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Mt Whitney & Telescope Peak Winter Expedition + Mt Langley Bonus - Not Technical

  • Jan 5, 2014 · 8:00 AM

The primary purpose of this trip is to have a taste of a multiday (with a full backpack) winter expedition style approach in various conditions (whatever we face) but in reasonable safe environment. These are NOT technical climbs. The secondary purpose, but not less important, is to have a good workout in a high altitude. If the conditions allow, we may practice various skills such as proper navigation, self-arrest and building snow caves. No technical skills are required or previous mountaineering experience but being in a good shape is crucial as well as the right attitude: “The good weather is the bad weather.”

Because it’s too early to predict conditions, alternate plans are proposed (see below). Tough weather (which is usually part of a real mountaineering experience) would rather not contribute to cancelation of this trip.

Mt Whitney (14,505ft or 4,421m), the highest point in the contiguous US
http://www.summitpost.org/mount-whitney/150227
http://www.summitpost.org/whitney-trail/156374
Telescope Peak (11049 ft / 3368 m) - the highest point in Death Valley National Park
http://www.summitpost.org/telescope-peak/150584
Mt Langley (14026 ft / 4275 m)
http://www.summitpost.org/mount-langley/150246
http://www.summitpost.org/mount-langley-via-new-army-pass/459780

Required Experience & Skills
- Endurance and stamina
- You must be in a good shape; otherwise, you may not be able to complete the goal as well as might become a problem to your teammates
- Previous winter overnight travel is strongly recommended
- Exposure to high altitude is strongly recommended
- Multiday mountaineering with a heavy backpack is strongly recommended
- Crampon, ice axe and snow shoes experience is recommended but not crucial

Required Gear:
- Warm and water-resistant boots (preferably plastic boots in winter conditions)
- Crampons
- Ice axe
- Snow shoes if winter conditions
- Food and fuel for up to 5 days is a must for Mt Whitney in winter conditions
- Ski / tracking poles are strongly recommended (especially with snow shoes)
- Helmet (up to you)

Important:
It is crucial to bring proper layers and warm boots (and toe warmers in case).
Avoid sweating or getting cold by adding or removing layers. Improper ventilation may lead to fatigue and hypothermia.

ITINERARY

Primary Plan if Tough Winter Conditions
Mt Whitney via Main Trail and Telescope Peak

Saturday: Drive up to Whitney Portal (or wherever possible) and spend a night
Sunday: Hike up to first camp
Monday: Hike up to second camp
Tuesday: Hike up to the last camp above 13,600ft (along the ridge up to the summit)
Wednesday: Summit attempt and hike down and drive to Telescope Peak
Thursday: Hike up to base camp
Friday: Summit attempt and hike out
Saturday: Explore Death Valley
Sunday: Drive back home (perhaps visiting hot springs near Bishop or Bridgeport)

Backup Plan if Easy Winter Conditions
Mt Langley via Army Pass, Mt Whitney via Main Trail, and Telescope Peak

Saturday: Drive to Horseshoe Meadow and spend a night
Sunday: Hike up to base camp
Monday: Summit attempt and hike out and drive to Whitney Portal
Tuesday: Hike up to base camp
Wednesday: Summit attempt and hike out
Thursday: Driving to Telescope Peak
Friday: One-day summit attempt
Saturday: Explore Death Valley
Sunday: Drive back home (perhaps visiting hot springs near Bishop or Bridgeport)

Backup Plan If Moderate Winter Conditions
A combination of the above plans

The Carpool Link and Gear List will be emailed later

By attending the trip you agree to be video and voice recorded which may be used in a trip video and consent to publish these recorded images and sound on Internet.

