Reddirt's Roadtrip 2007 - Whitney *TRIP REPORT*


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Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 16, 2007 - 12:49pm PT
it's been an incredible trip so far and there are more incredible stops before all good things must end late Sept.

My last stop on Roadtrip 2007 will be the American Alpine Club Southeast Climbers' Fest

Here's a tiny bit of the trip from a previous post.

And here's the trip report of my "impromptu" trip to Mt. Whitney earlier this month:

The final destination on my drive down US-395 was Whitney Portal.

I went there with Mt. Russell in mind since, unlike all the red tape I had heard about Mt. Whitney (namely the lottery in February I never entered), Russell requires no permit if you stay outside the "Whitney Zone". Apparently, Whitney requires no permit if you do it in a day and don't camp. I really didn't think I had it in me to do Whitney-in-a-day.

Along the beginning of Whitney Portal Road (the actual street sign is labeled something else- I forgot...edit later), there are a bunch of Buttermilks-looking rock.

After arriving a bit before dusk, as I tried to figure out where to camp and other just-arrived-misc-stuff, a guy in the parking lot offered me an extra Whitney permit (as 2 of his party of 6 bailed), but it must be used that night.

"There's people on the trail at all hours," he said, as the thought of a midnight start occurs to me.

The inside of my car was more of a disaster than usual, so it took me a while to get my stuff together. I also inherited a SuperTopo photocopy of the approach trail to the Mountaineer's route from some folks arriving back right before midnight, which saved me from bringing the whole book in my crammed day-pack.

As I look for the trail head, I passed by a chocolate cake that someone forgot to pack away after their summit celebration. Booty for the bears!
(Later, I learned they come down every night,
arriving at Whitney Portal at 2am like clockwork.)

0.8 miles later:

And then I realized the trail I had in mind was not the same one
that the guy who gave me the permit spoke of.

(I guess I can't post gif's... here's the
NPS Whitney zone pix).

In my haste in trying to take advantage of the permit, it also slipped my mind that bears are *nocturnal* and like to feed along CREEKs.

I was on the North Fork of the Lone Pine CREEK trail.... alone, shortly after midnight and had no one to outrun if I did come across a bear (insert bear joke w/ punchline, "I donít have to out run the bear, I just have to out run you"). If I could just make it to Lower Boy Scout Lake without running into a bear, I'll probably be ok.

But that was wishful thinking...

Shortly before the 8 ft waterfall, a pair of bright green eyes stare back at the reflection of my headlamp. Kinda like those of my dogs' at night, only larger & wider apart.
This picture was taken by Chris McNamara when he and Eric Volz did Keeler Needle in 2003.
Check out Chris' trip report & slide show for much better pictures (as well as more bear pictures). I asked to "borrow" this picture as I really didn't think try to photograph the bear(s) alone myself was a good idea.

Was this the same guy I saw?

I went off the trail and headed up as high as I could along the base of the wall on the left. I waited with bear bells and bear spray in hand. Though I read the directions out loud (to the bear?) several times, I failed to replace the safety as instructed before I reached back to adjust my pack. No matter how hard I tried to get that tiny squirt of capsaicin off my hand, I could feel the spray for the rest of the trip.

An hour after seeing the green eyes on the trail, I checked again to see if the bear(s) were still there. Sure enough, a pair of eyes lifted up to look back at me. I was not going to check for a third time. I was not sure if there would be a third time.

While it was clear that I should not keep going, I hesitated about the idea of going back down for fear of running into other bears. From where I was sitting, I had a great signal on my cell phone, so I sucked it up & made an idiot call to 911, to "discuss" this issue. I was advised to make noise stay put... bummer, there went my head start.

I then left a message on Duncan's voice mail to tell the dogs' I love(d? gulp!) them & him too.

bear bells, bear spray, bear bivy

A beautiful end to an exciting night.

A cairn on top of the Ebersbacher ledges.
In hindsight, I was glad to get to see them for the first time in daylight.

Whitney, Keeler Needle & Day Needle coming into view as I approach Lower Boy Scout Lake.

View from Lower Boy Scout Lake.

