Difference between revisions of "Winter Mountaineering Trip 2008"

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Latest revision as of 12:15, 21 August 2016

See the Trip Report page on the old website.

You may be looking for the Winter Mountaineering Trip 2010, the Winter Mountaineering Trip 2009, or the Winter Mountaineering Trip 2007 (see Category:Club Winter Mountaineering Trips).

Overview (pre-trip info)

2/21: We decided the dates for the main trips. Whitney: Mar 7-9, Palisades: Mar 21-23. Both trips will be leave Thurs night, return late Sun night. Sign up on the Google groups site!

2/5: A scan of the recent climbing magazine article on mountaineering boots (this is restricted). This is from the February, 2008 issue so it is very current. Any of these boots would be excellent on our trip. We recommend these types of boots; uninsulated leather boots are OK, but use them at your own risk.

2/4: The trip to Baldy on the weekend of the 9th and 10th will be held Saturday (the 9th) to Sunday (the 10th), i.e. Sat-Sun, NOT Fri-Sat as originally planned.

2/1: Practice trips to Mt. Baldy. There will be one on Fri Feb 8th, leaving in the evening, returning Sat mid afternoon (led by Stephen); another on Fri Feb 15th, leaving in the evening, returning Sat mid afternoon (led by Sean). These trips will be more-or-less identical. You only need to come on one of them. Also, you must fill out the "participant information form" and return it to Sean by e-mail (tulin@its) or snail-mail (MC 452-48) -- or else you can't come on any training trips or on the main trip.

1/30: We held our mandatory interest meeting at the Y. We discussed gear, what the trip would be like, and what dates for the training and main trips. We also saw that there are a lot of people who want to come on the trip! We will hold two identical training trips to Mt. Baldy, one the weekend of Feb 9th and the other the weekend of Feb 16th. You MUST attend either one of these trips, unless you have special permission from Sean. This a good way to get a taste of mountaineering without committing to the full trip. More info on the training trips will be forthcoming soon.

In regards to the date and destination of the main trip, things are still up in the air. The trip will be three full days, either on the weekend of March 7-9 or 14-16. Also, people were split on deciding where to go, so both options are still on the table. We are considering going to Mt. Whitney or the Northern Palisades.

Participant Information Form: Please fill this form out and return to Sean by mail (MC 452-48) or e-mail (tulin@its). I tried to make it so that you edit the form electronically in Acrobat Reader. If you have problems, let me know.

Please read this warning message.

Post-trip info

Mt. Baldy practice trips

First Baldy Trip


Denis' Picasa Album for the first Mt. Baldy practice trip (Feb 9-10)

Stephen's Picasa Album for the first Mt. Baldy practice trip (Feb 9-10)

{{#widget:Picasa |user=dbarkatsibrandina |album=5166644869803031873 |width=300 |height=200 |captions=1 |autoplay=0 }} {{#widget:Picasa |user=stephen.beckr |album=5166854272348356833 |width=300 |height=200 |captions=1 |autoplay=0 }}

Second Baldy Trip


Mike's Picasa Album for the second Mt. Baldy practice trip (Feb 15-16)

{{#widget:Picasa |user=mlsilva |album=5171303763833489361 |width=300 |height=200 |captions=1 |autoplay=0 }}

Mt. Whitney trip

Summit of Whitney

Nick, Annelen, Mike, Sean, Kostya, Josh, Stephen, Andy, JoHanna, Denis, Irina, Jeandrew, Justus and Adam. A bunch of us summited. We took our first camp at Lower Boy Scout Lake, where 7 of us crowded into a giant snowcave that we built. Next camp was at Iceberg Lake (windy, as usual), then summited on Sunday March 9th and returned to the cars that evening.

See Stephen's photo album, and the Picasa albums below:

{{#widget:Picasa |user=dbarkatsibrandina |album=5187051001542197569 |width=300 |height=200 |captions=1 |autoplay=0 }} {{#widget:Picasa |user=mlsilva |album=5177479686230264257 |width=300 |height=200 |captions=1 |autoplay=0 }}

Palisades trip

Hiking up the N. Fork of Big Pine
Summit of Mt. Sill

Stephen, Stefan, Sean, Kedron, Mary Laura, Eric, Dan, Jeandrew, Justus, Brett, Bill. We split into two groups for this one: the first group spent Friday night at 3rd Lake, and both groups spent Saturday night at Gayley Camp at the base of the Palisades Glacier. Some of us tried to do Thunderbolt that afternoon, but only made it as far as the ridge. On Sunday, those of us with the energy (and lack of blisters) made an attempt on Sill's N. Couloir, and then scrambled up the 3rd/4th class rock to the ridge and then the summit (on Sunday, March 23rd). We made a single rappel down the nasty 4th class section. Then, in a club record, everyone made it down to the cars before 4 PM!

See Stephen's photo album, and Mary Laura's Picasa Album.

