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#98023 - 06/15/14 03:36 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
2Old4This Offline
Member

Registered: 06/15/14
Posts: 1
Loc: Northern California
First timer who did a one day summit on Thursday, June 12. The weather was great, so I have nothing to offer there. I do wish that I had done the trip a couple of weeks later after the trail was clear or a few weeks sooner when there would have been sufficient snow/ice to use crampons to insure good footing.

1) Don't underestimate how long it will take to get back down. For me, it was 7:45 up, 15 minutes @ the summit, and 8 hours back.

2) Enjoy the beauty of your surroundings. The views on the way up are fabulous.

3) Bring plenty of water and drink it. I drank 116 ounces of water and 60 ounces of sweetened, fortified tea. I had more, but shared it with another hiker.

4) Eat. This along with drinking is important to enjoying the scenery.

5) If you're by yourself find a group of similar speed and strike up a conversation. Most of the hikers are quite friendly. This also helps pass the time during this long hike.

6) Set a turn around time if no later than 1:00 pm. The most important thing is your safety. You need to summit by 1:00 for safety reasons IMO.

7) Make it a multi day trip and test yourself on another peak of at least 12000 feet first.

With what I learned this year, I'm thinking about going again next year and having a better time.

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#98811 - 10/29/14 09:52 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Halfdomer Homer Offline
Member

Registered: 08/29/14
Posts: 78
Loc: Los Angeles, Ca
Hello first timers! I am a Los Angeles resident and I turned 46 this year, and the last real hike I did was Halfdome 13 years ago. I had set up a Whitney hike in 2001 that was aborted due to personal issues, and I haven't had the time or energy since then. Basically not in great shape after all those years of sitting and walking short distances (not in bad shape either). I went for the lottery and won a Tuesday in August and I knew this was going to be the big hike I have always wanted to do. I started in late April hiking fire roads in the Glendale, CA area and after about a month of weekend hiking I graduated to the Mt. Baldy trails. I hiked the Ski-Hut trail, the Baldy Bear Flat trail and the Devil's backbone. I then hiked White mountain in Bishop to test my altitude-ability since I had never hiked above 11,000 feet before. I drove up to the parking lot from LA right after work and slept in my car at about 12,000 feet for about 4 1/2 hrs. After reading all I could about AMS here and on other sites my strategy was to keep food and water in my system at all times. Any time I felt a headache coming on I would guzzle about a half a liter of water, eat some food and it would go away. I kept up this strategy all summer and after going above 10,000 feet at least 10 times I never had any symptoms! Success!
Next up was San Gorgonio and a test hike for endurance/distance. I hiked the South Fork trail at 22 miles round trip 11,500 feet and had no problems. After a couple more summits of Baldy ( I did 7 total) and Yosemite's Cloud's Rest I felt I was ready to go. I took 2 weeks off to rest and on Monday August 11th I was heading up to Lone Pine and the Portal. Thunderstorms all day as I rested in my car praying for clear skies and just after midnight it was clear as a bell with a beautiful almost-full moon to light my way. I headed out at 12:30 AM with high hopes trying not to hike too fast. Dark clouds were blowing over the peaks from King's canyon and I was hoping they would go away. The trail was mostly a creek due to the high level of rain the day before and it made the steps very tricky and time consuming. I made it to Trail Crest at about 7:00 AM after hiking in shallow snow for the last 50 switchbacks. At Trail Crest the sky was dark and the wind was coming over the crest at about 50 mph and below freezing. I had to stop there because I was losing body heat faster than I could get it back, I had no gloves or face protection and my feet and hands were freezing! Basically unprepared for this weather change. I strapped on the micro-spikes and headed down feeling dejected but safely alive. By the time I arrived at the Portal and was driving away I looked into my rear-view mirror and noticed that the summit was almost clear! By the time I arrived at the Dow the summit was completely clear and sunny. Arrgh! All of the training and planning for this? Luckily there was a permit available for Oct 18th Saturday. So back to training I went, up Baldy 3 more times via Register Ridge to really get it into my legs. Friday Oct 17th came and right after work I headed back up to the Portal arriving at about 8:30PM for some sleep (yeah right) and quick acclimation. I think I got about an hour if I was lucky and at 2:30AM I started out again. My pack weighed 30 lbs with 6 liters of Smartwater and cold weather gloves and jacket with hood. I took my first break at the Whitney Zone sign 90 minutes in. The hardest part IMO is the trail between Outpost Camp and Trail Camp. It is the steepest part and you need to really pace yourself here or risk getting bogged down on the switchbacks. As per my AMS strategy I had water and food at any time I even felt a twinge of a headache and it worked spectacularly, never was an issue the whole day. From Trail Crest to the summit can't be underestimated because the altitude does slow you down and the 'trail' is mostly broken and angular rocks that you really have to pick your steps on. I had planned for 9 hr summit but it ended up taking me about 10 1/2 hrs. Peaked at 1:00 PM , enjoyed the 300 mile crystal clear view (I could see Baldy, Gorgonio and Jacinto in Palm Springs!), stayed for an hour signed the register and headed back after 2:00PM. I made it to Outpost Camp before I needed my headlamp and hiked the last 3 1/2 miles in the dark. On the way down I started to hallucinate (my only real AMS symptom?). Rocks and bushes became ghosts and small creatures with alien weaponry only to morph back into rocks and bushes when I got closer. Nothing to worry about, just very entertaining. Back to my van by 8:15PM and off to the Dow Villa for some hot tub. In retrospect I guess I would have brought a little less water and food but I wasn't sure what to expect up there in the 3rd week of October, there is more water available on the trail in June-Sept. Also, several times up those switchbacks and on the backside I felt like I didn't have it in me to make it. "What am I doing up here?" was a familiar mantra. I just kept my head down, tried not to look up too far, shuffled along a few steps at a time, paid attention to my mental and physical well-being and before I knew it I was standing at the summit! This was by far the MOST difficult hike I have done (and I hiked Halfdome twice in one month without training once) and even when I thought I had trained enough it still seemed harder than I had imagined. But I did it and you will too! I had about 5 hrs acclimation but my food/water strategy worked like a charm. Good luck!

