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#79700 - 08/27/10 05:04 PM Tips for First timers by First timers
Doug Sr Offline


Member

Registered: 12/16/02
Posts: 2421
Loc: Whitney
Hi Jna had some great ideals about training, gear, and other tips from the first trip. So as suggested this topic will be open to add what other first timers have found that worked or not and ideals they tried Thanks Doug

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#79723 - 08/29/10 07:57 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
I've been a first-timer twice in the past couple of years: once in 2009 first attempting the mountain, and again this past summer actually reaching the summit for the first time. What I learned from that failed first attempt last year made all the difference in being able to stand on the summit a year later, feeling as good as I would have at sea level.

Obviously, the sound advice that can be had from members of this board and others is key. If you're attempting Whitney for the first time and are seeking advice, you will hear a steady mantra from the regulars in the Sierra on the following: train appropriately, acclimate well, hydrate often, and fuel the engine. I got just one of these four cornerstones right the first time and failed. I managed to get 3 of 4 right the next time and had no problems summitting. You may look at these four thoughts and say, "Yeah, sure - those are common sense." I did also - the first time.

Train Appropriately: 6150 feet of elevation gain and 6150 feet of elevation loss (an under-appreciated challenge until you're really tired and having to do it) in 22 miles. That's hard to train for. Being an avid and experienced hiker already, I put in over 250 training miles in the 6 weeks prior to Whitney my first time. No summit. Last month I summitted, but only put in about 85 training miles in the 6 weeks prior. The difference was in the quality of those miles. I hiked only the steepest trails with the most consistent elevation gain. The mileage itself was purely secondary. I wanted my legs screaming, 'cuz that's what I found to be the case my first attempt on Whitney. If you're in SoCal, your perfect training ground is not far away (Baldy, Gorgonio, Sanny J). Do these regularly, your legs will be ready. If you're in the east like me, it's a challenge to find those 2000 or 3000 foot gains for a workout. You have to, though - or spend endless hours on a Stairmaster or elliptical or stadium steps. Going for several 16-20 mile hikes on rolling terrain will not prepare you for the stress Whitney will put on your legs.

As much as possible, train with both the gear and the weight you plan to have with you on the mountain. More weight is better. Hauling 40-45 pounds at lower elevations prepares you better for the 30 you'll probably carry for a summer one-nighter at 10-12K' - trust me, it'll feel a helluva lot heavier than 30 pounds by Mirror Lake. Be comfortable with and have faith in all your gear before your big day. My first trip up the mountain I wore a pair of hiking pants I hadn't been in for quite a while. By Lone Pine Lake I noticed the zipper was broken. It was a huge distraction for me the rest of the day knowing that I was hiking Whitney with my fly open.

Acclimate Well: Having done a lot of recreational hiking in the west, as well as having been above 14,000 feet several times without even a hint of altitude illness, made me over-confident in this area. I did hike several Sierra trails in 2009 in the days prior to Whitney, getting to 12,000 feet with no problems - but I was sleeping in Lone Pine at about 3500 feet. On Whitney, the only event of AMS I've ever experienced hit me like a Mack truck at about 12,800 feet. Not a headache, or a headache with a little nausea, but the entire range of clinical symptoms - all severe. I was solo, and once I decided to turn back - just a couple dozen switchbacks shy of Trail Crest - the symptoms pretty much disappeared by the time I was below 10,000 feet.

I've since paid a lot more attention to this whole acclimatization thingy, not being as immune as I appear to have had myself convinced. The general high-altitude medical consensus is that the body acclimates best while sleeping. This year I spent the 5 nights prior to Whitney at or above 8000 feet, while doing the same type of 11-12K' dayhikes as the year before, and never once felt an AMS twinge. I was on the summit for about 45 minutes, just amazed at how good I felt. I'm absolutely convinced that sleeping high for several nights made a huge difference. AMS turns around more Whitney hikers than any other single issue (weather excepted) - do not overlook it. Get as high as you can for as long as you can before you head to the Portal, then try to get at least two nights' sleep above 8000 feet before heading up the trail. Three is better; one is a very dicey crapshoot. AMS is no fun - and neither is dragging your sorry ass to the parking lot in defeated misery because of it.

Diamox - it's up to you. I've never taken it, but I had it with me for last month's trip, just in case. It's best as a prophylactic aid, but the medical experts on this board will tell you that Diamox does provide some AMS symptom relief relatively quickly (15-30 minutes). Just having it in your pack can be a comforting thought. This year I took ginko biloba for two weeks prior to my trip - it's believed to help oxygenation at altitude. I have no idea if it helped, but it didn't hurt.

Hydrate Often: Simple and sound - just do it. Drink till you're peeing crystal clear and often the day before, and keep it up the entire time you're on the mountain. There's no lack of water the first 6 miles up - just be sure to carry a good 3 liters when you leave Trail Camp (or the spring on the twenty-somethingth switchback). The one thing I did right both times.

Fuel the Engine: I have no appetite above 12,000 feet. Many people don't. It's normal at this elevation. At some point on the trail you'll find that you have to force yourself to eat. You may want to run out to REI and buy lots of 'spensive, hi-tech, energy-efficient food products for your big day (or days) on Whitney. My advice: don't, unless you already consume the stuff regularly and like it. You'll find that you will not particularly want to eat foods you do like once you reach a certain altitude; new items or foods you don't particularly care for will almost certainly still be in your pack when you hit the Portal parking lot at the end (assuming the marmots didn't get them). Take what you like to eat. Period. If you don't, you probably won't eat.

Eating is a chore up there and takes more energy than you want to expend, but you have to fuel the engine. The figure I hear most often is 6000 - as in calories burned on a Whitney dayhike. That's a lotta calories. You've probably never burned that many in one day in your life, but you will if you get to the summit and back. Nibble, nibble, nibble - you will not sit down at Trail Crest at 13,600 feet and scarf down that 10-inch sub sandwich in your pack. A Clif bar at sea level ain't a Clif bar at 12,000 feet. I generally like tuna and string cheese, but at 13,000 feet they might as well be raw, diseased orc liver. I just will not eat much above 12,000 feet, and I didn't either time up the mountain. Remember how great I said I felt on the summit? My total food intake that entire day was one Quaker granola bar, 2 packets of GU, and a handful of peanut M&Ms. By the time I hit the Portal parking lot I was nauseous from having nothing in my belly all day but lots of sloshing water. One good puke and I was fine, but I could have avoided that if I had been more disciplined in eating.

My opinion about eating before a demanding hike like Whitney is simple - for two days prior I consume every complex carb in sight. Energy for the long haul in the form of pasta and breads. It'll still be with you even when your appetite disappears on the mountain. Simple, sugary carbs for quick energy the day of the hike are normal, but many people fail to build up a store of longer-lasting, easily-converted energy in those 48 hours before hitting the trailhead. Steak the night before Whitney has lots of nice protein, but it won't be with you at Trail Camp the next day - spaghetti, fettucini, pizza, rice, potatoes will. Next year I plan to take one of Doug's monster pancakes with me, broken up and stored in baggies. That, I can probably eat on the mountain. smile

All the Editor's Choice gear, best intentions, and backcountry bling in the world will not get you to the summit if you fail to appreciate and focus on these 4 things. Cover your bases on these and your chances of signing the summit register skyrocket. There's also a fifth cornerstone: common sense. Be aware, watch the weather, don't take stupid chances, and know when to turn around. Also, be kind to others on the trail - from packing out all your trash to keeping an eye out for those who may be in distress and need some assistance. As some very smart people on this board say, the summit is optional but the parking lot is mandatory.

Good luck!

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#79733 - 08/30/10 01:19 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
DUG Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/06
Posts: 416
Loc: Wildomar
"Nibble, nibble, nibble - you will not sit down at Trail Crest at 13,600 feet and scarf down that 10-inch sub sandwich in your pack."

I saw a guy do EXACTLY that on my last trip to Whitney. He wasn't a first timer though, he was an 89th timer.................................................DUG
_________________________
Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. ~Steven Wright

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#79734 - 08/30/10 01:41 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: DUG]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
Let me guess, DUG - his first initial was Richard . . .

Uh, yeah - not a first timer. I'm sure Mr. Piotrowski has a well-adjusted high-altitude appetite.

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#79735 - 08/30/10 01:48 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: DUG]
kevroc Offline
Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 17
Loc: San Diego
These categories are great, some additional feedback.

Train Appropriately:
This is great advice. Work the leg muscles not just the distance. Training with a pack that's heavier than you plan on carrying will help, but go with hikes that have the steepest inclines. The stair machine at the gym is a great supplement as well.

Acclimate Well:
I used Diamox and didn't do any acclimation hiking. I didn't have the time to do the acclimation hikes and didn't want to chance it.

Hydrate Often:
But not too often. If you overdrink water you'll lower your sodium content and feel naseaus and want to puke. Not good.

Fuel the Engine:
The best way to do this is to do a hard hike and test different things out. You want something that wont upset your stomach, will metabolize quickly and give you some energy. My rule of thumb is to eat 1/2 the calores I will burn on the hike and let the other 1/2 come from stored calories. So I carbo load the day before and take enough with me for the other 1/2. If you don't manage that balance and force your body to consume itself you'll feel terrible coming down the mountain.


I'll add a few categories.

Watch your Exertion Level:
The harder you work the more water and food you need. There's also a limit to how long your body can work at that increased effort. You can easily cut your hydration and calorie needs in 1/2 just by reducing your effort level. You may wind up at the top in 8 hours versus 7, but you'll enjoy it much more.

Travel Light:
I can't believe some of the pack weights I read about. I went up with 13lbs for the day hike. I don't see the point of carrying an extra 5-10lbs that will make the hike that much harder.


Gear:
Use stuff that you can rely on, that you've trained with and you know works. Don't make last minute gear changes. When you start up Whitney you should feel like you've done this 100 times.


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#79737 - 08/30/10 02:01 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: DUG]
jna Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 6
Loc: California
In a nutshell I'm "guessing".....(this is my plan for next year)

1. Great cardio vascular system. Things that might help, running up hills/steep, stair climbing (lots), hiking steeps.
2. Conquer as many peaks above 10,000 as possible in the months before your Whitney attempt. In Southern California: Jacinto, Gorgonio, & Baldy
3. Know your suseptibility, if any, to AMS. Deal with it with Diamox, surplus oxygen, or other means.
4. Acclimate above 9,000 feet for at least 2-3 days before Whitney attempt.
5. Carbs before, during Whitney attempt.
6. Water and electrolytes before and during Whitney attempt.
7. Don't UNDERestimate the challenge
8. Don't go alone
9. Consider breaking up the attempt with overnights at Trail Camp on the way up and possibly on the way down.

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#79743 - 08/30/10 05:28 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
Richard P. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 4878
Loc: Ridgecrest, CA
Originally Posted By: bulldog34
Let me guess, DUG - his first initial was Richard . . .

Uh, yeah - not a first timer. I'm sure Mr. Piotrowski has a well-adjusted high-altitude appetite.


Geez, I'm going to develop a complex...

Doesn't beat the time I pulled out a large Pizza Factory Pizza box one morning (at Trail Crest) and invited people to join me. BeachAV8R knew it was about to happen. I think I remember that I didn't finish it off a Trail Crest, so I tried to share some more at the summit. (I wasn't about to carry it down!)

The point: As Gary stated, make sure you have things you will eat with you. And, don't bring too much! It's heavy, and will only get heavier.

Great post Gary. Doug sometimes comes up with some good ideas.

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#79746 - 08/30/10 06:05 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: kevroc]
Fred Johnson Offline
Member

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 14
Just a comment about taking Diamox; you should try it in as realistic a condition as possible before going to Whitney.

On the advice of my doctor, I took Daimox for the first time on a training hike up San Jacinto. I ended up in Little Round Valley (about a mile from the summit) nauseous and disoriented. It was not a pleasant experience, but I learned that Diamox does not work for me. I'm glad I did not learn that lesson at Trail Crest.


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#79748 - 08/30/10 07:36 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: kevroc]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: kevroc
Watch your Exertion Level:
The harder you work the more water and food you need. There's also a limit to how long your body can work at that increased effort. You can easily cut your hydration and calorie needs in 1/2 just by reducing your effort level. You may wind up at the top in 8 hours versus 7, but you'll enjoy it much more.


kevroc brings up a couple of other really key points. Pace is critical for most people the first time up this mountain. Once you're over 10,000 feet, and especially 12,000, you're in AMS-watch territory. Build up an oxygen debt in that thin air, and AMS is just waiting to pounce on your back. Your pacing, exertion and breathing rhythm need to be in balance as much as possible. If you're breathing too heavily, slow down. The better you're acclimated, the less critical pacing and exertion become, but until you're convinced otherwise always assume AMS is waiting right around the corner if you over-exert.

This 400-pound gorilla can't be predicted accurately; just because you might be an aerobic beast at sea level in marathons or cycling, you're statistically no less immune to AMS above 12K' than the 50-pound overweight couch potato. The surest way to avoid AMS is being at elevation for an extended period. Even sherpas in the Himalaya get AMS (or worse, one of the deadly edemas - cerebral or pulmonary), and they live their whole lives at extreme elevation. But going too high, too hard, too fast on Everest will bring them down every so often. AMS propensity is relative to the elevation you live and play at, not just elevation per se. People have been known to come down with it as low as 5000 to 7000 feet. If you've ever been to Aspen, Colorado you'll recall those popular "oxygen bars" in the town and on the surrounding ski runs - and Aspen is lower than the Portal, and the ski runs are less than 12,000 feet. No oxy-bars on Whitney, folks - gotta acclimate and pace.

That leads to the other point kevroc brings up - how long will it take you to complete your first dayhike of Whitney? That's really important because it dictates your start time. Remember, in the summer you don't really want to be on the summit - or the 2-mile ridge between it and Trail Crest - after 1:00 pm (unless you have a deep desire to be suddenly transformed into a crispy critter by lightning). That generally means summit by noon. When should you leave the Portal? Tricky question since you've probably never hiked an 11 mile trail up to 14,508 feet.

