My wife and I made our second trip to Whitney on Tuesday. Last time out in 2015, we trained very well, acclimated at Mammoth, and then another couple of days based out of Lone Pine. We were in a good position to have a great climb. Our friend joined us the day before, so did not acclimate, hoping his very high fitness level would be sufficient. Wrong! He started to huff and puff before Trailside Meadow, and it took us 10 hours to summit and 17.5 hours to complete. We did the last 4 miles in the dark and we were so late all the restaurants in Lone Pine were closed so we didn't get a reward of a burger and beer - we were bummed.
We vowed to come back and do it again, just by ourselves.
This time around, we acclimated with the same schedule, and opted to leave a bit earlier, on the trail by 3:45. I had analyzed our performance last time using Strava's lab feature that showed our progress, and so we had a clear plan on when and where to take breaks, and what we would do during those breaks. As a result we were much more efficient.
We took the old trail to start so we would avoid the North Fork creek crossing in the dark. This worked very well (we had scoped it out in daylight a couple of days before). Bighorn Meadow was flooded so we changed into water shoes until we climbed out the other side - best $12 each we have spent! By Trailside Meadow we were 45 minutes ahead of the previous time, and when we left Trail Camp we were an hour ahead. Switchbacks were fine and we were 1hr15 ahead at the top.
Weather was clear up to Trail Crest, but started to cloud over then. Started to hail lightly about 0.5mi from the summit, as we crossed the small snow patch. Eventually made it to the summit at 11:55am, after 8hr 10m. We had a snack, snapped some pics, signed the book and left quickly. Weather deteriorated as we went down, and by the time we were going back down the switchbacks the peak was covered in black clouds and there were cracks of thunder. It rained on us all the way down past Trailside Meadow, and then started to clear.
Going back through Bighorn Meadow, the water had cleared a lot, despite the earlier rain, and the sun then came out. Although my wife slipped on the rocks in the North Fork crossing and hurt her knee, we made it back to the car at 6:55pm, making for 15 hours of hiking.
We drive back to Lone Pine, showered, and then got a well-deserved burger, fries and beer at the Mount Whitney Cafe.
A successful day on the mountain!