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6 year old on Whitney
#26363 07/30/12 09:16 PM
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On July 26th my wife, daughter and myself left Orange County
with plans to climb Split Mt.
We arrived in Big Pine and checked in a motel by 10pm.
Next day we're at Split mountain trailhead ready for action.
I've done Split twice and remember the trail as not maintained and easy to lose at times.

We got to the first bushwhacking section with overgrown wild rose bush and other sharp and thorny plants. I made a valiant effort and came out looking like I lost lost a fight with 10 feral cats.
It was no place for my daughter, so we returned to the car and went to Lone Pine.
To our surprise there were 3 overnight permits available, so we took the opportunity and decided to try Whitney.
By 1 PM we were on the trail, the latest I've ever started a hike.
My daughter was excited at first but soon the difficulty of the hike started to get to her.



We ran into a couple with a 4 year old coming down. The mom had a child carrier and the little girl was walking. They made the summit and with that news my daughter got more ambitious.

It was around 5:30 PM when it became to much for my daughter.
We were about 30-45 minutes from Trail Camp and with temperature dropping we decided to camp just above Trail-side Meadow.
After the tent was set, she wanted to play as usual, and her energy level came back up. Things were looking up.



During the night we all slept soundly and at 5 AM we got up, had a few snacks and we were on the trail by 5:30AM.
Counting the switchbacks helped at first but that got boring
after a while. That was the biggest factor in her attitude.
It was just to boooooring. Still we pushed on, trying to come up with different games that kept her interested. We made Trail Crest by 9AM.


Throughout the hike, we stopped every hour or so to eat and hydrate and to enjoy the amazing views. I am in awe every time I'm there.
The back side was a little windy, about 5-7MPH, and my daughter was " afraid she was going to get blown off the mountain".

The final push, her energy level was high, moving better then some adults on the mountain.
We made the summit at 11:55AM.



I carried a treat for her, a small carton of Horizon strawberry milk. She said it was the best!



We spent about one hour on the summit, in perfect conditions, with a lot of great people.
The hike down was uneventful, a few complaints about having to go up, on the way down, before the Trail Crest.



We made it back to camp at 5:15 PM. Before we went to sleep she told me she wanted to see the stars at night, so after the moon set, I woke here up. We spent 20 minutes looking at the sky, counting shooting stars and making wishes.
It was the best 20 minutes of my life!
The next day we hiked out and were having pizza in Lone Pine
by 11.00AM
I know this has become somewhat of a controversy on the other forum, how young is too young to be high in the mountains.
Our daughter has hiked Langley last year, Baldy this year, numerous other hikes and long bike rides. During this hikes she performed better than some adults I know.
The biggest challenge for kids is not physical, in my opinion, but mental. It can be a little boring and they lose interest.
I also want to teach her that hard work = rewards. For her accomplishment she's getting a trip to the American Girl Doll store in Los Angeles.
During the hike, we suggested a few times that it's OK to turn back, but she really wanted the reward, so she kept on pushing.
During the hike we watched her closely for signs of AMS.
My wife and I have some experience in the mountains, I proposed to her on Huascaran in Peru, we can recognize the early symptoms.
We checked the weather, we kept hydrated and fueled, we adjusted layers according to temp I think we did everything right.
We are proud of our daughter's accomplishment and she's looking forward to her reward.
Sorry for gushing.
Julius
link to pictures
http://jsclimbs.zenfolio.com/p650590845/slideshow

Link to video on top
http://jsclimbs.zenfolio.com/p650590845/e1896bc92







Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Julius S. #26364 07/30/12 10:21 PM
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Wow! You've got to be proud. Congratulations to you and your wife ...and of course to Nicole.

And thanks for sharing the pictures.

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Steve C #26368 07/30/12 11:16 PM
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"It was the best 20 minutes of my life!"

I should say SO! Congratulations!

(I'll bet it beat fighting feral cats too.) mad

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Julius S. #26370 07/31/12 05:40 AM
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Great Job you three what a an amazing effort .. Its good to teach them about pushing through hard times.. Sounds like you both (parents) took all the proper precautions.. EXCELLENT JOB !!

