Mt. Whitney

I had been looking forward to this trip for some time now. With the typical stresses of everyday life I was ready for a week out in the wilderness. 

Day 1

Bruce and I got were on the trail by 5am. Our goal for the day was Lone Pine Peak. Our route was the North Ridge rated at 5.5 on the climbing scale which isn’t particular difficult but the crux of the day was the length of the route and route finding. We started out making great time. We diverged from the main trail at around 10,000 ft and soon thereafter we were on the peak. We gained the ridge and started up some steep terrain. Around 9am we had to get our harnesses on and pull out the gear to continue safely. This put an end to our quick ascent. For hours we kept going up and up. We simul-climbed or climbed at the same time instead of one at a time as much as we could. Had we not done this we would have had to spend the night on the peak. Around noon we started to feel some sprinkles. This wasn’t a total surprise because of the clouds we saw coming in. While this was cause for concern it didn’t cause too much trouble. There was no thunder or lightning. While it did make the climbing a little for difficult, the rain did help cool things down so we didn’t drink as much water as we would have if it were hot. 
Finally we reached the peak around 4pm to our great relief. We didn’t spend too much time on the peak because of how late it was. We got a little of route on our descent and ended up going down some really difficult terrain. We made the trail around 6:30 and got to the car about 8pm making for a 15 hour day. This was definitely the toughest peak I’ve done. Of the 15 hours we were out we were moving about 14hrs 15min. Additionally, most of the day we were climbing or down climbing which is much harder than being on a maintained trail.

Day 2-4

The next three days I planned for a solo backpacking trip in the High Sierra. Sunday morning I felt pretty good considering the huge day Bruce and I had the day before. I went and got my permit then drove from Lone Pine to Bishop because I decided to get a tent instead of using my bivy sack. Once back in Lone Pine I set off for the Cottonwood Pass Trailhead, and I was on the trail around 12:30pm. Although I wasn’t sore from the day before I wasn’t 100% either. I quickly reached Cottonwood Pass and then Big Whitney Meadow. I camped at Rocky Basin Lake having covered around 12 miles. The next morning I broke camp and set off again around 7am. The day was nice but pretty uneventful. I hiked up Siberian Pass and caught the Pacific Crest Trail. I got to my camp site at Soldier Lake around 4:30pm having covered about 17 miles. I got to the lake pretty early which allowed me some time to relax and read. The next morning I woke at 430am and was on the move just after five. On the way out, I planned on summiting Mt. Langley which is the most southern 14teener in the Sierra Nevada Range. I caught up to a group heading up Mt. Langley and hiked with them on the way up. They were a group of older gentlemen and a lady that have been coming to the Sierra for 25years from the east coast. After a few days alone the company was welcome. We reached the peak about 9:30am and I spent some time up there to prepare for Mt. Whitney two days after. The hike out was again relatively uneventful and I got to my car about 1:30pm. 

Day 5

Some friends of mine from San Diego drove up on Tuesday night for the Mt. Whitney hike on Thursday. On Wednesday we drove up to Bishop for a short hike so they could get a bit of altitude for the next day. We hiked up to a pretty lake at about 10,700 ft and lunched. The storm clouds were really condensing around the high peaks and we heard some thunder. 

Day 6

Because of the weather on the previous day I changed our departure time. Originally I thought we would be alright if we started by 5am but I wanted to set out at least an hour earlier to make sure we were off the peak before noon. My friend Ben met us at the hotel at 3am and we drove up to the Whitney Portal and we set off just before 4am in darkness. We had headlamps but they were hardly needed because of the nearly full moon. We set out a nice easy pace because we knew we were in for long day. The day hike up Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states at 14,494ft, is 22miles round trip with over 6000ft of elevation gain. The scenery once the sun came up was beautiful. Ben had left ahead of us before sunup and we didn’t catch up to him until trail crest with only about 2 miles left to the summit. He was hurting pretty bad, but he continued on like the soldier he is. By the time we reached the peak at 11am the clouds were really coming in. I knew we would get rain on the way down but none of the clouds looked too dangerous while we were up on the peak. We were treated to an improve show put on by some actors from LA. This was pretty amusing considering the location although it was pretty corky. After some lunch and pictures we began down just before noon. Ben again left ahead of us and we didn’t see him until the trail head. On the way down I decided to also summit Mt. Muir which is only about a half mile round trip away from the main trail. Dan and Suzy decided to forgo this peak and continue down the trail. I thought this peak was a lot of fun and it included some pretty tough scrambling at the top. I didn’t spend any time on the peak because the weather was really coming in and I wanted to catch back up with my friends. I ran down the trail and caught up with them after about an hour of our departure. We really got rained on pretty hard on the way down. We reached the trailhead a little after four making for about a 12.5 hour day. We thought Ben was ahead of us but he came down the trail about 15min behind us because he had to step off for a “break”. Everyone did really great on the hike. Dan and Suzy were pretty worried about the difficulty of the hike and the elevation but they proved much more capable than they thought. We all went for much deserved cheeseburgers and shakes afterwards. 

The next day Dan and Suzy drove up to Yosemite for the rest of their trip. I was going to go out for another few days in the backcountry but I wasn’t feeling up to it. I felt fine physically but I was tired from the week. Additionally my water filter was acting up and the permit office was totally packed with weekend hikers coming in. Because of this I decided to drive home for a couple of days of doing nothing which turned out to be quite nice.