In Doug Thompson's book "Mountain Lore from the Whitney Store" (OK, that's another cornerstone - buy it well beforehand and read it at least twice - you're welcome Doug - the pancake's on the house my next trip out there, right?), he lands on a pretty well-accepted figure of 16 hours for a first-timer - 10 up and 6 down. Unless you have Rockies or Sierra experience hiking at high elevation, trust that number as a general rule. My first time up the mountain, that would have been about right if I had not turned back at 13,000 feet (12.5 hours total, some of it moving real slow with AMS). Ten hours before noon means hitting the trail at 2:00 am. Yeah, that sux, especially when you consider sleep loss and the effect it may have on you, but you gotta do it. That's another solid reason to get 2-3 nights' sleep at elevation before the hike. If you watch the Whitney-centric boards regularly, you'll see numbers reported often enough (6-8 hours up) that you may think they're the average for people like you. Don't believe it! Remember, this is your first time - assume you'll be 16 hours on the mountain and plan accordingly. I spoke with a lady on Whitney last month who told me her first dayhike on the mountain lasted 27 hours. She just took long rest breaks, as she put it - and seemed damned proud of it!

Over the course of this past summer I was privileged to spend some exceptional quality time with a few of the mountaineering icons of the Whitney/Eastern Sierra area - Laura Molnar, Richard Piotrowski, Jack and Betsy Northam, Jim Freeland, Tom Brown, Rick Graham - and Doug Thompson of course. I have no clue how many Sierra or Whitney summits this small group accounts for, but it's mind-boggling. These people can get up and down Whitney in the blink of an eye, figuratively speaking. Jack Northam, who regularly doubles the Whitney Trail (yes, up and down twice in one day - 44 miles and 12,300 feet of elevation gain and loss), typically makes the summit in less than 4 hours, and he's in his early 60s. I know Richard has done a double or two as well. Jack and Richard both are right at 90 summits each, the last I heard. Betsy has 45. God only knows how many times Doug has seen the summit over the years. These folks can fly up and down the mountain because that's what they do. As a first-timer it's important to keep posts by folks of this caliber, and any times they might mention, in perspective. We mere mortals should assume that 16-hour day for our first stroll up mighty Whitney!

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#79749 - 08/30/10 08:12 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
phycon Offline
Member

Registered: 03/25/09
Posts: 42
Loc: CA. USA
My first time was last year, at the age of 53. There were 5 of us and we safely made it to the top of Mt Whitney and back in one day.
Aside from the 5 training hikes there were two things that was the most helpful:

Electrolytes. I tried many varieties but my fav was Gatorade. I drank whenever I wanted to but made sure I drank every 15 min. I also carried water.

Camelbak backpack. Drinking electrolytes out of this is so easy. The food I carried was Beef Jerky, Peanut Butter Sandwich and peanut M&Ms. The only thing I ate on the trail was the M&Ms every 15 mins. I ate half the sandwich at the summit.

I'll have to say that training with electrolytes was a real game changer. Another thing that was helpful was staying at Cottonwood, 10,000 ft several nights before the hike. We camped at the Portal the night before.


Edited by phycon (08/30/10 08:25 PM)

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#79750 - 08/30/10 08:19 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Richard P.]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
Richard, Whitney is your personal 2-plus-mile high dining room. I would naturally expect you to eat there as comfortably and well as you do at home. The 89th summit comment was the lock though . . . that, and having read the TR re you, DUG and his son on the MR last week smile

This first-timer-specific thread pinned to the top of the first page was a wonderful idea. I recall in late 2008 and 2009 having to search all over the message board for posts that were relevant to me as an impending first-timer. Maybe that first trip would have gone a little differently if I had seen a single, specific thread that felt comfortable to me as a Whitney newbie to ask the right questions and read others' first time experiences.

And Doug's big-ass pancake was a pretty good idea too. And the big-ass burger, and the one-of-a-kind fries, and . . .

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#79752 - 08/30/10 08:31 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: DUG]
Akichow Offline
Member

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 705
Loc: Confluence of the Sac and Am R...
I am hoping to be a first timer this Monday, if the weather holds. Meanwhile, I've done two things this summer that have substantially upped my confidence and helped me plan better: I climbed White Mountain, and I climbed Mt. Whitney to Trail Camp. I found out some important about me and altitude in the process, described below. (For reference, I am a 40-something female who just got into this type of hiking within the last year and bagged my first 14'er on August 1, 2010.)

WHITE MOUNTAIN

At 14,252, White Mountain is just shy of Whitney.

1. TIP: I climbed the first Sunday in August, which is always a special day on White Mountain -- they open the Barcroft gate, which enables you to shave 4 miles off what is usually a 14 mile hike, so that it is a 10 mile hike instead.

2. APPETITE: I discovered I have a huge appetite at high altitudes (no, I am not DUG), at least when I am properly acclimatized. When some guy offered me some canned grape leaves on a switchback at 13,600 feet (how surreal is that?), I accepted and scarfed some down. A few minutes later, at the summit, I scarfed down a barbeque chicken breast sandwich, a pack of trailmix, and a KIND bar.

3. SLEEP APNEA: I discovered I have altitude-related sleep apnea (a/k/a periodic breathing, Cheyenne Stokes breathing) at 12,000 feet, where the usual White Mountain trailhead is located. I understand that this is actually a sign of the body's adaptation to altitude, not AMS. However, it is annoying and leaves you tired if you keep waking up in the middle of the night. An easy solution for me: 125 mg of Diamox. An hour later, I was sleeping peacefully.*

4. The trip was easier than I thought. It helped build my confidence.

MT. WHITNEY TRAIL CAMP

In Mid July, I snagged a last minute overnight permit and climbed to Trail Camp with my dog (overnighting in Outpost Camp). This trip was great for several reasons.

1. Scoping out the trail was important and caused me to change my plans. Now, when I do my summit attempt on Monday, I am going to camp either at Outpost Camp again, or possibly at Consultation Lake, rather than Trail Camp. Outpost Camp is beautiful and quiet, and the hike past Outpost Camp is more pleasant without a heavy pack.

2. I met Bob R., a regular poster here, while I was at Trail Camp. Meeting people who know the mountain on the trail is fun and also confidence-boosting.

3. Again, this hike was less hard than I thought it would be, further building confidence.

*A note about drugs. Based on my own research, reviewing posts here, consulting with a high altitude specialist (MD), and consulting with my PCP, I decided to carry a small selection of specialized drugs for "just in case," including Diamox (though not to take anything prophylactically, but to rely on proper acclimitization instead). And I was sure glad I had the Diamox with me when the sleep apnea hit on White Mountain. I had first tested it, at sea level, to make sure I had no adverse reactions (I am allergic to sulfa-containing antibiotics), but had not planned to take it at altitude until the apnea hit.

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#79754 - 08/30/10 10:16 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
bobpickering Online   content
Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 281
Loc: Reno, NV
I can only add that Bulldog34 has done his homework, picked the brains of all the right people, and done an excellent job of presenting what he has learned. Nice job, Gary.

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#79755 - 08/31/10 06:01 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bobpickering]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
Thanks Bob - a 10-day 4000-mile round trip built around climbing this mountain, combined with a winter brooding on failing to reach the summit, can be an enormous motivator to learn properly. In all the hiking I've done over the years, that was the one time I failed to finish a planned route due to inadequate preparation. Lesson learned.

And speaking of notable doubles, have you changed your mind about doing another MR double? When I grow up, I want to manage just one trip up the MR . . .

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#79756 - 08/31/10 06:39 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
hightinerary Offline
Member

Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 751
Loc: Maryland
Are you really going to be able to wait another year, Bulldogxxxiv? Obviously you can't get Mt. Whitney out of your mind...

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#79758 - 08/31/10 07:20 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: hightinerary]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
Hey man, after summitting I'm now balanced and patient - it's my wife that has the fever. That night when I taxied you, Laura and Jim to Horseshoe Meadow, she was hatching plans with Doug and the crew at the Portal for her first trip up the mountain next year (past Lone Pine Lake, anyway).

Besides, I'll be there in February for my annual Death Valley camping/hiking trip. Joe Q and I may snowshoe up to the Portal one day, just so I can get a little Whitney fix smile

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#79760 - 08/31/10 09:41 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
bobpickering Online   content
Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 281
Loc: Reno, NV
Gary:

We're getting off the topic a little here, but you should approach the MR the same way you approached your successful trip this summer: Learn all you can about the route (or go with someone who knows it) and work on rock climbing skills.

Go to your local climbing gym, practice scrambling up and down whatever easy rocks you can find near Atlanta, and get somebody to take you top roping at a local crag. Climb some class 3 routes during the week before Whitney the next time you're here. You can even scope out the north fork as far as LBSL without a permit. The more practice you get, the easier the MR will seem when you get there.

If you do your homework, you probably won't have much trouble talking Laura, Richard, or me into going with you.

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#79761 - 08/31/10 10:23 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bobpickering]
quillansculpture Offline
Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 236
Loc: CA
Gary..... MR???? I still haven't had the nerve to get past the e-ledges. I'll go if you go. I did find it funny in one post in which the hiker had done the MR twice. The first time was in the dark and he didn't even see the exposure on the e-ledges. The second was in the light of day and it scared the crap out of him.

Gary....give me a date :-) I'll let you be the person who holds my sweaty hands.
_________________________

"Turtles, Frogs & other sculpture raised in a Gallery-friendly Environment"

http://www.quillansculpturegallery.com

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#79762 - 08/31/10 10:26 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bobpickering]
DUG Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/06
Posts: 416
Loc: Wildomar
I agree with Bob 100% about going in with someone who knows the way. While we probably could have found the route, it would have added stress and time to the trip. Also it was great having someone knowledgable point out and name all the great stuff we were looking at.

We didn't doing any pre hike rock climbing practice and it didn't seem to slow us down. Mike asked a lot of questions about hand and foot placements, but that's more due to him being a chatty kid than anything else. I'm a total rock climbing noob and had no problems following along - your milage may vary..........................................DUG
_________________________
Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. ~Steven Wright

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#79763 - 08/31/10 10:28 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: quillansculpture]
DUG Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/06
Posts: 416
Loc: Wildomar
Originally Posted By: quillansculpture
Gary..... MR???? I still haven't had the nerve to get past the e-ledges. I'll go if you go. I did find it funny in one post in which the hiker had done the MR twice. The first time was in the dark and he didn't even see the exposure on the e-ledges. The second was in the light of day and it scared the crap out of him.

Gary....give me a date :-) I'll let you be the person who holds my sweaty hands.


I'm supposed to go back up the MR route in September - in the day light. We'll see if it bothers me then. It was easy in the dark................................DUG
_________________________
Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. ~Steven Wright

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#79765 - 08/31/10 11:38 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: DUG]
quillansculpture Offline
Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 236
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: DUG

I'm supposed to go back up the MR route in September - in the day light. We'll see if it bothers me then. It was easy in the dark................................DUG


What dates?
_________________________

"Turtles, Frogs & other sculpture raised in a Gallery-friendly Environment"

http://www.quillansculpturegallery.com

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#79773 - 08/31/10 06:33 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: quillansculpture]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
Bob, we may not be too far adrift from topic here - we are talking first time for the MR, after all . . . even though Doug probably intended the thread for the main trail smile

Interestingly enough, Kent Williams (Kent W I believe on this board) contacted me this morning from Orlando about being in town on business next week, and we've made plans to get together for dinner and to compare notes and photos on our Whitney summits last month - his being up the MR with his teenage son on their first trip ever to the Sierra. Kent and I had corresponded before his trip, and I learned his background as a technical climber (currently in Florida - what a waste). I'm sure some of that dinner conversation will focus on the MR and the details. And I'm equally sure I'll get the bug to check out some climbing facilities over the winter. One that advertises itself as the largest in the country opened a few months ago in the ATL northern burbs. We'll see.

The MR intrigues me, and many others I'm sure, because it's a non-technical climb (in summer - let's be clear) with only two sections that are mostly described as class 3 scrambling. I'm not a mountaineer in the technical sense, and probably never will be, but I've done my share of easy class 3 stuff - just not with the exposure the Final 400 or the E-ledges offer. I have a healthy respect for heights, but they don't wig me out. Hell, most falls over 30 feet are fatal anyway, so what's the diff if it's 30 or 1030? DUG's comments about being a true climbing novice and the MR not bothering him are encouraging to hear.

I'll see if the spirit moves me this winter to take a few classes, or head for some walls and crags in the mountains north of Atlanta with people who have a clue what they're doing - just to get comfortable with exposure and the basics. Joe, we may need different permits next summer dude . . .

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#79789 - 09/01/10 03:51 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
Kent W. Offline
Member

Registered: 08/02/10
Posts: 20
Loc: FL


"his background as a technical climber (currently in Florida - what a waste)".

Yes, a rock climber marooned in Florida is a like a surfer living in Nebraska....makes it kind of tough to keep the fire burning.

Kent

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#79793 - 09/01/10 06:02 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
Lady Bulldawg Offline
Member

Registered: 07/20/10
Posts: 4
Loc: Marietta, GA
Originally Posted By: bulldog34


Joe, we may need different permits next summer dude . . .



hey! don't go forgetting about me- I think I should concentrate on doing the MT first and maybe I will be ready for the MR after a days rest! wink

........it's going to be a long year until July rolls around cry

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#79826 - 09/03/10 12:35 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
bconrey Offline
Member

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 1
Loc: San Diego, CA
Summitted successfully in one day on September 1st, but not without challenges and a little learning along the way.

Gary and others have shared some fantastic advice. I want to extend a big "THANK YOU" to this entire community of folks - I've been lurking for the past 6 weeks or so, learning everything I can, in the interest of being prepared.

A few random tips, in no particular order
- Have a back-up plan for your most critical gear. In our case, one of the members of the group brought a water filter which was unusable and we didn't discover this until Trail Camp. Fortunately I had Portable Aqua iodine tablets as a contingency - cheap, relatively light, and enough to sterilize 25 liters of water

- Train AT ALTITUDE. I'm a modestly experienced backpacker, and even spent a handful of days just south of Whitney a couple years ago (Cottonwood, New Army and Siberian Pass, across to Chicken Spring Lake). I never had altitude problems on that trip, but all three in my group were sucking wind once we hit ~12,500 or so. This made our summit attempt take significantly longer.

- Consider Diamox if you're coming from sea level (as we were). Despite sucking wind at the highest of altitudes, none of us showed any signs of AMS. I'm convinced Diamox gets credit for that.

- You may come across those who need aid. Do as you wish, but also remember what you need to take care of yourself. We came across two hikers still ascending at Trail Crest who were virtually out of water. One in our party gave them 2/3 of a liter of water, only to later realize there was a problem with the volume of his Camelbak which meant he was basically out of water. Me and the other person in our party had enough to make sure our group made it up and back safely, but my Good Samaritan friend's decision to help out put our safety at risk. (My words are a bit strong here because those two hikers we helped didn't turn around at that point - they pressed on to the summit with precious little water)

- Fueling is important, as mentioned by others. I didn't do a great job of this, despite knowing better. Also, make sure you fuel up at Outpost Camp before the last leg of your descent. The last few miles is a grind and you're not going to want to stop because you'll want to finish the hike. Setting off from Outpost with food in your belly will 1)ensure you have the energy to complete that last stretch, and 2)keep you in a better mood about it.