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Julius S. #26371 07/31/12 06:18 AM
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That's awesome.

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Julius S. #26372 07/31/12 06:46 AM
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Congrats on three of you getting to the top. Earlier this year my wife, my 6 year old son and I got to the top as well and it was an amazing feeling. It is one of those things your daughter will be able to look back on for the rest of her life. I also agree with you about hard work = rewards lesson too. In my opinion getting kids out on the mountains early is the best thing you can do...a win win.

Although not so much on this board, but many other places we heard Whitney isn't the place for a child that young. Even at REI they Whitney guide was telling us he wouldn't make it and it isn't safe. BLAH BLAH BLAH I say. Your daughter made it, my son made it and they both have a great story to tell.

Congrats once again to your daughter and your family!!!

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
pretendingtowork #26373 07/31/12 09:31 AM
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Congrats on a successful summit and safe return.

Perhaps we can agree that this is one of those individual parenting decisions.

I read over and over on these boards the implication that "because[i] I[/i] did it safely, it must be safe." Yes, our brains are wired to emphasize the positive. But of course, the fact that someone (or even many someones) do something that carries risk, but is (are) not injured, does not mean that the activity is without risk. It just means that the risk in this/these specific situations remained just that -- risk, i.e, the potential for injury, rather than actual injury.

And is there risk climbing Whitney to both adults and children -- risk above and beyond simply doing the activities of normal life? Of course there is, and we all know them well (e.g.,falls, HAPE, HACE, AMS, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, hypothermia, sun burn, to name just a few of the more obvious). I remember a report a few years back about a boy scout who got HAPE and died at a relatively low altitude (10,000?) Can these risks be reduced through good practices (or increased through bad practices)? Sure. Can they be eliminated? No.

Me, I would not take a child under the age of 10 to the summit of Whitney. A child over 10, well, for me, that would be an individual determination based on their characteristics and prior experiences. If someone else evaluates risk differently, well that's what parenting is all about.

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Julius S. #26374 07/31/12 10:11 AM
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Great job! I'm sorry but I had to laugh at the last picture. The fact that your wife is laughing too doesn't make feel too bad though. Your daughter looks like what most people feel heading back to Trail Crest. You have reason to gush. Congrats.

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Akichow #26375 07/31/12 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted By: Akichow
And is there risk climbing Whitney to both adults and children -- risk above and beyond simply doing the activities of normal life? Of course there is, and we all know them well (e.g.,falls, HAPE, HACE, AMS, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, hypothermia, sun burn, to name just a few of the more obvious).


Good point, Karin, but I'd toss in weather as well - even in sunny, warm summer. Maybe especially summer, since people let their guard down. I believe it was August last year that quite a few dozen happy hikers on the main trail - and many were children - became convinced in a couple of hours' time that they were going to die in the flash flood that took place. That day's forecast called for a 30% chance of rain, and what followed was an epic deluge.

Our daughter has been hiking western National Parks since she was very young, but we brought her along gradually. At four, she was strolling a couple of miles in places like Mesa Verde, Bryce Canyon, rim trails at the Grand Canyon, etc. By six, she had graduated to tougher Grand Canyon trails (not R2R) and more strenuous hikes in the Colorado Rockies. By age eight she was hitting harder stuff in the Cascades and the PNW volcanoes (never beyond a glacier, though). By ten, she was regularly doing 11K' trails in the Sierra and learning the fundamentals of a harness, a rope and a belay device, albeit on small 30-foot cliffs and the climbing gym. It wasn't till last year, at 11, that I felt comfortable taking her up Whitney for a multi-night backpack. She also climbed the Mountaineer's Route on Cathedral Peak in Yosemite last year, a C3 climb with a touch of C4. Now she insists she's ready for the Whitney MR (although that will have to wait for next year for her).

The point being, kids are different, parents are different, competencies are different, dynamics are different. In the end, though, it's up to the parent to exercise good judgment and reasonable care in placing their children in a potentially dangerous situation in the mountains. And I emphasize the point, only if the child wants to. Some, like Julius, will embrace that responsibility. Others won't - like the damnfool couple last year who sent their young, AMS-stricken son back down to Trail Camp with complete strangers while they continued on to the summit. I'll always wonder what that poor kid was thinking during that ordeal, to be essentially abandoned by his summit-fevered parents when he needed them the most.

