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Onion Valley to Whitney Portal

 
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lilbitmo
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Location: Orange County

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 4:47 pm    Post subject: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal  Reply with quote

Onion Valley to Whitney Portal (A 70 hour Odyssey)

(Edit - pictures should have been restored, I only had to slap him twice Wink )

James Ledbetter had wanted to do a backpacking trip for some time that involved going from Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, so he convinced me to join him and after getting some great assistance from Deb Castro on a car shuttle we were off. After seeing Jeff H’s pictures and trip report I knew that we were going to have fun – see his TR here
Wednesday Aug 14th at 5:15 PM she dropped us off at the Onion Valley Trail head by 5:30 PM we were headed up the trail, she was super gracious by meeting us at the Whitney Portal an hour earlier to leave the other car for our exit.

Right at sunset we reached the Kearsarge Pass at 11,760 Feet and kept moving to our first campsite of the trip about ˝ mile past Bullfrog Lake (As Bullfrog is closed to camping). We made camp right around 9 PM and were soon asleep.

The next morning we dropped down into Vidette Meadows and the Bubbs Creek Drainage heading south on the JMT, the meadows and views were outstanding. We ran into JMT’ers all over the place, some going south, some going north, some that came in from Cedar Springs on the Kings Canyon side, all having a blast. By 11:15 AM we had traveled 7.6 miles from our first camp and came to the last of the trees before Forester Pass, we decided to make camp here because we wanted to climb Mount Stanford from the North side today and then go after Junction Peak the next day from the south side of the pass. After a quick set up and some grub we headed up the headwall to the northeast slightly then traversed over the “endless moraine fields” that make up the approach to main chute that leads to the summit ridge and thus up to the summit of Mount Stanford (you can also reach Gregory’s Monument from here but we did not have time to do both and make it back before dark). Three hours into the climb we found ourselves sitting on the summit, we had allotted 4 hours up so we spent from 3:30 until 4 just taking in the views. By 6:30 we returned to our campsite in the trees only to find 15 or so other JMT’ers all camped around us, glad we grab some good spots. If you plan to do Stanford be prepared for a mindless number of up’s and down’s in the moraine fields, it reminds me of Mount Lyell in Yosemite, they go on forever and it’s like a “Yo-Yo”, up down, up down, up down, you get the idea.

Knowing that Forester Pass was going to be hot with no tree cover we headed out early and made the pass by 8 in the morning the next day, once there we realized that making the approach on Junction Peak would be easier if we headed down the other side of the pass instead of (as some write-ups indicate) going over the top of the 500 foot sub peak that was just east of us at the pass blocking our way to the main approach to Junction. Once we were far enough down the south side of Forester Pass we found a spot to hide our big packs and take a “day pack” from there we made a line up to the saddle between Junction and the sub peak, from there we crossed over to the first “aręte” that we needed to get past in order to make our way up and climbers right, there are at least 5 different chutes that all have some form of aręte’s that block your way, but you keep moving up and right as you go over each of these until you get to the main chute, once there you see your final 300 foot approach to the class 4 move at the top, this chute has a “cliffed out section” near the halfway point otherwise you could take it all the way up or down but it’s very sketchy and I wouldn’t recommend it.

After returning to the saddle we were able to race down the sandy scree field that makes up the wide open chute between the sub peak and the main mountain that is Junction Peak, this took all of three minutes. Back at our packs we rambled all the way down to the first water source and filled up before heading south again.

It was only noon but we were starting to feel the effects of having climbed two 13,800+ peaks but we kept pushing all the way to Wright Creek another 8.9 miles down the trail which we made by 4 PM and called it quits for the day. We soaked our feet in Wright Creek, what a treat that was, made some lunch, visited with our camp neighbors and had dinner by 7 and were in bed before 8, fast asleep.

Day 3 was a big day, we got going early at 5:50 AM, crossed over Wallace Creek and rolled with the small hills leading up to Crabtree Meadows, then continued on past Timberline Lake, Guitar Lake, past the first of the Hitchcock Lakes and then started up the relentless switchbacks that lead up to Trail Junction. It was hot so the going was slow; we were feeling all the tiredness of pushing hard for the third day in a row. By 11:30 AM we reached the ridgeline at which point we both looked at each other and said, I’ve done Whitney twice this year I don’t care about taking it a third time, so we stopped for some chow, had fun talks with a nice Canadian Father and his two sons that had been playing “lead frog” with us all the way up from Timberline Lake, let them use my knife to open a can of salmon, then headed for the summit, we headed for the Portal. We walked up the Portal and Doug’s smiling face at 3:30 PM just three hours after leaving Trial Junction some 9 miles back and some 5,168 feet above, we were tired and sat down and split a chicken sandwich with fries.

