I'm looking at doing Whitney over 2 days in the first week of Sept. There are 2 campsites between Whitney Portal & the summit labeled on the map.
1. I would prefer to not take a full tent, but just a fly to keep the rain off. Will the bugs be a problem at that elevation during that week?
2. I would prefer to stash my sleeping bag, etc just above the upper campsite, off the trail and preferably out of site of the trail. Is that feasable? Will there be enough large boulders, etc that would allow for a descrete placement of the equipment for the day.
3. Has anyone heard of problems with missing/stolen equipment from this area? I suppose that people that do Whitney over 2+ days would prefer to not carry their overnight gear to the summit. So some people must leave gear.
Note that I will keep any food, cooking gear and other odor generating equipment with me. I realize that the bears & possibly smaller animals would be attracted to stashed food and such.
4. What should I expect with the stream crossings? Should I bring stream crossing shoes? Are they bridged? Can they be crossed with rock-hopping that time of the year?
When we did Mt. Whitney in July, 2001, all of the stream crossings were either bridged with logs/beams or had easily-hoppable rocks. No need for water shoes. September will be even drier than July, well after the peak snowmelt season. See my trip report under the "highpointing" pulldown on my WWW site
for description and photos.
If you're sleeping at Trail Camp (12,000'), you probably won't have many, if any, bug problems as late as September. Lower down at Outpost Camp (10,000'), the skeeters could still be around, although not as bad as earlier in the season. That said, it can easily be windy enough at Trail Camp to blow rain under your fly if you don't find a well-sheltered spot and pitch it the right direction for the winds that day.
We left our campsite set up at Trail Camp when we summitted. Packs were covered up with a 55-gallon trash bag, food was in a bear can 50' away from the tent, and our sleeping bags, etc., were in the tent. Nobody touched anything. You could easily find a hidey-hole up on the rocky ridge off to the left of where the trail winds through Trail Camp and put your stuff where it wouldn't be readily visible from the trail if you're still concerned. There are no places to do a decent bear-bag hang at Trail Camp, so you will have
to have a bear can, like it or not, if you're going to have any food stored overnight. The rangers will enforce the bear can rule. Besides, if the real bears don't get to it, the mini-bears (marmots, etc.) will gnaw through any packaging or packs to get to good-smelling stuff inside. I hate carrying 3 pounds of useless ABS as much as anyone, but if people had been better about it in the past, we wouldn't have the problems we do today up in the Sierra. Stupid humans breed smarter bears...they associate our artifacts (tents, packs, etc.) with an easy food source, so we have to resort to things like bear cans instead. Annoying, but it's our own fault...
A few other good resources for trail and facilities information about Whitney are:
The Whitney Portal Store Bulletin Board
gets lots of traffic on a regular basis. You can follow trail conditions, get current status on the various water sources along the trail, etc. The WPS bulletin board is run by Doug, the guy who operates the Whitney Portal Store. Great place for an celebratory meal on the way off the mountain, good place to buy "I climbed Whitney" souvenir shirts and other doo-dads.
bulletin board was started up last year when Doug was having serious hacker problems (since fixed). It has morphed into a more general climbing bulletin board centered mostly on Whitney and the Sierra but with other areas covered, as well.
has lots of trip reports for Whitney as well as many other mountains. It's worth checking for reports that parallel your itinerary/dates in prior years.