Samples of previous trip videos:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFF0EEC9842B2135E

By signing in you consent that you understand that mountaineering is a very dangerous activity, are attending the trip completely voluntary and on your own risk and understand the risk of any unfavorable event(s) that may be trigged by the nature, you or another person or persons or other factors, which may cause mental and/or physical injuries or even death, and waive any claims against any person participating in the trip, including organizer(s) and/or event host(s), for such outcomes and/or damages.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER -- PLEASE READ
By participating in any event organized by the organizers, co-organizers, assistant organizers, or event organizers of Bay Area Mountaineering Meetup (collectively “BAMM”), you understand and agree that BAMM only provides a service to organize the meeting place and time of various outdoor activities in which its members voluntarily participate (“Meetup Events”), but provides no other service or expertise regarding the Meetup Events. Many of the Meetup Events include mountaineering, rock climbing, ice climbing, and related activities, which are inherently dangerous sports involving a high risk of personal injury, property damage, and death (“Risks”). BAMM are not professional guides, do not possess any special training in those inherently dangerous sports, and make no profit from your participation in any Meetup Event. BAMM does not owe and does not accept any duty, and is not responsible in any way, for your health or safety when you participate in any Meetup Event. BY PARTICIPATING IN ANY MEETUP EVENT, YOU EXPRESSLY ASSUME ALL RISKS

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  • Vincent

    Thank you everybody for a great trip! I hope to see you all again in future meetups!

    January 12, 2014

  • Marco

    Thanks to those who had responded to my emails and cooperated during preparation for the trip and thanks a lot to those who attended the trip. We had a great time full of adventures not only on Mt Whitney but also in Death Valley and then still on the way back home. Many things have happened and we met great people and made new friends who joined us and traveled together.

    January 12, 2014

    • Marco

      Paul and Jude, we hope to see you again soon. Jude, don't forget "I almost..." and have another "high five" from me.

      Geary, this was a magical and remarkable evening with you playing a guitar and all of us singing by the fire in Death Valley. Your music encouraged Paul and Jude to join us. I wish you more inspirations on your journey and still hope you would visit us in the BA. We already miss you.

      January 12, 2014

    • Marco

      Clara, you were great group glue, a great trip coordinator or Trip Director. You brought so much food to make sure no one would go hungry. I've never eaten so well on any of my trips :)

      Anisa and Gaspar, it was a pleasure and fun climbing and traveling with you. Too bad you are leaving soon.

      Jeff, Ferris and Vicente, thank you for a great team work. Jeff and Vicente, you have no idea how happy I was seeing you at the high camp after coming back from the summit at dark. Ferris, you came back!!!

      Well, once again thanks to all of you and definitely want to see you on another journey and share another mountaineering adventure. Thanks to you and the previous trips attendees I'm more and more motivated to keep organizing mountaineering trips.

      January 12, 2014

  • Jeff L.

    Fun, Enjoyed being with the group, I want to do it again soon.....

    January 12, 2014

  • Clara

    Great trip. Exceptional strangers who are now unforgettable friends. Will see all of you in the next couple days! Marek, Jeff, Ferris, Anisa, Gaspar, Vicente--and of course--Gary, Paul and Jude, who we met, celebrated with and bonded with along the way!!!

    1 · January 12, 2014

  • theguy

    Weather holding as Brady had predicted, lows around 15, highs of freezing on summit:
    http://timberlinetrails.net/WhitneyWeather.html

    According to that site we'll have the extra 4-mile hike due to road closure.

    Not enough snow for published avalanche advisories, though slides possible in isolated patches since snow hasn't consolidated:
    http://www.esavalanche.org/advisory#null

    2 · January 2, 2014

    • theguy

      Just chatted with Lone Pine ranger station: road is closed from Lone Pine campground up (6 miles by road, 4 miles by steep trail), snow is granular. They relayed trip report of someone who went up Jan 1st: snow starts mile before Whitney Portal, they took Mountaineers route, was fairly compacted at beginning; they ran into someone who'd summitted without ice axe or crampons, which is improvement in conditions according to ranger: was icy up top earlier.

      1 · January 3, 2014

    • theguy

      Weather update: turning quite a bit colder from Tuesday on, with chance of snow showers, 35mph winds Tuesday at portal, so could be brutal on ridge

      January 4, 2014

  • theguy

    Marco, are we meeting at horse shoe Meadows tonight since relatively easy conditions?

    January 4, 2014

  • Chris G.

    Hey guys. I think I am going to skip the trip. I have limited vacation days and I want to save them up for some rougher conditions. Hopefully we get more snow soon.