To the best of my ability to put the numbers together we did 53.8 miles, 14,085” of ascent, 14,410” of descent in 70 hours flat, that includes the two peaks we bagged in under 24 hours, with a Wednesday night start at 5:30 PM and a Saturday afternoon finish at 3:30 PM – I’m still paying the price for carrying a 50lbs pound pack, part of the reason for going that speed was that we were concerned with the weather moving in Sat night, word had it that it was going to be raining and we did bivy’s and tarps so no tents. As it turned out we beat the rain and it’s a good thing, word has it that it came down hard.

Pictures have been restored

All Pictures here

The two clowns at the Onion Vally Trail Head


There's a test here, which of these is older? You pick


Sunset at Kearsarge Pass 11,760 Feet


JMT trail junction just before Charlotte Lake


A loving message to a close friend Smile


Vidette Meadows and the way south


South of us is Deerhorn Mountain on the left and "The Minster" on the right


East Vidette Peak


Bubbs Creek #1


Bubbs Creek #2


Further south along the creek into the open area


One of our neighbor's decided to stop by


Junction Peak in the distance, with Forester Pass just to the right of it


If only this was the view out my front window at home, I'd never have to have a bad day Smile


Looking back the way we came


Approaching campsite #2 with Mount Stanford on the right


We made camp for the second night in the trees just to the left of this shot with Mnt Stanford on the right, big head wall in front can be accessed by going up to your left then swinging around all the moraine fields across the whole shot


Out goal for the rest of the day Mount Stanford


Forester Pass is on the other side of this head wall, this is the start of "Adam's Footpath" go up this and move right


The view looking north from the first head wall


Forester Pass is hidden behind this cylindrical looking peaklett with Mount Stanford off to the right by about two frames


400 foot head wall is just to my right it's bigger than it looks from below


One of 2 tarns that are on the way up to Mnt Stanford


The main chute on Mnt Stanford, the moraine fields are much bigger than they appear, there's over a mile of them just in this frame alone


Adam's Footpath leads up through the opening in the top right which then leads to Harrison's Pass, one of the ways winter skiiers make there way through from Yosemite


Main chute of Mnt Stanford, it look like any other slope but it's much steeper than the picture gives it credit, there's three or four spots near the top that are class four or more depending on the approach you take, we went from lower right to upper left


Looking back at the endless rock piles we just crossed to get to the main chute


Me scratching my head saying "does this crap ever end"?


The slope is 50% or more in some spots this shot shows that


Nearing the top of the ridge, class four sections on both sides, you have to work back and fourth to avoid them, just pay attention


Head wall that is the north flank of Gregory's Monument


Second choice to climb up this chute, it faces more south east (we did not come or go this way and it looks extremely loose) our campsite is in the distance where the trees thin out on the upper right


James Ledbetter showing those Nor Cal boys from Stanford how to surf Smile


Me doing my usual jump in the air, only this time it was not going to be on the summit block, it was teetering on another that was loose so I didn't trust it


The view East from Stanford


The view West (that's Gregory's Monument just across the way) from Stanford


The view directly down to the north east with camp just above the water


The view south, our destination for tomorrow after bagging Junction Peak


The view North west into Yosemite and all points in that direction


The zoomed in shot of our exit point, do I really have to name that peak?


Alpine Glow on the east face of Mount Stanford as we returned to camp


Junction Peak in dead center with Forester Pass in the far right on the shoulder of that other peaklett, as we got over the pass we came up from the other side to avoid going over that peaklett and coming up to the saddle between the two from the north it worked out great


The pass is in the dead center notch just above


Our first view of the north side of Forester Pass


The high point on the JMT Forester Pass at 13,200


We dropped our packs way down on the left to turn back up and left to get into the saddle to head up to Junction Peak


A little tarn as we look back down from where we hid the packs heading up to the saddle between Junction and sub peaklett


There was no summit register or summit marker that we could find on Stanford but here on Junction we found both


Officially signed in, only four others this season


The formation you see in this picture is called the "Diamond Plateau" which separates Forester Pass, it's drainage's and Sheppard's Pass drainage's.