- Try to keep your pack light, but don't compromise on safety. Even though we were day-hiking, I had the gear to spend the night on the mountain (even in the 20s as Trail Camp campers had described) if anything went wrong. Make smart choices when deciding what to bring and what to leave behind.

- It ties in to some of the other tips, but plan to be on the trail in the dark. It sounds silly to say, but we came across a couple a couple miles before the end of the trail with one light between the two of them. I carry an e-lite as a backup, which I shared and we hiked out as a group. There are roughly 13 hours between sunrise and sunset, which is a narrow window.

Have fun. Enjoy yourself!

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#80112 - 09/20/10 03:38 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
cbear Offline
Member

Registered: 05/13/10
Posts: 16
Loc: Mountain View
1. Get up early and take your sweet time
I woke up an hour before dawn and hit the trail, it let me move like a slug all day long and slowly get used to the altitude change. It was really nice not having to push against the clock. If you take it slow and easy you can let your body worry more about adjusting to the altitude than getting you to camp quickly. If you can time it so you're at the base of the switchbacks at sunrise you're in for a real treat.

2. Drink water like crazy
I drank 6 bottles of water on the first day alone, other climbers who drank just a little bit less but were in better shape than me seemed to get hit by altitude much worse than I.

3. Don't be afraid to go alone
You're not really alone on Whitney, and if you know what you're doing you should be fine. I got talked into going solo by the folks on this fourm and its one of the best decisions I made on the trip.

4. Acclimate
Something I didn't do was acclimate. It really hits you once you depart the tree line above Mirror Lake, the altitude isn't even really so bad up until that point.

5. Remember it will be there next year
With all the permitting hassles and trip planning it's easy to get summit fever. The best decision I made overall was turning myself around and heading down.
_________________________
http://www.backcountrybliss.net/

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#80118 - 09/20/10 05:55 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: cbear]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: cbear
Remember it will be there next year . . . the best decision I made overall was turning myself around and heading down.


"The summit is optional, but the parking lot is mandatory" - one of my favorite quotes. Good call cbear.

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#80131 - 09/21/10 07:23 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Kent W.]
+ @ti2d Offline
Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 717
Loc: Oh Cursed pron Oakhurst
Originally Posted By: Kent W.
...a rock climber marooned in Florida is a like a surfer living in Nebraska...

laugh

Have fun...
_________________________
"Those on top of the mountain did not fall there..."

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#81338 - 11/27/10 09:41 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bobpickering]
helptheirishgirl Offline
Member

Registered: 11/27/10
Posts: 2
Loc: ireland
Hi all.
This is my first time on this post. I am from Ireland and will be travelling in America in march and April. I am hoping to climb the whitney trail in one day to raise funds for a small boy that I care for. As I am totally unfamiliar with the area and a beginer climbing I was hoping to get a guide or join a group climb. However I am having trouble finding relevant information, I hope to do the climb in early April. Please any help or information would be useful.
Thanks.

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#81910 - 12/29/10 08:51 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
czrswyyf Offline
Member

Registered: 12/29/10
Posts: 1
Loc: So.California
I was fortunate enough to summit (in one day) on my first attempt on Sept. 6, 2010. Here are my tips for summitting:

First, tell yourself you WILL succeed. From the moment I decided to hike Whitney, I made a committment to myself I was going to make it. No room for doubt. None. Obviously if I had become injured or the weather turned, I would have given in. But, shy of that, I promised myself I would make it, so that I would never entertain a doubt. It's too easy to turn around if you carry the possibiity that you can.

Second, train at elevation. I hiked Mt. Pinos (8800), Mt. Baldy (9500+), Mt. Gorgonio (10,000+) once each time before going, plus I hiked a 5 mile RT local trail twice a week that had a constant elevation climb on the front end. I trained the local trails without trekking poles, but used them on the elevation climbs. Not that everyone wants to make a six month investment, but I happened to be taking a pilates class two nights a week before the hike and I believe this really gave me an advantage when it came to quad/core/back strength and endurance.

Third, food. I brought along cliff bars because they were great during my training. But they were ash in my mouth on the trail. The best thing I had going was PayDay candy bars, pretzel M&Ms, two bagels with peanut butter and jam. And most importantly, I had a Starburst candy in my mouth about every 30 minutes for a constanct source of sugar and to keep my mouth wet.

Fourth, water: Start drinking the week before, and no soda or beer or booze the two days before. You can't hydrate enough in advance.

Fifth: I got Diamox from my doctor as an insurance policy against AMS. I was so glad I did because I had NO symptoms and it was one less thing to deal with. I did experience AMS on Mr. Gorgonio until I got back under 10k, so I know what it felt like. I STRONGLY recommend going with Diamox if you want to increase your chances of summitting. You will need to take it starting four days prior to your hike, so don't wait until the last minute to see your doctor.

Six: The right boots, with the right inserts, with the right lacing. It took me three weeks to get my feet right. The people at REI were wonderful, and I didn't buy the most expensive of everything. And trekking poles, you really have to have them. I got mine at WalMart for $15.00. They did fine.

Seven: Wear your gear in advance. This may sound silly, buy I wore my pack around the house while I did my house work, and put a seven pound bag of cat food in it to simulate the weight.

I was so overwhelmed with my accomplishment that I broke into tears at the summit. It really was a moment in my life I will never forget. At first I didn't think I would do it again, but now, I believe I will, but this time I will probably stay over night at Trail Camp. I look forward to it!

Good luck and enjoy the adventure! YOU CAN DO IT!

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#82316 - 01/20/11 08:54 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Idaho Yeti Offline
Member

Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 3
Loc: Idaho
Just climed Mt Whitney for the first time. I have spent a lot of time cimbing/hiking Idaho's Sawtooths, so I planned for this trip along those lines. Trekking poles make a huge differance, you don't need to spend a fortune on them, I picked up a set for $20 that worked great. I read from other posts that the last 3 miles are likely to be dry, I bought a 100oz bladder for my summit sack and filled up at trail camp. Pack light-weight layers for wind and rain, I kept two MRE's with me just in case. Have a light summit sack in your gear, leave the bulk of your load at Trail camp. We chose to make it a two day trip so we could enjoy it, first day an easy climb to Trail camp, summit and out to the portal on the second day. The only error I am aware of making was wearing light trail shoes, after 20 miles of walking on rocky trail, my feat were hammered, soaked them in the creek at the portal for 20min while I ate my burger. People met on the trail were great! Disapointed to see several "WAG" bags tossed off the side of the trail, bag it up and pack it out!. Making the trip again this year with a new group of first-timers!

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#82322 - 01/21/11 01:47 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Idaho Yeti]
AsABat Offline
Member

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 354
Loc: www.4jeffrey.net
Originally Posted By: Idaho Yeti
Just climed Mt Whitney for the first time. ... We chose to make it a two day trip so we could enjoy it, first day an easy climb to Trail camp, summit and out to the portal on the second day. The only error I am aware of making was wearing light trail shoes, after 20 miles of walking on rocky trail, my feat were hammered,....


Either a massive heat wave melted all the snow, or this trip was done last summer.

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#82331 - 01/22/11 01:52 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: AsABat]
Idaho Yeti Offline
Member

Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 3
Loc: Idaho
Yep, climbed the end of July, perfect weather!

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#83817 - 04/20/11 10:21 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Idaho Yeti]
Hiiro24 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
MR for 1st timer on Mt whitney? Good ideas or bad ideas for someone who is afraid of height?

is there a MR 1st timer thread like this thread for MT thread?

Thanks

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#83821 - 04/20/11 10:57 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Hiiro24]
dolbybear Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/10
Posts: 27
Loc: Beaumont, CA
Don't look down...

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#83961 - 04/27/11 01:58 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: dolbybear]
saltydog335 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/11
Posts: 155
Loc: Cape Cod
This is something I am looking at from a similar perspective, and here is what i have found. I am not a first timer on Whitney, but I no longer enjoy exposure, and am looking at the MR for the first time.

Do some research on the "Ebersbacher Ledges". There is film available of the whole pitch. It's the one area that gives me pause. I think any exposure on the MR can be avoided except for here. (Secor even notes a way to avoid the class 3 on the "last 400" near the top.) Most of the E-Ledges appears easy class 2/3, but one spot -- "the Narrows" -- is both narrow and exposed for 20 feet or so.

ALso plan your trip for as little snow as possible like late August. Guides practice roping up for the snow in the chute and possibly above.

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#83963 - 04/27/11 04:21 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Hiiro24]
thenine Offline
Member

Registered: 03/27/10
Posts: 12
Loc: san diego, CA
My friends and I where all first timers last year when we summited via the mountaineers route.

With regards to exposure I think this will be different for everyone. I had no problems with the e-ledges on the way up but was nervous on the way down. I had one buddy get nervous because he was slipping on the scree on the way up the chute. He almost turned back. We all handled the last 400 fairly well. So I guess my point is... you will notice the exposure, it's impossible not too... but we set our minds to it and got through it.

In terms of what I would do differently:

[*]train harder.... it was a hell of a climb
[*]drink and eat more than you think
[*]Wear a helmet up the chute / last 400 hundred... I slipped on some snow and almost cracked my head on a boulder on the way down and I was nearly hit in the head by a loose rock on the last 400... I would wear a helmet if i did it again.


Final piece of advice... and this can't be said enough... SAVE ENERGY FOR THE DOWN CLIMB.... for us down climbing the chute was the hardest part. Down Climbing on scree with tired legs sucks.


Edited by thenine (04/27/11 04:21 PM)

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#83967 - 04/27/11 06:53 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
Rodney51 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/27/11
Posts: 22
Loc: Northern CA
Thanks Bulldog34 for the info. I too will be a first timer come June 28, 2011... I'm stoked. Being from Northern California we don't have any peaks the elevation of Mt. Whitney. Highest for me was 10,300 ft. on Carson Summit.
I have been trainning for a year now i.e. aerobics, anaerobics, some weight trainning. I'll be 52 this year and you could say it's on my "Bucket List". I've read countless books and posts on this website. I beleive I'll be ready when the time comes.

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#83970 - 04/28/11 05:34 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Rodney51]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
Thanks Rodney. Day or overnight? A 6/28 date this particular year may mean a good amount of snow still on the mountain and the necessity of heading up the chute unstead of the switchbacks, so hopefully you've got a comfort level with winter gear. Last year the snowpack blocking the cables section of the switchbacks was in place till almost mid-July, and the snow field near the summit was still pretty large. Otherwise, the trail was mostly clear (but very wet with melt).

Keep an eye on other's trip reports for conditions the latter half of June - this will be your best source of information in knowing what conditions to plan for. TRs really begin to surface on the board about that time of year. A heat wave can change the snow/ice presence on the mountain very quickly, and you may find you have a mostly dry-footed hike ahead of you instead of a snow-slog - but I wouldn't bet on it, given this year's snow level. To be safe, I would tailor my training with the thought in mind that I will be climbing 1600 sustained feet of 35-degree snow slope.

Best of luck, and be sure to post a TR!

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#83972 - 04/28/11 11:40 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
Rodney51 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/27/11
Posts: 22
Loc: Northern CA
Bulldog34,
We are going to make it a weeklong adventure. 2 nights @ WP, then a night at Outpost camp, then a night at TC, then who knows.
I don't have any experience with snow/ice gear, so if the chute is the only route up we may have to turn around. Even if this is the case I'm sure it will be an enjoyable time.

Rodney

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#83991 - 04/30/11 09:44 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Saintsfan74 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/30/11
Posts: 5
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
So I'll be going up the Main trail at the end of May, first attempt. Anyone have an idea of the current snow conditions on the main trail? How far in are the crampons going on? Also does anyone have an opinion on soft shell pants or hiking pants with wind/rain pants over them? I have always done the wind/rain pant method but I feel like for this I would rather do soft shell and leave the others in the truck.

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#84086 - 05/05/11 07:50 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Saintsfan74]
TKO Offline
Member

Registered: 05/05/11
Posts: 2
Loc: Glendale, CA
I also have a overnight reservation for the end of May (Memorial Day weekend), although I'm trying to postpone it to mid or late June depending on the snow conditions.

I saw some pictures of Whitney from March and April and there's a lot of snow. There will probably be a lot left by the end of May. This will be my first time to Whitney. I've hiked many times elsewhere, but nothing like Whitney.

I can't say anything on soft shell pants or hiking pants with wind/rain pants over them, but I have crampons. I've been told that crampons, an ice ax, and trekking poles are a must.

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#84138 - 05/08/11 06:18 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: TKO]
juggernaut Offline
Member

Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 28
Loc: CA
First timer in Sep 2010 (Day hike).
Start of hike: 3 am
Summited : 11 am
Turned back: 12 noon.
Reached trail head : 3:45 pm.

We didn't have any time to acclimate coz of a car break down (we barely managed to get to Whitney Portal after the car fiasco). We did a short 1 hour hike from Whitney Portal, on the Mt Whitney Trail, on a Tuesday evening and returned to Lonepine campground by 8 pm. We could only manage to get 4-5 hours of sleep and started the hike around 3 am.

What worked:
- Knowing what to expect : We had hiked Mt Dana (13,100 ft) 2 weeks before Mt Whitney, so we kinda had an idea of what it would be like to breath thin air, dehydration symptoms and the like.
- Carry advils, to keep those nasty headaches (due to dehydration?) under control.

What could have been done better:
Better clothing, get breathable jackets + always keep a warm jacket in your daypack, as the weather up on the summit can be cold.


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#84179 - 05/10/11 10:22 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
EliW Offline
Member

Registered: 05/10/11
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
Hi,

I'm planning on hiking up Mt. Whitney this weekend (I have permits for May 13th to May 15th) and I wanted to ask about how much time people think it will take to summit from trail camp? I read on another forum post ~ 3 hours but that was in August and the ground conditions now are very different.

Thanks,

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#84290 - 05/16/11 01:24 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: EliW]
jbelz Offline
Member

Registered: 05/09/11
Posts: 4
Loc: usa
Thanks to all the threads put out here. This is a great resource and helpful on my trip this past weekend. Hopefully this helps others.

