Whitney – Labor Day Weekend
Jul 16, 2023 at 6:28 pm #3785315Jeff M.BPL Member
Have a tripped planned from Horseshoe Meadows and out the Portal for Labor Day weekend. What are the chances that there would be too much snow to summit for a trip planned for that weekend? I have a trip planned with a friend right before he moves to Portugal with his family and his wife is trying to convince him to postpone the backpacking trip (until next year) so they can head out early. He’s convinced to stay and do Whitney with me so long as snow won’t prevent us from summiting. He doesn’t have any mountaineering skills so we would need a fairly clear trail. Too early to tell still? Has there ever been a big enough snow year that you couldn’t summit in early September just walking the trail?Jul 16, 2023 at 8:28 pm #3785324DWR DBPL Member
Unlikely you won’t be able to summit from the west… snow melts first on the south and west sides… that said, there may still be snow getting down to Whitney Portal… though it will surely be ‘boot tracked’. You could call the ranger station… trail conditions for the Whitney trail between the Portal and the summit are well known and available. If there is still snow on the trail you might want to take some micro spikes and poles in case it is icy. No special mountaineering skills needed… but do call the ranger station and/or monitor an internet based information source the week before…Jul 16, 2023 at 10:59 pm #3785329DWR DBPL Member
There could also be some snow between Horsehoe Meadows and Whitney on the north and NE slopes… again boot tracked, piles and micro spikes might be good. But, again, I would think those west and south slopes headed up from Guitar Lake would be clear as they get so much sun…Jul 17, 2023 at 12:18 pm #3785352David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
211 miles to the north, a week ago on July 10th, there was NO snow on any of the trail to Half Dome (just a small and shrinking patch on a north-facing portion on the top at 8846 feet). Looking towards the Sierra crest in that area (11,000 feet or so), still had wide-spread snow cover on the ground. Not just avalanched remains in the ravines, but 70-80% coverage, even up there well above the trees.
Still, by Labor Day on Whitney, I wouldn’t fret it. Sure, ask the rangers, but they tend to be SO conservative in their recommendations (“ice axes, 12-points and a rope are needed” translates to “you *might* want 4-point in-steps if it’s very early in the day before it softens up”). Ask the hikers coming down, but also ask WHEN they encountered the conditions because it will vary greatly after a sub-freezing night and then into the next hot day.
I find it helpful to do a test slide on a safe slope with a good runout. Often, you can’t even get a good slide even if you try once the sun hits it, and then you can be far more relaxed as you ascend and descend.Jul 17, 2023 at 3:18 pm #3785360Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Check out the Whitney Portal Message board for up to date reports by hikers. You can also post questions and start threads.
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