-HH

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#99650 - 04/09/15 04:47 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Halfdomer Homer]
slowpoke Offline
Member

Registered: 04/06/15
Posts: 6
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I am also a Los Angeles resident and my experience was similar to Halfdomer Homer's. Last summer was my first on Whitney. My group won a lottery permit for August (the 3rd, which turned out to be a bad day to be on a mountain anywhere in the southern half of California) and we got as far as the switchbacks before weather turned us around. I went back at the end of Sept with a smaller group, got walk-in permits, and hiked the main trail with success.

Some first-timer tips that may not have been mentioned yet.

1) Make sure your rain gear actually works like it's supposed to
A few of my friends learned the hard way that even the priciest Goretex is useless without a working DWR. If the DWR has worn off, or just plain sucks, the face fabric will wet out in 10 to 30 minutes. Once the face fabric wets out, it's a race against time to avoid hypothermia. If you want to play it safe, give your rain jacket and pants a fresh coat of DWR (TX.Direct or something like). Same thing for boots. Give them a fresh coat of Nikwax before you go.

2) Have a plan for carrying out your WAG bag
It was sad the number of discarded WAG bags I saw on the trail. I couldn't help thinking that that number would have been lower if people had had a plan for carrying them out. A cheap drawstring backpack can come in handy for carrying your used WAG bag. You can tie them or clip them to the outside of your pack. It's much better than stuffing your poopy WAG bag inside your pack next to your gear, carrying it in your hand because there's no room in your pack, or leaving it on the trail for others to carry out for you.

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#99898 - 06/04/15 09:14 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
gahiker Offline
Member

Registered: 06/03/15
Posts: 1
Loc: Georgia
I'm going up on June 21 for my first time. Our groups only major concern left is wondering whether crampons will be necessary. Can anyone shed some light on this?

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#100049 - 07/12/15 09:58 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Eric187 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/04/15
Posts: 1
Loc: California
The trail hiking up is very well maintained and hard to miss. I soon learned that whenever I was a little lost to look for lines of rocks arranged to divert rainwater from the trail or steps made in the rocks.

But heading back down I couldn't find those very same features to guide me and became lost several times even with a map, resulting in a detour to Lone Pine Lake that made a tiring descent much more challenging.

Put in a few very long hikes before to get psychologically accustomed to spending a lot of time in the wilderness. When getting back into shape I've often had enough about halfway through and have to get the hell out of there.

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#100062 - 07/15/15 10:44 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
G'na Offline
Member

Registered: 06/29/15
Posts: 4
Loc: California
My first attempt and I made it on July 8,2015. An amazing experience.

