pm in time for a burger and a few beers at the cafe
Solid Rock + Little Oxygen + Perfect Weather = Great Climb