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#83991 - 04/30/11 09:44 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Saintsfan74 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/30/11
Posts: 5
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
So I'll be going up the Main trail at the end of May, first attempt. Anyone have an idea of the current snow conditions on the main trail? How far in are the crampons going on? Also does anyone have an opinion on soft shell pants or hiking pants with wind/rain pants over them? I have always done the wind/rain pant method but I feel like for this I would rather do soft shell and leave the others in the truck.

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#84086 - 05/05/11 07:50 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Saintsfan74]
TKO Offline
Member

Registered: 05/05/11
Posts: 2
Loc: Glendale, CA
I also have a overnight reservation for the end of May (Memorial Day weekend), although I'm trying to postpone it to mid or late June depending on the snow conditions.

I saw some pictures of Whitney from March and April and there's a lot of snow. There will probably be a lot left by the end of May. This will be my first time to Whitney. I've hiked many times elsewhere, but nothing like Whitney.

I can't say anything on soft shell pants or hiking pants with wind/rain pants over them, but I have crampons. I've been told that crampons, an ice ax, and trekking poles are a must.

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#84138 - 05/08/11 06:18 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: TKO]
juggernaut Offline
Member

Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 28
Loc: CA
First timer in Sep 2010 (Day hike).
Start of hike: 3 am
Summited : 11 am
Turned back: 12 noon.
Reached trail head : 3:45 pm.

We didn't have any time to acclimate coz of a car break down (we barely managed to get to Whitney Portal after the car fiasco). We did a short 1 hour hike from Whitney Portal, on the Mt Whitney Trail, on a Tuesday evening and returned to Lonepine campground by 8 pm. We could only manage to get 4-5 hours of sleep and started the hike around 3 am.

What worked:
- Knowing what to expect : We had hiked Mt Dana (13,100 ft) 2 weeks before Mt Whitney, so we kinda had an idea of what it would be like to breath thin air, dehydration symptoms and the like.
- Carry advils, to keep those nasty headaches (due to dehydration?) under control.

What could have been done better:
Better clothing, get breathable jackets + always keep a warm jacket in your daypack, as the weather up on the summit can be cold.


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#84179 - 05/10/11 10:22 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
EliW Offline
Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
Hi,

I'm planning on hiking up Mt. Whitney this weekend (I have permits for May 13th to May 15th) and I wanted to ask about how much time people think it will take to summit from trail camp? I read on another forum post ~ 3 hours but that was in August and the ground conditions now are very different.

Thanks,

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#84290 - 05/16/11 01:24 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: EliW]
jbelz Offline
Member

Registered: 05/09/11
Posts: 4
Loc: usa
Thanks to all the threads put out here. This is a great resource and helpful on my trip this past weekend. Hopefully this helps others.

Got to Whitney Portal at 3am (traffic from Bay area) on Friday with the plan to make it to Trail Camp that day. Our group got a late start (should have picked up our permits the night before) and didnt set off till 11am Friday morning. About an 1 hr into the trail, snow is abound. As the trail continues just short of lone pine lake area, it is easy to get off trail. We went after a fresh snowfall and there were no other foot tracks to be seen. There are some markers on trees so keep your eye out for them. have a good map and confidence in your navigation ability because with all this snow they have had this year, it is very easy to get lost if you have never been.
We got to outpost camp at about 3 pm. We were going at a decent pace with breaks but got off trail a few times which probably set us back some time. Some of the way there we encountered steep inclines and decided to put our crampons on which helped quite a bit. Since it was already late in the day and we could tell a storm was coming in we decided not to go for trail camp and instead stopped at high camp. Our group was the only one there. There was a little stream close by that we were able to use a water filter for but from others I was told we should be prepared to melt snow as most of the lakes were frozen.
We set off for the summit the next day at 4:45. This was pretty surreal climbing in pitch black with only headlamps and the full moon providing a source of light.
About an 2 hours into our hike (after getting lost and climbing some insane sections close to mirror lake, that are not part of the trail ) we ran into two hikers that were going for the summit in one day (our guardian angles). They were super friendly and provided us with realistic expectations for the challenge ahead and timing expectations. Our group was planning to refill water when we got to trail camp but found out the hard way that Mirror lake was the last place to get water from. We didnt plan for this and didnt bring a stove and pot on our hike to the summit. The two hikers we met suggested that we find clean snow and put it into our water bottles and wait for it to melt.
The two hikers told us that the cable section of the climb would cost us time and instead we should climb the main chute up to the trail crest. This thing is a beast. It was about a 1 to 1.5km long with a super steep face. This section was hands down the toughest part of the climb. I actually slipped and had to self arrest about halfway up. The best advice I got was go up in zig zag formation and take a 5-10 second break after each 54-10 steps. Try to get a rhythm going. This section took me about an 1 hour and 45 minutes. We got to Trail pass about a 1145 am and was told that the summit was about an hr an half to two hours away. You are at about 13,700 ft and can really start feeling the effects of altitude. This is where the 99 switchbacks begin. This part of the mountain was super dicey for me. We didnt have to wear crampons but an axe or poles were required. There are a lot of scary sections that you need to be fully aware of your surrounding as the path could only be 1 to 2 feet wide and you have a 1,000 ft drop off on one side. I would only carry on, if you are feeling comfortable and not feeling dizzy from the altitidue. We finally made it to the summit at 1245 and I couldnt been a happier person.
Out of the 5 on our team only 3 made it. 2 got really bad altitude sickness and couldnt carry on pass mirror lake.
My advise for anyone attempting this trail in the next couple of weeks is to hydrate like crazy before climbing and to bring more food (energy bars, gu) than you think you will need. The three of us ran out of water about an 1hr short of the summit and made the rest of the hike miserable.
Getting back down to high camp took us 4 hrs. Glissading down the chute was awesome. So all in all with breaks along the way an about 25 minutes on the summit we spent 12 hrs hiking before we got back to outpost camp.