Got to Whitney Portal at 3am (traffic from Bay area) on Friday with the plan to make it to Trail Camp that day. Our group got a late start (should have picked up our permits the night before) and didnt set off till 11am Friday morning. About an 1 hr into the trail, snow is abound. As the trail continues just short of lone pine lake area, it is easy to get off trail. We went after a fresh snowfall and there were no other foot tracks to be seen. There are some markers on trees so keep your eye out for them. have a good map and confidence in your navigation ability because with all this snow they have had this year, it is very easy to get lost if you have never been.
We got to outpost camp at about 3 pm. We were going at a decent pace with breaks but got off trail a few times which probably set us back some time. Some of the way there we encountered steep inclines and decided to put our crampons on which helped quite a bit. Since it was already late in the day and we could tell a storm was coming in we decided not to go for trail camp and instead stopped at high camp. Our group was the only one there. There was a little stream close by that we were able to use a water filter for but from others I was told we should be prepared to melt snow as most of the lakes were frozen.
We set off for the summit the next day at 4:45. This was pretty surreal climbing in pitch black with only headlamps and the full moon providing a source of light.
About an 2 hours into our hike (after getting lost and climbing some insane sections close to mirror lake, that are not part of the trail ) we ran into two hikers that were going for the summit in one day (our guardian angles). They were super friendly and provided us with realistic expectations for the challenge ahead and timing expectations. Our group was planning to refill water when we got to trail camp but found out the hard way that Mirror lake was the last place to get water from. We didnt plan for this and didnt bring a stove and pot on our hike to the summit. The two hikers we met suggested that we find clean snow and put it into our water bottles and wait for it to melt.
The two hikers told us that the cable section of the climb would cost us time and instead we should climb the main chute up to the trail crest. This thing is a beast. It was about a 1 to 1.5km long with a super steep face. This section was hands down the toughest part of the climb. I actually slipped and had to self arrest about halfway up. The best advice I got was go up in zig zag formation and take a 5-10 second break after each 54-10 steps. Try to get a rhythm going. This section took me about an 1 hour and 45 minutes. We got to Trail pass about a 1145 am and was told that the summit was about an hr an half to two hours away. You are at about 13,700 ft and can really start feeling the effects of altitude. This is where the 99 switchbacks begin. This part of the mountain was super dicey for me. We didnt have to wear crampons but an axe or poles were required. There are a lot of scary sections that you need to be fully aware of your surrounding as the path could only be 1 to 2 feet wide and you have a 1,000 ft drop off on one side. I would only carry on, if you are feeling comfortable and not feeling dizzy from the altitidue. We finally made it to the summit at 1245 and I couldnt been a happier person.
Out of the 5 on our team only 3 made it. 2 got really bad altitude sickness and couldnt carry on pass mirror lake.
My advise for anyone attempting this trail in the next couple of weeks is to hydrate like crazy before climbing and to bring more food (energy bars, gu) than you think you will need. The three of us ran out of water about an 1hr short of the summit and made the rest of the hike miserable.
Getting back down to high camp took us 4 hrs. Glissading down the chute was awesome. So all in all with breaks along the way an about 25 minutes on the summit we spent 12 hrs hiking before we got back to outpost camp.

I hope this helps. Also bring along a four season tent. We rented a 3 season tent on accident and has a miserable night in a snow storm with 30 mph winds.

good luck

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#84311 - 05/17/11 09:41 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: jbelz]
Mountain Ginger Offline
Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 325
Loc: Arrowbear Lake California
great TR Jbelz! grin
_________________________
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
Helen Keller

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#84318 - 05/17/11 03:23 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Mountain Ginger]
juggernaut Offline
Member

Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 28
Loc: CA
Thanks a lot jbelz for the TR, and congrats on summiting :-)

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#84506 - 05/25/11 06:18 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
JRS1960 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 4
Loc: Alabama
I am from Birmingham, Alabama and my day to hike is June 28. I have read every bit of information on the climb I can pull up. The one thing I am in need of info wise is about the ice. I have used crampons before and feel comfortable with them. The one thing I have never used and have no idea where I would begin to learn is an ice ax. Is there a possibility on June 28 I will need an ice ax or will crampons be sufficent? Thanks

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#84538 - 05/25/11 01:38 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: JRS1960]
BMan Offline
Member

Registered: 04/12/10
Posts: 55
Loc: San Diego, CA
JRS1960,

Welcome! Vary hard to tell a month out. I would say probably not but probably best to check back within a week of your trip. You're going up the main trail? Most likely, ice would be at the Cables section on the switchbacks at which point an axe is fairly useless (IMO). Under anything close to "normal" conditions (and this hasn't exactly been a normal year), microspikes (instead of crampons) would probably be fine but, again, hard to predict a month out.

Good luck, be safe and have fun!

Brandon

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#84550 - 05/25/11 07:13 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: ]
JRS1960 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 4
Loc: Alabama
Thanks so much guys, I am going up the main trail so I will be on the switchbacks. I know there has been a lot of snow this year so I will keep my eye on the message boards. I may be by myself but I assume that is no big deal with all the people on the trail that day.

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#85024 - 06/13/11 02:37 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Annette H Offline
Member

Registered: 06/13/11
Posts: 1
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Hi All!
We made it - first timers day hiked Mt Whitney on 6/11/11!
Thanks to everyone for posting (and especially Doug Sr for some great advice the night before the hike). You all helped tremendously!

A couple of things we learned that might help regarding current conditions, training, etc.
1) If there is snow, wear sunglasses/snow goggles. We hiked about 18 miles in snowy conditions. I wore sunglasses for a little bit of that, but they got uncomfortable and I stowed them. I am not used to dealing with snow conditions, so I am an idiot. Result: snow blindness set in about 6 hours after we finished our hike. This condition is so painful I could not sleep. I could not see well enough to drive. Even now, two days later, I can barely see well enough to post. This situation is entirely preventable.
2) Training: I was grateful for every minute I spent training. I trained hiking Piestewa, Camelback (Phoenix) and Black (Cave Creek) mountains every weekend for about two months (did more than one back-to-back and in 100+ degree heat for the last couple of weekends). These mountains are very short but much steeper than Mt. Whitney (each is approximately 1,200 feet of elevation gain in 1.2 miles). I also put in some longer hikes (20-30 miles) in the last two months, and hiked two 12,000 ft peaks in Flagstaff. Everyone in our group who did this had no problem whatever with the effort required. However, we followed the recommendations and hiked MUCH slower than we might have otherwise. I am really glad we did. We won't be able to say we hiked Mt. Whitney in record time, but we all made it, and NO altitude sickness in our group on the way up.
3) Water: you need at LEAST 4 liters to make the trek for someone my size (120 lbs), 5 to 6 would be better if you are larger. Yes, you can get water on the trail but some of the locations on the water map were frozen when we went. We were prepared to filter / add chlorine tabs to water we found on the trail, but we did not end up doing so. One of our group traded the weight of water for a heavy camera without telling the rest. We bypassed a lot of water sources thinking this fellow had enough water. This was a grave error. Luckily, he told us at Trail Camp and we found a snow-melt runoff, but this was a point of failure that could have been avoided. By the time we could rectify the situation, the guy was already a bit dehydrated, which made the rest of the trip much tougher for him than it might have been. The best preventative for AMS is SLOW speed and more-than-adequate hydration. We were told to keep eating on the way up. I found easily-digestible energy/electrolyte snacks (Sharkies, Stinger gel chews) to be a good choice for the way up. People who ate heavier food seemed more likely to have discomfort due to bloating or similar conditions on the uphill aspect of the trek. I stuck with what I knew would work for me and it was a good thing.
4) Under current conditions, we could not hike the switchbacks. We hiked the chute to the right (north) side of the switchbacks. We needed crampons for the chute between Trail Camp and Trail Crest. We did emphatically need an ice axe to stay safe. Stopping is HARD if you slip on something that steep.
5) Due to the snow, the backside after the junction with the John Muir Trail was seriously scary for me. I have a trick ankle and a trick knee that give out (occasionally) without any warning at all. If I'd lost my footing on some of those sketchy spots (there were three on Saturday 6/11) and was not able to catch myself immediately, there would have been a very bad outcome. I was seriously doubting the sanity of what I was doing and worked my way VERY slowly and carefully (three points of contact) through those sections. That was by far the hardest part of the hike for me. I nearly turned back. I guess I am glad I hung in there but I would never take anyone who is affected by AMS, dehydrated, or physically challenged (like me with my trick ankle/knee) through those sections in the snowy conditions without some kind of safety gear. I had a great time, and the scenery was epic, but I am very glad I did not take Scouts or Venture Crew members on this day hike under current conditions.
6) Waypoints/Route finding: I programmed waypoints into my GPS from the https://sites.google.com/site/mtwhitneytrailinfo/MtWhitneyTrail/waypoints site and used them. This helped confirm that the boot tracks we were following were headed in the right direction. Doug Sr. at the Whitney Portal Store was a huge help showing us visually where we were headed using the big photo on the store wall. We picked up smaller versions of the big photo at the Portal Store and found ourselves using those more often than the topos or the GPS.
7) Boots: three of us wore low-cut waterproof hikers by Merrill and Keene. These worked fine. One of us wore Lowa boots. We all wore gaiters and were glad to have them: we were able to march over the snow on the way up but the snow was quite soft on the way down. Gaiters kept snow out of our boots the whole way.
8) Socks, gloves: I have primary Raynaud's Syndrome (fingers and toes go numb and white under stress and even mild conditions) and was quite concerned about getting cold and wet. I borrowed ski gloves and wore wool socks and they worked great. I had a backup plan for everything but the ski gloves were perfect and I didn't need neoprene socks or plastic bags liners for the feet. I was sure glad I had gaiters, though!


Despite all the warnings, this was a fantastic journey and I am just delighted we got to do it!
Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/annetteheinemeyer/sets/72157626822818633/

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#85045 - 06/14/11 11:23 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: JRS1960]
sparty85 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/18/11
Posts: 6
Loc: San Diego, CA
JRS1960,

I summitted for the first time last year on June 26th. It was the first weekend that the cables were open and there were a couple of areas that were a little sketchy (snow) just before trail crest. I had an ice ax and micro spikes but did not need them. On the way back there was some post-holing and the switchbacks looked like small streams with snow melt run off.

Sounds like there has been more snow this year than last. Keep checking the board each week to see what the conditions are like. There is always great info here. I hope you have as good weather as we did last year. I summitted in a long sleeve tee shirt and shorts.

Be safe and good luck.

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#85055 - 06/14/11 10:05 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Annette H]
Lightchaser Offline
Member

Registered: 07/21/10
Posts: 7
Loc: Oceanside
Annette H. - congratulations and thanks for the comprehensive TR, tips, and pics. Very helpful. Looks like everyone had a good time.

Thanks,

John

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#85139 - 06/19/11 09:40 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
JuanBoracho Offline
Member

Registered: 05/17/11
Posts: 2
Loc: Reno, NV
Thanks for the great report! 3 and I are headed up 24-26 looking forward to seeing the top!


Edited by JuanBoracho (06/19/11 09:40 PM)

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#85261 - 06/24/11 08:50 AM Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
"Mayor" Allaire Offline
Member

Registered: 06/20/11
Posts: 1
Loc: Lake Hughes, CA
First Timer Tips June 8-11, 2011 Allaire & Chloe Koslo
Quick Reference Conclusions:
Next time we will take less in our packs, less weight.
Allow extra time. Snow and ice slows down travel.
Cross Country travel is a lot slower than trail travel.
This is obvious perhaps, but true none-the-less and we learned
first hand. Thank you Doug, Sr. We will be back! See you August 4,5,6, 2011

Keep it Wild, Leave No Trace. Love Affair with Mt. Whitney, a New Mayor! by Honorary Mayor Allaire Koslo

When one comes off a 14,000 foot mountain, there is an inexplicable “high” experienced. The “Whitney High” continues from our journey June 8, 9, 10,11. It was our daughter, Chloe and her Godfather Frank Toothaker and myself on the trek, and what a challenge with double the normal snowfall! To quote Frank: ‘Carrying one’s food and sleeping bag and making camp in a remote corner of God's fantastically beautiful wilderness was awesome! Standing on a bench mark set in 1928 atop a 10,000 foot granite knoll with breathtaking beauty all around, and the sense of real accomplishment at ascending to it cross-country through obstacles of snow, and forest and stream was amazing!’ We encountered rock slides, post holing, danger, but fun too! We live for those moments. It is the other things in our life that get in the way of what is really important. It was more than I imagined. It was a fantastic trip, a life changing memory forever.
There were many funny moments as well: as a t-shirt says in Lone Pine- “Yea, though I hike up steep mountain trails with no idea what is behind the next switchback, I shall fear no evil, because at 14,497 feet there is not enough oxygen for my brain to understand fear anyway.” Or another t-shirt: “Feel the sun on your cheeks, Hike Mt. Whitney naked.” We had a sunny three days with added reflection from the snow, so we did indeed get a sun burn. So words to the wise: wear complete sun block on your cheeks, if possible.
I agree with what Frank says: focus on moments in the wild. Much was accomplished, much learned, including minimization, route-finding, working as a team, meeting other people. Even being alone on the trail, with others 30 feet ahead or behind, we had a sense of personal isolation yet at the same time being very close.
I felt so tiny at the foot of these giant mountains! Mother Nature gave me a bold lesson in humility and showed me how very small I am, nothing. The sheer and utter grandeur made me feel so insignificant, tiny and humble. Life, and especially this hike is one long lesson in humility. One of my Yoga students at the YMCA gave me a card before we left: Advice from a Mountain: “Reach for new heights, Rise above it all. There is beauty as far as the eye can see. Be uplifting. Build on a solid foundation. Get to the point. Enjoy the View!”
Chloe and I took a nine hour class: Survival Backpack Course at the Antelope Valley College from Lee Bergthold and felt very prepared. And yet as he advised us: the weather can change in fifteen minutes. There are always unknowns. Due to the conditions on the mountains we were very alone, not many other hikers. A few made it to the summit, eleven miles up and back with a 6,000 foot elevation gain. We got as far as we could, almost to Trail Camp at 11,000 feet. None of us had altitude sickness; it was just all the snow and time was a factor. So we shall return to summit in August!
I asked the U.S. Forest Service Ranger and painter, Dave Kirk if I could get a gold star, not for getting to the summit, but for carrying out extra “wag bags.” A wag bag is the mandatory bag that one must carry out – yes, your own human waste, thus leave no trace, pack it all out. So even on the mountain as well on the roads, I am picking up trash and recyclables too! I wonder if they will let me “Adopt a Mountain?”
We have a real appreciation and affection for Doug Thompson. He owns and operates both the Whitney Portal Store located at the trailhead at 8,000 feet and the Mount Whitney Hostel in downtown Lone Pine. He serves the biggest pancakes EVER, just what one needs before heading up the trail! And we loved the hospitality, indoor plumbing, nice beds and hot showers at the hostel. Thank you Doug!!! And thank you to all the people in Lone Pine: The Mount Whitney Restaurant, with their divine chocolate malts, the Alabama Hills Café, and the Merry go Round Chinese and American Restaurant!
It is safe to say that I have had a fifteen year love affair with Lake Hughes, The Rock Inn and the Lakes and Mountains community where I reside, and am privileged to have served as your Honorary Mayor for three years. I am also now in love with Lone Pine and Mount Whitney too!
Just prior to our trip, our daughter, Chloe graduated with honors from 8th grade at Sacred Heart School June 2nd. She acknowledges and is grateful to her village, or as it says in the Bible: “Chloe’s people.” She was the leader on the trail going to the summit. So as a proud mother, life comes full circle and Chloe would like to “run for Mayor” and volunteer for her community. Please buy your raffle tickets from Chloe Koslo, a Lake Hughes native.
We did not see any bears, but we had our required bear canisters. Keep it wild! I cannot give Frank Toothaker enough credit or thanks or sing his praises enough for joining us on this true adventure of a lifetime! Stay tuned there is more to come from this Mountain Momma!
At the Visitor Center on the way home from Mt. Whitney I bought a bookmark for Chloe: Advice from a Tree: “Stand Tall and Proud! Sink Your Roots into the Earth. Be Content with Your Natural Beauty. Drink Plenty of Water. Enjoy the View!” I wish that for everyone. Happy Trails to you!