    January 3, 2014

    • Marco

      That's the right spirit :)

      January 3, 2014

  • Clara

    Hi Everyone! Vincent & I are finalizing carpools from SF and the east bay. If you are confirmed for the trip, please update your information on Marco's carpool list. If you cannot find the link, please email Marco or me and we will send it to you again. If you are not going, please change your RSVP status. The carpools will be finalized by 6pm tomorrow and if we haven't heard from you, we will assume you are a no show. Thanks! Talk to you soon : )

    1 · January 2, 2014

  • Marco

    Hi Rico, take your time with your recovery and get ready for another trip. I want you in my team again, on glaciers.

    January 2, 2014

  • Ricardo

    I need to back out. I thought I slightly strained a muscle 2 days ago, tested it tonight in yoga and hit it again. If it resolves before Saturday I'm back in but similar injuries past few years makes me think I would strain it seriously early in, have to wait at the car, and be out for 2 or 3 months. So I need to back off and save it for next time. I've been really looking forward to it, especially after talking with Marek and Clara, so I really hope to finally join you guys soon. I've got gear now and I'll stay in shape. Have fun!

    1 · January 2, 2014

  • Devin

    Friday is too late. I have to come back by Thursday night in order to preside a meeting on Fri. Anyone wants to come back on the 9th? I'm taking off from Hayward Hills.

    December 30, 2013

    • theguy

      I'm planning on heading back to Brisbane Thursday after Whitney, could drop you off. You'd need different carpool to Whitney.

      1 · January 2, 2014

    • Devin

      Great. Let me scout a carpool to Whitney.

      January 2, 2014

  • Marco

    The above are the main reasons we were supposed to climb together as a team and set up camps whenever we need to, not just because we previously scheduled them. My approach to climbing is “Climb Safe”. Flexibility is one of the most important factors of safety in mountaineering (adjusting the pace and camp locations, if possible, are crucial to flexibility).

    The weather is forecasted to be too nice; the snow, well, just a little. These are not the ideal conditions for the purpose of this trip. In any case I expect the first camp to be around Outpost Camp and the second around Trail Camp. But it is possible we might skip the second camp and set the first one just above Mirror Lake.

    1 · January 2, 2014

    • Marco

      However, the last and the most important camp is to be on the top. We are not skipping that; unless, someone has health issues or lack of strength. Remember, no one is obligated to follow that itinerary, especially staying overnight on the top. Make your own decisions based on your capability, not because others do something.

      January 2, 2014

    • Marco

      By the way, as intended once I did get to the top of Mt Whitney with a full backpack (with a person who had never been exposed to such elevation and usually getting high altitude symptoms just above 10,000 feet) in just one day and slept in the hut. That person was completely fine and I had only a minor headache the next day but don’t really intend to replicate that approach.

      Sometimes we do things for a reason. Sometimes we don’t do things for a reason. :)

      January 2, 2014

  • Marco

    Camp locations are not determined yet case it depends on many factors: 1) Is the Portal Road passable by car? This can easily add additional 4 miles of hike. 2) How well do people acclimatize on the way up? This depends on the weight of equipment and the ascending pace. Warning: Someone may perform very well on the first day; therefore, to speed up and/or get higher, just to collapse on the second day (see it over and over). 3) The final camp is supposed to be around 14,000feet (+/- 400) preferably on the summit. Some people have had terrible experiences or even died from HAPE / HACE at that elevation if handled the approach inappropriately. So we have to monitor each other and take it easy.

    1 · January 2, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm so pissed I have to do it but due to an unexpected professional event, I have to cancel.
    I hope you'll get fun guys and to see you in an other event.
    Thanks for this serious meetup preparation Marco

    December 30, 2013

  • Ricardo

    Is there anybody who might be able to give me a ride from SF?

    Anybody coming back by Friday night?

    December 30, 2013

  • Brady M.

    I hate to belong to the group who has to cancel in the last week, but that is what it is. You guys are going to have great weather. Unless something changes dramatically, the low temp will be around 20F at 12,000 ft elevation. I hope everyone stays safe, enjoys themselves, enjoys the company of each other, and gets to camp on the summit. All the best!

