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#55741 - 07/16/19 09:20 PM 7 15 19 Whitney main trail to summit day hike
Aaron B Offline

Registered: 07/16/19
Posts: 4
Loc: Arizona USA
Spent Saturday and Sunday up at Onion Valley just N of Whitney with hikes above 10k to acclimate. Drove over to the Portal Sunday afternoon and set up a short camp.

We werenít sleeping and were looking to extend our odds so we left at 12am. Weather was warm and started in shorts and no jacket. First trail snow patch was just above Mirror lake. People have been walking directly up visible by a slight path but after putting on micro spikes and following up it was obvious you could walk around a boulder climbers left and meet the trai easy w no snow. Short dicey part just above Trail Side Meadow. Used spikes and ice axe pole as exposed to climbers left. ( on the way down hikers were saying a ranger said to hike up and around as it was close to collapsing- we didnít see an alt way back and crossed again. Worth asking about). A couple of easy patches up to Trail Camp.

We waited for sunrise to start the switchbacks. The bottom dozen or so have snow on corners with everyone rock hopping up to the next switchback. Ice was present along w a lot of flowing water on the trail. The cables can now be safely and easily passed squeezing behind the 6ft high wedge blocking the trail. The steps climbers right were still very icy and the cables were bent out over the cliff- no reason to no stay left VS ducking the cables. Micro spikes again for the last long traverse to trail crest. Deep trough so helps.

Last snow was traversing Whitney right before turning right/East to summit. We used micro spikes but others did not. Great weather and views amazing!!!

We followed the trail back down the main summit and this put us below the traverse above, that everyone else was using. This had ~200 of snow w more exposure so micro spikes and ice axe again

Same but slushy conditions down on switchbacks. We decided not to glissade due to not seeing anyone else doing it, limited experience. We did run into a lot of patches of heavy mosquitoes from Outpost Camp to the portal. We were slow down and finished at 8pm. A long but amazing night/day/evening

Big thanks to other posters that helped our trip

Edited by Aaron B (07/16/19 09:28 PM)

#55764 - 07/19/19 11:35 AM Re: 7 15 19 Whitney main trail to summit day hike [Re: Aaron B]
John RB Offline

Registered: 07/19/19
Posts: 1
Loc: Indiana
Was going to write up a trip report for our day hike on July 17, but our conditions were virtually identical to Aaron B's from the 15th; snow in the same spots, a bit of scrambling here and there lower part of the switchbacks and near the summit all due to snow still persisting. Lots of water flow later on in the hike, but easily hiked right through it (waterproof liners in boots). Did not need crampons or ice axe, but used microspikes here and there.

Did two hikes up to Lone Pine Lake on Monday and Tuesday to acclimate prior to starting day hike at 2 am Wednesday, but my hiking partner mentioned headache and increasing nausea just before the cables; gave him two 125 mg Diamox about 45 minutes apart and we would have turned around if that didn't help, but he significantly improved and we took off again, albeit more slowly, taking lots of breaks the rest of the way up and down. We were averaging about an hour a mile on the way up until then, but ultimately didn't reach the summit until around 4 pm (yikes). Easily made the revised goal to descend to Trail Camp before sunset and hiked the rest of the way back to the portal via headlamp.

I wore the same clothes for nearly the entire hike, just switched out cap with a bill for a fleece hat to wear with the headlamp; long-sleeved poly shirt and convertible pants (which I actually never converted...). I had gloves, puffy coat, goretex shell, didn't need any of it. Never re-applied bug spray after we started and had no bug issues at all, maybe they just don't like me?

Anyway, had a great time even poking along as slowly as we went; met Doug Sr and his wife on Tuesday and we talked for a bit, he graciously signed a copy of the new version of his book for me and my hiking buddy and could not have been any nicer.

#55841 - 07/29/19 08:15 AM Re: 7 15 19 Whitney main trail to summit day hike [Re: Aaron B]
Aaron B Offline

Registered: 07/16/19
Posts: 4
Loc: Arizona USA
I tapped out the first post on my phone hence the choppy wording. Delayed for a flight so thought I could add some more.

I did Whitney 6 years ago and summited in 7 1/2 hrs. It was the first week of Sept and no snow to slow us down. More important I was in much better shape and had climbed to 12633 AZ high point the week before. We did the same Onion Valley 2 day one night acclimation with similar short hikes to over 10k. Faster summit and no real AMS but I was very buzzed from trail Crest on. We hiked some with a lady using trekking poles and she said she PRd using them- not me I said I like my hands free, I will never use poles

Fast forward to this 2019 7/15 trip and I had only done 6 or so 1500 ft gain hikes to 3k ft in the Phoenix area w a max of 10 miles. The week before our trip my lower back flaired up and I thought the trip was shot. I brought some trekking poles we had bought for a water hike. With stretching, ice Advil and a great night sleep at Onion Valley I felt good enough to try.

We started at midnight to allow extra time to acclimate and go easy. This was my 19 yr old daughters first 14er.

Moral of the story, if you go with two data points, was going slow and using trekking poles I felt better than the previous trip where I was in significant better shape and had more altitude training. It added ~ 4 hrs to our hike which isnít free of its own exhaustion issues, but more importantly we had zero AMS symptoms and I was way less dizzy along the final summit. I shared a pole with my daughter in the snow sections (we also had ice axes for firm pole anchors) and for the trip down. We both agreed trekking poles ROCK!

