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#54607 - 01/24/19 01:49 PM Mt. Whitney Trail
Admir Offline


Registered: 01/24/19
Posts: 12
Loc: IA
Hello,

Our group is looking to go to the summit on a 4-day trip. We are doing the Mt. Whitney trail, any helpful tips where to camp and how to prepare for this trip. We've done Grand Teton and Pawnee Pass so far and are looking to do this hopefully in the summer sometimes.
I did some reading and saw that Outpost Camp and Trail Camp are good places to camp.
Any suggestions/tips are helpful.
Oh and we are from Iowa, where its flat smile
Thank you

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#54609 - 01/25/19 06:24 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail [Re: Admir]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 106
Loc: East Coast Florida
Go to Amazon and search "Mt Whitney." There are several whole books that will answer your questions in detail.

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#54612 - 01/25/19 09:23 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail [Re: RichardK]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7882
Loc: Fresno, CA
Admir, first you need to get permits to hike it. With the Federal shutdown, Recreation.gov now shows "Registration is Closed", and the lottery registration usually begins Feb 1. There is no guessing what will happen this year. But bottom-line is: You will first need to obtain a permit.

The camping spots you mentioned are pretty much the only places. Outpost is about 10.5K elevation, which is a safer zone than pushing up to Trail Camp at 12.5. Read up on AMS -- altitude sickness. Since you are coming from about 1k elevation, you need some acclimatization time. Spending a night at Whitney Portal, and then hiking only to Outpost and spending a night would be wise. Or you could spend one night at Horseshoe Meadows--you can drive there and camp, at 10k. Then hike up to Outpost from Whitney Portal. That's what I would do.

Then get up extra early and push to the summit from Outpost Camp. With two nights at elevation, you would be generally better prepared to get to the Whitney Summit.

On the other hand, if you really want to stay at 12.5k Trail Camp, you should spend two nights prior to that at elevation. Coming from so far, you need to do everything you can to give yourself enough acclimatization time.

As for hiking preparations: You need to spend some long days hiking -- just miles on your feet is good preparation. When I was younger, all the prep I did was jogging 12 miles per week, maybe a little bicycling added in. Some of that jogging included running around a stadium to get in some hill work. You just need to get in a good amount of aerobic training, and miles of hiking.

Ask more questions, maybe people here will add more to what I've written.

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#54613 - 01/25/19 11:31 AM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Admir Offline


Registered: 01/24/19
Posts: 12
Loc: IA
This is really good thank you for taking the time to share.
this is our plan and based on what you said I think this will give us enough time to acclimate.
Day 1
Travel
Camp somewhere close to the trailhead
Lone Pine Campground?

Day 2
Hike to Outpost Camp (10,360’)

Day 3
Hike to Trail Camp (12,039’)

Day 4
Hike to the summit
Hike Back to Outpost Camp (10, 360’)

Day 5
Hike back tow to the trailhead and find a campsite with showers

Day 6
Travel




Edited by Admir (01/25/19 11:37 AM)

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#54614 - 01/25/19 12:15 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail [Re: Admir]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 432
Loc: Reno, Nevada
I reserved a permit for Shepherd Pass a few days ago at recreation.gov. It appears that “Overnight exiting Mt. Whitney” permits are available. I’m sure that Steve is right that the lottery is unavailable during the shutdown.

Admir: You’ve already done Grand Teton, so you should have an idea of how well you tolerate altitude. Tolerating altitude and being fit are not the same thing. There are several threads on acclimatization, AMS, Diamox, etc., on this site. Two bits of experience I will share: First, the best sleeping altitude is the highest altitude at which you don’t develop symptoms. Lone Pine Campground is better than Lone Pine, but Whitney Portal and Horseshoe Meadow are even better. Second, current advice is to take Diamox before you ascend. I wouldn’t do that unless you have a history of AMS or you have no time to acclimatize. Diamox still works if you wait until you need it. And if you felt OK on Grand Teton, you can probably forget about Diamox.

