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#90982 - 06/14/12 12:41 PM Mountaineers Route
Doug Sr Offline


Member

Registered: 12/16/02
Posts: 2421
Loc: Whitney
Hi Over the years people come into the store with about twenty forms of paper and pictures of the north fork. This week was no different so here is the story we wrote a route guide many years ago and handed it out for comments and would make the changes and send it out and until we had about a 2% return we knew that it not only worked but also had a built in safety system.

This route, although only 3.4 miles one way, rises 6,000 feet above the Portal, at some points is a class three climb, and IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART! Again, this is NOT a trail. The route should be easy to follow for experienced climbers. If all of us would use the same path, it would stop the severe damage being perpetrated in this drainage by tramping around on false routes. The path you follow has been used for a long time by mountaineers. Stay on the main route that has been plainly marked. We could talk about cairns/ducks, but we know that all schools of thought will never agree as to what’s right. Our opinion: if they are wrong take them down, but if they mark critical points, leave them.
Also, as climbers we should set the example of taking out our own trash and human waste. Before you go, pick up a poop bag at the Store or the Ranger Station. On the way out, you can dispose of used bags in the covered can at the main trailhead at the Portal.
Take the main Whitney trail to the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek sign. This is 150 feet before you reach the John Muir Wilderness Boundary sign. If you have any doubt, stay on the main trail to the Wilderness sign and then come back down the trail 150 feet, re-crossing the Creek. Next, turn around so you’re facing up the trail, and head up to your RIGHT on the NORTH SIDE of the North Fork Creek. About 200 feet up this path you will see a sign, “Mountaineer’s Route.” Sign is gone now , not sure it will be replaced so held off before saying anything.
Follow this path up through the trees and ferns until it flattens out. This will be about a quarter of the way up the canyon. From here you should see the notch/gap below Lower Boy Scout Lake. Continue on about 100 feet and you will cross to the South side of the steam. There will be somewhat of a tunnel through the willows exiting onto a slab (10’ rock).


Follow the path up the South side, below the wall and above the stream. As the canyon narrows down and the path joins the slab, you will re-cross the stream to the North side. This crossing can be very wet and icy. The stream has two threads at this point. Boulder hop across the first stream of water until you reach a mud slope (about 15 feet). If a log is standing there, avoid it and climb up the mud slope. About 20 feet more will take you to the next crossing, where you’ll go down and rock-hop again and cross next to or under a waterfall. Avoid the slick log lying in the water.
As you leave the water, go to the wall and turn up the canyon. Fifty feet along the base of the wall will take you to a dead end. This is the start of the Ebersbacher Ledges. Look up and to the right, and you will see the “pine tree.” Work your way up the crack to the tree. At the tree,MOVE UP ANOTHER 15-20 FEET look to the east and the ramp is straight ahead. Stay close to the wall and you should see the path. Walk 150’ east on this narrow ramp (level). At this point you will step up, gaining about three feet of elevation. Follow this ramp, continuing east for 175 feet, staying next to the wall (away from the drop-off). This will get you to a short section of stair steps about 5 feet up and about 5 feet east.


MAKE A MENTAL NOTE OF THIS POINT. This is the turning point on the way down. If you miss this and continue on the upper ledge, you will need a rope and climbing skills to get down.
As you leave the ledge, head straight for the main wall in front of you. At the base of this wall (100’) you will find the path. Follow the path at the base of the wall until it exits onto an open area, and you will see the notch/gap below Lower Boy Scout Lake. From here, the path is easy to follow


At the notch, lose a little elevation to a sign that reads “No wood fires.” GONE NOW But you will find a trail to the water, Cross here to the south side and follow the path through the trees to the boulder field. Look along the base of the left scree slope (left or south side of Lower Boy Scout Lake). You will see the track to follow to the west. Also, you’ll see two giant rocks near the waterfall. You will begin climbing here. Head to the downhill side of the lower boulder. Stay close to this rock. As you get to the rock you will see the willows. At the very edge of the downhill side of the lower rock is the path. Follow it into the willows about 15’ and it will turn north on a slab and down into a smaller stream. Cross this stream, work up several feet, and cross another thread of water. You will be to the right of the stream.


As you exit this crossing you will be at a slab. Climb onto the slab and follow it to a group of trees (approximately 1500’ distance). These slabs will be icy and very slick- if not icy, mossy, so watch your step at all times through this section.
CAUTION: When you get near Clyde Meadow, do not go into the closed bowl of Upper Boy Scout Lake. Make sure you travel in a southerly curve around the ridge. When you get to the trees (Clyde Meadow), look up and left to the gap/saddle and follow slabs to the path that switchbacks up to this saddle. You will find a grand path at this point.



