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#102620 - 06/11/18 03:46 PM Conditions, not calendar
Jeff M Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 731
Loc: Rattlesnake Hill, CA
For those of you who may be confused: "Winter" access is a term to describe conditions, not a date or month or season on the calendar. We're in the second week of June (2018), and even though it's warm on the mountain, your only way to the top is up snow & ice---and having the requisite skills. The switchbacks have plenty of coverage and the cables are still iced over.

Sure, somebody somewhere posted on social media that they went up the slope in trail runners and no axe or crampons, and they had no problem. They were lucky. Not so lucky were the several people seriously injured just yesterday (June 10th) thinking they could do the same thing. Watching the helicopters go back and forth all day and hearing the stories of the blood and trauma on the hill was sobering. On top of the deaths already this year, you might think about investing in a snow travel class if you're lacking the experience and knowledge. But hey, then again, maybe you'll just get lucky...

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#102628 - 06/12/18 08:35 AM Re: Conditions, not calendar [Re: Jeff M]
bobpickering Online   content
Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 281
Loc: Reno, NV
For those of you who may be confused, winter begins on the winter solstice and ends on the spring equinox. Climbing Whitney in the winter is very different from climbing it in June (almost summer). When you climb all the California 14ers plus Humphreys, Norman Clyde, Darwin, and Winchell in the winter, as I have done, you will appreciate the difference between June with some leftover snow, and winter.

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#102629 - 06/12/18 10:45 AM Re: Conditions, not calendar [Re: bobpickering]
Jeff M Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 731
Loc: Rattlesnake Hill, CA
Thank you for missing the point, Bob, in focusing on the literal definition of winter and how much skill you have and your various accomplishments. It will pass solidly over the heads of the multitude of SoCal Bro's who see a buddy's post on social media about "getting rad on Whitney" and deciding on a whim to buy an axe and crampons (or not), with no training or experience whatsoever, and just "Get on it, bro'!" at any time of year---and then get seriously injured, or killed. Or as it seems with the current trend, coaxing girlfriends and significant others onto the mountain without having any idea what they're in for. (And yes, I think I actually climbed a mountain once during the period between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. If memory serves, it might even be more than one.)

Perhaps pointing out that snow+ice+slope travel isn't a summer walk-in-the-park, and that maybe looking at the conditions from the "winter" standpoint might help people reconsider the value of the selfie over safety?

You obviously got the point of what I was trying to convey, but still feel the need to bypass that as a way to express a level of superiority and self-promotion, that frankly screams "insecurity issues." Take a breath, relax. The original post wasn't remotely aimed at you, or needing your expert clarification. (For getting the subtext, I may have to put my money on the bro's on this one...)

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#102630 - 06/12/18 11:23 AM Re: Conditions, not calendar [Re: Jeff M]
Jeff M Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 731
Loc: Rattlesnake Hill, CA
June 10th SAR

At approximately 9:30am on Sunday, June 10th Inyo County Search and Rescue was notified of an accident involving three victims above Mt. Whitney’s Trail Camp. One hiker had slipped while ascending the snow-filled ‘Chute’, a hazardous short-cut often used in the spring when the normal trail is under snow, tumbling an estimated 500’, hitting the second and third victims during her fall.

Eleven team members responded and were moving towards Lone Pine by 10:30am. The team was met by CHP helicopter H-82, which had flown by the accident scene and located the patients. Due to flying conditions and the high elevation of the site the helicopter could only fly one SAR member at a time. The first team member reached the scene shortly after noon with the second and third following shortly after. The remaining team members stayed down in Lone Pine to provide incident command, communication management, and a ground team if necessary.

One victim was able to get out on his own. The other two had moderate to major injuries including major head and facial trauma and pelvic and spine injuries; they were roughly 150’ apart, on a 30º snow slope. Other hikers, whose aid was essential to the operation, had stabilized the patient’s positions, preventing further sliding down the slope. SAR members, with the aid of the other hikers, were able to treat both patients and package them for transport. CHP H-82 was able to effect a hoist evacuation of each patient in extremely challenging flying conditions. Both patients were flown to Lone Pine and eventually other medical centers for further treatment.

Inyo SAR would like to thank the hikers who gave up or changed their hiking plans to assist these seriously injured patients, as well as the crew of CHP - Inland Division Air Operations.

For those considering an early season Mt. Whitney hike: plenty of snow remains on the trail and snow travel should not be considered without carrying an ice axe, crampons, and formal training in their proper use. If you slip you likely will not have a chance to stop your fall.

*Photo courtesy of Inyo SAR


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#102646 - 06/20/18 06:35 PM Re: Conditions, not calendar [Re: Jeff M]
Jim F Offline
Member

Registered: 12/22/02
Posts: 360
Loc: California
Jeff,

Thanks. Your observation is appreciated.

I was in the Mt Whitney area last weekend and talked to several rangers I encountered. Apparently the June 10 accidents and rescues were hardly an isolated incident on the Mountain during the last couple of months. Rather the June 10 incident was just one of many recent mishaps. Unfortunately, numerous hikers rolled the dice (perhaps without the knowledge they were doing so) and their attempt to "conquer" the Mountain turned into a really "bad trip."

Jim

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