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Welcome to the 15th Edition of the Mt. Whitney Day Hike and Backpacking Page
Last year, lot'sa folks came, saw and went home because they decided on dates prior the snow going buh-bye. It is near impossible to predict what kind of winter we are experiencing when permit applications are sent in during February. Many believe winter ends on or about March 20th, no one sent that memo to the Sierra. Winter ends at Mt. Whitney when you can safely make your way up and back down the 99 Switchbacks without any combination ice axe, crampons, Microspikes or trekking poles. This can be as late as last half of July.
If your plan is to "hike" Mt. Whitney prior to July 15th, you should acquire the gear and skills the winter and spring before your hike. It is our belief ice axes and crampons should not be rented because you can't rent the skills you will need to proper utilize these tools. With that said, 99% of folks who rent this stuff and use Mt. Whitney as there first time on snow will come back with tales of wonder, this is a given. However, one fall that take you down as much as a 1,000' can ruin a previously glorious trip of the mountain and put you on the 11 PM news, which is not a good thing.
My friends and I have all either seen winter accidents or have injured themselves doing things they no longer do...the latter is called learning from experience. It takes time to acquire the gear and clothing for winter and skills you will need to go up this slope called "The Chute". If you start early in the winter, you should not have many problems acquiring those skills by the start of quota season.
We feel every potential Mt. Whitney hiker should read the missions of the Inyo County Search and Rescue Team before taking one step on the trail and learn what can go very wrong on a trail that is benign most of time during the summer months.
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Date of Last Change: 11/3/11