Now that you are 11,500’+ elevation, let’s talk it over. You have never had to use any more than walking skills. You are about halfway up, and your last water spot is Iceberg Lake which is just above you. Turn around, look to the east, and enjoy the view of the North Fork Drainage. Your line of sight should be almost a straight path to the Portal.


Ascend past the small water-seep below Iceberg Lake. Many old climbers used the west end of the water-seep to climb up to Iceberg Lake, but now most people travel past the water (at certain times of the year it may be a wide waterfall) and go up the next draw to the west. This route is much safer and faster with a pack. It takes you to Iceberg Lake.


The Mountaineer’s Route takes the gully to the notch at 14,000’. Several ways will get you to the notch. We suggest taking the left chute just south of the main gully. However, this depends on snow or ice conditions and your skill level. If you take the main chute, rock fall and people in the chute above make it worth staying to the right or left as much as you can. Also, in the middle of the main chute there is a large boulder blocking the path. Don’t climb up to it or try climbing around it. Pick a course around it about 50’ below and it’s fairly easy. The chute above this point is about 45 degrees, and below is about 40 degrees.



From the notch, several choices exist. The traditional Mountaineer’s Route follows the first chute to the south. Another choice, the “easy walk off,” is never easy. It’s exceptionally risky if there’s snow and ice on this traverse. This is a 50+ degree slope for about a quarter mile. Full climbing gear with ice skills and tools are needed. On the other hand, if studied, the first chute to the south of the notch will reveal a path up on rock for most of the summer. Again, this will require climbing skills, and a lot of people turn back at the notch.


The last several hundred feet are not that important. The exposure picks up in this section and is a factor to consider on the way down if you continue up. Some people choose to walk down the main trail after summiting, making it a circle trip. PLEASE NOTE: Taking the Whitney Trail requires a Whitney Zone Permit. No excuses are accepted, and you will be fined if you don’t have a permit.

Please don't think that the North Fork is a short cut for the main trail. The route is very steep and requires technical climbing skills. The route can also be icy and may require changes to the route, depending on weather conditions. A Whitney permit is required above Lower Boyscout Lake. Thanks Doug



Edited by Doug Sr (01/01/18 06:54 PM)

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#90984 - 06/14/12 12:50 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Doug Sr]
Richard P. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 4878
Loc: Ridgecrest, CA
Measured at ~4.6 miles with GPS/GLONASS device twice so far...

I refused to believe that I could not maintain 1 MPH on the route. :-)

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#90988 - 06/14/12 04:12 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Richard P.]
Doug Sr Offline


Member

Registered: 12/16/02
Posts: 2421
Loc: Whitney
Interesting JL Portal to the summit about 2 hours up 1 down some people take longer.Or maybe he used the shorter distance?

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#90989 - 06/14/12 05:35 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Doug Sr]
graham Online   content
Member

Registered: 10/03/05
Posts: 344
Loc: Irvine, CA
Nice write up Doug.....I can see every twist & turn in my minds-eye cool
I bet half of the WPSMB folks have a nice photo to go with every sentence.

Originally Posted By: Doug Sr
……PLEASE NOTE: Taking the Whitney Trail requires a Whitney Zone Permit. No excuses are accepted, and you will be fined if you don’t have a permit……..
This seems to suggest that you only need a permit for the main trail and not for the Mountaineers Route & North Fork area?
Cheers,
RickG


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#90990 - 06/14/12 05:48 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Doug Sr]
Richard P. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 4878
Loc: Ridgecrest, CA
Originally Posted By: Doug Sr
Interesting JL Portal to the summit about 2 hours up 1 down some people take longer.Or maybe he used the shorter distance?


Naw, he just motored up at 2.3 mph and down at 4.6.

RG, you've givent me an idea: add the photos you talk about and use Doug's great route description for the captions.

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#90993 - 06/14/12 11:03 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Richard P.]
Whitney Fan Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/05
Posts: 21
Loc: Las Vegas
I'm confused by the statement that the route requires "technical climbing skills".

If it's Class 3 at the most . . .

I understand route finding, I understand using both hands and feet to climb . . .

I can even understand that "climbing skills" are required, but my confusion comes in with the word "technical". I start thinking of Class 5 rock climbing with that word. Or even Class 4 using rope.

But what "technical" skills are involved for this route, specifically? I will appreciate more clarification. Thanks!

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#90995 - 06/15/12 03:31 AM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Whitney Fan]
Wayne Offline
Member

Registered: 01/12/03
Posts: 715
Loc: Charlotte, NC
Whitney Fan,

When the last 400 feet are covered in ice, it becomes technical, and depending on which chute or rib is chosen in good weather, it can be class 4.

Doug--Thanks for posting your write-up. I used it the first time I climbed the Mountaineers Route, and passed it on to a number of other first-time climbers.