    December 30, 2013

    • Marco

      Thanks Brady. Hope to see you soon on Mt Shasta's ridges and glaciers :)

      December 30, 2013

    • Brady M.

      Definitely!

      1 · December 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    gotta cancel, sorry.

    December 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    was a carpool list sent out?

    December 28, 2013

    • Marco

      Yes. I emailed it you again.

      December 28, 2013

  • Guomin

    Hi Marco and All, I just found out that i can't take a week off. I will join next time. Just finished editing a video on Death Valley. Let me know your thoughts. Sure it will look different by the time you travel through there: http://vimeo.com/82765719

    December 27, 2013

    • Guomin

      Thanks Marco. The videos of your trips inspire me to pick up my camera. :)

      December 27, 2013

    • Marco

      Thank you. That's what I like. More people should take videos from different angles and then we could put them together to create a better story.

      1 · December 27, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Would anyone want to plan a second party? I failed mt Whitney last winter and would love to try again.

    December 26, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      when i went the road to the trail was snowed in (which is the case right now i believe) so we had to hike that in, plus it was knee deep powder and my friend didn't have snowshoes so we had to turn back once we got to the actual trailhead.

      December 26, 2013

    • Gautam

      richard, yes, i have climbed whitney via the mountaineers route as well as the normal one. shasta, via clear creek, is also an option, i spoke to the ranger.

      December 27, 2013

  • Marco

    Mt Whitney & Telescope Peak Carpool List:

    Check your email for more info if you are planning to attend this trip.

    December 21, 2013

    • Vincent

      Yes, it works. My anxiety is gone now.. ;)

      1 · December 23, 2013

    • Marco

      What anxiety? There is no reason to fear; we are going to camp on the top of Mt Whitney. Can't wait to get there.

      2 · December 23, 2013

  • Martin

    I hate to miss a second Mt Whitney trip, but my last day at my temporary work assignment in San Luis Obispo County is Friday, Jan 3. I then drive back home to SF on Saturday, while everybody else will be arriving in the Sierra. Marco, I'm hoping you may arrange another similar trip (maybe not this long) again soon. I was too optimistic regarding this one, but I have been accumulating gear and need to use it!

    December 20, 2013

    • Marco

      No worries. In the next year I'm planning many trips, especially in the Cascades, from none technical to glaciers and ice; from one day attempt to multiple days (including all glaciers on Mt Shasta in one attempt http://www.meetup.com...­ ) So there will be plenty of opportunity to use your gear. Just keep in shape and your gear sharp.

      December 20, 2013

    • Jeff L.

      Woo hoo yeah lets go climbing!!!!

      December 20, 2013

  • Izabela

    Can't take these days off :-/ Could go dec 30-jan 1 if anyone is in the same boat.

    December 19, 2013

  • Eric

    Can't make this now, heading to Ecuador for a month instead. Have fun all!

    December 19, 2013

  • eric

    I have a conflict that popped up

    December 13, 2013

  • Vincent

    Hi. I will be leaving early on sunday the 5th. Anybody travelling from the bay area (north bay)? Please contact me if you are interested in carpooling.

    2 · December 9, 2013

    • Marco

      OK. I'll set up a carpool form in about two weeks. Now it's still too early.

      1 · December 9, 2013

    • Chris G.

      I will be coming from San Jose

      December 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Anyone interested in scheduling a weekend in November to backpack? Im kind of a novice at multi-day trips but looking to gain more experience. My last attempt was Mount Lyell.

    November 10, 2013

    • Reiko

      Yes - keep me posted too

      December 6, 2013

    • eric

      I'd be down for this month sometime

      December 6, 2013

  • Zach H.

    FYI I'm not sure anymore as to whether I can go on this trip. I'll know within two weeks, and update my status accordingly. Btw I am planning on doing a simple overnight snow camping trip next week for anyone who's interested. You'd need your own transportation, however.

    December 5, 2013

    • Zach H.

      I'm also thinking of doing it in the mt rose wilderness area. I figure that the itinerary would be to leave thursday, get there thursday night and camp out somewhere close to the car, then climb something the next morning.

      December 6, 2013

    • Zach H.

