Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Onion Valley to Whitney, 50 miles hike

After last year High Sierra Trail, which I hiked alone I certainly want someone else to share all aspects of backpacking trip and also to shorten it from 5 to 4 days, which is quite enough for my taste. After some considerations and negotiations my wife Karina agreed to join me. Logistics was much more easier then HST, we dropped car at Lone Pine, hitch hiked to Independence first and then to Onion Valley. I asked some random people at ranger's station where we got our permit and luckily they was going to Big Pine and had room for us. I left car at Dow Villa Motel overflow parking, they don't charge you anything, just ask to fill your info and date when you plan to return. At Independence there was 5-7 PCT hikers, some was going north, 1 was going south and 2 the same way as we to Onion Valley. We got a ride from PCT helper and camped at Onion Valley first night.
Onion Valley to Whitney trail
Day 1. Onion Valley to Central Basin, 11.5 miles, 3600' up
First part of the trail over Kearsarge pass we know very well and hiked it several times, so it was very easy going. Started at 7:30. Then trail descend to Kings Canyon and slowly climbed again toward Central Basin. Most spectacular point is from Kearsarge Pass:
Kearsarge Pass
We stopped at Bullfrog Lake for some fishing, which was successful. Very delicious lunch. We was done hiking by 5:00 pm.
Day 2. Central Basin to Tyndall Creek Frog Pond, 8.5 miles, 2800' up.
Again start hiking at 7:30 and it was challenging part over Forester Pass, but luckily it was very little snow on the north side of the pass.
North of Forester Pass
Forester Pass
Tyndall Creek Frog Pond Lake
South side was complitly snow free. We made it to Tyndall Creek Frog Pond at 4:45 pm. Enough time to try climb over Tawney Point ridge, but it was steep and lose and I run out of time. Good attempt though.

Day 3. Tyndall Creek Frog Pond to Guitar Lake, 15 miles, 2200' up
Easy day, so we started late at 8:30. A lot of up and down but mostly in the forest with a good shade. Stop for lunch near Guitar Lake ranger station and then at Timberline lake for fishing. Caught 2 trouts. Arriving to Guitar Lake at 18:15. Try to fish there, but no luck.
Deer near Guitar Lake ranger station
Guitar Lake
Day 4. Guitar Lake to Whitney Portal, 15.5 miles, 3300' up
Last day and hard push to Whitney in the morning, so start early at 4:30 am. Tag Whitney at 8:00 and down at Whitney Portal by 01:45 pm. It is tedious hike down, very painful for knees.
Hitchcock Lake
On Trail Creat
On Whitney
Overall it was very good hike and distance per day was right on, allowing enough rest every day. Good weather also made significant contribution and a little bit of luck with hitch hiking top out our trip. Here is our GPS track with major waypoints: Onion Valley to Whitney KMZ

Saturday, June 14, 2014

University Peak

University Peak 13,589' (4,142 m) north face class 2-3 with class 3 supposed to be only near the top. My companion this time was my friend Aleksey and it was his first high altitude hike, so chances to make it to the top was low from the beginning, but you never know how people tolerate altitude before you try. We camped at Onion Valley the night before and started hiking at 6:00 am.
University Peak trail
Matlock Lake
We made a good progress to 12,893' (3930 m) before Aleksey bailed around noon. We had enough time to complete hike, but I did not want to push him beyond his limits, so we made some pictures and turn around.
Aleksey climbing University Peak
Kearsarge Lakes from University Peak
University Peak 700 feet up

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mt. Langley

Mt. Langley trail
Trail head for Mt. Langley 14,026' (4,275 m) starts from Horseshoe Meadow one of my favorite place for acclimatization since its 10,000'. Igor agreed to join me, but have no idea what to expect at high elevation, it was his first 14'er. We camped at Horseshoe campground and start hiking at 6:30. First part of the trail is relatively flat and uneventful until New Army pass, where we encounter first snow and lost trail. Little bit of cross country straight up hill and we got back to trail. Last part was fully covered by snow, but easy passable.
New Army Pass
Plato was snow free and next snow was 0.5 km from the top where we have to climb small section of class 3, Igor was worry about going back, but luckily on the way back we found another way and totally avoided this steep section. We made it to the top around 1:30 pm. View from the top, especially to the north toward Mt. Whitney was magnificent.
Looking north from Mt. Langley
Lone Pine from Mt. Langley
Lakes from New Army Pass
We was hoping to cut some distance by descending via Old Army Pass, but it was still under snow and looked too scary to try it even with ice axe and crampons, which we did not have. So, climbed 100 m up to New Army Pass and came back the same way. Back at the car by 7:30 pm. Total distance 33 km, time 13 hours.
GPS track: GPS track in KMZ format