I hope this helps. Also bring along a four season tent. We rented a 3 season tent on accident and has a miserable night in a snow storm with 30 mph winds.

good luck

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#84311 - 05/17/11 09:41 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: jbelz]
Mountain Ginger Offline
Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 325
Loc: Arrowbear Lake California
great TR Jbelz! grin
_________________________
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
Helen Keller

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#84318 - 05/17/11 03:23 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Mountain Ginger]
juggernaut Offline
Member

Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 28
Loc: CA
Thanks a lot jbelz for the TR, and congrats on summiting :-)

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#84506 - 05/25/11 06:18 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
JRS1960 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 4
Loc: Alabama
I am from Birmingham, Alabama and my day to hike is June 28. I have read every bit of information on the climb I can pull up. The one thing I am in need of info wise is about the ice. I have used crampons before and feel comfortable with them. The one thing I have never used and have no idea where I would begin to learn is an ice ax. Is there a possibility on June 28 I will need an ice ax or will crampons be sufficent? Thanks

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#84538 - 05/25/11 01:38 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: JRS1960]
BMan Offline
Member

Registered: 04/12/10
Posts: 55
Loc: San Diego, CA
JRS1960,

Welcome! Vary hard to tell a month out. I would say probably not but probably best to check back within a week of your trip. You're going up the main trail? Most likely, ice would be at the Cables section on the switchbacks at which point an axe is fairly useless (IMO). Under anything close to "normal" conditions (and this hasn't exactly been a normal year), microspikes (instead of crampons) would probably be fine but, again, hard to predict a month out.

Good luck, be safe and have fun!

Brandon

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#84550 - 05/25/11 07:13 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: ]
JRS1960 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 4
Loc: Alabama
Thanks so much guys, I am going up the main trail so I will be on the switchbacks. I know there has been a lot of snow this year so I will keep my eye on the message boards. I may be by myself but I assume that is no big deal with all the people on the trail that day.

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#85024 - 06/13/11 02:37 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Annette H Offline
Member

Registered: 06/13/11
Posts: 1
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Hi All!
We made it - first timers day hiked Mt Whitney on 6/11/11!
Thanks to everyone for posting (and especially Doug Sr for some great advice the night before the hike). You all helped tremendously!