      Conditions dependent, of course. If there are dangerous avalanche conditions, it'll just be camping and some hiking around, no climbing.

      December 6, 2013

  • Marco

    The primary purpose of this trip is coping with various weather and route (rough) winter conditions. However, depending on the amount and density of snow some places may become quite steep and a less experienced person may feel more secure and comfortable if roped while passing such sections. We will talk more about the gear later but I consider ice axe, crampons and snowshoes with trekking pools as a must. Bring boots (and toe warmers), cloths, gloves and sleeping bag for a cold weather. Yes, it may be very cold and windy, especially high on Mt Whitney (easily between -20 and -30 F). Telescope Peak, however, may be very cold too. We are not taking any chances with the conditions, we must be prepared.

    3 · November 30, 2013

  • Marco

    Anyone of you seriously considering this challenge, make sure you have all necessary and of the right quality stuff. Do not count on renting any of this gear because you will rather overpay. Our minds have to be free and focused on safe (not fast) climbing, hopefully all the way to the top and back. Usually, the round trip takes 3-4 days (2-3 up and 1 down) but one time, due to constant storms, it took me 5 days; it was one of the trips I remember most.

    As Eric said, “winter trips are no joke.”

    1 · November 30, 2013

  • Zach H.

    Also, one more thing: in terms of group gear, i have a new rope and some snow pickets that im down to bring along.

    November 29, 2013

    • Vincent

      Hi Zach, I don't think we are heading to a technical route, but Marco can correct me if I am wrong.

      November 29, 2013

    • Zach H.

      I know we aren't, but I figure that it might still be useful to bring them. At least the snow pickets, anyways.

      November 29, 2013

    • Zach H.

      Agreed, considering the conditions.

      November 28, 2013

    • Eric

      This rescue is a good reminder to all that winter trips are no joke. Everyone should have proper equipment and experience to ensure safety of themselves and others.

      1 · November 29, 2013

  • Zach H.

    Is there any way we can all meet up before this? It'd be great to meet everyone beforehand, get a feel for what type of experience everyone has, etc.

    1 · November 28, 2013

    • Zach H.

      Sorry, not to be annoying, but I think this could be very beneficial, so I just want to reiterate this.

      November 28, 2013

  • Jim S.

    Never been mountaineering but am a novice backpacker.

    November 11, 2013

  • Reiko

    I wish this was a week before... between christmas and new years!!

    November 6, 2013

  • Eric

    Just joined waitlist. I'm very interested in this and can likely get the week off from work with some notice. I also have an AWD vehicle and chains for carpooling.

    November 6, 2013

  • Stuart

    The southern option is a beautiful route. However, if there is snow, it could take 3 days to get to Army Pass due to a lower gate closure on Horse Mdw Rd. Also, above treeline, travel may be easier with a solid base of snow. - makes for great skiing!

    October 25, 2013

    • Vincent

      Marco, just a question. Are we considering old army pass or new army pass?

      October 26, 2013

    • Marco

      Whichever would be easier (safer) but this route is just in case if there is no winter in the mountains; otherwise, we will have no time for that route.

      October 28, 2013

  • Brady M.

    I may only make it for the Mt. Whitney portion -- can't take a whole week off.

    October 23, 2013

    • Vincent

      I will be able to get most of the week off as well. Any interest in hiking Mt. Muir?

      1 · October 26, 2013

    • Vincent

      Since is not far..

      October 26, 2013

  • Zach H.

    Will we need ice axes, crampons, and helmets?

    October 23, 2013

    • Zach H.

      Ok. In your opinion, are plastic boots necessary for this? It's the only thing I could have trouble finding (I have a size 14 foot).

      October 24, 2013

    • Zach H.

      Also, do you think a 0 degree bag and a liner is enough for this trip?

      October 24, 2013

  • Guomin

    Yes, yes, and yes!

    October 23, 2013

    • Marco

      That’s the spirit!

      October 23, 2013

  • Ellen C.

    If it is tough Winter conditions you will not get to Portal via automobile, but you'll have to park further down the road, so you'll have to add that to your climb.

    October 23, 2013

    • Marco

      Correct!

      October 23, 2013

  • Ellen C.

    October 23, 2013

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