I posted this in the Portal Store Website, but figured I would post this here too...
So before I go any further let me tell you about my mind set. Last year my son had seen a news report about a 7 year old boy summiting Whitney (Tyler Armstrong
), he told me he wanted to do it too. I had done a bunch of research and entered the lottery and got our entry date of June 9th. While talking to people though, a lot of people told us we wouldn't make it with the little guy, it was too hard, too high, and he wouldn't do well with the elevation. I was at REI and one of the employees there who has been to the top on 4 separate occasions told me not to expect to get past Outpost camp and if I was lucky Trail Camp with my son. But not to sleep there because it was all rock and nobody would get any sleep because of the altitude and wind. He was sure we wouldn't get to the top so we shouldn't get out hopes up. All I heard was negativity about bringing my son to the Mt. Whitney.
On top of everything else I picked up a nasty chest cold the week before we were supposed to leave. So my head was filled with doubt. After talking with my wife we decided we would Camp at the Whitney Portal Campground on Friday and then do as we were told, camp out Outpost camp, maybe hike to Trail camp, but that is about it. So that was the plan.
We got to the Lone Pine Ranger station on Friday 6/8 to pick up our permit. My son thought the place was really cool with all the interactive stuff to do. Gotta say the Rangers were really nice offering advice about traveling up to a higher altitude with our little dude. We got our permit and wag bags and off we went. Stopped at the store next to look around and walk around the area, then we got to our spot at the campground.
The Whitney Portal Campground was probably one of the nicest, cleanest, most well kept campgrounds I have ever been too. We were right near a stream and we saw some people fish so I got the poles ready and my son and wife were both able to catch quite a few fish. In fact, it was the first time my son had ever caught a fish out of a stream, let a lone five of them. My wife was able to catch her first fish from a stream too. Before that the only time my son caught a fish was at some trout pools, so it doesn't count...same with my wife.
After a wonderful night at the campground we got an early start on the trail, I think we left at 7:00AM. Had the bags packed and ready to go.
At Outpost Camp we had some lunch and my son was still ready for more. We all felt great, no signs of altitude sickness, so we figured heck might as well. So we continued on.
We got to Trail Camp later that day after seeing some amazing views. We had some Mountain House Lasagna and some other food and knocked out pretty early. I woke up first the next day got some coffee ready, my wife got up next and we both figured we would hang out around Trail Camp for a bit and maybe head down to Lone Pine Lake or Outpost Camp. That is until my son woke up and said "Okay, lets go up top."
After some breakfast and making sure we had plenty of water and snacks we hit the switch backs. My son did great, my only concern was when we hit the cables. A little sketchy for a little dude, but he made it.
At trail crest the view was awesome and my son got to see his first marmot. We stopped and took a break. We also ran into a couple who were slowly working their way up as well. We ended up with two more in our party after that. I have to say, you meet some fantastic people on the trail.
After what seemed to be miles, we got to a section where we had to cross some snow. This worked out great because my wife had already sucked down 3 liters of water. So I put some snow in her camelback and added some of my water, then held it under my shirt to try get it to melt. At this point I had only gone through maybe 1.5 liters. So I was still okay. A few long minutes later we made it to the top. We took a well deserved break, my son feasted on our new friends beef jerky and hummus. Some of the smarter folks up top had subway sandwiches and beers....I know what to do next time.
Headed down a little later, ran out of water in my camelback on switchback 50 on the way down. I was sharing with my son as he was out too. I did have a gatorade bottle full of melting snow so I wasn't too worried. My son with his small legs was taking his time, so my wife went ahead so she could get some water ready and some food. We got back to trail camp ate, drank and slept.
The next day we got up bright and early as usual, packed up all of our stuff, I was the lucky guy who got to carry the wag bags....and we headed down. Took a few breaks but made it to the store just past lunch time for some monster burgers and fries.
Needless to say, we are two very proud parents. My whole family far surpassed what I thought they could/would do. Now my son is trying to think of where to go next. He is open to suggestions.
As for the naysayers....pffft, we made it.