Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mt Whitney day hike

Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m). Its a 22 miles (35 km) round trip with an elevation gain of over 6,100 feet (1,900 m) from Whitney Portal. You have to apply to the Mt. Whitney Lottery in February to reserve a wilderness permit for summer hike. I was lucky to win permit for Sunday July 5th.

We arrived to Lone Pine at Friday to get actual permit and some acclimatization before hike. Spent night in Horseshoe Meadow, elevation 10000 feet (3,048 m) and hiked to Cottonwood lakes at Saturday. Then moved to Whitney Portal, elevation 8,360 feet (2,550 m) to get some sleep before long day. I want to have some extra hours just in case things will go slow. So, we started our journey at 1:30 am. We catch the sunrise near Trail Camp, 12000 ft (3,657 m).
Looking back to Trail Camp and Consolation Lake from switchbacks

Acclimatization helped me and Ivan a lot. I did slow down just after Trail Camp, but in the middle of switchbacks regained my normal speed. Our third companion Igor refused from acclimatization and arrived to trailhead just before hike, which cost him a lot of time to deal with hypoxia and finally he was short of summit by few miles.
Arriving at Trail Crest

Looking to Hitchcock Lakes from Trail Crest

In the middle of Trail Crest looking back

From this point trail is quite flat and walking is easier. I noticed that following somebody I can move much faster then walking by myself. Ivan was ahead of me and arrived to summit about 15 minutes earlier, Igor was behind and did not made summit.
View from the summit toward Lone Pine

Looking south from the summit

It took me 10 hours to reach summit. I rest for awhile, sign the register, take photos and we start our way back at 12:00 pm. Going down is always easy, but still it was long long way back. At least we could enjoy by beautiful lakes and meadows, which we did not saw on the way up.
Trailside meadow

Mirror Lake

We was back at trailhead at 7:40 pm (17:10 total hike time) and back home at 1 am. In terms of equipment the most important are comfortable boots, jacket to protect from wind and cold, headlamp and water. I used 2.5 litters of water, 2 apples and 5 powerbars. This is my longest and highest hike so far.