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#26395 - 07/31/12 11:11 PM Looking to hike Whitney....solo?
wvueers Offline


Registered: 07/23/12
Posts: 9
Loc: CA
bascially, i will only be in california for less than a year and i need to hike this bad boy before i leave. i didnt get a permit thru the lottery, but hoping i can score one with the mini lottery day-of (or before, depending on whether its a day hike or overnight).
i'm having trouble convincing friends to hike to 14.5k feet with me and like other hikes before, i am starting to wonder if i should go it alone. is this safe? or is there a way to meet other hikers in the same situation as me? any input is appreciated....thanks!

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#26396 - 07/31/12 11:21 PM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: wvueers]
VersatileFred Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 130
Loc: SoCal
You can meet other hikers by walking around the Whitney Portal Campground, the backpacker campground, and the Whitney Portal Store. As for safety, other people have gone solo. The main concern is how well you will do above Trail Crest with the altitude (see the recent post on Lower Trail Crest). If you leave early enough, you should have enough people around you on the trail. How well are you doing on your training hikes?

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#26398 - 07/31/12 11:34 PM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: VersatileFred]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
I think it is very safe, provided you are reasonably prepared (training AND acclimatization).

You are likely to share the trail with about 100 of your newest friends, so you will hardly be alone.

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#26401 - 08/01/12 12:01 AM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: wvueers]
Eugene K Offline


Registered: 08/15/11
Posts: 40
Loc: San Diego, CA
All my mountain hikes for the last year have been solo, including one where I scored an unused permit off a girl I found here on WZ, managed to keep up with her for about 15 minutes in pre-dawn darkness, didn't even get a good look at her, and only saw her once more about 6 hours later. I find it harder to find someone near my physical capacity who's headed in the same direction as myself, than to hike on my own.

Hiking with others does not necessarily make you safer. If you absolve yourself of responsibility and count on others to make decisions, you give yourself the license to behave irresponsibly and not to think things through. The biggest advantage to hiking as a group is that your body will be found sooner if things go really wrong.

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#26403 - 08/01/12 12:07 AM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: wvueers]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Another one of those issues on which reasonable people may disagree, since we see and evaluate risk differently. My personal view is that it is highly preferable, particularly as a first timer, to climb with a buddy or two. Yes, the route tends to have a lot of folks on it, and folks tend to be nice and help each other out, but in my opinion, there is enough that can go wrong that I'd want to have someone specifically looking out for me (and vice versa) who I trust and think is dependable (recognizing that even close friends can let you down sometimes). I probably have a lower threshold for risk than some others on this board--not to beat a dead horse, but the advice you receive here necessarily reflects those types of individual differences.

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#26406 - 08/01/12 08:39 AM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: Akichow]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Because it is Mt. Whitney, because there will 200 of your nearest and dearest friends on the mountain, I believe it can be done solo, if your skill level is just above beginner.

I have but one caveat, plan your hike and hike your plan. If you plan to be on the summit before 10 AM, you turn around at 10, if you are not there.

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#26410 - 08/01/12 09:52 AM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: wbtravis]
ChrisInLongBeach Offline


Registered: 02/05/12
Posts: 44
Loc: Long Beach, California
As training, I have hiking Gorgonio Peak as often as I could and running 10k the rest of the time.

I will be hiking Mt Whitney solo on 8/14. Maybe I'll see you...bright and early.



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#26432 - 08/01/12 10:56 PM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: ChrisInLongBeach]
wvueers Offline


Registered: 07/23/12
Posts: 9
Loc: CA
as far as training, ive been hiking baldy and jacinto in socal a few times. i'm biking over 15 miles almost everyday after work, which is all the time i can spare unfortunately. what would be a good acclimatization period? was hoping to go up over a 3 day weekend for the trip w some diamox in my back pocket.

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#26442 - 08/02/12 01:37 AM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: wvueers]
Eugene K Offline


Registered: 08/15/11
Posts: 40
Loc: San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: wvueers
what would be a good acclimatization period? was hoping to go up over a 3 day weekend for the trip w some diamox in my back pocket.


Without Diamox, 48 to 72 hours at Whitney Portal should substantially reduce the odds of you getting AMS during the ascent.

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#26444 - 08/02/12 07:49 AM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: Eugene K]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
It really depends on the individual. Many of my friends can go to 14,000' from sea level in a day with no ill effects. A few start puking at 8,000'. If you haven't been you will not know.

Many have problems with going to an elevation they are not use to going. Many from SoCal will start to wall out above 11,500'.

I can go to San G on a day with no ill effects but will have a four symptom AMS at 10,000' on an overnight trip, if I do not start taking Diamox three days prior to going.

Again, everyone is different and there are no stock answers.