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#85489 - 07/07/11 10:04 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: "Mayor" Allaire]
Hiiro24 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
Do you just take a day pack ie like a rei flash 18 summit pack to the top, or do you carry your backpacking backpack minus the gear, ie, tent, SB, stove, clothes?

Thanks

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#85493 - 07/07/11 02:23 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Hiiro24]
Akichow Offline
Member

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 705
Loc: Confluence of the Sac and Am R...
I'd go somewhere in between an REI flash summit pack and a full-on backpack, for a day hike up Whitney. You need something big enough to carry essential gear, but no bigger (or heavier). Depending who you ask, essential gear may include different things, such as (1) the 10 essentials for backcountry travel, (2) waterproof shell pants and top, (3) extra clothes for warmth, (4) the ability to carry at least 3 quarts of water once you go above Trail Camp, (5) food, (6) water purification, (7) any equipment needed for snow/ice travel.... Speaking for myself, I'd have a hard time putting all that in my beloved and well-used REI flash summit pack.

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#85511 - 07/08/11 10:36 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Akichow]
Kris Offline
Member

Registered: 06/28/11
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
My sister and I just hiked Whitney in a day (12 hrs. up and 5 hrs. down)on July 6th. I took a larger backpack and my sis took a smaller day one. She actually carried 6 liters of water with her (two 3 liter bladders) and drank 6 liters from Trail Camp to the summit and back. She probably drank a total of 20 liters throughout the hike, and I drank around 14.
I would pack an extra pair of shoes if you don't want to chance walking in wet boots after the trip down the chute. The trail and creeks are pretty flooded at times so there are places your feet may get wet. We left at 9:30PM on Tuesday, made it to Lone Pine Lake at midnight, up the chute at 7:30AM on Wednesday, to the summit at 9:30AM, and down the chute right before the thunderstorm hit. we walked down in rain and a bit of hail. My feet were soaking wet. I should have worn gaiters.
The trail had a few obstacles . . . it turns into a creek in a couple of places and there are some boot track you don't want to follow around Trailside Meadow (stay off the snow and hug the rock).
An ice axe and crampons were needed up and down the chute. I'm not sure if it's been mentioned before, but no one rents ice axes up there, so you'll need to purchase one ahead of time.
I would take a thermal blanket if doing it again just in case I'd have to stop a while. We had multiple layers of clothing (no cotton) but still got a bit cold when we stopped to find the trail at one point, and stopped to help another hiker with altitude sickness (mind you, it was 2AM and we were near snow).
Off topic a bit - it was extremely helpful to camp above 10,000 ft. the three nights before we ascended. During the last mile to the summit both of our hearts were working hard (could feel the beats with every step), and we concentrated on our breathing and taking slow mechanical steps. We experienced little headaches that subsided when we drank water and an electrolyte drink. I wish I would have had more sodium with me though.
A ranger said we would be good (acclimating to elevation well) if we were urinating every hour. That we did.
My pack weighed 23lbs. Hope this helps a bit. It was my first time up, and I'd love to do it again... maybe when there isn't any snow smile.

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#85519 - 07/08/11 02:14 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Kris]
Hiiro24 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
How often do they check for permit on the main trail?

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#85520 - 07/08/11 02:50 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Hiiro24]
Kris Offline
Member

Registered: 06/28/11
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
No one asked for ours, however we didn't reach the part where a permit was needed until midnight (11:56PM) . . . so we were fine (legal) for our day permit of July 6th.

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#85581 - 07/12/11 12:26 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Hiiro24]
AsABat Offline
Member

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 354
Loc: www.4jeffrey.net
Originally Posted By: Hiiro24
How often do they check for permit on the main trail?


If you are going in and out from Whitney Portal each person has a tag that attaches to their pack, so they are easy to check. If you don't have one because you came from a different trailhead, you very well may be checked. I was once checked 3 times in one day, the last ranger taking 20 minutes to interrogate me to verify my permit was legit (my pack was too light and I was hiking too fast for her taste).

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#85582 - 07/12/11 02:38 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: AsABat]
TomDietz Offline
Member

Registered: 08/13/08
Posts: 118
Loc: Los Angeles
They only use the tags when the trail gets busier. I was on the trail two weeks ago and they didn't issue tags. Just the 8.5 x 11" permit on white paper that everyone is obligated to have on them at all times.

Not sure if they have started issuing tags yet.

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#85690 - 07/19/11 08:13 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
MartiniGal Offline
Member

Registered: 05/17/10
Posts: 43
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
We have a group permit; two of our group are unable to go with our group and are asking us to "give them" their permits so they can hike independent of our group, or possibly trade with someone else for another date. Based on what I read on the actual permit, this isn't allowable or doable - but I do see occasional posts about this type of thing. Can this be done?

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#85692 - 07/19/11 09:34 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: MartiniGal]
tomcat_rc Offline
Member

Registered: 06/29/03
Posts: 949
Loc: Ridgecrest
If the group leader or alternate leader listed on permit notification; then you have no problem. Leader does nor have to identify all the hikers in the group. If your cancelled participants are the listed leader or alternate - you need to call the VC and try to coordinate a transfer.
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#85695 - 07/19/11 11:43 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
smellsfishy Offline
Member

Registered: 06/08/11
Posts: 1
Loc: CA|USA
JUST WANT TO THANK ALL AT PORTAL STORE, SUMMITED 15 JULY WITH MY GRANDSON ON OUR FIRST ATTEMPT THE LITTLE SNOW THAT WAS THERE IS A LITTLE DICEY BUT IT SHOULD'NT HOLD YOU BACK, SAW JACK COMING DOWN FROM HIS 100TH CLIMB MET HIM 3DAYS BEFORE OUR CLIMB WHAT KINDA LUCK WAS THAT?I HIKED 20 TO 25 MILES A WEEK IN THE LOCAL HILLS FOR A YEAR, SPENT 3DAYS ACCLIMATING AT WHITNEY CAMPGROUND I THINK THAT ACCLIMATING AND 3DAYS OF HYDRATING BEFORE WHERE VERY IMPORTANT TO OUR SUCCESS. I'M 57 AND MY GRANDSON IS 13,WHAT A GREAT MEMORY WE WILL SHARE. DOUG SR AND JACK ALL THE FOLKS AT THE STORE AND THE HOSTEL IN TOWN I CAN ONLY SAY THANK YOU! GARY AND CHRIS.(HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU)

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#85698 - 07/19/11 01:16 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: TomDietz]
sparty85 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/18/11
Posts: 6
Loc: San Diego, CA
We had a group of eight summit on Sunday the 17th. They issued one permit to the leader. Our group had a wide range of hiking skills/speed so I asked what would happen if we were not all together and was told that if someone was checked and not near the leader that had the permit to just let the ranger know the name of the leader and the number of people in the group.

None of us were asked to show a permit.

Sparty85

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#86048 - 08/04/11 11:05 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: sparty85]
Ces Offline
Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 5
Loc: Orange County, CA
First time was July 5, 2010. Second time (didn't summit) was October 2, 2010.

Our rather large group submitted two day permit applications and ended up getting both. The first was for ten (ten!) and since we thought there was no chance in hell we would get it, we put in a back-up request for six and, well, we got both. We were ecstatic! (On a side note, we completely struck out this year and got nada, so perhaps we'll try for walk-ups this fall.)

By way of introduction, I'm a 35 yo woman and so my nugget of advice is geared towards the female of the persuasion and will be phrased in the most delicate of ways. While my group was lucky enough to get both permits, I was unlucky in that on not one, but BOTH my times on Whitney, I was so very fortunate to have my monthly cycle. Talk about luck of the draw. It made my experience that much more challenging as the nausea was more intense, I was more dehydrated, the cramps and constipation were a nice touch, etc. etc. Everything you normally feel during the early stages of your visit from Aunt Flo is magnified ten-fold on the mountain. So, be prepared for that ... or know your cycle when you put in for the lottery. grin

One other thing - a lot of people have mentioned the mountains they trained on prior to their Whitney attempt. I live in SoCal so my training consisted of Baldy, Jacinto, etc. I would strongly recommend anyone who hikes San J. to take the Marion trail route. Next to the Cactus-to-Clouds route to the summit, this is one of the most strenuous climbs San J has to offer. Total roundtrip mileage is only 11, but the elevation gain/loss is just under 5,000 which makes this a real butt-kicker.

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#86052 - 08/05/11 07:01 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Ces]
btsan Offline
Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 33
Loc: San Francisco, CA
We have like 10 permits for August 17th and 18th, but I'm keeping my fingers cross for good weather. Anyone else with the same permit dates?

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#86058 - 08/05/11 02:34 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: btsan]
Ces Offline
Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 5
Loc: Orange County, CA
Ten permits???? Or do you mean one permit for 10 people?

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#86077 - 08/06/11 11:48 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Trailseeker Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/11
Posts: 12
Loc: CA, USA
whistle Bragging rights: My niece accomplished her first summit on August 3rd and I am so proud of her!

The most amazing thing is she ran in her first marathon on Sunday July 31st in San Francisco with a time of 4 hours 22 minutes.

It appears that training for a marathon helps train for Mt. Whitney as well. Oh to be young again!

My nephew and I summited for the first time in 2007 but she only made it to just above the cables and turned back with her dad (my brother).

I was suppose to go with her and my brother this time for my second attempt but I finally landed a job the week before.

My brother and her planned the hike as a 4 day with Monday being a drive to and stay at Lone Pine; first day hike to Trail Camp; second day summit and down to Outpost camp and then third day out to Portal. That made for a manageable not super rushed hike. Getting to the summit by noon-1 p.m. seems to be a good goal to avoid afternoon weather changes and get off the mountain before dark.

The flash flooding the weekend before their start put a little concern in the plan but watching the weather carefully and by checking in with the store crew and ranger station they kept updated. They had brought water shoes for the creek crossings and although cold, they were able to get back into dry socks and boots.

For all of us, coming down the mountain was harder then going up. Just allow as much time as it took to go up to get back down. That may help those that attempt a day hike as if you are still on the summit in the early afternoon/evening (after 1 p.m.) you will be cold and it will be dark on your way back down. I have heard of several day hikers (including friends of mine) that day hiked to the summit and then only made it back to Trail Camp with NO GEAR for overnight. They were cold and miserable and unprepared. Maybe dayhikers should bring a light tent and a few layers of clothes as a safety back up? Many leave gear at Trail Camp while they summit and pick it back up on the way down.

I think my biggest advise to all first timers is remember that the mountain is not going anywhere and if you don't make it all the way the first time you can come back and try again.

Way to go Emily!!!! grin
LiveOn, LiveStrong!

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#86096 - 08/08/11 06:28 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Ces]
btsan Offline
Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 33
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Originally Posted By: Ces
Ten permits???? Or do you mean one permit for 10 people?


You might be right; my buddy did the Whitney Lottery, so I'm not sure if we secured 10 separate permits or one for the entire group.
Sorry about the miss info.

Update:

I think only 6-people are going now. So I guess it's (1) permit for 6 people. grin

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#86277 - 08/15/11 09:25 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: btsan]
RenoFrank Offline
Member

Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 7
Loc: Nevada
I am part of a group of 11 doing a day hike 8-17-11. Most of our group plan on starting at 3AM. We are all from Reno and will be wearing home made Whitney name tags.

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#86371 - 08/17/11 05:05 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
frieders3 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/26/11
Posts: 12
Loc: Livermore, CA
Three of our first-time crew summited last Sunday the 14th while the other two, my wife and 15 yr old son, did not. My wife had a severe headache and threw up as she pushed past 13,000'. My son had no problem but decided to stay with her. She immediately got better on the return trip home. All members of the party spent two nights camping at 9200' and did a 9 mile roundtrip day hike to Kearsarge Pass at 11'000+ on Friday with no problems. The only thing we could figure out was a late lunch on Saturday afternoon left her full so she had no dinner that night and thus when they changed there departure time from 2:30AM Sunday to 11:00PM Saturday night they did not get a chance for some good food intake. Along with the cool weather she was tricked into not drinking enough. And the lack of any sleep due to anxiety of the hike and the heat at Lone Pine all seemed to add up to prevent her summiting. The group was on a 10 hour summit pace when she stopped but everyone bogged down a lot coming back to turn it into a 20 hour 'on the trail' hike. That's a long day and hike!

You can not underestimate the training you should do. 10-11 hours up is doable but the return trip is what got everyone.

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#86633 - 08/26/11 01:17 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: frieders3]
63ChevyII Offline
Member

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 244
Loc: Colton, California
This is a long winded post, but hopefully it will help someone.

