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#48521 - 10/03/16 11:29 AM Mt Whitney Main Trail Summit - Oct 1-2
chinombre Offline


Registered: 09/09/16
Posts: 8
Loc: santa monica
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)

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#48526 - 10/03/16 09:33 PM Re: Mt Whitney Main Trail Summit - Oct 1-2 [Re: chinombre]
jondotcom Offline


Registered: 05/17/12
Posts: 18
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Congrats on your trip, and thanks for the reminder on thick gloves & cold weather gear!

What is the current flowing water situation? Was it flowing on the switchbacks?

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#48527 - 10/03/16 09:36 PM Re: Mt Whitney Main Trail Summit - Oct 1-2 [Re: chinombre]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6792
Loc: Fresno, CA
Congratulations on making it, sorry it was so miserable. Hope the "frostbite" isn't really that.

You were so focused on the permit pickup -- how did that go? And what time did the group start up the trail?

jondotcom: Don't count on water at the switchbacks -- it is likely either dry or frozen.

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#48530 - 10/04/16 07:40 AM Re: Mt Whitney Main Trail Summit - Oct 1-2 [Re: Steve C]
chinombre Offline


Registered: 09/09/16
Posts: 8
Loc: santa monica
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Congratulations on making it, sorry it was so miserable. Hope the "frostbite" isn't really that.

You were so focused on the permit pickup -- how did that go? And what time did the group start up the trail?

jondotcom: Don't count on water at the switchbacks -- it is likely either dry or frozen.


Jondotcom - any water at the switchbacks was frozen. The last place to filter available water was the tarn next to Trail Camp.

Steve - we started up the trail about 945a. Stayed in Olancha Friday night and got to the Eastern Sierra office by 8am the next morning. Most people waiting were there for walk up permits - we were some of the only ones with reseevations so we had priority and were processed as the second group. All in all a smooth, painless process. Thanks for all of your input!

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