Final report on Mt Whitney via the Mountaineer’s route
Well, gentle reader, I am very late with this, since I climbed Whitney in March! So this is by way of keeping me honest. Mt Whitney is a gorgeous place, and it was a challenge to climb it in March. I was not in the best of shape as we started heading to the trail from Whitney Portal, although I was happy that my pack weighed in at only 54 pounds. Day one headed up to Upper Boy Scout Lake. We did not go up the ledges, but instead stayed low and followed a gulley up. Rough bushwacking, some large steep up, and postholing. Uggh. There was a good amount of snow, and by 10 AM is was sludge in places. We hit camp one and I was feeling pretty worked. Something like a 6 hour day. The guides, the other guys on the climb, and the food was great. Days 2 and 3 were the humps up snow fields, I guess averaging around 30% grade or so, although it felt much steeper to my sore legs. We saw very few other climbers heading either up or down, which I thought was a great feature. In the Summer, this must be a mad house, although the permits are controlled thankfully. We hit the high camp, which was a nice quiet spot. We saw two guys who had summited the previous day chilling out, getting ready for more climbing elsewhere. I was definitely feeling tired, and was glad to get the tent set up. Went to bed early since we had a pre-dawn start. It was cold as we got the avalanche transponders clicked out and crampons on the boots. It was a fun day, but once again as we weer on the final climb up to the notch I was wishing I had been doing more cardio over the Winter! I decided not to go all the way up, we hit the notch, 14K, at about noon or so, cold and windy, and I was worried about 3 more hours of technical climbing yet just 500 feet more (!), before the long down climb. I decide the better part of valor was calling it a day, and heading down strong, which is what I did. I regret it a bit, and here is one of the things that I am still learning. That is, how far can you push beyond your limit and recover. On a bike, I know it perfectly, on the mountains, I still keep it throttled back so I know I can come down feeling strong, and not holding up teammates. The more mountains, the better I know how far to push into the red zone and feel confident. This is what I take with me Sunday as I climb Shuksan in the north cascade range ( lots of snow no doubt), come down and rest, and then onto Rainier and the Kautz glacier route. Onward, upward!
A few photos of the climb up Whitney:
Resting at high camp, waiting for tea
Heading up to high camp
Still heading up, now in snowshoes
Day 3, up to the notch, feeling this was steeper than it looks!
Downclimbing on the famous Ledges
The team, at high camp, feeling good
And here I am celebrating the town of Lone Pine, and Whitney in the backgound. A beautiful experience