The 99 switchbacks had black ice in areas and made for a slippery climb manageable without crampons but use caution and your best judgement.

Snow on trail once trail meets at JMT all the way to the summit this was also manageable just use caution and your best judgement, as I did slip twice, thankfully I leaned towards the mountain side....

Summit was white conditions complete cloud cover, then we had a few minutes where the clouds opened up and we were able to get some nice views, wished it would have stayed clear longer, still managed to get some amazing pictures.

Going back weather was nice, got very little if any hail on switchbacks. Did not last long at all. Trail camp stopped and refuel.

Water supply was abundant at least on this day. Good water all the way to the switchbacks. I did drink the 100 oz. in my bladder by the time I reached the summit, had additional electrolites with me and a friend shared 16 oz bottle of water which was enough to get back to water source. But then again I do drink lots of water an a regular day.

My appetite was not the greatest on this hike, but I made myself eat the granola bars I made plus I had 1/2 PBJ sandwich and some apples with lemon juice and salt, this are real good.

Would like to do this hike again would prefer to camp at trail camp and hike in two days rather than in one day, as I did on this hike, only to better enjoy the awesome views .

Happy Trails.....

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#100081 - 07/20/15 07:06 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: G'na]
Akichow Offline
Member

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 705
Loc: Confluence of the Sac and Am R...
I'm not a first timer anymore, but here's a tip based on things I saw on Saturday: don't rely on those cheap-o disposable plastic rain ponchos to keep you dry (and warm) in the High Sierra!

I saw a lot of hypothermia-cases-in-the-making, and though already shivering, they were climbing UP to Trail Camp, where it was snowing at the time.

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#100135 - 07/30/15 01:21 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Dawgbone Offline
Member

Registered: 07/29/15
Posts: 1
Loc: Wisconsin
I just climbed Mt. Whitney for the first time last Thursday. What an experience! Definitely worth the trip. My viewpoint of the hike might be a little bit different from others in that I live in the Midwest and had never really done any extensive hiking before, so hopefully I can provide some insights for first timers. In total, it took us 7:47 to get to the top and 6:15 to get back down. Would have been quicker had my brother not needed to use his wag bag each way. A few tips/observations for anyone else who hasn't hiked extensively before and is looking to tackle this mountain:

1. Read a few books about day hiking Mt. Whitney so you know what to expect along the way and so you bring adequate supplies. I had read that you should bring a role of duct tape along, which seemed weird to me at the time, but it ended up being a life saver. As I was pulling my backpack out of the car, I ripped the should strap out of its stitching but was able to duct tape it together. Which leads me to #2...

2. Do NOT buy a cheap backpack off Ebay.

3. Train, train, train. I did a lot of incline walking on the treadmill (5-7 miles 2-3 times per week at 15% incline) and biking (40-50 mile rides once a week) which seemed to get my legs in really good shape for the hike. I didn't do any running since my knees are bad and didn't want to risk injury, but I would definitely suggest doing more cardio work as my brother (who was training for a half marathon) seemed to have a much easier time on the way up. I'd also suggest doing exercises to strengthen the calf muscles. That muscle group definitely hurt more than all others combined in the days after the hike.

4. Hiking poles are fantastic. I brought a pair but my brother did not. We ended up each using a pole which was great for keeping our balance and bracing ourselves on the way down.

5. Don't be afraid to drink the water. We were a little leery about drinking the creek water so we ended up packing a total of 5 liters each. If I was doing it again, I'd only bring 3 and then refill along the way. Would have saved me about 5 pounds of weight.

6. Altitude sickness is hard to predict. Having come from the Midwest, neither of us had much exposure to high altitudes. We ended up hiking to Lone Pine Lake the day before and spent a total of about 6 hours between Whitney Portal and the lake. We then spent the night in a hotel (didn't want to mess around with camping equipment). On the way up we ate and drank regularly and only had one or two moments of dizziness on the switchbacks. We did each had headaches that started around 11,500 feet that gradually got worse until the summit. I wouldn't say they were debilitating and were no worse than a hangover but I think mine was at least partially due to dehydration. On the way back my headache got better but my brother's got worse and hit him hard once we got to the bottom of the switchbacks. Seems kind of weird that it would happen then but we kept chugging along. My headache was gone by the time we got back to the hotel but his seemed to persist for another day. My advice is to either get a multi day permit or at least camp at Whitney Portal the night before.

