Finally made it down to Mt. Whitney. It has been on my list for a long time. Not because I thought the skiing would be all that great, but because it is the tallest mountain in the lower 48. Friends, family, and a ton of clients have been asking me about it for years.
The timing was right last thursday:
Hall pass, Good conditions, Good weather, Road open to the Portal.
You may have heard the road is closed from the Lone Pine Ranger Station. Not entirely true. I was informed my some locals they call the it a "soft closure". It's good to go.
It was a full value kind of day: climbing & skiing a variety of snow.... wind hammered, firm melt freeze, leftover pow, breakable crust, scree, nice corn, and some fun knee deep post-holing....
All in all, a classic day in the High Sierra. Details below...
Mountaineers Route April 15th
Departed Whitney Portal 8300 ft approx. 4:30 am
Summit of Whitney 14,500 ft approx. 1:00 pm
Back to car approx 3:30 pm
Got on snow at about 9000 ft.
Ski crampon was nice (but not necessary) for skinning a few firm sections in the early am.
Took super light crampons & axe which were nice to have (but not entirely necessary) Just for the last 200-300 ft. (14,200-14,500 gets a little steep and has the potential to be a mixed bag of ice, wind hammered snow, & scree scramble).
Not really possible to ski the upper section when I was there. (crazy combo of: rock, scree, firm wind hammered snow, and a bit of waist deep pow)
Slow going (post-holing) for at least an hour or two... and had to walk on scree in the actual chute between 13,900-14,200.
The skiing in the couloir was a mix of breakable crust and blown in pow.
The best skiing was probably the rolling terrain from 11,500-9,500 (nice soft corn like skiing in the afternoon)
A bluebird day with a light breeze.
Conclusion = great first visit to Mt. Whitney. killer day, amazing mtns, & great training.... but not a ski destination I would recommend compared to the hundreds of East side sensations we have fallen in love with.