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#17573 - 08/16/11 08:33 PM 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8
socalwingnut Offline


Registered: 07/12/11
Posts: 10
Loc: Garden Grove, CA
I apologize for the length of this TR up front. I had a lot to say so please forgive me, for I am verbose.

In February our group (later dubbed the "Crazy 8") came up with the idea to hike Mt. Whitney. John, the leader of our group, had attempted Mt. Whitney several times in the past with 3 summits to his credit. We trained hard, got in the best shape possible (I personally lost 40+ pounds) and departed from Orange County early Friday morning. After taking the relaxing route up 395 and then cruising around Lone Pine, we arrived at the Whitney Portal Campground on August 6 at around 2:00 p.m. We set up camp and began our acclimatization process.

On Saturday afternoon, we hiked to Horseshoe Meadows/Cottonwood Lakes and after a relatively easy 10 mile (or so) round trip we headed back to camp for a dinner in the dark. We pronounced ourselves ready for "The Big One".

By the time Monday rolled around, we had our plan in place: We would take it easy all day, pick up our permits, have an early dinner and try to get a few hours sleep before hitting the trail head just after midnight. Everyone awoke at around 11:30 on Monday night and assembled our backpacks, food and other equipment. We left our camp site at around midnight and drove the short distance to the Portal parking lot. Our group consisted of my good friend and trail Boss John (58), his wife Johanna (?), their daughter Kristin (30), their other daughter Sarah (28), Sarah's husband Zach (28), John and Johanna's son Patrick (20), Me (49) and my son A.J. (19). We all squared up, posed for a few pictures at the Trail head sign and headed up the trail.

About a mile or so into the hike, our first sign of trouble occurred. Kristin had been feeling a little sick for a couple hours and it finally caught up to her. She looked really sick and I didn't know what to think. Maybe it was just a small, temporary thing or maybe she was really sick. She started talking about turning back, but the family and the rest of the crew) encouraged her to try a little longer. Patrick picked up her pack and carried it for her and we began the slow ascent once more. During the first couple hours we would hike for about 15 minutes and then rest for about 10 minutes. Needless to say, this slowed our ascent considerably. We moved along at a slow pace until just past Lone Pine Lake, where Kristin had an incredible, miraculous recovery. By the time we hit Outpost Camp, she showed no signs of the earlier illness and we began to match a 9-hour ascent pace interval at each milestone. We passed Consultation lake at sunrise (the Alpenglow was incredible) and the group was flying as we hit Trail Camp. We stopped for a rest break just before the switchbacks, with our group refreshed, motivated and ready to conquer the feared back and forth monster.

As we began the switchbacks, the weather was perfect. The sun was up and we were in the lower 50's. John, our leader was setting a comfortable pace designed to get us to the summit well before our expected 12:00 noon turnaround limit. After approximately 20 switchbacks, John began to slow down noticeably. Soon he was stopping for breaks around every 10-15 minutes. He said he was just getting winded and he asked me to take the point. By now, I was so pumped up that I began flying up the switchbacks, mindful of my son just behind me. Our plan was to maintain at least 5 feet between each hiker to avoid collisions and to allow for slips and slides. Around 10 switchbacks into my lead, I noticed we had started to drop the rest of the group. My son and I would charge ahead for a few minutes, then wait while the rest closed the gap. We stopped for a rest at the cables and I felt incredible! Unfortunately, John was not feeling so good. He said he felt like his lungs were hurting from the altitude, but said he felt fine otherwise. His legs were doing great, but his breathing was what was slowing him down. We dropped the pace again and made Trail Crest. (I am not sure what time it was because my watch had flipped out around 2:00 a.m.)

