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#12621 - 04/10/11 11:17 AM Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary
tyrus Offline


Registered: 03/10/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Bluegrass Commonwealth
Newbie here.

I signed on to do an American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation for the Mt. Whitney Trail (6-27 to 7-2). Our base will be at Trail Camp and trail work will be around there and below. Our first night we'll car-camp at Whitney Portal so we can get a real early start the next day. Our final day is set aside for a summit attempt.

I've done these particular strenuous backpacking volunteer vacations before and have had a fantastic time. Unfortunately I've encountered a few volunteers that after a couple of days of hard work were rendered useless. Don't want to seem callous but it is what it is.

I never want to be that type of person so here's my plan to acclimate prior to meeting up with the group. I'm going to stay 3-nights at Rock Creek Lodge (9,373 ft). My first full day, I'm looking at hiking the Mosquito Flat Trailhead which starts at 10,300 ft. I figured good trail to start out on. The next day considering going to Mammoth Mountain, riding the gondola to the top (11,053 ft), hang-out, have lunch and then take the Mammoth Mountain Trail back down. Right now have no plans for my third full day except for maybe eating pancakes in the morning.

Haven't been to this area of California before so my itinerary is based on my research. I'll be taking Diamox to get a feel for it because I'll be taking it again in September during my Mt. Kilimanjaro trek. My overall hiking endurance level right now is excellent but altitude is the great equalizer.

Any opinions or alternative ideas on ways to acclimate prior or what else to do with my time are very welcomed!


Edited by tyrus (04/10/11 11:28 AM)
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#12624 - 04/10/11 01:59 PM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: tyrus]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Originally Posted By: tyrus
Newbie here.

***

I'm going to stay 3-nights at Rock Creek Lodge (9,373 ft). My first full day, I'm looking at hiking the Mosquito Flat Trailhead which starts at 10,300 ft.


Another thing to love about this newsgroup. I didn't know about Rock Creek Lodge until I saw your post. Just did some research, and now I am booked for a few nights there before I do my July 23-25 hike up Whitney. I sure love Onion Valley, and that hike to Kearsarge Pass is so beautiful, but also like to explore new places. A great find! Thanks!

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#12632 - 04/10/11 04:56 PM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: tyrus]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Mammoth has had record levels of snow this year. So, hiking without crampons and an axe may be problematic.

If your plan is to go up to Mono Pass from Mosquito Flat, I am certain there will be snow there, too. Little Lakes Valley is about a pretty as it gets in the Sierra. Just remember it's called Mosquito Flat for a good reason.

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#12635 - 04/10/11 05:22 PM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: Akichow]
tyrus Offline


Registered: 03/10/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Bluegrass Commonwealth
Same here. I too learned about Rock Creek Lodge on this message board.

I most definitely will have crampons & ice axe. Wouldn't leave home without them


Edited by tyrus (04/10/11 05:27 PM)
_________________________
I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks. Daniel Boone



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#12637 - 04/10/11 06:11 PM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: tyrus]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1004
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: tyrus
Unfortunately I've encountered a few volunteers that after a couple of days of hard work were rendered useless.

That might be the work and not the altitude. LOL

Full acclimatization actually takes several weeks, but several days goes a very long ways to benefitting the moderate altitude hiker/climber/worker. Your schedule is conservative and commendable, and needed by many people. It's the one or none night people who are at the most risk.

From this high altitude tutorial
http://www.ismmed.org/np_altitude_tutorial.htm
are the following suggestions:

The key to avoiding AMS is a gradual ascent that gives your body time to acclimatize. People acclimatize at different rates, so no absolute statements are possible, but in general, the following recommendations will keep most people from getting AMS:
- If possible, you should spend at least one night at an intermediate elevation below 3000 meters.
- At altitudes above 3000 meters (10,000 feet), your sleeping elevation should not increase more than 300-500 meters (1000-1500 feet) per night.
- Every 1000 meters (3000 feet) you should spend a second night at the same elevation.

Remember, it's how high you sleep each night that really counts; climbers have understood this for years, and have a maxim "climb high, sleep low". The day hikes to higher elevations that you take on your "rest days" (when you spend a second night at the same altitude) help your acclimatization by exposing you to higher elevations, then you return to a lower (safer) elevation to sleep. This second night also ensures that you are fully acclimatized and ready for further ascent.

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#12643 - 04/10/11 09:39 PM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: tyrus]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7478
Loc: Fresno, CA
Tyrus, not sure if you are up for a long day of driving, but you might like the trip up to the White Mountains and the Bristlecone Pines. That would give you a unique and different view from the Sierra.

You can drive to 12,000' elevation -- higher than anywhere else in California. The views of the Sierra from across the Owens Valley are great to see. If you got an early start, you could even hike part or all the way to the top of White Mountain. The trail is a 7-mile 4wd road to the top. As early as your trip is, though, you might need to watch to see when the road opens up to the gate below the Barcroft Research Lab.

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#12646 - 04/11/11 05:16 AM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: tyrus]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
The last trail project I went to a couple drove all the way from Oregon to near the Mexican border and worked for one day and decided it wasn't working for them. They didn't think there was going to be any "walking". Now that's the person you don't want to be. wink
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#12648 - 04/11/11 05:21 AM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: Steve C]
tyrus Offline


Registered: 03/10/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Bluegrass Commonwealth
Hey Harvey, wish it would have been the altitude. : ) We were doing trail work along the Lost Coast Trail in Northern CA. We packed food for six days,our own gear and tools to carry also. It was unseasonably hot and hiking down the coastal sands each morning to the next work site wasn't easy and after the second day one volunteer had about enough. Three of us split most of his pack load and relegated his duties to cook and water boy. Lost Coast Trail is about 25 miles long and I recommend it. The scenery was fantastic but you definitely need to make sure food and just about everything else is in bear canisters and nothing is in or near your tent that would draw the attention of the wildlife. Black bears were everywhere and their not as used to visitors as the ones around Mt. Whitney seem to be. Another volunteer trip was in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area of Montana. A volunteer's back gave him problems but hey stuff happens and it could easily happen to me. Luckily, since we were about 13 miles in the middle of nowhere, mule teams hauled our gear & supplies to our camp site and back.