7. Download the Mt. Whitney app. It's only $0.99 and gave us a pretty good approximation of where we were on the trail at almost all times. This helped us mentally since we could see the progress we were making so it never really felt like an endless hike. If you have an Android phone, turn on the GPS and set it to airplane mode. I only used 25% of my battery and that was with checking it every half mile or so.

All in all it was a fantastic journey and I look forward to the next mountain.

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#100287 - 08/22/15 07:34 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Dawgbone]
thorn Offline
Member

Registered: 08/15/15
Posts: 56
Loc: berkeley, CA
staying overnight at the Portal the night before hiking up and going up slowly were the best things for dealing with acclimating to the altitude. Not everyone wants to take it slow (i guess it's a race to the top?) but most should be able to work out a night at the base before hiking, it really helps...Videos and reading about the hike Prepared me well. One part i noted was some said the stairs area was really tough. Where i live we have stairs straight up the hill, but you might need to find a StairMaster. Several hundred stairs every week made this trail much easier. By the time i figured out where the stairs were on Whitney, i was past them. I was however extremely slow as i had an overnight permit and an early start. One item i read said Do Not push yourself and it will go more smoothly, they were right. If you have time at all, slow it down. There is so much to see every step of the way. I may have been the slowest person on the mountain, but it left me with enough energy to summit the same day after dropping my 35lb. pack at Trail Camp. About 90 of the 99 switchbacks were a pleasure at that point/ hehehheh/ the top few are tough.

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#100337 - 09/01/15 11:24 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: thorn]
lynn-a-roo Offline
Member

Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 39
Loc: SouthernCalifornia
Thorn, please remind me where the stairs are located. I'm not good at doing stairs so I should remember this but I don't.

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#100341 - 09/02/15 12:32 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: lynn-a-roo]
Halfdomer Homer Offline
Member

Registered: 08/29/14
Posts: 78
Loc: Los Angeles, Ca
The stairs portion he is referring to I think is the section between Mirror Lake and Trail Camp. 2 miles and about 1600 feet of elevation gain. It's the toughest section IMO besides the last 1.9 on the back just because of the steepness and the rockiness of the trail. It is the steepest section of the MWT. Hope it helps!

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#100346 - 09/03/15 11:22 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Halfdomer Homer]
thorn Offline
Member

Registered: 08/15/15
Posts: 56
Loc: berkeley, CA
those are they! there are some after Lone Pine Lake that are not too bad, the stairs after Mirror lake and Trailside Meadow are the tough ones. I agree that was the hardest part of the trail the nice part is you get to rest at Trail Camp after you get through it.

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#100359 - 09/08/15 04:13 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: thorn]
tdog Offline
Member

Registered: 09/03/15
Posts: 1
Loc: California
I'm a first timer who summited last Monday, August 31. There's a lot of good information on this thread and, truth be told, if you have been reading this board then you have already taken the most important step: taking this hike seriously enough to gather some information and prepare yourself.

I'm late forties, in decent but not great shape, and a reasonably experienced hiker.

My thoughts:

First, and most importantly, go slowly! Those who have hiked Kilimanjaro know that the guides constantly admonish you to go "pole pole" (slowly slowly) up the mountain. They know what they are talking about! The correct question isn't "how quickly can I get up the mountain," it's "how safely can I get up the mountain?" We targeted doing a mile an hour; we had trouble holding ourselves back at the start and made the summit in 9:15. Can you do it faster? Maybe. Will you increase your chances of getting AMS? Definitely!

Second, eat and drink. And not just the day of. Eat heartily for a few days beforehand. My partner lost energy and almost didn't make it to the top. I'm convinced it's because his body ran out of energy stores because he wouldn't eat up the 2-3 days before our hike.

Third, please stick together. Can the hike be done alone? Of course, if everything works out well. But the day we summited another group left a friend behind at Trail Crest and promised to return. Her condition worsened while they were gone, and only the kindness of some strangers got her safely down the mountain when AMS and dehydration crushed her and she wasn't even able to speak, much less walk. So stick together. Please.

Fourth, get in decent shape. I don't think you have to be a stairmaster maniac (I wasn't), but get in some reasonable shape, do some real warm-up hikes (I like Baldy), and be mentally prepared.