{{#widget:Picasa |user=marylaura |album=5181521013671474161 |width=300 |height=200 |captions=1 |autoplay=0 }}

Further info



Option 1: Mt. Whitney

Caltech climbers at Iceberg Lake on Mt. Whitney, Feb 2006

We approach via NF of Lone Pine Creek, ascent via Mountaineer's Route from high camp at Iceberg Lake at 12,500 ft


  • More glamourous since it's the highest.
  • Ice climbing on the approach.
  • Trip leaders have ascended this route several times in winter.
  • The climbing route is possibly more skiable than routes in Palisades
  • Avalanche danger is relatively low
  • Route gets progressively harder, so easy to turn around.


  • Some people already climbed it (in 2007).

Option 2: Palisades area

Two Caltech climbers (Justus and Wayne) at the bottom of the U-Notch, with the Palisade glacier below

We approach via NF of Big Pine Creek, high camp at North Palisade Glacier. From here the options are: Mt. Sill via the NE couloir, Polemonium or N. Pal via U-Notch, or possibly Thunderbolt. In 2008, we did Mt. Sill via the NE couloir with mixed success, after a two day approach up the NF of Big Pine Creek.


  • Largest glacier in the Sierra
  • Many climbing route options
  • More beautiful view from the summit. The view from Sill is the "best in the Sierra" according to some.
  • This is the most rugged spot in the Sierra


  • Potentially worse avalanche terrain
  • Less chance of summiting

Equipment and Resources


Warning email

January 2008 email (copied from [1]): (Note that this concerns the main trips, not the Baldy training trips!)

We had about 60 people sign up for the trip. Clearly, this is way, way too many. So it's my goal now to scare some of you away. Ideally, we would have no more than about 15 people on the trip. It's possible however that we could have two trips to accommodate a larger number of climbers.

In general, I want to emphasize that this is not a guided trip. The other leaders and I are not paid, nor are we certified, nor do we have liability insurance. Climbing in a large group provides safety benefits, and you can learn technique and tricks, but this is not a class. Please don't hold us responsible if you get frostbite or sprain your ankle. You'll be treated like an adult and a fellow climber, not a student.

The weather this year has been really snowy so far. Deep snow means the approach will be both longer (with possible road closures) and harder. Fitness is key. And you want good boots. A warm afternoon with deep snow means that if you have inadequate boots, they will be soaked for the rest of the trip. Avalanche danger is something we have to worry about also.

Many people asked me about gear. The club only has about 6 ice axes and 3 crampons (and the Caltech Y has some snowshoes). These won't go very far among everyone. Please try to find this gear elsewhere. If you can, borrow it from a friend. Our website has useful information: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~alpine/equipment.shtml and specifically, http://www.its.caltech.edu/~alpine/equipment.shtml#REI http://www.its.caltech.edu/~alpine/equipment.shtml#riverside REI Santa Ana rents crampons and boots. Feel free to use the mailing list to arrange carpools. (Edit: please see the new wiki pages. Also, the REI in Santa Ana has moved to Tustin. )

It is up to you to find the gear you need for the practice and main trips.

Additionally, you'll need standard cold-weather hiking gear, such as gaiters (which you probably cannot rent), shell (e.g. Gortex) jacket and pants, warm pants (I will not let anyone climb in jeans), long underwear, non-cotton jackets, very warm mittens and gloves, harness, large backpack, sleeping bag, pad, etc. If you cannot borrow or rent these items, then you should be willing to buy them. We'll put a detailed packing list on the website. You should have a 15 F sleeping bag at least -- and even then be prepared to suffer if the weather is cold. Girls usually sleep colder than boys. If you are cold sleeper, I recommend a warmer bag. I also recommend a big down jacket.

I think technical skills (using crampons) are less important than good "outdoors sense". If you're a strong backpacker, then you'll probably be fine (we will have pretty heavy packs on the approach, e.g. 60 lbs). Also important is being able to withstand some unpleasant cold and windy conditions. Cooking dinner in the cold, with a headache, exhausted and tired, might be the hardest part of the day.

I wouldn't be concerned about hiking fast; I'd be concerned about having enough energy to hike all day long through snow with a heavy pack, gaining 4,000' of altitude. Almost every aspect of backpacking is more difficult in winter. If you're not in good backpacking shape, please start taking some long hikes now.

Whether we go to the Palisades or Whitney, the high camp will be at 12,500' or higher, which is quite high, and most of us will have altitude headaches (which isn't serious, only unpleasant). We'll leave the cars at perhaps 8,000' or possibly much lower depending on snow. It's a lot of elevation gain.

On an encouraging note, the final climb to the summit from camp is relatively short (compared to the long approach) and it won't be too hard to turn around in case you don't feel like making it to the top. We're descending our ascent route. There should be enough people on the trip that you can find a group of climbers going at your pace. But we'll be leaving very early in the morning, several hours before dawn, and it will be cold. In the same day we reach the summit, we will have to descend to high camp and pack up, and then descend all the way to the cars, and then drive home. You will have woken up at 3 am that morning, and you may not reach Pasadena until midnight or later.

In short, I can't say whether or not you have enough experience. It depends on how much you can train in the upcoming month, how determined you are, you much you are willing to suffer in the cold, ... You are the judge.

Info on the trip will be at: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~alpine/sierra08.shtml

Feel free to e-mail me at anytime will questions or concerns.