Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Mt. Whitney and A Grand Cru Classé Pauillac
A daunting, brute of a Mountain
- "Mt. Whitney: Not a technical climb, but it's every bit an endurance test
- From the trailhead, it is 10.7 miles to the top, with 6,137 feet of elevation gain. Of the 21.4-mile round trip, nearly 10 miles are above 12,000 feet.
- Under normal circumstances, the climb isn't hazardous, although the high elevation can bring on altitude sickness or even potentially deadly pulmonary or cerebral edema for someone not properly acclimatized. But it's really only a hike, albeit a long one, and not a mountaineering feat.
- That makes the Whitney failure rate all the more humbling. After all, more than half the 9,000 or so climbers a year who attempt 14,411-foot Mount Rainier make it to the top, despite needing ice axes, crampons, carabiners, ropes and other mountaineering gear necessary to arrest a slide down steep glacial ice or climb out of a crevasse.
Howard Higley began suffering from altitude sickness on the way to Trail Camp. On Sunday morning, he felt that he was not in a condition to ascend the summit and would return to Whitney Portal to wait for us. It was the right decision. Howard had wanted to do this for a long time and it was he who won a place in the permit lottery.
Johnny and I left camp at 8:00 AM. Sunday, Sept.20th. Johnny reached the peak long before me; I got there at 12:46 PM. Some climbers do it in less time, others take longer. Met an 87 year old man who was descending after celebrating his birthday by hiking up to the summit!
Our packs in front of the the Whitney Portal Store © Rana Sircar
Looking down on Owens Valley @ Rana Sircar
Johnny slogging up to Trail Camp @ Rana Sircar
Nice, but soon it became rocks and more rocks @ Rana Sircar
Up the trail to Outpost Camp @ John Lazar,Jr.
Consultation Lake, 11,680 ft - near trail camp @ John Lazar,Jr.
Trail camp area, right of the lake @ John Lazar,Jr.
Johnny's tent at camp site @ John Lazar,Jr.
Sept.20th -Climbers using wire rope railing in a steep, icy area @ Rana Sircar
Looking down at Consultation Lake from top of the switchbacks @ John Lazar,Jr.
Getting closer to the summit, Smithsonian Hut visible - @ John Lazar,Jr.
On the ridge at 13,650 ft. The trail is at right of the marker @ John Lazar,Jr.
Sign post at the intersection of the John Muir and Whitney Portal Trails @ John Lazar,Jr.
Getting close to summit. Tough hiking; poles essential @ John Lazar,Jr.
The summit at last. Smithsonian Hut, built 1909 @ John Lazar,Jr.
The register at the Smithsonian Hut. Nos.31 and 34 were us @ Rana Sircar
National Park Service Plaque @ John Lazar,Jr.
Looking south towards Keeler Needle and the top of the switchbacks @ John Lazar,Jr.
How sweet it was! At the top of the 48 states - A friendly climber took this picture
Climbers on top. The weather couldn't have been better - @ Rana Sircar
Descending. Johnny at Trail Crest @ Rana Sircar
Monday morning returning to Portal, Mirror Lake was a welcome sight @ Rana Sircar
I did a lot of groaning, Johnny (with a 46 lb. pack) never sweated @ Rana Sircar
At Portal. Took 5 hrs from Trail Camp because of my slow pace @ Howard Higley
Johnny and Howard enjoying the '04 Pauillac - @Rana Sircar
What a delight and inspiration you are to all of us. Please take me with you next time. Anything for a Pauillac 2004! :-)