Monday, May 8, 2017

Adventure Recap - Climbing Mt. Whitney

Approaching Iceberg Lake
If you have ever considered hiking to the top of Mount Whitney, there are basically two ways you can get there. There is the traditional route that is 22 miles round trip and then there is the short cut (i.e. the mountaineers route), which is the one we took. They say the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and while this route isn't straight, it's about as straight as you can get.

This is the third time I have done this event and I can say that the weather could not have been any better. Actually, I would have preferred for it to have been a little cooler. But given a choice of what we had on this trip and what we have had in the past, this was a blessing.


For this trip, I was joined by good friends Richard (my mountain guru) and Chad. We all had a pretty similar pace making for a great climb. We started at around 9:00 on Sunday morning, knowing that the first day would be relatively short.


After starting out on the Old Whitney Trail, we reached the little
 intersection and headed up the Mountaineer's Route.

This being early May, the heavy snow pack was melting fast.

We reached our original camp site destination (Upper Boy Scout Lake) before noon and agreed that, with the warm weather we were experiencing, it would be a good idea to push for Iceberg Lake to make camp. Making for a little shorter day tomorrow.

After a half day of hiking, now the climbing starts...

We thought for sure we would be setting up our tents in the snow, but Richard spotted a little bare spot and after a little maintenance, we were set for the night. I would just like to say that this was not the most comfortable night sleep. A bit rocky.

Camp at Iceberg Lake. It's humble but it's home...

The sun setting quickly behind the peak...

Right out of the gate Monday morning, we head up the chute for the notch and then the summit. We made pretty quick work of the chute, although it was a pretty strenuous workout.

The view from camp at sunrise...

Chad at the middle of the chute. 1600' of pure work...

From the notch we started up the final 300 feet for the summit. Although I reached a point where I didn't feel comfortable climbing up some of the rocky sections in crampons and felt the need to turn back, Chad continued for the summit and did the deed for us.

This final section can really test your physical abilities, but maybe your risk tolerance even more. And the first 80 feet can be the sketchiest because if you slip here, there is a 1500 sheer slope waiting for you at the bottom. This would be the end of the line. So, I am 1 for 3 on making the summit, and next time I will get back to .500.

Richard got the payoff for carrying his skis all the way up the chute, by skiing all the way back down. I was jealous and wishing maybe I had brought my board. Actually, maybe not. Take a bad fall and you could be sliding for a long, long time.
 
Richard taking the fast way back down the chute...


We got back to the cars by 3:30 in the afternoon, pretty tired and achy, but thankful for such an incredible adventure. Then the 4 hour drive home.

This was a somewhat challenging climb, but well within many people's abilities, if you are in decent shape, you don't mind the cold, and you have the right gear. For anyone interested in making this climb yourself, I will be posting a How To Climb Mt. Whitney blog post and video in the near future.
Thank you for taking a look, take care, and I'll see you out there!

Jim

Also check out the full video on YouTube at The Adventure Life Project channel.