Fifth, acclimate. We camped near the trailhead for two nights and that helped. Camping at Horseshoe Meadows is a smarter idea; if I do it again, I'll definitely camp there two nights before spending the night prior near the trailhead.

I used the Whitney trail app and found it to be enormously helpful! $0.99 well spent.

Lastly, I met Doug Sr the day before and found him to be friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. So thank you, Doug, for some good advice that helped us enjoy the day and make the summit.

It's a beautiful, wonderfully maintained trail. Enjoy the trail and enjoy the scenery. I sure did, and am thrilled to have achieved a 'bucket list' item.

And yes, I ordered a pancake. I may have reached the summit but I was bested by the Whitney Portal Store pancake!

I had a great experience made better by the friendly vibes of those at the campground, at the store, and on the trail. Pass it on!

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#100364 - 09/09/15 10:01 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: slowpoke]
iSz Offline
Member

Registered: 04/08/12
Posts: 6
Loc: ca
Originally Posted By: slowpoke


Have a plan for carrying out your WAG bag
It was sad the number of discarded WAG bags I saw on the trail.


Plan or no plan just carry the damn thing out. The mountain is filthy and getting worse. So much toilet paper and wag bag garbage. (Completed third summit from LP on 8 Sept.)

Wag bag usage is a reality of this hike. If you can't handle the wag bag then you can't handle Whitney.


Quote:
leaving it on the trail for others to carry out for you.


Not an option. Use and carry wag bag or hike elsewhere.

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#100368 - 09/10/15 10:02 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
RickiR Offline
Member

Registered: 08/14/15
Posts: 5
Loc: Long Beach, CA
Hello! I am planning a solo trip starting at Horseshoe Meadow on 9/28 and ending at Whitney Portal on 10/2. This trip includes a Whitney Summit on day 4. I have some experience back packing. Mostly 2 - 3 night trips including New Army Pass, San Gorgonio and San Jacinto Summits. This will be my first attempt at Whitney. I have a permit, I own a bear canister, I have no problem using the wag bag and I have studied the topo maps. I'm an avid runner and I am healthy. Please, tell me anything else I may need to know. I appreciate any advice/tips from more experienced hikers and previous Whitney summiteers. Thank you!

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#100369 - 09/10/15 11:42 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: RickiR]
Doug Sr Offline


Member

Registered: 12/16/02
Posts: 2421
Loc: Whitney
Hi By that time of the year expect snow and may need to take a few extra days for the trip.

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#100377 - 09/11/15 10:24 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
RickiR Offline
Member

Registered: 08/14/15
Posts: 5
Loc: Long Beach, CA
Thank you. I wouldn't mind having a little snow, but with this drought and heat wave it's hard to picture any in the next 3 weeks. I've been more concerned about finding enough water along the route. Good reminder that things can change quickly in the mountains.

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#100378 - 09/11/15 02:52 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: RickiR]
paul Offline
Member

Registered: 12/23/02
Posts: 428
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
I do this trip 2 to 3 times a year, well it's part of my Kern River loop where I start and end at Horseshoe Meadows.

Last year I did this loop, May 4th, Jun 12th and September 24 (9 day trip). On that last trip I had 2 full days of snow, total accumulation of 3 to 4 inches at HST and Big Arroyo. After the storm, the day and night temperatures dropped significantly.

Right off the top of my head, don't expect to find water at Guyot Creek.

What is your route?

paul

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#100379 - 09/12/15 06:59 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: paul]
RickiR Offline
Member

Registered: 08/14/15
Posts: 5
Loc: Long Beach, CA
Hi Paul,
I was planning on doing Cottonwood Pass to the PCT straight up to John Muir, summit Mt Whitney then on to Whitney Portal. First night between Chicken Springs and the jct with the Siberian Pass Trail. Night 2 around Guyot Creek. Night 3 Guitar Lake. Then night 4 around Outpost Camp. It'll be a bummer if there's no water at Guyot, but I'll be ok if there's water at Rock Creek and Crabtree.
Thanks

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#100380 - 09/13/15 03:02 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: RickiR]
jwest Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/05
Posts: 31
Loc: Ridgecrest CA
It could snow, hail, or be sunny, but you can count on below freezing temps at night and freezing until the sun warms you up (if there is any sun - smoke is an issue) .Keep an eye on the sky and have enough warm stuff.

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