Someone descending, making good use of the friction-y slabs.
They sure beat bushwhacking & boulder hopping.

After turning the corner following Upper Boy Scout Lake,
Day Needle, Keeler Needle, and Whitney come into full view.
I definitely need to come back w/ a solid partner to do Keeler soon!

Just before crossing some 3rd class to Iceberg Lake area
(aiming for area right under tiny blue patch above my head).
Clouds move damned fast in the Sierras!

There are two parties of two ahead of me... and they keep yelling "rock".
I am grateful for my helmet and am in no hurry to get started.
A guide who passed them on the way down suggested I
"avoid the grey" and "stay on the yellow".
Very helpful advice!

Here goes! hope I make it up before those fluffy Sierra clouds
gather themselves and open up on me!

got oxygen?

that blocky area looks way more fun than
beaten down, sandy rubble that most people seem to use

Iceberg Lake in the background

Yay!! Summit!!


Topic Author's Reply - Sep 16, 2007 - 01:02pm PT
oh yeah, and I will now *never* forget the joke that Richard-the-Brit (aka Bloke-on-a-rope), who I climbed with in Tuolumne a few weekends prior, told me. Here is a version of it.

I had lots of time to dwell on it that night...


A hunter spots a grizzly bear 1,000 yards away, but he can't get any closer so he aims his rifle and pulls the trigger. He can see he's hit the bear, so he sets off after it. When he finally catches up to the bear, the bear is clutching his shoulder and says, "Was it you who shot me?"

The hunter says, "Yes."

The bear says, "You need to be taught a lesson." The bear strips off the hunter's clothes, bends him over, and has his way with him.

Several minutes later the hunter struggles to his feet, pulls himself together, and vows to find that bear. He searches through the woods, up hill and dale, and then he spots it 500 yards away, aims his rifle, pulls the trigger, and sets off after it. When he catches up to the bear, the bear says, "Did you shoot me again?"

The hunter, trembling, says, "Yes."

The bear says, "Well, maybe this'll teach you," whereupon it grabs up the hunter, rips off his already tattered clothing, throws him violently to the ground, and really rips him a new one.

The hunter eventually gets to his feet, naked and dazed, and he decides he's going after the bear one more time. He trips through dense underbrush, he trudges through soupy swamps, and he treks across vast valleys, and finally he finds the bear only a hundred yards away, across a small opening. He takes careful aim, holds his breath, and pulls the trigger.

The hunter, already exhausted, sprints up to the bear.

The bear says, "Did you shoot me AGAIN?"

The hunter says, "Yep."

So the bear says, "You didn't really come here to hunt, did you?"
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 16, 2007 - 01:38pm PT
thanks for the trip report Reddirt, a nice adventure for sure...

...few of things:

1) Whitney in a day is probably closer to reality than you think, especially if you are aclimatized (e.g. spend a week in Tuolumne Meadows, then go south)... the climbing on the E.Face and E.Butt. are fun and go pretty fast... and you know the descent now!

2) People have been wearing bear bells in the Sierra long enough now that the bears know that food is on the way when they hear them... really bear-dinner-bells. As humans we are pretty noisy and smelly, if the bears are in our way, it's because they want to be there. You probably don't have to wear them unless you want to attract bears.

3) The Whitney Portal has the worst bear-human interaction problem of anywhere I've been... probably a lot of humans doing stupid-human things (like leaving food in cars, in tents, in packs) and the smart-bear thing is to just go get it. An aside: the people at the Whitney Portal store/cafe/burger joint told us a few years ago that someone had closed up for the night and left the back door open. The bears didn't take advantage of that fact!

Glad you got to ramble around in the Sierra, it is really the best way to go... eventually you'll have a network of people large enough to find partners whenever you are ready to ramble vertically. Think of the legendary Fred Becky with his "rolladex" of climbers, but now with a cell phone. Fred was a real pioneer of going places and always finding a partner... and now with modern technology I have this image of a 75 year old Reddirt cruising in to town lining up climbs and partners on her handless phone with thousands of climber numbers...

life's an adventure... let's keep it that way...
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Sep 16, 2007 - 01:44pm PT
Thank you for the TR!