After another rest and not a few photographs, our group pressed on towards the prize. As we approached Mt. Muir, I asked a fellow hiker what time it was (10:45) it became evident that we would need to split off from the main group if we intended to make the summit before noon. At the next rest break, the rest of our group encouraged us for the umpteenth time to press on and that they would meet up with us later. My son and I agreed and made a dash for the summit. When we took off, I thought to myself that a few of our group would not summit that day. I felt bad for them because we had trained so hard and I felt like we were a team. On the other hand, they were encouraging us to go, so we pressed on. We were flying up the trail now, past the windows and with the Hut in our sights, we approached the final push through the snow trench before the final leg to the Summit. Right around then, my son asked me to slow it down a bit. I asked if he was OK and he said he felt a little dizzy. A few days later he would tell me that he wasn't sure if it was me in front of him or Patrick or our Assistant Pastor, Andrew (who was not on the trip with us). Anyway, I asked if he wanted to stop and he said, no, just go a little slower. I gotta tell ya, that was tough. We were excited and the hut was RIGHT THERE, but this is my son we're talking about and I was worrying that he was experiencing the early stages of Altitude Sickness. At this point he seemed to shake it off and we made the final 100 or so steps and touched the Smithsonian Hut! I wanted to high-five and hug him, but he just looked spaced out. He said no, he was fine, just tired after being up since last night. As we signed the book, I asked another hiker what time it was. He said it was 11:40. We had made it before 12:00! We walked over to a nice flat rock to have lunch. My son put his pack down, laid his head on it, covered his eyes with his hat and went to sleep. I sat next to him reflecting upon what we'd accomplished. All of the months of training and dieting we had done to achieve this goal and I had a nice little cry with genuine tears of joy. I was so proud of us!

I figured we'd stay at the summit for about 30 minutes and then head back down for a Portal Cheeseburger before dark. I was about to wake A.J. up when I heard a whoop of triumph coming from the trail. No way! Sure enough, it was the other 6 from our group making the final 100 yard push. They had all made it! I grabbed my camera to capture the moment. Sarah and Kristin broke into an impromptu celebratory dance (complete with cabbage patch). It was 12:15 and our entire group had overcome adversity and made the summit. We all enjoyed some time together, took a bunch of pictures and began our descent around 1:30.

Now, I figured if we picked up the pace we should be able to make it back right around dark. I was certain that since everyone had reached the summit, we were all back in shape and ready to make a dash down the mountain. I was wrong.

As we headed back towards Trail Crest, the cruel quirk of a 400 foot ascent just before trail Crest took its toll on John's burning lungs. We took several breaks on the way and proceeded down the switchbacks. By the time we refilled our water from the spring on the switchbacks we were losing time. When we finally reached Trail Camp, it was around 5:20 p.m. After taking a break, we decided to split up as a group once more. My son and I made a dash for home and did not stop for more than a minute until we reached the Portal at 8:10. My knees were on fire, but my knee braces hurt even worse. I saw my wife, Kim and my other son, Mark near the trail head and yelled out to them.

While we enjoyed our Cheeseburgers (we ordered for everyone on the hike) we kept a lookout for bears (per Doug Sr. warning). Around 8:50, Patrick and Kristin popped out at the Trail head. It turns out that they had incredibly run almost the entire distance between Lone Pine Lake and the trail head! Their plan was to get to the Portal Store before the grill closed. Their disappointment turned to joy when we announced that we had already secured the famous cheeseburgers and they were mere feet way, tucked safely into a nearby bear locker. As they enjoyed their dinner, they told us that John and Johanna were exhausted and had sent them on ahead while Zach and Sarah escorted them down. As we were waiting for the last of our groups to return, the bear activity started to pick up. We decided top take my wife and others back to the camp site so they could secure the food more properly. Kristen, Patrick, Mark and I returned to the trail head to wait for the rest of our group. We returned to the trail head around 9:45 and began our vigil. I was starting to get worried and the tension was clearly evident on Kristen and Patrick's faces. In the back of my mind, I reminded myself that John and Johanna were in great shape and that their fitness would pay off. Around 10:00, we noticed a set of 3 headlamps coming down the trail from above. Since there were 4 left in our group I didn't think it was them, but lo and behold, there they were! It turns out Zach had given his headlamp to John and noted that since the moon was full, he could pretty much see the trail anyway.