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#90996 - 06/15/12 07:23 AM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Whitney Fan]
MooseTracks Offline
Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 2391
Loc: B-town Eastside, CA
Originally Posted By: Whitney Fan
I'm confused by the statement that the route requires "technical climbing skills".

If it's Class 3 at the most . . .

I understand route finding, I understand using both hands and feet to climb . . .

I can even understand that "climbing skills" are required, but my confusion comes in with the word "technical". I start thinking of Class 5 rock climbing with that word. Or even Class 4 using rope.

But what "technical" skills are involved for this route, specifically? I will appreciate more clarification. Thanks!


I would never claim to know Doug's mind, but... wink

A word of caution, to make someone actually think about what they are getting themselves into, is always a plus.

And, at least to me, technical skills applies to anytime I'm not walking. The ability to look for appropriate foot and hand holds/placements, testing the hold's viability, shifting weight between three points of contact, route-finding, evaluating exposure, being aware of your environment (especially in chutes where any sort of rockfall might be evident), are all contributors to "technical climbing". Gear and rope are simply further extensions of this idea.

But, hell, I'm just a hiker.
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#90998 - 06/15/12 07:40 AM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Doug Sr]
FlaG8R Offline
Member

Registered: 05/15/09
Posts: 100
Loc: Merritt Island NWR
"If all of us would use the same path, it would stop the severe damage being perpetrated in this drainage by tramping around on false routes."


Very wise advice Mr. Doug...

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#91001 - 06/15/12 09:04 AM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: FlaG8R]
AsABat Offline
Member

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 354
Loc: www.4jeffrey.net
Originally Posted By: FlaG8R
"If all of us would use the same path, it would stop the severe damage being perpetrated in this drainage by tramping around on false routes."


Very wise advice Mr. Doug...



Sadly true now. Many years ago the rule was different - everyone spread out to avoid creating a route.

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#91006 - 06/15/12 09:59 AM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: AsABat]
san onofre guy Offline
Member

Registered: 07/31/03
Posts: 88
Given the number of trip and fall claims that I have dealt with over the years, walking on the sidewalk requires technical skills.

A few years ago walking in Downtown Denver with my wife, daughter and son in law, I stepped off a curb, went down on the pavement did a full summersault and was back on my feet right away.

My point being whether you are on the final 400 or walking across the knife edge on Angels Landing, you need to pay attention. I know I pay much more attention in those areas than I do in the City.

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#91008 - 06/15/12 10:08 AM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: san onofre guy]
JEFF SCOFIELD Offline
Member

Registered: 07/12/06
Posts: 615
Loc: Yorba Linda, CA
Looking at RP's photo's already looks dry this year..Could be wrong though.....Any beta of the final 400' from RP's photo's looks bone dry.

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#91041 - 06/17/12 08:26 AM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: JEFF SCOFIELD]
Richard P. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 4878
Loc: Ridgecrest, CA
The MR is in "summer" conditions now. If you hit any snow, you're either off-route, or looking for it...

... which leads to: can we please stop short-cutting the use trail up to LBSL? I know some of the "damage" was done by winter run-off, but there are some spots where it's pretty obvious that people are moving the logs, etc, blocking the "wrong" path.

Talked to Doug again yesterday about putting photos with his description... going to make them small in the post with the ability to link to the Original size.

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#91124 - 06/20/12 06:38 AM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Richard P.]
Richard P. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 4878
Loc: Ridgecrest, CA
Hey Doug, it's taken me longer to get to Iceberg in photos than it does to climb up there on my feet...

I should have a document that you can look at tomorrow night.

I've got a couple of questions about the description from LBSL to Clyde that I think can use a few more words...

This has been fun though... finding photos of a lot of the Regulars doing the MR.

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#91459 - 07/10/12 05:31 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Richard P.]
Dave On Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/12
Posts: 2
Loc: San Diego, CA
We just returned from climbing the Mountaineer's Route on Sunday July 8th, 2012...in a single day. It was an unbelievable experience for the 3 of us. We all had alot of backpacking and hiking experience, but almost no route or climbing experience. We originally had a 4th member of our group (JJ) who was an experienced class 5+ rock climber, but he got the flu, and we were left with no leader at the last moment. JJ (with the climbing skills) had previously gone up the East Buttress and down the MR a few years back, so he would have been a natural good fit to get us to the top.

We set out with high hopes to conquer the Mountaineer's Route without a leader, as our hearts were set on it for the past 4 months. But still, we waivered back and forth between doing the MR and MWT.