View to the north from Junction Peak


If ever there were two clowns on a mountain top it would be these two characters Smile


A view west as you can see there's plenty of "sub peaks" that make hitting the actual summit confusing, keep moving up and left


This is the top of the saddle between Junction and the sub peak that hides Forester Pass, it's so sandy we were able to run down at top speed in less than three minutes to where our packs were


Looking back up at the summit before doing our "run scree-sade"


The saddle between the two peaks plus all the "arete's" that make up the south face of Junction Peak, start in the lower left (where the saddle hits the wall) and move up to your left always looking for safe places to go up


Getting water at the south base of Forester Pass


Grandaddy in the background, we'll see you tomorrow mister


Time to cross Tyndall Creek


This is where the JMT and Sheppard's Pass trail cross


Heading up to Big Horn Plateau




The views from the plateau are very interesting




The eastern escarpment or high country coming into view




Big Horn Plateau was a pleasant surprise




James was quite happy to final be approaching Whitney and the high/high country




The clouds gave the views more depth




The forest looks healthy back here, always could see it from Trail Crest and the top of Mount Whitney now I can see it up close




Dude, why are you carrying that 50+ lbs suit case




Another friend stopped by to say hello




Good morning gentlemen it's time to do 9.8 miles and climb 3,195 feet just to get to Trail Junction/Trail Crest, better eat some breakfast Smile




The sun has risen on our final day in the dem dare hills




Approaching Timberline Lake




Timberline Lake




Passing Guitar Lake, it's a getting warm out here fella let's keep moving




The ridge is just up here a little ways  Wink




Hitchcock Lakes are coming into view




Some nice easy switchbacks to make your day complete, big daddy is just up at the top there




The view that always brings joy to my heart, the first time I saw this all I could say was just "wow"  Very Happy




My hammock at the Trail Junction with Guitar Lake in the background




At this point we checked our guns in and called "Hugh Hefner" to come get the "Pets" but he was busy so we kept going  Shocked




Waving goodbye to the grandaddy




The sun filtering through the clouds gave Consultation Lake a unique look, that's my story and I'm sticking it to you, no need to show the portal or the food you already had enough of my BS, hope you enjoyed the show  Very Happy




In case anyone wants to know where we camped see this map


Last edited by lilbitmo on Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:48 am; edited 4 times in total
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Mike P
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Patrick! A-freakin-mazing!
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James



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great TR you captured everything perfectly.  Thanks to Deb for the assistance getting to OV. The weather was perfect and the scenery incredible.  And two fun but really tough peaks.  Fun to surf on top of Stanford and not in Bubbs Creek. I didn't bring my wet suit.

Last edited by James on Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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Taco
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Location: Stuntin in the trap son

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Who let these bozos up there?!?!?!?!?!
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mcphersonm80



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Location: Sierra Madre, CA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, now that is a trip report!  Awesome photos and detail, thanks for sharing!
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Elwood
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Location: Glendale, CA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is just AWESOME!
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Uncle Rico



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Location: Pleasantville

PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really great trip and pics. Well done. I could stare at this all day:


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James



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The panoramas on that stretch of the JMT/PCT are amazing and you do stare at them all day long. Then you stub your toe because you're staring at the scenery and not watching where you're going. Smile
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JeffH



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Location: Claremont

PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome trip, especially in just three days! Good move to hit Forester that early, it is really hot in the summertime.
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norma r



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Location: Ventura County, CA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy  Hot fun in the summertime!  Very Happy

Great TR Patrick!  Great little BIG backpack both of you!  Enjoyed taking the trip with you through your narrative.
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tpfishnfool



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Location: palmdale ca.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2013 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW ! Thank you for the report and awesome pictues. WOW !
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calicokid



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Location: Monrovia, CA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome trip you guys did.  I did the same route with my 9 yr old son, but we did in 8 days though from 8/10/13-8/17/13 in the same week; you guys must had overtaken us!  Your 3rd day milleage and elevation gain and loss is a "WOW" with 50lb backpack on!
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lilbitmo
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Location: Orange County

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

calicokid wrote:
Awesome trip you guys did.  I did the same route with my 9 yr old son, but we did in 8 days though from 8/10/13-8/17/13 in the same week; you guys must had overtaken us!  Your 3rd day milleage and elevation gain and loss is a "WOW" with 50lb backpack on!


Money says that we spoke or walked by you on that Sat, what time did you leave the Crabtree/Guitar Lake area? What time did you get back to the portal? We left Wright Creek Area at 5 AM, made it to Trail Junction/Trail Crest by 11:30 AM and left that area by 12:30 and back to the portal by 3:30, my feet were beat for two days after that. Those kind of outings remind you that other day hikes can be "pleasant" with just a 15 lbs pack on your back  Wink
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calicokid



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Location: Monrovia, CA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now I remembered that you two passed our group somewhere on the descent to Whitney Portal.

We camped at Trail Camp Friday night and packed out at the usual late 11:30 AM

You are right about the pleasant feeling of day hikes with light pack on our back    Razz


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