I have done an Ironman and multiple half IMs where I learned a lot about nutrition and what works for me. For both Whitney trips, many Grand Canyon rim to rim and other 20 mile plus hikes I am a big believer in eating 150 + calories every 45 mins. When exerting yourself your blood shunts away from your digestive system and you can only digest 150-300 calories an hour. So every min your stomach isnít working on some food you are going into a further deficit. If you wait until you are hungry you are too late, soon this becomes upset stomach and not hungry then the bonk spiral! So my daughter and I are religiously EVERY 45 minutes. What you eat needs to be tailored to your tastes and stomach. I have a rock proof stomach but I like variety so I alternate between a gel, candy bar, cliff bar every 45 mins. We brought 24 total each giving us 18 hrs of fuel. We also brought gatoraid powder to alternate w plain water and this is extra calories too. We stayed pretty true to the diet and had no bonk issues and were not starving at the end. My daughter doesnít like cliff bar type food so she used jelly beans, stinger wafers, pretzels, chips... Find what works for you and eat eat eat. If your jaw is as tired as your feet then you are doing well!

We started w 3 liters of water in ea camelback and 1 liter of gatoraid each in a separate bottle. At Trail Camp we filled up to 3 liters ea again of water and made another 1 liter gatoraid. I think we only had drank 2 of the 3 liters on the way there as it was dark and cool- 60s. We topped off again at Trail Camp after the summit and made another gatoraid bottle which was like sweet sugar for the final miles!!!

We both hiked w camel backs - mine is the forteeneer serves me well allowing all the food water, fleece, light snow pants, med kit etc. we also had climbing helmets, ice axe and micro spikes. light gloves too. I was in shorts the whole time. My daughter put on her light pants at Trail Camp as it was still before sunrise and we stopped for water. She took them off at Trail Crest and stayed in shorts from there on. The fleece was on and off. As all mountains you never know hour to hour so better to have layers w you.

We sun screened 4+ times. Our hands got real red but I think that was the altitude??? They werenít sunburned the next day.

We used Gaia? Phone App. Worked great for first part but then we realized my daughter didnít download the map so there was less details. All the little switchbacks were smoothed to bigger ones. It still gave us the directional advice and we never got lost. The funny moment was we never did see the turn off to mirror lake in the dark so were missing that mileage time check. On the way down, in the light, we realized there is no turn off to mirror lake as you are walking right along it for several hundred feet! I guess we should have looked more side to side w our head lamps (we brought two ea)

We had great weather! No AMS but weíre slow on the decent- long night/day 20 hrs total. The only thing I would do differently was we booked a hotel 3 1/2 hrs away towards Vegas to shorten the drive back to Phoenix. This worked fine 6 yrs earlier when we were back at the Portal at 4pm. We should have stayed in Lone Pine. Luckily caffeine got me through. We got to see th Badwater 135 runners in Death Valley around 11pm so that was cool.

I hope your hike is great- slow equals safer, eat eat eat, give trekking poles a try!

#55843 - 07/29/19 02:11 PM Re: 7 15 19 Whitney main trail to summit day hike [Re: Aaron B]
terraelise Offline

Registered: 06/29/17
Posts: 30
Loc: CA
Thank you so much for taking the time to post about nutrition/calories: I have a constant battle with this. I have an incredibly difficult time eating while exercising, to the point of wanting to puke when I try to eat, and elevation (9k+ feet) makes it much worse. I needed to hear your advice, and I really need to practice it - especially for difficult hikes and for backpacking.

I also own poles and never use them (fancy, comfy Pacer poles) - not against it, but I am always doing things with my hands (photos) and it always seemed a hassle plus some desire to let my ankles and core do the work.
@terraelise anything (fb, ig, etc.)

#55845 - 07/29/19 05:00 PM Re: 7 15 19 Whitney main trail to summit day hike [Re: Aaron B]
Aaron B Offline

Registered: 07/16/19
Posts: 4
Loc: Arizona USA

My daughter has a big problem w nausea. Multiple Phoenix hikes she had vomited on the accent then felt fine. We initially chalked it up to heat and exertion but she was in great shape playing varsity tennis. We did a cool weather hike to AZ high point 12633 and same issue. Talking with a Dr friend we tried sudafed to dry out the sinus and ginger tablets. We then did the Grand Canyon rim to rim and back 3 days, 2 hiking days and she was fine. For Whitney she did the same and again fine.

We took AMS very serious and graded ourselves honestly for headaches, confusion and nausea and all good. Per my second post on believe frequent eating helps too. Wait too long and your stomach tightens and nausea starts w a viscous cycle of Iím not hungry I donít eat U donít feel good. Finding out what foods work for you is equally to important.

There is a lot of info out their now based on extreme endurance sports going main stream

On poles I was totally with you as I love to take pictures and hold my pack straps, food etc. but poles made the difference on this hike. I could easily hold them with my arm or legs and snap the pics. I also shared a pole w my daughter so easy for pics etc w one hand free.

Happy hiking

#55846 - 07/30/19 08:38 AM Re: 7 15 19 Whitney main trail to summit day hike [Re: Aaron B]
RichardK Offline

Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 116
Loc: East Coast Florida
Hiking poles relieve pressure and stress on the knees on the downhill. Your knees are good for only so many miles. Take care of them.