Summited for the first time on Sunday 10/2. Barely.
A big thanks to everyone who's contributed to this board and helped answer some of my questions going into the trip.
Probably telling you some common sense things, which weren't common sense to me before but are now!
The (10/1) morning hike from the portal was pleasant and beautiful. But after sunset at Trail Camp, things became frigid. We managed to set up camp and filter water with increasingly frozen hands. We then barricaded ourselves in the tents for 7 hours of little-to-no sleep due to the chilly conditions.
Bring warm gloves: 3/4 of our group brought gloves that were too thin and insufficient for the temps. The fourth member of our party did not bring gloves at all (!!!) and not by coincidence was unable to summmit.
We "woke up" at 230, packed up most things, and began the 99 switchbacks. It felt good to get circulation back in my extremities. Sunrise was a beautiful sight and welcoming feeling after 12 hours of uncomfortable cold. Patches of snow/ice are starting to colonize portions of the upper switchbacks. Still passable in hiking boots at the moment.
By the top of the switchbacks the altitude was inducing nausea. It didn't help that our group skipped a proper breakfast in favor of nibbling on frozen energy snacks on the trail. I battled the constant urge to barf during the rest of the way to the summit and back the 99 switchbacks. I had no appetite and trying to choke down food was a struggle.
Keep all water you intend to drink close to your body, as ours was frozen by Trail Crest. Ran into a handful of people along the trail asking for water because they were in a similar predicament.
The final 1.9 miles challenged me mentally/emotionally and nearly broke my spirit. But alas, I eventually would make it to the top of the lower 48.
The summit winds were whipping, so we huddled inside the shelter where I could tend to my girlfriend, who was suffering from dehydration/hypothermia.
The hike from summit back to Trail Camp was an exercise is remaining focused and bracing against the unrelenting winds. Things calmed down a bit by the switchbacks. We arrived back at Trail Camp, reuniting with the party member who failed to pack a winter hat/gloves.
The descent from Trail Camp back to the portal was uneventful (in a good way) other than some wind gusts.
All in all, the experience was rewarding, if not humbling.
And today (10/3) I'm back at my desk -- sore muscles, chapped lips, frost-bitten fingers, and red cheeks.
Edited by chinombre (10/03/16 12:54 PM)