A couple of things we learned that might help regarding current conditions, training, etc.
1) If there is snow, wear sunglasses/snow goggles. We hiked about 18 miles in snowy conditions. I wore sunglasses for a little bit of that, but they got uncomfortable and I stowed them. I am not used to dealing with snow conditions, so I am an idiot. Result: snow blindness set in about 6 hours after we finished our hike. This condition is so painful I could not sleep. I could not see well enough to drive. Even now, two days later, I can barely see well enough to post. This situation is entirely preventable.
2) Training: I was grateful for every minute I spent training. I trained hiking Piestewa, Camelback (Phoenix) and Black (Cave Creek) mountains every weekend for about two months (did more than one back-to-back and in 100+ degree heat for the last couple of weekends). These mountains are very short but much steeper than Mt. Whitney (each is approximately 1,200 feet of elevation gain in 1.2 miles). I also put in some longer hikes (20-30 miles) in the last two months, and hiked two 12,000 ft peaks in Flagstaff. Everyone in our group who did this had no problem whatever with the effort required. However, we followed the recommendations and hiked MUCH slower than we might have otherwise. I am really glad we did. We won't be able to say we hiked Mt. Whitney in record time, but we all made it, and NO altitude sickness in our group on the way up.
3) Water: you need at LEAST 4 liters to make the trek for someone my size (120 lbs), 5 to 6 would be better if you are larger. Yes, you can get water on the trail but some of the locations on the water map were frozen when we went. We were prepared to filter / add chlorine tabs to water we found on the trail, but we did not end up doing so. One of our group traded the weight of water for a heavy camera without telling the rest. We bypassed a lot of water sources thinking this fellow had enough water. This was a grave error. Luckily, he told us at Trail Camp and we found a snow-melt runoff, but this was a point of failure that could have been avoided. By the time we could rectify the situation, the guy was already a bit dehydrated, which made the rest of the trip much tougher for him than it might have been. The best preventative for AMS is SLOW speed and more-than-adequate hydration. We were told to keep eating on the way up. I found easily-digestible energy/electrolyte snacks (Sharkies, Stinger gel chews) to be a good choice for the way up. People who ate heavier food seemed more likely to have discomfort due to bloating or similar conditions on the uphill aspect of the trek. I stuck with what I knew would work for me and it was a good thing.
4) Under current conditions, we could not hike the switchbacks. We hiked the chute to the right (north) side of the switchbacks. We needed crampons for the chute between Trail Camp and Trail Crest. We did emphatically need an ice axe to stay safe. Stopping is HARD if you slip on something that steep.
5) Due to the snow, the backside after the junction with the John Muir Trail was seriously scary for me. I have a trick ankle and a trick knee that give out (occasionally) without any warning at all. If I'd lost my footing on some of those sketchy spots (there were three on Saturday 6/11) and was not able to catch myself immediately, there would have been a very bad outcome. I was seriously doubting the sanity of what I was doing and worked my way VERY slowly and carefully (three points of contact) through those sections. That was by far the hardest part of the hike for me. I nearly turned back. I guess I am glad I hung in there but I would never take anyone who is affected by AMS, dehydrated, or physically challenged (like me with my trick ankle/knee) through those sections in the snowy conditions without some kind of safety gear. I had a great time, and the scenery was epic, but I am very glad I did not take Scouts or Venture Crew members on this day hike under current conditions.
6) Waypoints/Route finding: I programmed waypoints into my GPS from the https://sites.google.com/site/mtwhitneytrailinfo/MtWhitneyTrail/waypoints site and used them. This helped confirm that the boot tracks we were following were headed in the right direction. Doug Sr. at the Whitney Portal Store was a huge help showing us visually where we were headed using the big photo on the store wall. We picked up smaller versions of the big photo at the Portal Store and found ourselves using those more often than the topos or the GPS.
7) Boots: three of us wore low-cut waterproof hikers by Merrill and Keene. These worked fine. One of us wore Lowa boots. We all wore gaiters and were glad to have them: we were able to march over the snow on the way up but the snow was quite soft on the way down. Gaiters kept snow out of our boots the whole way.
8) Socks, gloves: I have primary Raynaud's Syndrome (fingers and toes go numb and white under stress and even mild conditions) and was quite concerned about getting cold and wet. I borrowed ski gloves and wore wool socks and they worked great. I had a backup plan for everything but the ski gloves were perfect and I didn't need neoprene socks or plastic bags liners for the feet. I was sure glad I had gaiters, though!


Despite all the warnings, this was a fantastic journey and I am just delighted we got to do it!
Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/annetteheinemeyer/sets/72157626822818633/

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#85045 - 06/14/11 11:23 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: JRS1960]
sparty85 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/18/11
Posts: 6
Loc: San Diego, CA
JRS1960,

I summitted for the first time last year on June 26th. It was the first weekend that the cables were open and there were a couple of areas that were a little sketchy (snow) just before trail crest. I had an ice ax and micro spikes but did not need them. On the way back there was some post-holing and the switchbacks looked like small streams with snow melt run off.

Sounds like there has been more snow this year than last. Keep checking the board each week to see what the conditions are like. There is always great info here. I hope you have as good weather as we did last year. I summitted in a long sleeve tee shirt and shorts.

Be safe and good luck.

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#85055 - 06/14/11 10:05 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Annette H]
Lightchaser Offline
Member

Registered: 07/21/10
Posts: 7
Loc: Oceanside
Annette H. - congratulations and thanks for the comprehensive TR, tips, and pics. Very helpful. Looks like everyone had a good time.

