Over the past weekend Travis and I attempted a Mt Whitney winter climb. Our main objective was to try out some of our gear we were taking to Denali and use it for conditioning.
Mt Whitney stands at 14,505 ft. And is the highest mountain in the lower 48 states. We were taking the mountaineers route which is more direct yet a steeper and more demanding climb. The forecast called for 4″ of snow. We began our climb that Saturday as the snow was falling. We anticipated the snow to stop sometime during our climb to Upper Boyscout Lake where we intended to camp for the night. Four hours into our climb the snow kept falling and was well over the forecasted 4″. Parts of the trail on the ascent we were waist deep fresh powder. We reassessed our plan and camped at Lower Boyscout Lake. 5 hours after beginning we arrived drenched in sweat. The snow was still falling. As we got into the tent the cold set in from being soaked and having stopped moving. We got into our sleeping bags to warm up and dry off.
At this point we had abandoned our summit attempt after talking to a guy bailing off the mountain when his summit attempt was thwarted by deep impossible fresh snow. As the snow kept falling into the night we had doubts about even getting down to our car in the morning.
In the morning we packed up camp and began leaving just as another party of three had started down as well. They too abandoned their plans to climb Thor Peak. As they broke trail with their snow shoes we followed behind. We made the decision to circumvent the E ledges in the current conditions. We took lead and broke trail for a while which was much easier traveling downhill. In Some parts it was waist deep but far less work than the day before.
It took only 2 hours and 45 minutes to get from Lower Boyscout Lake to the car. Burgers and beers at the Whitney Portal Cafe never tasted better. After that we decided to camp in the Alabama hills where we dried out all our gear and did some rock climbing. That night we had beers and a campfire to end our weekend.