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#26451 - 08/02/12 08:48 AM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: wbtravis]
Dave Offline


Registered: 04/01/12
Posts: 13
Loc: South Carolina, USA
I did a solo in June. And I come from the Carolina coast so no real mountains around here. Headache was all I really had. Spent 1 night at the portal campground, and 1 night at Trail Camp....then made the summit the next morning. No problems.

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#26464 - 08/02/12 05:27 PM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: wbtravis]
Eugene K Offline


Registered: 08/15/11
Posts: 40
Loc: San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: wbtravis
... everyone is different and there are no stock answers.


There are no stock answers, but there are odds. U.S. Army acclimatization guidelines call for staging for 72 hours at the 2500 m (8,200') altitude, and, according to their studies, that reduces the incidence of AMS at 14,000' from 60-85% (un-acclimatized, no Diamox) to 10-30%.

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#26482 - 08/03/12 08:21 AM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: Eugene K]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
What the Army has to does not apply. They are speaking in general terms, I am speaking in specifics.

I hike with a large diverse sample and have seen a lot of people go to elevation (11,500'+) for the first time. Generally, we are at 8,000' to 10,000' 15 hrs. + before going higher. I have seen people who don't have any problems in SoCal's Traverse Ranges, get debilitated in the Sierra with and without the aid of drugs.

You can't just take Diamox willy-nilly. Everyone has to find a dosing that works...and it ain't always what's commonly recommended.

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#26483 - 08/03/12 08:44 AM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: wbtravis]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: wbtravis
What the Army has to does not apply. They are speaking in general terms, I am speaking in specifics.

I hike with a large diverse sample and have seen a lot of people go to elevation (11,500'+) for the first time. Generally, we are at 8,000' to 10,000' 15 hrs. + before going higher. I have seen people who don't have any problems in SoCal's Traverse Ranges, get debilitated in the Sierra with and without the aid of drugs.

You can't just take Diamox willy-nilly. Everyone has to find a dosing that works...and it ain't always what's commonly recommended.


wb, one could say that you ARE speaking in terms of specifics---you. And thus, it applies to nobody else.

I think Eugene's post of odds is right on.

Someone who doesn't know how their body responds is far more well served by an understanding of what happens to MOST people, than anecdotes about what happens to any individual. The specific anecdote may apply to someone very suseptible, or very resistant.

I've had an ongoing argument with a member who advocates that everyone should do as he does....except that he climbs 10k mountains weekly, and lives at 7k feet. His experience is NOT going to be the same as the AVERAGE person, who is not likely in that shape, and is certainly not that acclimatized.

I certainly agree with your thoughts about Diamox.

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#26487 - 08/03/12 10:39 AM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: Ken]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7875
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Ken
I've had an ongoing argument with a member who advocates that everyone should do as he does....except that he climbs 10k mountains weekly, and lives at 7k feet. His experience is NOT going to be the same as the AVERAGE person, who is not likely in that shape, and is certainly not that acclimatized.

I can't imagine someone who lives that high advocating that we sea-level dwellers can even think of doing the same thing.

Over the years, I have noticed that those Colorado dwellers have very little experience with AMS, since most live around 5K.  You don't see much discussion of AMS on the Colorado-based 14ers.com.  Same goes for Reno area residents who live near the same elevation.  Anyone in those groups going to 14k is like sea-level people going to 9k.  Most people don't have trouble at that elevation.  The higher-elevation people would have to go to 19k to experience the same symptoms as the sea-level group.

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#26512 - 08/04/12 03:52 PM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: Steve C]
caplen Offline


Registered: 07/13/12
Posts: 9
Loc: Texas
Is one's home turf elevation really an indicator of how one might fare at higher elevations?

I know this is anecdotal - but I'm a sea-level dweller who has never had a problem with altitude. I've dayhiked to 13+K with no prior acclimation (slept at 8600 the night before), no Diamox, and no issues.

But I'm a slow hiker and an obsessive hydrator, so I always assumed those factors were more important.


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#26515 - 08/04/12 06:09 PM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: Ken]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Ken,

A survey by its very nature speaks to generalities. I speak to what can happen to individuals, even after they are acclimatized 15 to 48 hours, even after taking Diamox going above elevations they are use to going...basically over 11,500'.

The survey has a pretty big spread 10-30% still having problems. 30% is a big number still having problems after acclimatizing.

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#26519 - 08/04/12 11:09 PM Re: Looking to hike Whitney....solo? [Re: caplen]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7875
Loc: Fresno, CA
Caplen,

I can day hike above 13k without feeling any significant altitude issues, too. But 14.5k will affect me. And then camping and sleeping at 10k will affect me, too. Last summer, it took 3 days at 10k before I felt ok.

Everyone is different. You may be one of the few who will not have problems until you go even higher than Mt Whitney.

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