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#22404 - 03/29/12 08:41 AM Acclimation hikes
mountainhiker Offline

Registered: 03/29/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Mobile, AL
I received a permit to do the one day Mt Whitney hike on Wednesday, August 1. I have not made any arrangements yet but am tentatively planning on flying in to Las Vegas on Friday, July 27. I was thinking of doing three acclimation hikes in the Bishop and Lone Pine area on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (July 28 - 30). Was thinking about Bishop Pass, Kearsage Pass and White Mountain. Am also planning to rest on Tuesday, July 31. Will begin the Whitney hike on Wednesday morning(Aug 1)about 1:30 - 2:00 am. I have a few questions that I am hoping you can help me with:

1. Is this sufficent time to acclimate? Should I come to the area earlier? Forgot to mention that I live at sea level.

2. Are these three hikes too ambitious, i.e. will they consume too much energy?

3. Are there other acclimation hikes that you suggest?

4. What hotels do you recommend in the Lone Pine and Bishop areas?

Any other general comments or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your help.

#22412 - 03/29/12 09:24 AM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: mountainhiker]
Bob West Offline

Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 812
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Generally speaking, it would be better to sleep at high altitude for several days without descending to a lower altitude, like at the campgrounds in the Bishop Creek area, Whitney Portal, or the one along the Bristlecone Pine road. Sleeping lower in one of the many motels (Google, Google, Google) in Lone Pine and Bishop, and trying to use day hikes to acclimate, will not be enough considering the limited time you have for your trip.

All three of the day hikes you mention go to near 12,000 feet, and will consume a lot of energy. How fit are you? Have you done plenty of hiking in your home area? A one day hike of Mt. Whitney is pretty darn hard. Be ready.

Any of the days hikes will give you a good idea of your level of fitness, and give you a small taste of the pain and misery of going to 14,000+ feet and back in one day....ha ha.

But having said all of the above, drink plenty of water, take pain meds, and as an Austrian guide said to me,"suck it up, Princess!"

#22416 - 03/29/12 09:38 AM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: mountainhiker]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
Most of us here also live near sea level, so experiences are similar. Since this is such a big trip for you, you should acclimatize like crazy, so you are ready. Bob's advice about sleeping high is important. I use Horseshoe Meadows, at 10,000 elevation.

Here's my favorite acclimation location: Trail Peak: Warmup / acclimatization hike

I'd definitely try to get to White Mountain -- early in your trip, maybe, so you can do easier hikes closer to Whitney. It is such a contrast to the Sierra, so you will be getting another great experience. If you don't make the entire hike, you could just visit the Bristlecone Pine forest areas, since they are all above 10,000.

#22417 - 03/29/12 10:15 AM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: Steve C]
KevinR Offline

Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 586
Loc: Manchester, NH
I'd favor Bob West's advice a bit more than Steve's (sorry Steve!). Staying high (8-10K') for as many days as possible prior to Whitney is the key. If you've done rigorous conditioning in the months leading up to the Whitney trip, that should be sufficient for conditioning, and give your body a rest in the week before the big one. Let your body adjust to the altitude, and huge difference in climate between the very humid Alabama air and the exceptionally dry air of the Eastern Sierra. Drink lots of water, especially.

#22418 - 03/29/12 10:25 AM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: Steve C]
Bob West Offline

Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 812
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Grand View campground http:
is at 8,500, and is waterless. Terrific views of the East side of the Sierras and the Owens Valley. Take plenty of water in your vehicle. No bears there! But as other have said, the Eastern Sierra Nevada is very dry; drink, drink, drink.

#22420 - 03/29/12 10:29 AM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: Bob West]
KevinR Offline

Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 586
Loc: Manchester, NH
Bob -

I like Grand View also. Lots of space/privacy, yet plenty of outhouses. Driving to the nearby Bristlecone pine visitor center (or what's let of it) and also to the Shulmann Grove are good ways to get some mild exercise at altitude while letting the body adjust.

#22421 - 03/29/12 10:41 AM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: mountainhiker]
bobpickering Offline

Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 330
Loc: Reno, Nevada
There are many long threads here and on WPSMB on the subject of acclimatization. My two cents: When you are acclimatizing, you should try to sleep at the highest altitude at which you don't get sick or have symptoms. Places you might consider (in order of elevation) include Mammoth, the campground in the White Mountains, the Kearsarge Pass trailhead, Horseshoe Meadow, and the locked gate before hiking up White Mountain Pk.

The best options for the night before your climb are Horseshoe Meadow and Whitney Portal. Sleep is important. Since you plan to start up super early, I would sleep at the Portal and get an extra hour of sleep.

Remember that your acclimatization hikes are for acclimatization. The last few days before Whitney are too late for serious training.

Good luck.

