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#37986 - 06/25/14 07:52 PM Hiking Whitney alone
SRojas Offline


Registered: 06/25/14
Posts: 6
Loc: California
I am planning on hiking Whitney at the end of July. I have been training and hiking the high peaks in southern california and feel like I am in pretty good shape.
My plan of hiking with a friend has not materialized so i am now deciding if it is wise as a single woman to try the hike alone.
Would appreciate feedback.

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#37987 - 06/25/14 07:59 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: SRojas]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
You'll get lots of views. Here's mine.

Hiking solo as a woman on Whitney has not concerned me. But hiking on a 14k peak has challenges and dangers that are unrelated to your gender. I think it is good to go with at least one person, and look out for each other. For example, if one of you gets an altitude-related issue, your judgment can become impaired. It is good to be with a compatible hiking partner, who you trust, to be available in such circumstances. Plus companionship is nice for its own sake.

The key is "compatible" and "trust." There are books dedicated to the single topic of climbing Whitney that have entire sections devoted to "group dynamics."

I did do my last summit solo (via the HST). But by that point, I already had 4 Whitney summits and knew a lot about both the mountain and my own history with altitude. I absolutely would not have wanted to do the first, or even second, or third, solo.


Edited by Akichow (06/25/14 08:01 PM)

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#37991 - 06/25/14 08:15 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: Akichow]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 246
Loc: SoCal
My views on your being a woman have little to do with why I don't recommend hiking Whitney alone. You'd be hard pressed to find a time during the summer to hike that trail where you'd actually be "alone."

But much like Akichow said, just having someone that hikes with you and knows you and might be able to see the signs of AMS should you encounter them can be very, very important. The first time I hiked Whitney alone, I made some very serious mistakes involving AMS and almost wound up paying a very high price. The last time I hiked Whitney, a good friend of mine wound up with signs of AMS, but wouldn't have said a word about it and kept hiking onward and upward had I not noticed some pretty obvious differences in his hiking and his general demeanor.

So it's absolutely doable. But it's much safer if you can find someone else to hike with.
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#37999 - 06/25/14 11:16 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: SRojas]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
A thought about psyche: If you are not used to spending time alone during your daily life, backpacking alone can really amplify the "aloneness". However, I take it from your post that you are planning your trip as a dayhike? I find that day hiking alone can be refreshing, but in unfamiliar territory, I also find it can be stressful.

I would make every effort to find a buddy, but if you do not, I would not let it stop you, either.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#38011 - 06/26/14 09:37 AM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: SRojas]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
I am still trying to figure out how you hike Mt. Whitney alone during Whitney Prime Time...the 4th until the end of September.

You may be hiking by yourself but you will not be hiking alone. With that said, you have to be disciplined and you have to all required stuff in your pack and know how to use it.

At home...you write a detailed itinerary, Re Conn Trip Record is the best prepared form for this.

On the trail...You follow your itinerary, you do not do a side trip to Mt. Muir, if it is not on your itinerary. If you start to feel the effects of AMS you turn around. If for any reason you don't feel right about things, you turn around. All this requires discipline. I would also suggest you be below Lone Pine Lake before darkness.

I have hiked Horseshoe Meadows to Whitney Portal solo but I did not do it a alone, there were loads of people on this route every day I was out. Think of Mt. Whitney as the Ski Hut Trail at Mt. Baldy only higher and longer. There will be tons of people with you on the way up, not so much on the way down...kind of like Mt. Baldy.

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#38016 - 06/26/14 10:43 AM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: SRojas]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 524
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Originally Posted By: SRojas
I am planning on hiking Whitney at the end of July. I have been training and hiking the high peaks in southern california and feel like I am in pretty good shape.
My plan of hiking with a friend has not materialized so i am now deciding if it is wise as a single woman to try the hike alone.
Would appreciate feedback.



Hi SRojas,

You might consider contacting LuvAdventure2014. Her partner had bailed out on her for Aug. 11th hike. Perhaps the two of you could work out an agreeable date? You could try a PM to her.

Alternativly, there might be someone else following this post looking for a hiking companion. Of course there are some considerations as to hiking with someone you do not know. How competent are they? Might you end of having to curtail your hike in deference to their needs, etc.....