Thread drift, but Fred is cheerfully incorrigible. I know people who've known him for 50 years, and he's always been the same. In those days, he spent all his time at pay phones, calling the weather forecast, calling prospective partners, scheming. Good thing technology has caught up with him!

He's still dreaming, and trying.

Edit: Be careful that bruin hasn't hidden itself in the Subarwu - they're curious critters.
nick d

Trad climber
Sep 16, 2007 - 02:04pm PT
Thanks for the fun TR! You should have roped and ridden that bear, let em know it's still the WILD west!


Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
Sep 16, 2007 - 02:28pm PT
great report!

Social climber
The West
Sep 16, 2007 - 02:49pm PT
Great report, put me back there.
What Ed said. I soloed the E face, 6 hrs car to summit. Proving that anybody can get up it in a day.

One other thing, Green eyes? How well did you see this creature? I would have guessed that was a Mtn Lion. But maybe there are green eyed bears.

Social climber
Across town from Easy Street
Sep 16, 2007 - 04:30pm PT
Great TR Judy! Glad you had a safe adventure, however bearly.


Trad climber
Washington, DC
Sep 16, 2007 - 09:26pm PT
Hey Judy!

Glad to hear you are having a blast out there. I miss the Sierras! We have to climb when you get back since I'm on an oddball schedule again.


Sep 16, 2007 - 11:07pm PT
Great story, thanks for sharing. Whitney is a great chunk of rock, really love going there. I was bummed to find out that they've started requiring permits for day trips up the North Fork (Mountaineer's Route), but so it goes. You're a tough gal for waiting through the night in the gully - a lot of folks would've bailed back to the car and called it good after that.


Site C4 in TMCG
Sep 17, 2007 - 12:57am PT
nice meeting you in Arcadia. say hi to Lucy.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Sep 17, 2007 - 02:06am PT
where to now?

Fairview Regular?

West Crack on Stately?

West of Conness?

send it.

new york
Sep 17, 2007 - 01:29pm PT
Great TR! pretty cool to cross paths a couple weeks back. Have fun and hope to catch up with you, D, and Kat

Trad climber
Sep 17, 2007 - 02:32pm PT
Very Nice and what a beautiful area that is! I have been blessed by being there twice this year and will surely go back next year. What does annoy me a bit is the noise pollution created by jets screaming overhead and unseen.

Thanks for posting the tale and pics.


Topic Author's Reply - Sep 17, 2007 - 02:35pm PT
I was bummed to find out that they've started requiring permits for day trips up the North Fork (Mountaineer's Route), but so it goes. You're a tough gal for waiting through the night in the gully

No, on't be bummed- permits are *not* needed for day trips and anything *outside* the Whitney zone (click on NPS link in TR).

I am not tough at all, more like a BUM for not wanting to repeat the first mile. I did love hiking alone in the moonlight but wouldn't recommend this trail.

10b4me- great to meet you too! Perhaps I can convince Lucy to put on a harness, whaddya think?

Mungster- where to now? Fairview Regular?

gotta save something for next time, Fairview Reg eluded me this time around, though ROCKANICE had the cojones to jump on despite the weather....

for now I'm hanging for a spell in Ouray, waiting for the rain to pass in hopes of getting a taste for *the Black*. Holy Sh#t it looks soooo seductive. I don't think I've ever been so mesmerized. Movies & prints do not do the place justice. If I don't get to climb it this time around, that's ok too... I'll just pine for it from the e coast til next time.


Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Sep 17, 2007 - 04:10pm PT
wicked good choss down there from what I hear.

have fun!

Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season...
Sep 17, 2007 - 04:49pm PT
Awesome TR, RD! The photos really make it.

I've done was waaaaaaaay easier than doing it in three, as the amount of gear is negligible.

You wouldn't have a problem--12 hours door-2-door--and never a worry 'bout no bear. (I looked and looked but never saw...)

Trad climber
Sep 17, 2007 - 07:51pm PT
Nice TR,
It's beautiful up there,
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