Thanks,

John

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#85139 - 06/19/11 09:40 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
JuanBoracho Offline
Member

Registered: 05/17/11
Posts: 2
Loc: Reno, NV
Thanks for the great report! 3 and I are headed up 24-26 looking forward to seeing the top!


Edited by JuanBoracho (06/19/11 09:40 PM)

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#85261 - 06/24/11 08:50 AM Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
"Mayor" Allaire Offline
Member

Registered: 06/20/11
Posts: 1
Loc: Lake Hughes, CA
First Timer Tips June 8-11, 2011 Allaire & Chloe Koslo
Quick Reference Conclusions:
Next time we will take less in our packs, less weight.
Allow extra time. Snow and ice slows down travel.
Cross Country travel is a lot slower than trail travel.
This is obvious perhaps, but true none-the-less and we learned
first hand. Thank you Doug, Sr. We will be back! See you August 4,5,6, 2011

Keep it Wild, Leave No Trace. Love Affair with Mt. Whitney, a New Mayor! by Honorary Mayor Allaire Koslo

When one comes off a 14,000 foot mountain, there is an inexplicable “high” experienced. The “Whitney High” continues from our journey June 8, 9, 10,11. It was our daughter, Chloe and her Godfather Frank Toothaker and myself on the trek, and what a challenge with double the normal snowfall! To quote Frank: ‘Carrying one’s food and sleeping bag and making camp in a remote corner of God's fantastically beautiful wilderness was awesome! Standing on a bench mark set in 1928 atop a 10,000 foot granite knoll with breathtaking beauty all around, and the sense of real accomplishment at ascending to it cross-country through obstacles of snow, and forest and stream was amazing!’ We encountered rock slides, post holing, danger, but fun too! We live for those moments. It is the other things in our life that get in the way of what is really important. It was more than I imagined. It was a fantastic trip, a life changing memory forever.
There were many funny moments as well: as a t-shirt says in Lone Pine- “Yea, though I hike up steep mountain trails with no idea what is behind the next switchback, I shall fear no evil, because at 14,497 feet there is not enough oxygen for my brain to understand fear anyway.” Or another t-shirt: “Feel the sun on your cheeks, Hike Mt. Whitney naked.” We had a sunny three days with added reflection from the snow, so we did indeed get a sun burn. So words to the wise: wear complete sun block on your cheeks, if possible.
I agree with what Frank says: focus on moments in the wild. Much was accomplished, much learned, including minimization, route-finding, working as a team, meeting other people. Even being alone on the trail, with others 30 feet ahead or behind, we had a sense of personal isolation yet at the same time being very close.
I felt so tiny at the foot of these giant mountains! Mother Nature gave me a bold lesson in humility and showed me how very small I am, nothing. The sheer and utter grandeur made me feel so insignificant, tiny and humble. Life, and especially this hike is one long lesson in humility. One of my Yoga students at the YMCA gave me a card before we left: Advice from a Mountain: “Reach for new heights, Rise above it all. There is beauty as far as the eye can see. Be uplifting. Build on a solid foundation. Get to the point. Enjoy the View!”
Chloe and I took a nine hour class: Survival Backpack Course at the Antelope Valley College from Lee Bergthold and felt very prepared. And yet as he advised us: the weather can change in fifteen minutes. There are always unknowns. Due to the conditions on the mountains we were very alone, not many other hikers. A few made it to the summit, eleven miles up and back with a 6,000 foot elevation gain. We got as far as we could, almost to Trail Camp at 11,000 feet. None of us had altitude sickness; it was just all the snow and time was a factor. So we shall return to summit in August!
I asked the U.S. Forest Service Ranger and painter, Dave Kirk if I could get a gold star, not for getting to the summit, but for carrying out extra “wag bags.” A wag bag is the mandatory bag that one must carry out – yes, your own human waste, thus leave no trace, pack it all out. So even on the mountain as well on the roads, I am picking up trash and recyclables too! I wonder if they will let me “Adopt a Mountain?”
We have a real appreciation and affection for Doug Thompson. He owns and operates both the Whitney Portal Store located at the trailhead at 8,000 feet and the Mount Whitney Hostel in downtown Lone Pine. He serves the biggest pancakes EVER, just what one needs before heading up the trail! And we loved the hospitality, indoor plumbing, nice beds and hot showers at the hostel. Thank you Doug!!! And thank you to all the people in Lone Pine: The Mount Whitney Restaurant, with their divine chocolate malts, the Alabama Hills Café, and the Merry go Round Chinese and American Restaurant!
It is safe to say that I have had a fifteen year love affair with Lake Hughes, The Rock Inn and the Lakes and Mountains community where I reside, and am privileged to have served as your Honorary Mayor for three years. I am also now in love with Lone Pine and Mount Whitney too!
Just prior to our trip, our daughter, Chloe graduated with honors from 8th grade at Sacred Heart School June 2nd. She acknowledges and is grateful to her village, or as it says in the Bible: “Chloe’s people.” She was the leader on the trail going to the summit. So as a proud mother, life comes full circle and Chloe would like to “run for Mayor” and volunteer for her community. Please buy your raffle tickets from Chloe Koslo, a Lake Hughes native.
We did not see any bears, but we had our required bear canisters. Keep it wild! I cannot give Frank Toothaker enough credit or thanks or sing his praises enough for joining us on this true adventure of a lifetime! Stay tuned there is more to come from this Mountain Momma!
At the Visitor Center on the way home from Mt. Whitney I bought a bookmark for Chloe: Advice from a Tree: “Stand Tall and Proud! Sink Your Roots into the Earth. Be Content with Your Natural Beauty. Drink Plenty of Water. Enjoy the View!” I wish that for everyone. Happy Trails to you!