TIPS FOR OTHERS & WHAT I'D DO DIFFERENTLY
  • I wore trail runners from Whitney Portal to Trail Camp, then wore my hiking boots. It wasn't fun packing hiking boots up to Trail Camp, but I think this kept my legs fresh and helped minimize the pounding the balls of my feet took (my runner have more cushioning).
  • Read about this hike as much as you can. I went through every page of threads on this forum and read the posts that I thought would be useful. I also read a book called "One Best Hike: Mt Whitney." It had some very useful tips, charts and information.
  • Starting a couple of weeks before the hike, I really focused on keeping myself hydrated. Sitting at my desk at work, I was always sipping water.
  • I took diamox, but cut the prescription in half. A week before our trip, I took it for a couple of days to see what side effects I'd be dealing with.
  • I would start training earlier. I decided to Whitney about two months before our hike date and was not in shape.
  • Training wise, I think I would cut down on the mileage I did and focus more on hill work and anaerobic training. The couple of weeks before the hike, I really had to scale back by hiking because of the pounding my feet and ankles were taking. There is a log of hikes at the end of this post.
  • I would try to cut down on the weight of my pack. At the trail head, it weighed around 28 lbs, which was significantly heavier than what the rest of my group was carrying. I would definitely carry less food, and less water up until Trail Camp.
  • Because of the difficulty I had drinking from my Camelbak at elevation, I would like to get a water bottle that could easily be attached to the chest straps on the front of my pack. When you're sucking for air already, drinking from a Camelbak is tough unless you want to stop every time you drink.
  • Two days before the hike, 2 of us went up to Schulman Grove (10,000 ft) and did the 4 mile loop. In addition to this, I would go up to Patriarch Grove (11,500 ft) and spend some time there. It seems to be an easy way to get about 11k ft.
  • I would use San Gorgonio as a training hike - when I went to get a permit for San Gorgonio (Vivian Creek Trail), there weren't any left. Before heading out on this trip, I had only been above 9,000 ft three times (San Bernardino, San Jacinto, Fish Creek Saddle)


The rest of this post is more of account of what I did, more than advice for someone else.

THE HIKE
Monday Aug 23rd our group of 8 attempted a day hike of Whitney. 7 of us were first-timers and one member of our group attempted to summit last fall, but turned around b/c of weather. 7/8 of us were able to summit.

Our goal was to start the hike at 3 am, summit in 9 hours, spend 1 hour on the summit and take 6 hours hiking down. I got the time table for landmarks along the hike from a book called "One Best Hike: Mt Whitney ". I thought a modified version of the time table(with inclines of each leg of the hike), along with the trail profile and trail map from the book would be useful on the hike. I printed this info onto some 4" x 4" card stock, which I covered with packing tape,. This piece of paper kept me motivated and helped me take on the hike in smaller sections.

We started at 3:15, reaching Mirror lake around 5:30. A few people filtered some water here and we took a longer break than expected waiting for some members to catch up. At this point we split up into smaller groups and reached Trail Camp at about 7:30. My heart rate was higher than what I had planned on, but I felt good and kept up the pace with everyone else. When we reached Trail Camp, we took a long break and filled up with water. Up until this point, I had been wearing trail runners. I decided I should put on my hiking boots before starting the switchbacks. One of the members of our group started feeling sick (headache, nauseous), so he decided to stay at Trail Camp to see if he improved. Leaving Trail Camp, I decided to stick with two other members and let one them lead, so that I would not go faster than I should. The trek up the switchbacks wasn't as steep or as tough as I was expecting. Around 10:30, we made it to Trail Crest. On the switchbacks the other guys had started to feel the elevation and had mild headaches. Up until this point, I had been staying well hydrated and felt great. I had the thought that there was no way I wasn't going to summit, unless the weather got bad.

Other than the last push to the summit, the hike between Trail Crest and the snow field was the hardest for me. The trail was much rougher and I stopped drinking as much as I had been. I was sucking for air already, so drinking from a Camelbak was tough unless I stopped every time I wanted to drink. With all of the loose rocks and 'steep cliffs', I was really worried about my keeping my balance and my weak ankle and had to focus nearly all of my attn to where I was placing my poles and feet. In some ways, all of this made me forget about staying hydrated. When we got near the Crooks Peak, I started moving much slower and the other guys were really starting to struggle. Getting through the snow field took a lot of energy for some reason (maybe trying to keep my balance?) and I seriously thought about giving up there. At that point I had a really bad headache and didn't feel like moving anymore. After getting past the snow, it took me about 30 minutes to reach the summit (around 12:15).

We only spent about 15 minutes on the summit - a couple of the guys weren't doing well even after we stopped hiking, so they needed to get to a lower elevation. I was doing fine on the way down until we got to the section by the JMT. That small section that goes uphill to Trail Crest really killed me. The headache came back and I didn't want to walk anymore. At Trail Crest, we meet up with the member that stopped at Trail Camp. He slept for an hour, hiked up to Trail Crest and part way towards the summit. From Trail Crest all the way back to Whitney Portal, I was miserable - the balls of my feet we screaming and my left knee (new injury) was really sore. One the way up, I had spend time waiting up for the others, now they were waiting for me. At Trail Camp we took our lunch break (30-45 mins), filtered some water and put on some new socks. The socks helped for a bit, but by the time we reached Mirror Lake, I was really hurting. I had planned on putting my trail runners back on at Mirror Lake, but at that point I did not want to stop again. We pretty much hiked from Trail Camp to Whitney Portal without stopping. We reached the Portal Store around 7:15.


FOOD & WATER
I carried way too much food. I ate less than half of what I was carrying. By the time I got up to Trail Camp, I didn't have an appetite and had to force myself to eat. Based on what I read in a few places, I believed that I needed to consume around 3000 calories during the hike. This is what I managed to eat:
7 oz. of beef jerky
2 packages of Clif Shot Blocks
2 packages of Sport Beans
4 Stinger Waffles
1 Rice Crispy Treat

It was a cool day, so I drank less water than I was expecting. I drank around 8 liters of water. If I do the hike again, I will carry less water near the beginning of the trail and take advantage of all the lakes and streams.

TRAINING
A friend asked me to go on the hike in May or so, but it took him until mid June to actually convince me. At the beginning of June, I had started weight training after taking off a few months and had just started riding an exercise bike a few times per week. At the beginning of August, I started have some problems with the balls of my feet really hurting and my left ankle being very weak. I scaled back the training in the hopes that I'd be at full strength for Whitney.

Here is a summary of what I did:

June
24 hiking or biking sessions
Bike - 8.75 hrs, 138 miles
Hiking - 8.65 hrs, 27.5 miles

July
24 hiking or biking sessions
Bike - 3.4 hrs, 52 miles
Hiking - 41 hrs, 97 miles

August
6 hikes
Hiking - 17.7 hrs, 40 miles

Notes regarding biking:
In June, most of the bike work was done in my 'aerobic zone (70-80% of max heart rate).' In July, I was focusing on hiking, but when I did ride the bike, about half of it was done in my 'anaerobic zone (80-90% of max heart rate).'

Notes regarding hiking:
During the week, most of my hiking was done on Blue Mtn, which is a hill near my house. It is about 4 miles round trip. The last mile to the top has an average grade of 13%, with some sections as high as 28%.


Log of Hiking/Walking
6/11 Loch Leven 6.34 miles, 2078 ft climbing
6/13 Walk, 3 miles, 600 ft
6/18 Lock Leven, 8.03 miles, 2727 ft
6/19 Blue Mtn, 3.61 miles, 1255 ft
6/20 Walk, 2.3 miles
6/27 Run, 2.2 miles, 230 ft
6/29 Blue Mtn, 4.37 miles, 1425 ft
7/2 Keller Peak, 12.33 miles, 2742 ft, 7882 ft summit
7/3 Mt Rubidoux 4.0 miles, 992 ft
7/4 Blue Mtn, 3.67 miles, 1289 ft
7/4 Blue Mtn, 1.94 miles, 501 ft
7/6 Walk, 3.0 miles, 567 ft
7/9 Keller Peak, 12.33 miles, 2742 ft, 7882 ft summit
7/10 Blue Mtn, 4.5 miles, 1532 ft
7/12 Blue Mtn, 4.0 miles, 1332 ft
7/13 Blue Mtn, 4.0 miles, 1330 ft
7/16 Mt San Bernardino 16.38 miles, 5893 ft, 10,600 ft summit
7/21 Blue Mtn, 4.0 miles, 1330 ft
7/23 Keller Peak, 12.33 miles, 2742 ft, 7882 ft summit
7/24 Blue Mtn, 3.58 miles, 1280 ft
7/28 Blue Mtn, 4.88 miles, 1628 ft
7/30 San Jacinto, 10.36 miles 3041 ft, 10,800 ft summit
8/1 Blue Mtn, 3.01 miles, 1128 ft
8/6 Fish Creek Trail, 13.3 miles, 3563 ft, 9879 peak elevation
8/12 Walk, 3 miles, 600 ft
8/13 Lock Leven, 10.81 miles, 3535 ft
8/16 Blue Mtn, 6.70 miles
8/20 Schulman Grove, 4.08 miles, 10,200 peak elevation


Edited by 63ChevyII (08/26/11 02:52 PM)
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#86634 - 08/26/11 01:29 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: 63ChevyII]
Andy Noise Offline
Member

Registered: 07/13/11
Posts: 13
Loc: california
i read your post and i think we were on the mountain on the same day. i made it to the top around noon on monday.

the weather was pretty iffy all day.

http://andynoise.smugmug.com/Trails11/mt-whitney-40/18677936_2G2Xsw#1444332926_7scPHqc

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#86635 - 08/26/11 02:28 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Andy Noise]
63ChevyII Offline
Member

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 244
Loc: Colton, California
We were definitely on the mtn on the same day. Eric, one of the members of my group is in a bunch of your pictures - DSCN4360 (right), DSCN4365 (right), DSCN4366 (center), DSCN4397 (center), DSCN4398 (center), DSCN4399, DSCN4402, DSCN4403, DSCN4486. Matt, another member is in DSC4487, Brad and Eric in DSC4544. I'm the guy in blue in DSC4575 (3 other members of my group are pictured too), and Joe and I are in DSC4585.

very cool!
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#86637 - 08/26/11 02:53 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: 63ChevyII]
Andy Noise Offline
Member

Registered: 07/13/11
Posts: 13
Loc: california
You were the guys who flew by me on the switchbacks. I was the big guy in the long sleeve blue shirt. I was there with a friend who did not get to do the hike on Aug 12. So I was helping her that day. She was up the hill a ways, when your group came by.

Two summits in ten days is bad but the descents are the real killer.

My 08.12.11 photos:

http://andynoise.smugmug.com/Trails11/mt-whitney-30/18495047_w8H485#1427372316_kR7k8hH

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#86639 - 08/26/11 03:12 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Andy Noise]
63ChevyII Offline
Member

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 244
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: Andy Noise
You were the guys who flew by me on the switchbacks. I was the big guy in the long sleeve blue shirt. I was there with a friend who did not get to do the hike on Aug 12. So I was helping her that day. She was up the hill a ways, when your group came by.

Two summits in ten days is bad but the descents are the real killer.

My 08.12.11 photos:

http://andynoise.smugmug.com/Trails11/mt-whitney-30/18495047_w8H485#1427372316_kR7k8hH



I remember you now. The other guys were flying down the hill and I was having a hard time keeping up. I agree with you - the way down is always harder on me than the way up.

Looks like the weather was nicer on the 12th.
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#86640 - 08/26/11 03:29 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: 63ChevyII]
TomDietz Offline
Member

Registered: 08/13/08
Posts: 118
Loc: Los Angeles
Because of the difficulty I had drinking from my Camelbak at elevation, I would like to get a water bottle that could easily be attached to the chest straps on the front of my pack. When you're sucking for air already, drinking from a Camelbak is tough unless you want to stop every time you drink.

I had the same issue. I hated the camelback and switched to bottles. And then came the second issue, I am hopelessly right handed. However, I have no rotator cuff in my right shoulder, so it is extremely painful to reach back to get my water bottle.

My solution was to get an insulated bottle holder with a belt loop. In the picture below it is on my waist. However, I quickly changed that to being attached at the chest strap. It probably looks a little funny, but it is better than having it bounce around on my hip. The insulation is great too...if it is too warm out, the water warms up too...The insulation keeps the water nice and cool.



Edited by TomDietz (08/26/11 03:30 PM)

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#86646 - 08/26/11 08:58 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: TomDietz]
63ChevyII Offline
Member

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 244
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: TomDietz

My solution was to get an insulated bottle holder with a belt loop. In the picture below it is on my waist. However, I quickly changed that to being attached at the chest strap.


Up to this hike, I really liked the Camelbak and had no complaints. I think it helps me drink more than I normally would, since under normal circumstances, it's easy to take a few sips every few minutes. I didn't have any problems with it until we got up to Trail Crest. One of the other members in my group had a Camelbak and a water bottle attached to his chest strap - I thought it was odd, but I understand why now!
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#86805 - 09/05/11 02:04 PM Perfect Day on Mt Whitney [Re: Doug Sr]
mcphersonm80 Offline
Member

Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 21
Loc: Sierra Madre, CA


***First off, I want to extend a thank you to Doug(s), Earlene, and all the folks at the Portal Store/Campground, and the posters on this board. This is an extremely valuable resource that helps many get to the top of this crazy mountain and who knows, might even save some lives.***

Now here's my extremely long trip report/tips:

My single regret from hiking Whitney this week is that I'll never get to do it for the first time again... frown

As they say, the third time's a charm; after being turned down two years in a row, we finally got our permit this year for August 31. I originally wanted an overnight permit for two of us, but my last slot on the application was for any dayhike in August, and that's what we got.

We arrived in the Portal Monday around noon, set up camp, and quickly took a hike up to Lone Pine Lake. I had seen pictures, but had no clue how peaceful and serene this place would be. We had lunch here, took a nap on the rocks, and just relaxed. Headed back down to camp in time to grab a few things from the store and cook dinner before nightfall.



Right after cleaning up, we had our first visitor. A big guy, I'd guess somewhere around 350lbs, he came up, sniffed the locker, checked what we had on the table, and sauntered back into the forest.

Tip #1: What you hear about bears in the Portal is no joke, they're everywhere. Just keep your stuff within arms’ reach or locked up AT ALL TIMES, they're not aggressive but they also aren't shy.

The following morning, we headed up the Meysan Lakes Trail. A little disappointed that we couldn't find Little Meysan Lake (any tips? I still have no clue where it is, there just seemed to be a meadow where it should have been...), and since our big hike was the following morning we decided to turn back just shy of Peanut Lake. Awesome scenery up here and we only come across one or two other hikers, so if you want to avoid the crowds, give it a shot. Warm down at the start of the trail, though, and not much shade.