Good luck,

John

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#38017 - 06/26/14 11:47 AM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: SRojas]
Abhijit Offline


Registered: 03/19/14
Posts: 27
Loc: Chattanooga, TN
SRojas,
Don't know what date you will be hiking Whitney but I'm in similar situation and will be doing the dayhike on 23rd July.

Also, echoing the thoughts above - there are about 100 people day hiking every day. Most of them will be starting at similar times from the portal - depending on their pace/fitness I'd say that most of the time you will have someone within a stone's throw. So I'm not worried about being alone but it could be a personal preference to have a friend.

I'm also planning to have my priorities right - going back home to my family safely being the first and foremost, nothing else matters.

Abhijit

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#38018 - 06/26/14 12:43 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: SRojas]
jaxgev Offline


Registered: 06/17/14
Posts: 19
Loc: Menlo Park, CA
All of the posts above offer great advice. In my own experience, I attempted my first Whitney summit in 2005. I was young, not in great shape, and alone. I had a great playlist, stuck to the trail, remained vigilant of my surroundings (and myself), and summited with the help of others on the trail who paced me, chatted with me, and held my hair back as I dry-heaved near the summit (AMS at its finest). Since then, I've summited alone 20+ more times. In two instances, I brought friends along and had to pull ahead of them because they were slower, less confident, or sick. I prefer hiking alone now and I've graduated to flying myself over the Sierras alone just to get myself there! I say, "go for it!"...and don't forget a good playlist.

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#38019 - 06/26/14 12:54 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: jaxgev]
Abhijit Offline


Registered: 03/19/14
Posts: 27
Loc: Chattanooga, TN
jaxgev,
that's something I'm definitely going to do. Have a full ipod - the only thing is my choice is a bit different - i'm going to put on a high octane thriller audiobook (Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Sandford, etc.)to keep me occupied during brutal parts of the hike. smile

Abhijit

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#38021 - 06/26/14 01:12 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: Abhijit]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 246
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Abhijit
jaxgev,
that's something I'm definitely going to do. Have a full ipod - the only thing is my choice is a bit different - i'm going to put on a high octane thriller audiobook (Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Sandford, etc.)to keep me occupied during brutal parts of the hike. smile

Abhijit


Hey now! I really like that idea!
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#38022 - 06/26/14 01:29 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: GandC]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 989
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
leave the playlist home and listen to the rocks

just my 2 cents

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#38024 - 06/26/14 02:30 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Chris B Offline


Registered: 07/18/11
Posts: 68
Loc: Denver, CO
I mostly agree with this. Wilderness for me is about getting away from the noise of life. But I will also say that trudging up the switchers, it was nice to have the iPod and a little music. That section is a big mental challenge. Scenery barely changes and the switchbacks just keep going. When I did Whitney a few years ago, I had never done a day hike like that, and I don't know that I would have made it without some music to keep my feet moving.

Now that I've done some other big hikes, I know I can handle the mental challenge and wouldn't bring the music. Point being, I was glad I had tucked the nano into my pack before I left; it saved me from that section!

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#38030 - 06/26/14 10:21 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: Harvey Lankford]
jaxgev Offline


Registered: 06/17/14
Posts: 19
Loc: Menlo Park, CA
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
leave the playlist home and listen to the rocks

just my 2 cents




Whatever floats your boat. smile

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#38031 - 06/26/14 11:06 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: SRojas]
2Old4This Offline


Registered: 05/27/14
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern California
I'll echo others In saying your gender has nothing to do with my opinion. I just summited "alone" on June 12. I don't have any hiking budies and typically do hike alone, so you could say I'm used to it. My hike up Whitney had to be the most crowded solo hike ever. I met several groups of people on the way up, but only a few on the way down once I got past the JMT junction. I just set interim goals, paid attention to the terrain, stayed focused on the hike, and had a good time visiting with the other people on the trail. Lastly, I was prepared to turn around if I didn't summit on schedule or if I felt at all sick. I told myself several times that it only counts if I make it back safe and sound and that summitting Whitney was not worth any risk to my life.

