Rescue Near Mountaineer's Trail on Mt Whitney

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Rescue Near Mountaineer's Trail on Mt Whitney

Postby Cy Kaicener » Sun Aug 04, 2019 8:10 am

Around 8:00pm on August 1, Sheriff’s Dispatch received a call for a subject who had taken a tumbling fall down the Eberbacher Ledges on the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek, the trail that accesses the Mountaineer's Route on Mt. Whitney.
The subject, an experienced hiker who had summited Whitney multiple times, took a small misstep on the sloping ledges while descending and fell approximately 40 feet before coming to rest on a lower ledge. The hiker's two companions descended to his location where they found him unconscious and with numerous lacerations. After several minutes the subject regained consciousness and became more oriented.
Inyo County Search & Rescue arrived on scene just before midnight. They found the subject in good spirits despite significant pain. After an initial assessment, the patient attempted to hike out with assistance but it became evident that trauma to his ankles left him unable to bear weight. Inyo SAR monitored his condition throughout the night. At 6:25am CHP - Inland Division Air Operations H-80 arrived and hoisted the patient to safety where he was transferred to medical care.
We extend our sincere gratitude to H-80, and wish the patient a swift recovery.
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http://cys-hiking-adventures.blogspot.com
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Re: Rescue Near Mountaineer's Trail on Mt Whitney

Postby Ed » Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:11 am

I was not fond of the Ebersbacher ledges. Particularly coming down them carrying an external frame pack with sleeping bag, tent, rope, climbing gear, etc. and wearing the medium-weight boots that would today be considered 'backpacking' boots. It should be easier today with internal frame packs, trekking poles with rubber walking tips, and approach shoes. The subject was lucky he fell only 40 feet before stopping.

The first time I came down the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek I had a dislocated shoulder, and chose to follow the creek rather than take the ledges. A lot of willow thrashing and sliding sideways on granite slabs on your butt. But safer than the ledges.

I think I've mentioned that I did not like the exposed ledge on the descent route on Tahquitz either. I was spooked by things that did not bother other people, and vice versa.
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Re: Rescue Near Mountaineer's Trail on Mt Whitney

Postby Perry » Sun Aug 04, 2019 6:51 pm

I did the MR once a long time ago. I don't remember any ledges in the lower part, but I sure remember the climb from the saddle going up to the summit while dodging patches of old snow.
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Re: Rescue Near Mountaineer's Trail on Mt Whitney

Postby Ed » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:50 am

Perry wrote:I did the MR once a long time ago. I don't remember any ledges in the lower part, but I sure remember the climb from the saddle going up to the summit while dodging patches of old snow.


Perry,

The Ebersbacher ledges are on the approach, well below the climb. On the north side of the creek (right hand side going up), where the canyon narrows and drops rapidly for a while. You could have gone straight up the creek. Seems to be quite a bit on the web about them, with photos.

What month were you doing it, and how much snow? I came down the Mountaineer's Route, after doing the East Face. In June, 1977, a relatively dry year, no snow. As I descended that slag heap, I remember thinking what fools climb up this thing in the summer, two steps up and one down, rockfall danger? Well, yes, John Muir, but that was before the trail and technical climbing methods and routes. Going down it was fine, two steps down and slide a third, goes so quickly the rockfall danger is slight. I was more nervous on the Ebersbacher ledges than on 90% of the East Face, or descending the MR, but it is over in a few minutes.

I do remember thinking that slag-filled chute would be a very nice snow climb, without thinking about snow and ice on the rocks between the top of the chute and the summit, or beating your way up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek when covered with snow.
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Re: Rescue Near Mountaineer's Trail on Mt Whitney

Postby Perry » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:37 pm

It was sometime in the mid or late 2000's, so it's hard to remember exactly. I think it was July. All I know is that I was expecting a class 3 climb at the end, and it felt like a sketchy class 4. It could have also been the cold fingers and a little bit of hail playing a role there. But maybe the snow patches were covering up easier routes, not sure.

I think in the beginning of the off-trail route I just followed the creek and was confused about why people were talking about ledges online.
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Re: Rescue Near Mountaineer's Trail on Mt Whitney

Postby Ed » Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:16 am

Thanks, Perry. I was wondering if you had done it in the spring when the approach might have been covered with snow.

Following the creek, you tend to remember the willows, following the ledges you tend to remember the exposure. Although the bad part on the ledges is only a few steps, and perhaps not so bad with a day pack and light shoes or boots. I checked the Caltopo map. The Ebersbacher ledges are not named, but I think it is fairly clear where they are, the 'trail' (is it a trail now?) is temporarily uphill from the creek on the north side.

I'm sure quite a few people on this discussion board have done the Mountaineer's Route. Hope I did not offend anybody with my comment about what 'fools' climb up that slag heap. A thought that crossed my mind many years ago, and another way of saying I would not have the fortitude to even try it, without a nice layer of snow over it.
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Re: Rescue Near Mountaineer's Trail on Mt Whitney

Postby futbol » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:43 am

Been across the E-Ledges several times in the last few years. Curious how someone can fall only 40 feet. It seems like it is either no fall or fall hundreds of feet.

It's that first ledge that is the biggest risk.
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