Tip #2: Acclimate!

I'm convinced that these two hikes made all the difference in the world for our Whitney hike. These combined with sleeping at the Portal for two nights left us with absolutely NO issues from altitude whatsoever. We were expecting at least some AMS-like symptoms, but nope. On to the big hike...

We drove up to the trailhead at 3:00am and were on the trial by 3:15am. Having never hiked in the dark, I was a little apprehensive but it ended up being quite enjoyable. We flew up the first couple miles to the Lone Pine Lake junction, no issues with the water crossings, and continued to make good time up the unfamiliar sections to Outpost Camp.

Tip #3: Bring a map.

There are very few issues finding the trail even if you're only paying half attention, but there are a couple points where you might get turned around. We ran into a group stalled at the Outpost Camp junction having no idea which way to go. They didn't have a map, and it isn't clearly marked which way to turn. Pulled out my map, pointed to the right, and in 5 seconds they were on their way. Bring a map. Not only will these little junctions pose no obstacle, but they also help you identify landmarks and whatnot along the way.

Tip #4: THERE ARE A LOT OF SWITCHBACKS HOLY COW!!!! (not really a tip)

I thought I had researched the trail from top to bottom, but I was surprised at just how many switchbacks there are. All you ever hear about are the 97, but there are easily twice that, probably close to 250 one-way (has anybody actually counted?). There's nothing physically demanding about them, but if you're like me and let them get to you from time to time, just keep hiking and focus on the brilliant scenery around you. It feels like you're getting nowhere, but eventually, you'll get past them. Trust me.

So on we went, past Bighorn Park and its easily negotiable water crossing(s), through Outpost Camp and its simple junction, past Mirror Lake glowing eerily under the starlight, and up to the Whitebark Stump section. This is where we started seeing the first signs of dawn, and this is where I’ll pull aside for a second.

While researching the hike, I often stumbled across arguments on dayhiking vs backpacking Mt Whitney. Some say backpacking is the only way to go, as dayhiking requires you to hike partially in the dark and you miss the beauty of the mountain (not true). Some say that dayhikers are only there to complete some kind of test of endurance and aren’t respecting the trail (not true, and even if it were, who cares?).

The truth is, it’s exactly what you make of it. There’s no right or wrong, and to be honest I initially wanted to backpack it and stay a night at trail camp, slightly disappointed that we got a mere day permit, but looking back I wouldn’t change a thing. First, you miss nothing on the trail; your senses adjust and are attuned in a completely different way. There’s no right way to enjoy the forest, it’s there whether the sun is up or not. Even in the dark, we took our time, sauntered, made sure to look around us and enjoy the experience, and I absolutely loved hiking beneath the Milky Way. There’s something magical about that…




Bottom line:

Tip #5: Don’t be discouraged if you didn’t get the date/permit you wanted.

This mountain will see to it that you have an unforgettable experience.

After gawking in awe at the surreal landscape in front of us, granite ridges aglow with a new day, while still beneath a sky filled with countless stars, we continued. Eventually, the dawn was sufficient to shutoff our headlamps and continue, and when the sun finally came up over the Inyo Mountains we found ourselves at Trailside Meadow.



I’m glad this area is protected from camping, as it seems incredibly delicate but also stands out as one of my favorite sections of the trail. You’re also approaching 12,000 feet here, so I hope you put the work in in the months leading up to your hike, otherwise you’ll start feeling it. Speaking of that…

Tip #6: Prepare!

This hike is no joke. We prepared for months, hiking Mt Baldy several times, including the North Backbone route, several other multi-peak long mileage hikes, Clouds Rest from Happy Isles in Yosemite, etc. Be in the best shape of your life. Hydrate the week leading up to it, eat well, rest. You went through all the trouble of getting the permit and making your way to the Portal. This is one of the few factors you can control.

The stretch from Trailside Meadow up to Trail Camp seemed a lot longer than it should have… Probably because our first lengthy break would be at Trail Camp. We made it there without incident and were surprised to find the small lake covered in a thin sheet of ice around the edges. Needless to say, it was cold.

Tip #7: Layers, layers, layers.

As with all of my other tips, this one shouldn’t be news. It was much, much colder in full sunlight at Trail Camp than it was at 3:00am down at the trailhead. The weather is hard to predict, so don’t skimp on the clothing. The extra 2 or 3 lbs and added bulk are worth it once you get up to 12,500+. It’s cold. Very cold.

Had a few snacks and rested here for about 30 min. It helped a lot to reenergize before the 97 switchbacks. To be honest, they weren’t that bad at all. It’s along this stretch that you really start seeing the summit and the Smithsonian Hut. Some might say that the switchbacks are too gently graded, but I disagree… This being my first time up above 12,500, I appreciated the ease of the slope even if it adds to the distance.

Plus, there was still plenty of ice on the slopes. Easy to cross, but if you’re not looking for it, it could be an unpleasant slip. One rock was completely covered in icicles, and this being the last day in August, I can only assume that ice on the switchbacks is a year-round concern.

But at the end of the day, the philosophy of one foot in front of the other holds true. You’ll make it. It went by much quicker than I thought it would.

Once you hit Trail Crest, you’ll have a whole new set of things to look at to keep your mind off of the hike.




Tip #8: The Stretch from Trail Crest to the Summit is Relentless

At 13,600 you’ll be inclined to think, “Only 900 vertical feet to go!” Wrong. For one, you dip down something like 500’ to the JMT junction (not really that much, but it feels like it), so there's really more gain than it seems. And at this elevation, any gain is exponentially harder. We were lucky. We did our acclimatizing and it paid off big time. No ill effects whatsoever, but that’s not to say it was easy. I would stop every 40 yards or so for a break. The views are stunning, not only of the Great Western Divide and Sequoia, but of the until-now hidden west face of Whitney and the needles.

Not much to say here, to be honest. You just have to push through it. There are some sections with tricky footing and extremely intimidating drops to the west, and of course there are the windows, but the trail is wide enough to safely get by.

The weather was perfect for us. Textbook perfect. But it wouldn’t be fair to not mention the following:

Tip #9: Lightning is an Extremely Serious Concern on the Sierra Crest

If there are any signs of thunderstorms in the area (dark clouds, buzzing, static electricity on your arms, etc) turn back and descend immediately. It’s not worth it. The mountain will be there next year. In fact, it’s still growing, so it’ll be even more impressive next time. wink

We encountered a large snowfield just below the summit, easily crossed without any kind of gear other than poles. And the summit push is actually pretty easy. Chances are, your excitement will pull you up that last couple hundred yards with very little effort.

Once you reach the summit, the relief is indescribable. You probably won’t be alone, other hikers and marmots will be there to greet you and steal your food. Soak in the views, (carefully) stand on the rocks and realize you’re higher than anyone in the lower 49 states. And then reality sinks in… you still have 11 miles to go.


Tip #9: Read as Many Trip Reports/Websites as Possible

As I’ve already mentioned, we got extremely lucky with the weather. It literally could not have been better. In all likelihood, you will not be as lucky. Read other reports, particularly in the days/weeks leading up to your hike. Go back through archives and read reports from past years in the same time of year as you’ll be climbing. We didn’t have to use much of the information we read, but we were prepared. We had our layers, were prepared to turn back if the weather turned ugly, had our iodine tablets for filtering water (ended up not needing them), had waaaay more food than we needed, etc.

I don’t have much to add on the descent, it was straightforward and extremely long.

Key Advice: It can’t be said enough times. The goal for this hike is not the summit, it’s your car parked at the Portal. You MUST get back there. This hike is 22 miles, not 11.

Other things:
Vitalyte – they sell this stuff at the Portal Store and also at stores like REI, Adventure 16, etc. It works, and it’s delicious. Basically Gatorade without the excessive sugar.

Pace – go at your own pace. Too fast or too slow and you won't make it. The best advice I've seen in this regard is to go at a pace that you can sustain for an hour without stopping.

Enjoy the Mountain – In many ways, this is the most important part. You've read all the warnings, done all your homework, you're in the best shape of your life....

Remember that you’re hiking Mt Whitney. For most of us, this is a rare opportunity. Whether you make it or not, enjoy the unique surroundings. As I was sitting on the summit, another hiker finished and shouted “I’m on top of Mt Whitney!!!” and I sat there thinking to myself, “Holy ****, I’m on Mt Whitney too!”

A whooole lot more photos here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wattifoto/sets/72157627586948694/

Hopefully somebody can get something out of this (extremely long) post like I did prior to my first time. See you at the top! cool


Edited by mcphersonm80 (09/05/11 02:47 PM)

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#86958 - 09/13/11 10:33 PM Re: Perfect Day on Mt Whitney [Re: mcphersonm80]
centurycyclist Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/11
Posts: 8
Loc: southern CA
Great post, mcphersonm80!
This was our first (and probably) last time since we are a group of somewhat older women (the youngest in our group is 53, the oldest, going on 66!) We did an overnight, camped at Trail Camp. All four of us have a lifetime of fitness...biking, weight-training, hiking, pilates, etc. so we were not concerned about our ability to climb. HOWEVER, the precautions we took are as follows: having the right equipment. Boots that fit, lightweight EVERYthing for camping, and layers-layers-layers. We acclimated for 4 days at Virginia Lakes, which is 9500' (just north of Tioga Road entrance to Yosemite). We hiked Yosemite and VA Lakes those days to get acclimated and accustomed to hiking with packs (not completely full), drank a lot of water, took Diamox. Things we would do again: the same routine for acclimatizing, diamox, having the right equipment. Things we would change: buying a bear canister---the one we rented, the Garcia, was ridiculously unmanageable to pack. We left later than we planned on the first day. Did not start walking until @11 am, did not reach Trail Camp until 5:30. Late, and COLD!!!! We underestimated the stress of the altitude and the difficulty above Mirror Lake. Day 2: we left at 7:30 from Trail Camp, summited about 1:30 PM----it was SO BEAUTIFUL, that we hung out a little too long....forgetting that we needed to be at the Portals by eve. Let's just say, we made good use of our headlamps, and were thankful that the weather was on our side!
BTW< those who think they cannot get permits have NOT read this message board carefully.....we arrived in Lone Pine without a permit, yet, 1 1/2 hours after the lottery we had our permit in hand. With the exception of THREE days in 2010, walk-in permits are available. The last tip, the one that really worked for us was "ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF ANOTHER". Mental perseverance...don't give up-it is WORTH EVERY STEP!!!

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#86960 - 09/14/11 08:06 AM Re: Perfect Day on Mt Whitney [Re: mcphersonm80]
RBoone Offline
Member

Registered: 09/10/11
Posts: 8
Loc: Orange County, CA

Wow, what a great resource these forums are! Terrific TR mcphersonm80. I’ve read every page of this thread and only now do I realize how young and foolish my friends and I were when we first hiked to the summit of Mt. Whitney 20 years ago. When I was 20 years old we went with a college group and the only preparation I did was drink keg beer, lift weights, and run some stairs at the stadium.

We loaded a van very early one morning, drove from San Diego to Lone Pine where we picked up whatever permits we needed to be on the mountain. We then drove to the Portal and hit the trail to Trail Camp where we stayed the night. From sea level to 12k feet in one day with absolutely minimal training and no acclimatization.

I recall having a bad headache overnight and had a bit of a dry cough. I remember vividly how deep down my lungs felt scorched and whenever I took a deep breath it caused a dry cough. After several Advil and a decent sleep we headed up the switchbacks the next morning and we all made the summit with little trouble. Aside from how my lungs felt overnight the three things I remember with vivid clarity are the switchbacks (they seemed to go on…and on), hitting Trail Crest when the west side came into view, and the summit.

I was looking through the pictures from that trip the other day in preparation for my Oct. 3 hike in a few weeks. The first thing that comes to mind is that I was too young at 20 to appreciate Mt. Whitney or the accomplishment of making it to the top. I’m arguably in much better shape now than I was then but AMS and the weather are on my mind. From the data I can find, it hasn’t snowed on the mountain this early in the season in a long time. If the reports I've read of 3"-6" of accumulation are accurate my friend and I will be calling it off this year. I have little experience hiking during the winter months and I'm not looking to gain more experience at 12k+ feet on unforgiving Mt. Whitney.

Some great TRs and advice here. Thank you all so much for sharing. Now I’m just hoping the weather holds for my second trip up the Whitney trail.

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#87455 - 10/04/11 05:12 PM Re: Perfect Day on Mt Whitney [Re: RBoone]
lacrosse Offline
Member

Registered: 06/08/09
Posts: 73
Loc: California
We summited around noon Sept 30 with hail squalls periodically
whipping us in the face. Ouch. Most people were dressed for
the conditions but we saw several teens in shorts which seemed
ridiculous. It felt cold.


About 11pm that night a down slope wind began howling. We knew
what that meant so eventually packed & moved down to Outpost
camp and slept till dawn Oct 1.


Much nicer than at Trail Camp with the wind gusting to near
hurricane force, and surely testing the strength limits on our
tent tie downs.


Headlamped Day hikers fought their way up the trail in tight
clusters, grimly leaning into the cold wind, seeking to shelter
behind the person in front on them.

The wind noise was truly awesome!

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#87457 - 10/04/11 09:56 PM Re: Perfect Day on Mt Whitney [Re: lacrosse]
Malloy Offline
Member

Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 5
Loc: CALIFORNIA
I was on the summit at noon last Friday also. What an awesome experience and the hail on the way down only added to the adventure. This was my first time and all the planning and training paid off. Hope you enjoyed the day as much as I did.

wpatmtwhitney2011.shutterfly.com

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#87555 - 10/11/11 01:53 AM Re: Perfect Day on Mt Whitney [Re: Malloy]
Eugene K Offline
Member

Registered: 06/24/10
Posts: 57
Loc: CA
Hiking after the first major snow storm

http://whitneyportalstore.com/forum/ubbt...age=1#Post87522

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#87788 - 11/04/11 06:52 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Bob R55 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/29/11
Posts: 9
Loc: Lakewood, CA
"Mt. Whitney is an immense good-natured mountain; its summit is not reserved for the daring. Though not easily come by, all who will plod and persevere on their own good two feet....may reach it." From the book "Deepest Valley" by Genny Schumacher. An accurate assessment, I think. After all the weeks or months of reading guide books and taking practice walks, once you see the summit hut on the horizon from the Trail Crest junction, you know that it is going to happen for you, and the trip is worth all the pain, I think. When we hiked it in June, 2001, the weather was crisp and clear. Hopefully, that is what you will get. My preference is an overnight hike, camping at Trail Camp. It is like a little village, you're just out there on a plateau with the little pond, and far away from any roads. The wind can be noisy and might wake you, but hey, if you wake in the night and it is clear, the sight you will see is spectacular. The stars are bright and numerous. If the moon is out, the rocks and slabs light up in a scene you have to see. Everyone was friendly and helpful at Trail Camp; you are all on a common goal from there. Leave your big pack at Trail Camp and take a day pack with a gallon of water and an extra fleece jacket up to the summit. My friend took in a steady diet of Jelly Belly on the final 1.5 miles and I should have done the same, or with candy corn. It is easy to get queasy on the Trail Crest section. Drink water and watch where you step, a twisted ankle on the Trail Crest is not good, and it could happen. Take lots of photos!! Bob Rutledge

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#88579 - 01/17/12 11:30 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Carl F Offline
Member

Registered: 01/08/12
Posts: 2
Loc: La Jolla, CA
Hello All!