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#54615 - 01/25/19 02:14 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail [Re: bobpickering]
Admir Offline


Registered: 01/24/19
Posts: 12
Loc: IA
I barely had any symptoms of AMS. Had very little breathing issue in the morning and that's about it. There were few that struggled so I will bring this information to them.
Thank you for taking the time to share your expertise.

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#54616 - 01/25/19 03:49 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail [Re: Admir]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7882
Loc: Fresno, CA
Admir, your plan is pretty aggressive. Don't be to quick, given your "few that struggled". By the way, everyone notices the shortness of breath, that's due to the diminished oxygen availability. The AMS symptoms you need to watch for are headache, nausea, lethargy, stumbling, etc, etc.

So you know, many people day hike Whitney, and leaving early from Outpost is easier than that since you have a 2k elevation start. Moving from Outpost to Trail Camp is almost a silly thing to do, since you are climbing another 2k in maybe 3 miles. (Of course from the acclimatization standpoint, it's a good thing to do.) Just start later from Outpost, as in after lunch.

On your travel day, (are you coming into Las Vegas?) I would drive all the way up to Whitney Portal, or 30 minutes longer--Horseshoe Meadows. That first night as high as you can get will give you the best head start on acclimating. At Whitney Portal, there are always walk-in overnight sites... see:   Backpacker and Walk-in camp sites and locations at Whitney Portal: Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal
Horseshoe Meadows is a one-night-only area, so sites are always available. It's wide-open, so if it appears full, just find a spot with bare flat ground, and throw down your bedding.

I like bobpickering's line:   "the best sleeping altitude is the highest altitude at which you don’t develop symptoms"

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#54618 - 01/26/19 12:28 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Admir Offline


Registered: 01/24/19
Posts: 12
Loc: IA
We've revised our trip a bit.
Day 1
Travel to LAX
Drive to Whitney Portal
Day 2
Hike to Trail Camp-12,039
Day 3
Hike to the summit
Hike Back to Trail Camp
Day 4
Hike back to Mt. Whitney Trailhead
Day 5
Travel back home

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#54620 - 01/26/19 07:35 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail [Re: Admir]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7882
Loc: Fresno, CA
1. Just so you know, driving from Las Vegas is only 10 miles farther, and you are guaranteed better scenery and no chances of traffic jams. Seeing Death Valley is a treat. Seeing Los Angeles... not so much. grin  At least check flight connections and prices.

2. Hiking all the way to 12k with overnight gear on your first day, and sleeping, is the surest way to invite AMS to hit at least one in your party. I'd save the hard day for the summit day, and stop at Outpost. But it's your hike, I've said enough.

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#54621 - 01/27/19 12:45 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail [Re: Steve C]
Admir Offline


Registered: 01/24/19
Posts: 12
Loc: IA
1. Thx for the drive information we'll definitely think about it
2. We did some more research and we are leaning towards stopping at Outpost for a night also to avoid AMS.

Thx for sharing again, anything is appreciated.

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#54645 - 02/02/19 03:38 PM Re: Mt. Whitney Trail [Re: Admir]
MikeH Offline


Registered: 04/05/18
Posts: 46
Loc: Escondido, CA
Admir,

Your trip is similar to the one I did late last year. Something you *could* change would be to hike down to Outpost Camp after the summit just to get into a different place to sleep. Trail Camp (TC) is very exposed whereas Outpost Camp is in some trees and next to a very pretty meadow. Short hike out the next morning allows you to sleep in and take your time packing up.

One thing I would (will) do differently next time is to either leave much later in the day from Whitney Portal to TC or hike slower taking more time. While I developed symptoms of AMS and had to end my trip at TC, my main reason for suggesting a later arrival at TC is because it is so exposed. If you arrive early and there are clouds and the weather is favorable, it's not as big of a deal. If not, it makes for a LONG wait before bedtime sitting in the exposed sun/ wind etc.

All the best.

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