#22434 - 03/29/12 06:08 PM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: mountainhiker]
Ken Offline

Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
MH, I also am a fan of Horseshoe Meadows at 10k. There are a number of dayhikes out of there: Trail Peak, Cirque Peak, New Army Pass, Cottonwood Pass, Trail Pass to Cottonwood Pass, Mt Muah to the south, many places in Cottonwood Lakes Basin.

You could stay at Whitney Portal first nite, hike to lone Pine Lake, hang out with Doug, go eat in town, drive up to HM for second and third nights.

If you are trying to avoid the camping aspect, staying in town, I'd maximize time above 10K. maybe third day be a climb of Langley or White.

I can't imagine staying in town anywhere but the Whitney Portal Hostel. Such a chance to rub shoulders with other hikers!

I agree with Bob that sleep is important. VERY. WP is a good place for the last night before arising.

#22435 - 03/29/12 06:19 PM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: Ken]
mountainhiker Offline

Registered: 03/29/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Mobile, AL
Thanks to all of you for replying. Based upon your comments I may try to come in a day earlier and may stay in the Mammoth Lakes least this way I'll be sleeping at 7700 - 8000 feet and near some nice day hikes. May try to incorporate Mono Lake via Mosquito Flat trailhead into one of the warm up hikes. I want to experience the beauty of the area and do some great hiking but don't want to expend too much energy, particularly the last couple of days before the big one. Looks like the Bristlecone Forest/White Mountain area would also be a good place to spend most of the day to experience nice scenery and altitude...thanks again for your suggestions

#22442 - 03/29/12 07:54 PM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: mountainhiker]
MooseTracks Offline

Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Mammoth is home to some incredible, minimal effort hikes at moderate altitude. GREAT choice!!

San Joaquin Ridge from Minaret Vista*****
Duck Pass from Lake Mary*****
Mammoth Crest from behind Lake Mary****
Shadow Lake from Agnew Meadow****
Rainbow Falls and Devils Postpile***
Convict Lake up to the creek crossing****

(Ratings are my own)

Good choice on moderate elevation for the first night, at least, as well. While sleeping high (Barcroft or Mosquito Flat) can help, if you shock your bod right off the bat you're going to be miserable for your Whitney day. Primarily, you probably won't be able to actually, well, SLEEP.

Plenty of fun to be had around here, as well, in terms of lower-energy, ease-into-it sort of hikes:

Piute Pass from North Lake
Lamarck Lakes from North Lake
Blue Lake from Sabrina
Treasure Lakes from South Lake
Bishop Lakes/Pass from South Lake
Green/Brown Lakes from South Lake

Kearsarge is also one of my, and a LOT of other people's, fave areas. Lots of company up there, and good fishing! Robinson Lake from Onion Valley will take you away from the crowds.

If you'd like pics to give you ideas, let me know.

Best of luck on your adventure!


PS: Just thought of another area of "something different" in the "northern" reaches (since you're going to be in Mammoth, it isn't that much further). The Bodie Hills are an incredibly diverse, open, and lonely place, all around 9K+. Pics here.

Edited by MooseTracks (03/30/12 07:39 AM)
Edit Reason: Added blurb about Bodie Hills

Flickr Pics

Think outside the Zone.

#22445 - 03/29/12 08:07 PM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: MooseTracks]
wbtravis Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1242
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Everyone has there favorites and I'm a big fan of Horseshoe Meadows because you are at 10,000' and the hiking can be relatively easy or very hard. I love Trail Peak as a destination but I do it as a loop through Cottonwood Pass. I love the walk from Cottonwood Pass to Trail Peak.

One not mentioned above is the Meysan Lake Trail out of Whitney Portal. It is a gorgeous trail to many easy or difficult destinations, which is under utilized.

Your acclimatization is what you make it.

#22459 - 03/30/12 07:23 AM Re: Acclimation hikes [Re: wbtravis]
SierraNevada Offline

Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1116
Loc: NorCal
Looks like most of this advice is for the southern Sierra near Whitney, and it's all good advice in my opinion. But you're indicating you will be staying in the Mammoth Lakes area, which is a long drive away.

I think you've got a good plan for hanging out and sleeping at 8,000+ in style in Mammoth. There are great day hikes at higher elevation in that area. You mention the Mosquito Flat trailhead - which is an easy drive from Mammoth and puts you at 10,000+ ft to start. The day hikes up Little Lakes Valley are awesome and perfect for acclimating. You wrote "Mono Lake" but I think you meant Mono Pass, which is about 12K and a good day hike off that scenic valley of lakes.

So it would work well to stick with the Mammoth area first before moving down to the lower Owen's valley. Once you make that move, you should take the advice given above and camp as high as you can without sleep problems - the Portal is good logistically and socially. Cottonwood Pass/Horseshoe Meadows area is easy access to/from the Portal so it's a no brainer and a great area to explore with water, toilets, tables and walk-in campsites at 10K.

Have a great trip! Here's a short video that includes an acclimation hike up Cottonwood Pass. We spent the night before in Mammoth and then we only had the one day to acclimate but we made it.