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#85489 - 07/07/11 10:04 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: "Mayor" Allaire]
Hiiro24 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
Do you just take a day pack ie like a rei flash 18 summit pack to the top, or do you carry your backpacking backpack minus the gear, ie, tent, SB, stove, clothes?

Thanks

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#85493 - 07/07/11 02:23 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Hiiro24]
Akichow Offline
Member

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 705
Loc: Confluence of the Sac and Am R...
I'd go somewhere in between an REI flash summit pack and a full-on backpack, for a day hike up Whitney. You need something big enough to carry essential gear, but no bigger (or heavier). Depending who you ask, essential gear may include different things, such as (1) the 10 essentials for backcountry travel, (2) waterproof shell pants and top, (3) extra clothes for warmth, (4) the ability to carry at least 3 quarts of water once you go above Trail Camp, (5) food, (6) water purification, (7) any equipment needed for snow/ice travel.... Speaking for myself, I'd have a hard time putting all that in my beloved and well-used REI flash summit pack.

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#85511 - 07/08/11 10:36 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Akichow]
Kris Offline
Member

Registered: 06/28/11
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
My sister and I just hiked Whitney in a day (12 hrs. up and 5 hrs. down)on July 6th. I took a larger backpack and my sis took a smaller day one. She actually carried 6 liters of water with her (two 3 liter bladders) and drank 6 liters from Trail Camp to the summit and back. She probably drank a total of 20 liters throughout the hike, and I drank around 14.
I would pack an extra pair of shoes if you don't want to chance walking in wet boots after the trip down the chute. The trail and creeks are pretty flooded at times so there are places your feet may get wet. We left at 9:30PM on Tuesday, made it to Lone Pine Lake at midnight, up the chute at 7:30AM on Wednesday, to the summit at 9:30AM, and down the chute right before the thunderstorm hit. we walked down in rain and a bit of hail. My feet were soaking wet. I should have worn gaiters.
The trail had a few obstacles . . . it turns into a creek in a couple of places and there are some boot track you don't want to follow around Trailside Meadow (stay off the snow and hug the rock).
An ice axe and crampons were needed up and down the chute. I'm not sure if it's been mentioned before, but no one rents ice axes up there, so you'll need to purchase one ahead of time.
I would take a thermal blanket if doing it again just in case I'd have to stop a while. We had multiple layers of clothing (no cotton) but still got a bit cold when we stopped to find the trail at one point, and stopped to help another hiker with altitude sickness (mind you, it was 2AM and we were near snow).
Off topic a bit - it was extremely helpful to camp above 10,000 ft. the three nights before we ascended. During the last mile to the summit both of our hearts were working hard (could feel the beats with every step), and we concentrated on our breathing and taking slow mechanical steps. We experienced little headaches that subsided when we drank water and an electrolyte drink. I wish I would have had more sodium with me though.
A ranger said we would be good (acclimating to elevation well) if we were urinating every hour. That we did.
My pack weighed 23lbs. Hope this helps a bit. It was my first time up, and I'd love to do it again... maybe when there isn't any snow smile.

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#85519 - 07/08/11 02:14 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Kris]
Hiiro24 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
How often do they check for permit on the main trail?

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#85520 - 07/08/11 02:50 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Hiiro24]
Kris Offline
Member

Registered: 06/28/11
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
No one asked for ours, however we didn't reach the part where a permit was needed until midnight (11:56PM) . . . so we were fine (legal) for our day permit of July 6th.

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