First, I would like to thank Doug (Portal Store Owner) for his excellent advice to us throughout the weekend. He was apprehensive at first to let us do the route without any climbing skills and route finding experience. However, we had "hiked" Mt. Kilamanjaro and other long treks...but this was very different. He sent us on a trial run the day before (saturday) to see how we did with the Ebersbacher Ledges and finding the route (no trail) to the Lower Boy Scout Lake. We made it to Lower Boy Scout lake in 1.5 hours and then headed back down to debrief with Doug once again. He was impressed. He again sat down with us to go over every detail on how to succesfully navigate the hidden route and what to look for throughout our journey. He was okay with letting us give it a try and was quite happy to hear our plan was to go DOWN the MWT and not back down the MR once we summited.

We started at trailhead at 4:30am, to allow enough daylight to navigate through the E Ledges. We made it to Iceberg Lake by 11:00am to fill up another 4 liters each. Our route finding skills were flawless until we reached the 2,000 foot chute. We were told 3 times by Doug during our debrief....stay left, stay left, stay left. So, as we glanced up the Chute of Scree, we saw what we thought was our left route and headed up. About 60% of the way up, we see Richard P. standing on a ridge to our Left. Richard P. is smiling and telling us that we are NOT in the left Chute and guided us over to a rock wall to climb to get out of the wrong chute. We want to thank Richard for being there when he was, because little did we know we were going up a class 4 Scree Chute from Hell that were were told is only used in Winter ascents. Throughout this chute, I was telling myself....what the hell did we get ourselves into. It was pretty scary to say the least. Lots of sections where you had to lift all of your body weight by your fingers over large rocks to avoid the sandy scree. Once you hit the scree, you slip down the 45 degree slope. Unfortunatley, we were on the left side of the main chute, not the left chute.

Once Richard P. got us back on track, we looked down and notice the obvious hard rock path that we should have took. It had nice big rocks to hold onto. Unfortunatley, you can't see it from Iceberg lake unless you lift yourself over a large rock wall to see the real "left chute". So, take note of this if you plan to do this route. FYI, 90% of 20 the people we ran into, do this route in 2 days. We were very fortunate to have run into Richard when we did. Thank you Richard...you helped us more than you may know.

As we arrived at the top of the Notch, we glance up at the final 400 feet. This is by far the steepest section. We studied it for 15 minutes before starting it. It is almost like a puzzle. Once again, we remembered Doug saying..."look for these 3 little lines on a rock, start on the leftish side, work your way left more, then head right near the top". To be honest, this final 400 feet would have sent most amateurs right back down the Mountain. It's quite vertical. But after our 2.0 hour "practice run" in the advanced Main chute, this was nothing. We love rocks that don't move. The 3 of us climbed to the top like Spiderman in no time at all. We touched the top at 1:30pm, had a 45 minute lunch break, and back down the MWT by 8:00PM. T-Shirt and shorts 100% of the time.

I can not say enough great things about Doug. If you ever need any advice, he is the man. He was very happy to see us return in one piece. This route is not to be taken lightly, but very doable if you are fit and are a good decison maker. In retrospect, climbing experience is highly recommended.

It was a brutal, yet very rewarding and exhilerating experience. Thank you Mt. Whitney for being kind to us and keeping us safe.

Dave, Julie, and Seth.
Encinitas, California



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#91470 - 07/10/12 09:03 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: ]
Mountain Ginger Offline
Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 325
Loc: Arrowbear Lake California
Sorry~

Congrats Dave on a great climb

what the heck is with the shoe post?



Edited by SanDi_carole (07/10/12 09:11 PM)
Edit Reason: forgot how to post on the board - sheesh
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Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
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#91471 - 07/10/12 09:05 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Dave On]
Richard P. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 4878
Loc: Ridgecrest, CA
Posting from Myles' reconfigured computer...

Congratulations on a successful climb of the MR. Glad I could help.

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#91472 - 07/10/12 09:35 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Richard P.]
Bee Offline
Member

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 382
Loc: Northern Ca
Hi Richard,

Could you post a picture showing the correct chute and the "wrong" chute? (I know that you must have something in your archives!)

B
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The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#91473 - 07/10/12 10:17 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Bee]
Richard P. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 4878
Loc: Ridgecrest, CA
Bee, I'm working on a slide show and eventually a quick time movie of the whole MR. I've been a little busy lately, and then Myles breaks his computer and tells me he'll take me up something if I fix it, so the MR Project is being delayed...

BTW: I'm still working on getting thru all of the Star Trek NG episodes, so my joke last Sunday was that these climbers on the right of the Main Couloir were part of the Q Continuum.

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#91474 - 07/10/12 11:16 PM Re: Mountaineers Route [Re: Richard P.]
Bee Offline
Member

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 382
Loc: Northern Ca
Originally Posted By: Richard P.


BTW: I'm still working on getting thru all of the Star Trek NG episodes, so my joke last Sunday was that these climbers on the right of the Main Couloir were part of the Q Continuum.


HAHA! I have every NG episode on.....gulp....VHS!! Q was such a great character

Can't wait to see the MR project.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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