Monday, June 14, 2010

Mt. Whitney Main Trail: Inyo National Forest

Sunrise on Mt. Whitney

Day 1: Whitney Portal to Trail Camp
Day 2: Mountaineering on "The Chute"

Whitney Gear List

Mt. Whitney will vary in height depending on what map, website, or guide service you consult. One thing everyone agrees on though is that it is officially the tallest peak in the lower 48 states at, roughly, an impressive 14,500ft. Climbing such a peak requires preparation and should not be approached whimsically. I set out on the 7 hour and 15 minute drive from my home here in the Bay Area to Whitney Portal above the town of Lone Pine, California. The trail is a daunting 22 miles round trip with over 6,000ft of elevation gain. After an especially wet, and chilly spring my early June permit date also required some technical climbing equipment: Crampons and an Ice Axe.

The weather was, for the Sierras, fantastic, roughly 30 at night with minimal wind. The afternoons were a bit too warm for my taste but nothing compared to the 106 it was down in Lone Pine. My initial plan was to hike alone, and join groups for brief stretches. However while I was chowing down the first evening in Portal camp a young woman from Boston came up and introduced herself. We both agreed that climbing together would be preferable to climbing alone and since we had both shown up to the mountain by ourselves we should head out in the morning together.

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