Bottom line, when parents bring their kids on remote, high elevation adventures, they often picture everything going right and what a neat-o, cool adventure they're going to have. Far too few look at it from a realistic standpoint (insert "experienced") and give enough consideration to the potential dangers that exist, and how they'll keep their child safe if one (or more) of those potentially bad things happens.

Julius, great job! Glad it all worked out well. My favorite line in your TR was the one about telling your daughter several times that it was OK to turn back. You can never reinforce that enough with a child who may be caught up in the parents enthusiasm for a hike or climb.

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Julius S. #26383 07/31/12 04:16 PM
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Congrats on this amazing accomplishment! The pictures were just beautiful, even though i know it was better in real life. Loved the story too. You have an awesome family - congrats!


"If you're gonna be stupid, you've got to be tough."
Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Akichow #26385 07/31/12 05:19 PM
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This appears to be the leading article on the internet re children and altitude.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1112806/

Mentions, among other things,specific risks of altitude to infants under the age of 1 (subacute infantile mountain sickness), and about problems identifying altitude-related issues particularly in children under 5.

Also makes a recommendation re sleeping altitude.

"Until further information suggests otherwise, when trekking in a remote setting a conservative approach would be to sleep no higher than 2000m for children aged under 2 and no higher than 3000m for children aged 2-10 years. High treks are no place for little children."

Here is a critique of the Pollard article, which agrees re sleeping altitude for those 2 and under but that contends that, otherwise, Pollard's recommendations are too conservative. Pollard's response follows.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1113767/

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Julius S. #26404 07/31/12 11:08 PM
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Look who else crossed their paths:

Bob R and Nicole

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Steve C #26443 08/02/12 06:10 AM
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Awesome. You managed the risks and overcame the obstacles (mainly boredom). Nicole will appreciate that the rest of her life. Love that frumpy "are we there yet?" photo. Classic.

$0.02
Few parents and even fewer kids are capable of this challenge. The risks should not stop those that are educated and truly prepared to take appropriate action if necessary. Still need to watch out for parents who push too hard and can't recognize warning signs staring them in face.

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
SierraNevada #26462 08/02/12 12:38 PM
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Congratulations to all three of you for approaching this safely and successfully. I loved the "best 20 minutes of my life" comment. Well done.

Brent N

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Julius S. #26469 08/02/12 07:52 PM
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Congratulations!!

Thanks for sharing your story.

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Steve C #26472 08/02/12 09:06 PM
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I forgot to mention that we ran in to Bob. I heard a lot about him but never met until coming down on Sunday. Great guy!
Thanks for all the kind words and understanding. We're not trying to set any record. We are only encouraging our daughter to love and enjoy the outdoors as much as we did growing up.

Julius

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Julius S. #26521 08/05/12 12:42 AM
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Ridiculously adorable.

Love that last shot, too, on the climb back up to Trail Crest. That's exactly how I feel at that point too. smile

Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Whitney Fan #26775 08/09/12 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted By: Whitney Fan
"It was the best 20 minutes of my life!"

I should say SO! Congratulations!

Yeah, that's what I thought too!! Got goose bumps when I read that part.

Originally Posted By: Whitney Fan
(I'll bet it beat fighting feral cats too.) mad

Laughing to tears!!!

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)
Re: 6 year old on Whitney
Julius S. #26794 08/10/12 04:08 PM
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"The biggest challenge for kids is not physical, in my opinion, but mental. It can be a little boring and they lose interest. "

This is exactly my experience, and one reason I love the Sierra over the Appalachians, especially with the kids. Every five steps or so, something about the scenery changes, even if its a different lizard behind the next rock. Not so in the Green Tunnel. I have gone so far as to say kids don't get tired; they get bored. Obviously not literally true, but boredom sets in way before they run out of physical energy. Good reason for mixing it up: a stop to play around the lake or fish, identify flowers, play hide and seek with the wildlife, trade plains for peanuts, test the echo, all the things we are really out there for anyway.


Wherever you go, there you are.
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