Leaders: Leon Tokatlian: Nancy Cooper
Participants: Norm Michael, Sam Jones, Bill Dotchin, Carl Platz.
Most of us have hiked Mt. Whitney 14,480′ several times via the Mount Whitney Trail as a day hike or overnight which is an 11 mile hike one way with an elevation gain of 6300′.
We decided to try a different and more challenging route which is “The Mountaineers Route” rated class 4 and is only 4.5 miles to the summit.
We arrived to Las Vegas picked up rental vans and headed towards Dead Valley. On our way we stopped at the lowest point in North America 282′ below sea level (Badwater). We also visited other attractions in the valley on the way to our campground.
We arrived late in the afternoon at the Mahogany Flats Campground 8200′. The campground is in a beautiful location overlooking the Dead Valley. The temperature in the Valley was 115 degrees and at the Mahogany Campground where we set-up camp and had dinner, it was 60 degrees.
Sept. 1: We hiked 14 miles RT to Telescope Peak 11,040′ to acclimatize. We spent over an hour on the summit to adjust at high altitude, returned to camp had dinner and socialized around the campfire.
Sept. 2: We moved to Lone Pine. After checking into our hotel we went to Horseshoe Meadows 10,000′ and we spent most of the day there to further acclimatize. Later on in the afternoon we returned to the hotel cleaned up and had dinner at a local restaurant.
Sept. 3: We checked out of our hotel and moved to the Whitney Portal Campground 8200′ where we set-up camp with 3 tents.
Sept. 4: We hiked to Lone Pine Peak 12,841′. It’s a long strenuous hike and our objective was to reach 12,000′ elevation which we accomplished. Beyond that point there are no trails to follow so you have to find your way to the summit which is very exposed and steep and because it was late afternoon we decided to turn around.
Sept. 5: Rest day. We visited Alabama Hills rock formations returned to Whitney Portal Campground and prepared for our next days start of Mountaineers Route.
Sept. 6: We started to hike slowly with 35 to 40 pound packs on Mt Whitney trail. Within 3?4 of a mile we were at the junction of North Fork trail which is the start of Mountaineers Route. The first half mile was a moderate hike beyond that we started scrambling on the “Ebersbacher” Ledges until we got to Lower Boy Scout Lake where we had lunch. After lunch we continued to Upper Boy Scout Lake 11,350′ which was our Destination. Beyond this point there are no markers or blazes indicating the route. After we set-up camp we went scouting to facilitate our route finding for the next morning in the dark. We returned to camp had dinner and retired.
Sept. 7: Summit day. We left Upper Boy Scout Lake at 4:00 AM. Our route marking the night before helped us to move without difficulty and by 7:00 AM we were at Iceberg Lake 12,600′. After a short break we started our climb on Mountaineers Route couloir which was steep loose scree and within two hours we were on top of the couloir facing the chute to get to the top.
The chute is the last obstacle before the summit and is only 500 feet elevation. This is the section rated class 4 if stayed on the right side of chute which we did not. We were on the left side which lead us to 7.1 exposed sections.
We managed our way up carefully and reached the summit by 10:30 AM. We stayed half an hour on the summit to enjoy the spectacular views and to take pictures. Soon after the weather started to change as we could hear thunder at a distance so we had to hurry to go down. The summit of Whitney is exposed and it’s no place to be when there is thunder. Our descend was slow but cautious. We had to use ropes and slings on several sections of the chute. We reached camp to pick up our tents and other gear to exit the mountain.
Our 2006 Whitney Mountaineers Route was the first non glacier trip for the club. It was a success and a great experience for all of us.