Thanks Steve! I'm an early riser and don't mind a long drive so White Mountains looks like a nice option. Will have to do some research on that area. It does look like all of my plans will be at the mercy of Mother Nature. Will keep reading posts on this forum for updates on trail conditions as my departure date approaches.
_________________________
I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks. Daniel Boone



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#12668 - 04/11/11 06:44 PM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: tyrus]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Interesting timing on your trip. With the heavy snow, and the fact that it sounds like the camp will be at Trail Camp, it sounds like snow may be a complicating factor. As a trail crew worker/leader, I draw the line at shoveling snow!

I note that they are still searching for a leader for the trip. I recall that I got qualified as a leader for AHS a year or so back. Hmmmmm. I did a trip with them a couple of years back in the Cottonwood Lakes basin. Very fun, although with mule support.

Tyrus, you should also consider BEING the leader for this trip. Even if I can't go, I will help you. Pays your fee.

I'm not aware of them using mules on the main trail. This would be a serious hump with all gear plus tools. Being acclimatized is a real good idea.

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#12672 - 04/11/11 07:00 PM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: Ken]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7478
Loc: Fresno, CA
Tyrus, I hope you consider Ken's suggestion!

For the rest of us:
    Project Registration Details
        and
    Crew Leader Information

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#12691 - 04/12/11 05:57 AM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: Steve C]
tyrus Offline


Registered: 03/10/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Bluegrass Commonwealth
The trail crew received an email from Libby Wile, AHS Volunteer Programs Manager on 3-10 confirming the trip and yes, in the email it stated there was a need for a crew leader. I waited a few days and on 3-15, I emailed Wile (still have email) asking if there was still a need for a crew leader, I'd do it. Have not heard back from Wile nor anyone else associated with this particular trip. Honestly this isn't the first time where communications with AHS wasn't the best. My last volunteer trip, AHS kept changing the date for the Crew Leader Orientation and when it was finally held, I wasn't notified. Will wait a little longer and give it a shot again.

Yep I'm most definitely wondering/concerned about supplies and everything else getting to Trail Camp. The highest I've climbed is 9,500 ft so that's a reason why I'm arriving a days earlier to acclimate as much as one can. Plus I've never been to the area and want to have time to enjoy myself too. I completely understand not everyone can get there early for some pre-acclimation hikes. Which by no fault of the trail crew, becomes a concern if we're packing all our gear to Trail Camp.

Snow snow snow. As someone who spent over 28 years in the economic development field, I know snow is needed for a healthy economy in that surrounding area but come on folks! It will be the last week of June. Haven't y'all had enough of that white stuff by then? Isn't there some ritual sun dance that can be done prior to help melt that stuff off most of the mountain? I'll be bringing crampons, ice axe and my luck rabbit's foot but fear I may not get past a few switchbacks beyond Trail Camp. If snow still covers the trail past Trail Camp, I'd go with an experienced person(s) on our summit day but absolutely no way with neophytes as myself. Let it sun let it sun let it sun.

Thanks for all the suggestions. The forum has been very valuable to me.
_________________________
I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks. Daniel Boone



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#12702 - 04/12/11 07:42 AM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: tyrus]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7478
Loc: Fresno, CA
Tyrus, I noticed the trail crew work is supposed to be from Whitney Portal UP TO Trail Camp. It seems foolish to have all the workers haul all the gear to the high-point and then walk DOWN the trail to do any work.

Outpost Camp, at ~10,000' would be a more centralized, easy to reach, base camp.

If you do reach the people, talk to them about Ken's offer to help, too.

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#12773 - 04/13/11 07:20 AM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: Steve C]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Yes, I found the AHS communication a little wanting, also. Nature of the beast, I suppose. I recall Libby was the person I worked through. Very nice.

As Steve mentioned, I am also a little surprised about the TC location. However, I think we are lacking information. I know there have been yearly crews working lower on the mountain, and it may actually be the area around TC that may need the work.


This is a SERIOUS trail, with much stonework involved. This is the hardest work that there is. I've done stonework on trails where a crew of 30 spent a week on 100 yards. I'm not carrying the 50# rockbar! smile

BTW, I'd be surprised if you needed the technical gear to climb at that time. You'll have snow to walk over in places, but you should have a clear lane by then.

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#12777 - 04/13/11 08:54 AM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: Ken]
tyrus Offline


Registered: 03/10/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Bluegrass Commonwealth
Thanks Ken and Steve. Will keep y'all informed as the date approaches. Will try to contact AHS again.

This trail work was rated very strenuous so I know it will be just that.

Good news on possible trail conditions above TC. I'm so pumped-up about getting to spend time around the Mt. Whitney area. We have some beautiful trails in Kentucky but it's always exciting to experience another part of the country.
_________________________
I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks. Daniel Boone



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#12781 - 04/13/11 09:27 AM Re: Prior MT. Whitney acclimation itinerary [Re: tyrus]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Well Tyrus you will find that the Sierras are spectacular. Be careful cuz they get in your blood. Can lead to serious addiction-like symptoms.

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