Trip Report: August 7th

Posted by: Whitney Zone

Trip Report: August 7th - 08/08/03 11:50 PM

Posted by WhitWalker, 08-08-03

Thanks to the previous messages on this board, my brother and I successfully summited Mt. Whitney in a day hike on August 7th.

Our total round-trip was about 16 hours. We started our ascent at 4:30 AM. We reached the summit at 2:00 PM. We were back down at 8:12 PM.

At our arrival to Whitney Portal at 4:15 we met a couple who had just seen a large bear at the trailhead. This bear had disappeared when we began our ascent.

Conditions were great with almost clear skies and 40-degree temperatures. The wind was a little brisk.

We walked at a consistent, turtle-like, pace and took extended breaks at Trail Camp and at the summit. This relaxed pace allowed us to complete the trip with pain largely confined to our feet. We each used around 4 liters of water that we carried from the bottom. We took an Excedrin both before the ascent and at Trail Camp. We did not experience any altitude sickness.

On the way up the switchbacks above Trail Camp were tough but doable. We had no fear of heights on the switchbacks because there are no cliffs except those protected by cables. The "Windows" above Trail Crest were, I believe, over hyped. Only the first one, at Trail Crest, offers any true danger, with steep drop-offs on either side. The four others have moderate slopes on the Sequoia Park side.

My impression is that the real pain of the Mt. Whitney hike is on the way back. The anticipation is gone. Energy is gone. Dehydration may occur. And, especially for us, the feet start to twist on the many trail rocks. The last few miles from Lone Pine Lake to the trailhead are interminable.

Along the way we met a woman in a light blue ski suit who made the summit but was having problems on the way down. She was dehydrated, vomiting, and not keeping down water. Although a day hiker, some people took her in at Trail Camp because there was no way she could make it down without an extended rest. Does anyone know whether she made it down the next day?

In conclusion, with proper planning, a reasonably fit person should be able to make it to the top of Mt. Whitney and return with no long-term pain. It's a great trip and fantastic experience.


Posted by Grand Canyon Hiker, 08-09-03
Great report. Your line sums it up:

"My impression is that the real pain of the Mt. Whitney hike is on the way back. The anticipation is gone. Energy is gone. Dehydration may occur. And, especially for us, the feet start to twist on the many trail rocks. The last few miles from Lone Pine Lake to the trailhead are interminable."

That's it in a nutshell! The last 2.8 miles from LPL to the trailhead are often agony for me in the mind. I start counting my steps, counting switchbacks, just wanting it to end. Then when it's over I long to come back. Go figure.


Posted by WhitWalker 08-09-03
I didn't mean to imply that hiking up Mt. Whitney is a walk in the park. It definitely requires more preparation than an extended workout at a health club.

My brother and I walked on extended hikes this summer before attempting the Mt. Whitney climb. One local hike was over 10 miles with an approximate 2000-foot gain in high temperatures. We used all of the gear and pack weight that would be needed for Mt. Whitney even though some of the stuff was not required.

Just prior to hiking Mt. Whitney, we went on two long walks at Yosemite, including to Half Dome. We took a day of rest between Yosemite and Mt. Whitney.

So my advice is that with proper preparation, one can reach the summit of Mt. Whitney and return in reasonably good shape.


Posted by AdiosRich 08-10-03
WhitWalker, after hearing about the woman in distress I kept watching the switchbacks with a pair of binoculars I brought to see the Mars show and saw two groups of people descending from Trail Crest. One was a group of men and the other had one woman, who seemed to be walking under her own control. She ended up arriving at the tent next to mine and was pretty beat. I asked her and her companion if they were OK and they replied yes. I saw them the next am before leaving for the summit and they were fine.

I watched the switchbacks closely with the binocs and I believe I saw everyone. Noone appeared in trouble. We did not hear anymore at Trail Camp about this even though I and others volunteered for a rescue trip, so I believe my neighbor was that woman and she ended up fine. She was chasing the marmots away the next am.


Posted by OC Hiker 08-10-03
While at Trail Camp on 8/7, my group was approached by a woman around 5:30pm. She unsuccessfully tried to use one of our (Verizon) cell phones, to make an emergency call, on behalf of the women who was "dehydrated, vomiting, and not keeping down water." We were told that the women experiencing problems was planning on staying at trail camp, that night.

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