John and Johanna looked exhausted! We got them loaded into the SUV and headed back to our campsite. We got them into their motor home and nuked their burgers and fries. The rest of us went off to bed for a well needed night of sleep!

We had done it. We overcame adversity and still achieved our goal.

The next morning, everyone awoke refreshed and starving! We made it to the Portal Store for the Famous Pancake Breakfast. We feasted on Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and hash browns and toasted our success. We shopped for our official "I climbed Mt. Whitney" t-shirts and proudly went back to camp to pack up and head back to Orange County.

A couple things to note:

1. We trained hard for this trip. We hiked Mt. Baldy several times and trained at 1000 Steps Beach in Laguna Beach every week for the last 2 to 3 months. Burning your legs on those steps for several laps got us used to the climb. Like they say in the SEALs; The more you sweat in training the less you bleed in combat. Not quite the same thing, but you get the gist of what I'm saying.

2. We acclimated well and 5 of the group used Diamox. A.J., Patrick and I did not and it seems only A.J. experienced mild symptoms. I did not wish to endure the side effects, so I declined the Diamox.

3. No matter how hard you train, there is always some variable that you flat cannot do anything about.

4. The weather was absolutely PERFECT.

I can't stress these three things enough: Acclimate, Hydrate and EAT. I packed 4 Snickers Peanut Butter bars, 4 Shot Blocks and 2 PB&J's. I drank about 100 0z of Gatorade and about 150 oz. of water. I NEVER felt tired, achy or short of breath at any point on the hike and that was probably due to the days of acclimation and the training program that John designed for us. It was John who developed our training regimen and kept us motivated. I don't believe I would have made the summit without his expertise and encouragement.

In the end it came down to preparation and great fortune with the weather. Next time, I hope to get an earlier start (around 10 or so) and enter The Whitney Zone around midnight with the goal of reaching the Summit at or around sunrise. Others in our group have discussed a two-day strategy. All in all, I can't wait for the next time...I'm officially hooked!

Here's to 2012!

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#17575 - 08/16/11 09:59 PM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: socalwingnut]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Congratulations getting the entire group of 8 to the top! And thanks for the report. It is good reading.

That has got to be a grueling day to be awake and hiking for 22 hours.

It would be cool if you could post some pictures of the group.

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#17598 - 08/17/11 06:26 PM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: Steve C]
socalwingnut Offline


Registered: 07/12/11
Posts: 10
Loc: Garden Grove, CA
Hey Steve. Here's the link to a couple photos of our group.

http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/galleries/17597/Crazy_8#comments




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#17604 - 08/17/11 08:04 PM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: socalwingnut]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
Congrats! It's great when everyone in a party can summit together.

Can't do midnight though, I'd nod off on the hike.

No one ever believes me when I tell them going up the Switchbacks is not the hardest part. For me it's always the trek back to Trail Crest and the last few miles back to the Portal.

2012? You still have about a month or two before the postholing hell starts. grin

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#17606 - 08/17/11 09:39 PM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: socalwingnut]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Thanks for the pictures. Love those dance moves! grin

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#17609 - 08/18/11 05:42 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: Steve C]
Burchey
Unregistered


Originally Posted By: Steve C
Thanks for the pictures. Love those dance moves! grin


I don't love those dance moves. I think it's disrespectful to the global mountaineering community, local SAR, the employees at the Portal store, and to the very mountain itself.

Have you no shame?

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#17613 - 08/18/11 07:03 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: ]
hiker1031 Offline


Registered: 08/15/11
Posts: 1
Loc: Orange County, CA
Please tell me your kidding! If not, lighten up. Doing a celebratory dance at the top is disrespectful? Explain that one.

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#17615 - 08/18/11 07:16 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: hiker1031]
Burchey
Unregistered


Originally Posted By: hiker1031
Please tell me your kidding! If not, lighten up. Doing a celebratory dance at the top is disrespectful? Explain that one.


Haha, you created an account just to reply to me! Hi-five!

