Mt. Whitney: Mountaineers Route

5-6 Jun 2004 - by Bill Strand

I will keep this brief because there is volumes of info on the bulletin board at http://www.whitneyportalstore.com. I was able to fill an empty spot on Richard R's permit and joined them Saturday at Upper Boy Scout Lake. The approach up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek did not follow the description in Burns 14ner book (Stay South of the creek until the canyon constricts). Instead there appears to be a new trail that crosses the creek twice. I totally botched this section and battled the alders up a small use trail. The ledge section adds a nice flavor to the approach. Above Lower Boy Scout Lake the main trail still had some snow on it and I followed an unrecommended branch that put me too high on the south side of the drainage and again led to much wallowing thru willows. On the way down the correct trail was fairly obvious. I'm not sure how people negotiate this in the dark after a long car to car climb. The ledges could be quite troublesome.

There was no snow around Upper Boy Scout Lake and the bugs were out when the wind died down at night. The approach to Ice Berg Lake is fairly straight forward until you reach the weakness in the cliff band below the lake. There was some water running and there are many cairns. The path of least resistance seems to be to gain the ledges and work left to a 6' hand traverse (very easy). The bivy sites at Ice Berg Lake were free of snow. The chute was 80% snow covered with sections melted out at mid height and the very top at the notch. The snow was soft enough at 7am to not require crampons. I was able to follow steps from the previous day with relative ease. The direct finish from the notch is advisable if you enjoy rock scrambling (I felt it was Class 4, but maybe it's just California Class 3, I learned to climb in Colorado). The descent was uneventful with about a 1,000 ft. glissade. Crossing the creeks in the North Fork was a little exciting with higher flows at 2pm. I would highly recommend this route when it contains snow. I plan to go back earlier in the year when it is 100% snow. The Whitney Portal Message Board is a good place to obtain bootleg permits.


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