While I do frequently listen to music when I'm doing a hike in familiar territory, I don't think it is a good idea to do anything that reduces your focus when trying to summit Whitney as a day trip. The physical exertion will reduce your focus already, I see no need to add to that with another distraction. Having said that, I don't mean to be critical of someone who does listen to music, I just wouldn't recommend it to someone else. Besides, there are a lot of interesting people you will meet if you socialize and it's hard to do that while listening to your i-pod.

Just go and enjoy the views, even if you don't make it to the top.

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#38063 - 06/27/14 02:38 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: 2Old4This]
jaxgev Offline


Registered: 06/17/14
Posts: 19
Loc: Menlo Park, CA
2Old4This, your "distraction" is my motivation. That said, there is a point (around the 96th switchback) where everything gets annoying--music, food, marmots, rocks, dirt, and even the view. That's a good time to turn off the music and make some friends. Everyone has a different reason for climbing Whitney, and everyone clings to something different to get them up that mountain. My recommendation was just that, nothing more.

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#38066 - 06/27/14 06:53 PM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: jaxgev]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
The Switchbacks on the Main Trail are unlike anything that I have ever undertaken during a "wilderness" experience (using the term loosely when it comes to Whitney) I likened it to some sort of high-altitude turnstyle sans the velvet ropes (guiding you this way and that way) There was the same maddening effect of being caught in a time-warp as every turn would nearly bring you face up with the same persons dogging you for the last hour. Whilst my buddies lingered at Trail Crest to compare notes with the other E-ticket holders, I reveled in being set free of the mob.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#38207 - 07/02/14 06:22 AM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: SRojas]
Krishna Offline


Registered: 04/15/11
Posts: 101
Loc: Woodridge, IL, USA
I am just scanning thru the advices to this hiker and surprised to see that there is no mention of acclimatizing ahead of the hike by spending at least one or two nights at Cottonwood Camp ground at 10000 ft and doing some day hikes in the surroundings which should alleviate all concerns of AMS. This definitely helps in my own experience.

Regarding head phones during the hike, its the same as wearing head phones on a bike ride. You miss the beauty of the surroundings, the natural sounds and the great views for which you originally planned this outing! It may be dangerous if you cant hear a rolling rock or rock fall or some one shouting at you to get out of its path! My 2c.

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#38215 - 07/02/14 09:07 AM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: Krishna]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Originally Posted By: Krishna
I am just scanning thru the advices to this hiker and surprised to see that there is no mention of acclimatizing ahead of the hike by spending at least one or two nights at Cottonwood Camp ground at 10000 ft and doing some day hikes in the surroundings which should alleviate all concerns of AMS. This definitely helps in my own experience.


Everyone is different.

Wifey can go from 1,600' to 11,000' overnight with zone problems...me I fed a lot of chipmunks overnight.

The absolute worst AMS I have had was after two nights of acclimatization at 10,000'...I was lucky to get off of White Mountain. It finally cleared after an hour or two in Big Pine.

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#38220 - 07/02/14 10:54 AM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: Krishna]
2Old4This Offline


Registered: 05/27/14
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern California
It looked to me like she was already doing that from her original post, though she doesn't specifically say it. If she isn't already hiking above 10,000 feet or at least 8,000 feet, she ought to at least try a 10,000+ foot peak a few days prior to see how she reacts and if possible spend a few days at 8,000+ feet. I've never had AMS (as far as I know) so it's hard for me to say what works and what doesn't. I did hike up Mt Dana 3 days before Whitney just to make sure elevation still had no serious affect on me, but just as a test.

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#38221 - 07/02/14 11:23 AM Re: Hiking Whitney alone [Re: 2Old4This]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 989
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: 2Old4This
it's hard for me to say what works and what doesn't.

well said. Everyone is different.

for people, 8,000 ft is the official "start line" of altitude illness, although aircraft manufacturers (who pressurize cabins to 8,000 ft equivalent) may be in the process of changing that to 7,000 ft.

And then there are individuals whose sensitivities to altitude vary all over the place; some less than that 7,000, others, say Tibetans, where it may be twice that. Some ( not all) of them are genetically superior, altitude -wise. Then there are species far more altitude-sensitive than humans - some cattle get brisket disease (which is more than simple AMS) when moved to just 3,000-4,000 ft. In a study of cattle moved from Wisconsin to Colorado, brisket disease was the #2 cause of death.

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