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#17616 - 08/18/11 07:21 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: hiker1031]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
I think Burchey's objection is that they weren't wearing tights and with a sack of oranges hanging from their pack.

the precedent has been set for Whitney Dance Parties. Deviation will not be tolerated.

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#17617 - 08/18/11 07:25 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: tdtz]
Burchey
Unregistered


Originally Posted By: tdtz
I think Burchey's objection is that they weren't wearing tights and with a sack of oranges hanging from their pack.

the precedent has been set for Whitney Dance Parties. Deviation will not be tolerated.


Whoa, somebody did that? Nice.

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#17618 - 08/18/11 07:28 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: tdtz]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Dancing....respecting the mountain...or not. It never ceases to amaze me what sorts of activities/topics can arise from walking up and down a trail.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#17619 - 08/18/11 07:32 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: ]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
Burchey,
you haven't seen this video yet?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU5yrU-IszM

everytime I watch it I get out of breath vicariously.

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#17620 - 08/18/11 07:38 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: tdtz]
Burchey
Unregistered


Bee, I'm still waiting on my summit-make-out-party, haven't seen that one yet

Originally Posted By: tdtz
Burchey,
you haven't seen this video yet?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU5yrU-IszM

everytime I watch it I get out of breath vicariously.


Haven't seen this video. White women are funny.

On a somewhat related note, I was going to try and make an enormous pile of rocks ( if they are available ) on the summit of Russell this weekend - try to raise it up several feet. I figured it would be a good use of my energy.

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#17627 - 08/18/11 11:41 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: ]
socalwingnut Offline


Registered: 07/12/11
Posts: 10
Loc: Garden Grove, CA
You're a funny dude, Burchey, whether you mean to be or not...

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#17628 - 08/18/11 11:51 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: ]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
"On a somewhat related note, I was going to try and make an enormous pile of rocks ( if they are available ) on the summit of Russell this weekend - try to raise it up several feet. I figured it would be a good use of my energy."

reminds me of a time scuba diving with a buddy and we were doing our first deep dive. we were down about 98.5' and he became obsessed with going down 100'. So he started digging a hole in the ocean floor and putting his dive computer/depth gauge in the hole trying to get to 100'. After a little while it was pretty clear that he wasn't in his right mind...in fact, he was totally narc'd. Another dive buddy and I had to somewhat forcefully get him to start toward the surface. When he was doing it, he said that it was the most important thing in the universe. Now he just laughs about it because it was so foolish.

What I am trying to say is, I totally approve of trying to raise the summit of Russell by a few feet.

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#17629 - 08/18/11 11:55 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: ]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: Burchey
On a somewhat related note, I was going to try and make an enormous pile of rocks ( if they are available ) on the summit of Russell this weekend - try to raise it up several feet. I figured it would be a good use of my energy.


Burchey, six feet would get it to 14,100 - that's a nice, round number. If you're feeling as frisky as Tom's diving buddy, another 66 feet would get it past Mt. Sill on the Fourteener list. Your work could be christened the Burchey Pinnacle.

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#17631 - 08/18/11 12:32 PM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: Bulldog34]
Burchey
Unregistered


You guys are cracking me up with the scuba/pinnacle nonsense.

I'm in.

If I'm feeling strong when I get up there, and there is a reasonable supply of 30-60 lb stones up there, they're getting stacked.

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#17654 - 08/19/11 12:37 PM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: ]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
Originally Posted By: Burchey
You guys are cracking me up with the scuba/pinnacle nonsense.

I'm in.

If I'm feeling strong when I get up there, and there is a reasonable supply of 30-60 lb stones up there, they're getting stacked.

Be sure and pack your forklift...

CaT
_________________________
If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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#17684 - 08/20/11 10:13 PM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: ]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
I expect nothing less than this from you:
Peak 6582

I'll be checking in a little over a month.

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#17707 - 08/22/11 09:35 AM Re: 8/10 Trip report: The Crazy 8 [Re: 2600fromatari]
Burchey
Unregistered



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