The Whitney Glacier is the longest glacier in California offering plenty of fun challenges.
Unless snow coverage is complete and consolidated, access the Whitney from the Northgate Trailhead via the Bolam Glacier. Without good snow cover, the loose, wet moraines below the glacier will slow your ascent to a crawl. The lower portion of the glacier is a jumbled cocktail of boulders, ice seracs, and crevasses that defy route finding. Further up, the glacier becomes more confined between Shastina and the Bolam Headwall with lots of exposure to rock fall. Follow a route through the middle of the glacier as this section is a virtual target range if the northeast aspect of Shastina is free of snow. Be careful here.
Whitney Glacier comes into its own from the Shasta/Shastina saddle on up. Three main options of ascent are presented to the climber at this point. Either negotiate through crevasses along the upper stretches of the glacier, work around the glacier’s right margin along the ridge, or abandon the whole idea and traverse out onto the West Face route. The ramp to climber’s left of the glacier offers an easy bypass of the lower portions and a safe quick return to base camp.
The Whitney Glacier conditions vary widely with the winter season’s snow pack and time of year. The later season conditions can be tough with increased rock fall hazard, but most mid-summer climbs are great. While attempting this route, consider a ski descent off of the steep NE aspect of Shastina (the Angel Wings) dropping down to the Whitney Glacier. It should be on every skier's bucket list. This route is definitely worth budgeting three days of your life for!
Rangers have not climbed the Whitney Glacier in total, but have spent some time on the upper portions this year. Like all the other glaciers, it is caked and crevasses are obscured by the winter snow. This route is not often climbed, but is simply stunning. The best beta we can give for this route is to stay current with the weather conditions, and any possible new snow amounts. Climb the center or left center on the glacier. Avoid the climbers left side of the glacier as rockfall off Shastina is almost constant, especially as it starts to melt out. Access from the Northgate trailhead, or Coquette Falls (Bolam) trailhead may be limited due to snow covered roads. Check our 'trailheads' tab under 'climbing' for road status. Full glacier travel protocol and skills are absolutely necessary to be considering this route.