I summited on Friday the 13th (1/13/12) for my first time here at Whitney, solo.

I am 55 years old, not a mere youngster anymore.

My Tips; especially first timers, and applicable to this winter

#1 Train like a fiend. If you are in SoCal, Vivian Creek trail and Skyline should be slam dunks. Do them often. Train in between these climbs.

#2. Read Climbing: Training for peak performance and consider a heart rate monitor while training in the proper zones, especially LOTS of time in zone 2. Intervals are also good (zone 4)

#3 Read the book MOUNT WHITNEY mountain lore from the whitney store

#4 A GPS with the trail loaded so that you can find it if you get lost in some way. Though this may seem difficult (to get lost) some of us can do this with ease. When I descended via the chute, I went left instead of right. My GPS showed me I was 300 ft off course, which was invaluable as dusk was setting

#5 Get a very early start to avoid coming down the chute or the upper switchbacks in the dark. Wintertime this means no later than 4 AM.

#6 Read all of Richard P’s comments very closely. If he says the switchbacks between Trail Camp and Trail Crest are dicey, BELIEVE HIM!! I did not listen and the result was slow painful travel. Luckily there was an angel who pointed out the proper descent route (the chute) so I did not have to go back down those dangerous switchbacks.

#7 Remember to tell your wife you will be very late, so she does not call SAR (luckily I avoided that)

#8 Do not expect to get water at Trail Camp. Fill up well before then near Mirror Lake. I ended up having to add snow to my water and watch it carefully so it didn’t freeze

#9 Talk to people who have done the climb and take them with you! I tried this but it didn't work...

#10 Acclimate, acclimate, acclimate. I spent 4 days in the Sierras including one day at White Mountain hiking at 13,000 ft. The result? No altitude effect at all. No headache, no nausea. I ate at the summit no problem. It was a joy to be able to be at the summit without ill effects, except that I was worried about the light since I had not left early enough. (see # 5)

#11 Take an ice axe and crampon course with Sierra Mountain Guides or the like. Would have given me more confidence and allowed for swifter travel.

Pics here, sorry to those who do not have FB

Summit day

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2806842423338.135851.1626994074&type=1

4 days earlier, scout trip to Bighorn

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2774599657289.135280.1626994074&type=1

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#88582 - 01/18/12 06:27 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Carl F]
Richard P. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/26/03
Posts: 4878
Loc: Ridgecrest, CA
Congratulations! Nice report.

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#88590 - 01/18/12 01:54 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Richard P.]
lilbitmo Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/09
Posts: 105
Loc: Yorba Linda, CA
Nice work Carl F - and thanks for giving us the tips, it never hurts to be perpared smile

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#90368 - 05/14/12 01:36 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
David James Offline
Member

Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 1
Loc: United States
All of this is FANTASTIC information. A group of friends and myself have day hike permits scheduled for this weekend, May 20th. After reading al the information, trip reports, and tips I have a few issues that I would like to hear your opinions and advice on.

I have never hiked before in my life. Our group is planning on going up the day before, the 19th, so acclimatization is pretty much out the window, foolish? We are all in our 20's and in good physical shape. And as far as I know no one in the group is an experienced hiker. I am uncomfortable with all this due to the fact that we have not been training at elevation at all for this, and I do not have the necessary gear (would have to borrow a friends camelbak) & most of us would not have trekking poles and would be in running shoes. From everything that I have read, this is not something to go into unprepared. Am I right in feeling uncomfortable or is this doable?

The group will all have the necessary water filtration, each person will have a Camelbak (3L) and food along with semi-adequate clothing.

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#90369 - 05/14/12 01:49 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: David James]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
David, you have every reason to feel uncomfortable with it. Whitney is still in winter conditions, and is no place for a group of under-equipped, inexperienced hikers. With your description of the experience level and equipment inventory for the group - not to mention no acclimatization time - your chances of summiting on a beautiful snow-free day in late August would be low. In May your group, as you describe it, is a SAR call waiting to happen.

Permits be damned, I'd shoot for walk-ins later in the season and use the extra time to get gear and train at elevation.

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#90370 - 05/14/12 02:06 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
amie6 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
I too am a first-timer, but consider myself to be a pretty experienced hiker and at the same time do not clarify myself as a "mountaineer". I've hiked many 15 mile+ hikes in 1 day, and pride myself for my physical stamina.
My buddy and I are heading to the trail late next week. We have educated ourselves on the weather conditions and what to expect.. but the one thing that I can't quite wrap my head around is if we do in fact need to bring crampons & ice axes? I hear that it has been a "mild" winter, but that the snow packs harden in the afternoon causing trouble, but if there has been foot traffic, wouldn't steady boots & trekking poles be suffice? Also, does anyone know if the switchbacks above trail camp are covered in snow or are they pretty visable?
My planning for next week is to have the crampons handy, but I really would prefer to just use my steady boots & trekking poles around the firm snowy/icy parts, and as long as I can see the trail I know I will make good judgement on the ascend up to the top.
Any feedback or suggestions would be great.

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#90371 - 05/14/12 02:36 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: amie6]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
amie6, here are two very current threads that should interest you:

Low Snow Year

Main Trail Conditions


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#90372 - 05/14/12 04:24 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: David James]
TomDietz Offline
Member

Registered: 08/13/08
Posts: 118
Loc: Los Angeles
David,
Aim low.

My opinion is that it is very much worth it to take a leisurely walk up the trail until you hit Trail Camp/Consultation Lake. With no acclimitization, there is a very good chance that at least one of your group is going to get altitude sickness. Trust me, it ain't fun. When I tried to hike whitney without spending a couple of nights at altitude, it hit me at about 13,000'.

From the reports that I have seen, the switchbacks are not easily passable and it sounds like you don't have the gear for the chute.

The hike to trail camp will be beautiful and very much worth your time. Bring a nice lunch to break out at Trail camp and hang out with the marmots for a bit before heading back down the trail. Heck, you can even get a good night's sleep before heading up.

Not sure if Lone Pine Lake has thawed yet, if it has, bring a fishing pole and catch a golden trout or two.

In other words, you can have a great time on the trail without going to the summit. If you push yourself and your group beyond what you are ready for, it can make for a very unpleasant and quite possibly dangerous situation.

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#90374 - 05/14/12 04:41 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: TomDietz]
MooseTracks Offline
Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 2391
Loc: B-town Eastside, CA
Originally Posted By: TomDietz



Not sure if Lone Pine Lake has thawed yet, if it has, bring a fishing pole and catch a golden trout or two.



Thawed, and fish are swimming around like crazy.
_________________________
Flickr Pics

Think outside the Zone.

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#90393 - 05/16/12 09:20 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: TomDietz]
Gotknee Offline
Member

Registered: 04/26/12
Posts: 7
Loc: Hayward, CA
Good words of advice TomDietz.

David, I highly recommend starting very early and taking your time as TomDietz states.

Listen to your bodies. Altitude Sickness can be very serious. There are things you can take now and on the mountain to help (asprin, Ginkgo Biloba) but sometimes you just need to descend to feel better.

It is a beautiful hike from the trail head all the way up.

Use discretion. You can always come back.

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#90398 - 05/16/12 01:48 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: David James]
nyker Offline
Member

Registered: 09/28/07
Posts: 247
Loc: New York
David, If you are fixed for hiking something next weekend, try going over to Kearsarge Pass and see how the group does up to 11,700ft on a Class 1 trail. If you still feel strong, head north and climb up Mt Gould, which will being you to 13,000ft and see how you do. It is still a wonderful area to go hiking in and you can bag a 13er (the top few blocks are challenging, so climb as high as you feel comfortable).

Another option to see how you do at altitude, while minimizing exposure is to wait until the Road opens and go climb White Mountain Peak which will take you nearly to the same elevation as Whitney on a 15mi r/t hike - definitely a respectable dayhike. If you can breeze through that, then Whitney in a day should not be too much of a problem, in dry conditions. If White Mountain causes the group any problems, then I would consider rescheduling a Whitney trip.

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#90454 - 05/20/12 09:36 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Sharif Offline
Member

Registered: 05/20/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Thousand Oaks, CA
I have some permits available for an overnight on Mt. Whitney on Sunday, June 10th. We are planning on camping out at Trail Camp (elevation 12,039) and then working our way to the top the next morning. Please contact me if you are interested in joining our group. I have a total of 15 permits, but currently only about 10 people are able to make it.

Thanks,
Sharif

sharif.shakhshir@gmail.com


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#90455 - 05/20/12 09:41 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Sharif Offline
Member

Registered: 05/20/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Thousand Oaks, CA
I have some permits available for an overnight on Mt. Whitney on Sunday, June 10th. We are planning on camping out at Trail Camp (elevation 12,039) and then working our way to the top the next morning. Please contact me if you are interested in joining our group. I have a total of 15 permits, but currently only about 10 people are able to make it.

Thanks,
Sharif

sharif.shakhshir@gmail.com

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#90731 - 05/31/12 07:51 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Sharif]
btsan Offline
Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 33
Loc: San Francisco, CA
I'm might have 2 or 3 open for June 15th (Friday).

Let me know...

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#90749 - 06/02/12 12:58 PM Re: PERMITS AVAILABLE FOR SUNDAY, JUNE 10TH [Re: Doug Sr]
Sharif Offline
Member

Registered: 05/20/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Thousand Oaks, CA

I have 3 overnight permits available for joining our group (15 total). We will spend the night on Sunday, June 10th and aim for the Summit the next day. If interested, please contact me at sharif.shakhshir@gmail.com

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#90755 - 06/03/12 07:54 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Sharif]
oddball10 Offline
Member

Registered: 01/15/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Victorville
okay thanks

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#90772 - 06/03/12 11:13 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: oddball10]
Stalin Offline
Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 7
Loc: Sunnyvale, CA
All, I have been actively reading the message board for last few months, after I decided to hike Whitney for the first time, this year. Learning a lot from everyone sharing their field experiences. Great forum and Thanks Doug for all your contribution!

I'm looking for some advice on base layer for hike up in mid July time frame, Planning on overnight camping at HSM, trail camp and summit the following day.

BTW, if anyone has cancellation coming up for mid July, just holler. I will be there to take it smile

Thanks,
Stalin

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#90887 - 06/11/12 08:02 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Stalin]
btsan Offline
Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 33
Loc: San Francisco, CA
All,
looks like I'll be heading down to Whitney by myself, as the rest of my group has canceled out on me. My permit is for a party of 5, so I'll have 4 spaces left on my permit for Friday, June 15th.

Good luck...

Benrie

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#90907 - 06/12/12 12:23 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: btsan]
ralphy Offline
Member

Registered: 06/11/12
Posts: 1
Loc: PV, CA
btsan,

I will be heading up to Whitney for my first climb and solo at that, too, for Friday, June 15th. Hope to see you up there.

Looks like the weather might be playing against us though. "Friday: A slight chance of rain and snow showers. Some thunder is also possible. Mostly sunny, with a high near 44."


ralphy

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#90923 - 06/12/12 12:48 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: ralphy]
btsan Offline
Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 33
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Originally Posted By: ralphy
btsan,

I will be heading up to Whitney for my first climb and solo at that, too, for Friday, June 15th. Hope to see you up there.

Looks like the weather might be playing against us though. "Friday: A slight chance of rain and snow showers. Some thunder is also possible. Mostly sunny, with a high near 44."


ralphy


Sweet!
i think I have a buddy joining me now, but I didn't think the weather would be a problem as it will be nice and sunny here in SF bay area. Let me check the weather reports now.

See you there ralphy; we're probably going to do a day hike (probably start at 2 am).

Bernie

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#91037 - 06/16/12 08:05 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: ralphy]
btsan Offline
Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 33
Loc: San Francisco, CA
The weather was fantastic! We started our hike at 1:30 am, and to trail camp by 6:15, and then summit at 8:20 and back know to the portal at 2:15 pm. Complete trip took amount 13 hours and this was not an easy hike, and I'm glad I did it! blush


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#91058 - 06/18/12 06:54 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: ]
btsan Offline
Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 33
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Originally Posted By: wowlijetgold
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

-----------------------------
RS Gold|Cheap Runescape Gold|Cheap RS Gold


Absolutely!

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#91176 - 06/22/12 03:28 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
JustWalk Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/12
Posts: 3
Loc: L.A., CA
Summited 6/20, overnight at Trail Camp. 10 essentials, bear canister, food, 3L/H2O, etc = 32 lbs. Regretted nothing but bivy/summer bag, as it was cold/windy at trail camp. I'd carry thicker bag, go lighter on water, which can be filtered at numerous locations all the way to Trail Camp. But take 3L from TC to peak. Day 2 from TC, 6 a.m.: base, vest, shell; stripped to light base after cables, donned shell for windy trail crest. By Mt. Muir/needles, down to shorts/T-shirts for the rest of day. Don't underestimate the cold of TC night or heat/dry of the return to TC! Many posters go ultralight, but are unprepared for contingencies and end the day dehydrated or worse. We treated one hypothermia case (other party) in TC, had one member w/altitude sickness at 13,000, descending. Neither was pretty. That was WITH IDEAL WEATHER. Better heavy than dead.

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#91566 - 07/16/12 04:03 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: JustWalk]
freddy p Offline
Member

Registered: 07/16/12
Posts: 3
Loc: sacto
question for those who have been up the trail:
is there any cell phone service? not that I want to be connected, but curious if my GPS app will work on the trail to monitor distances?

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#91568 - 07/16/12 06:19 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: freddy p]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: freddy p
question for those who have been up the trail:
is there any cell phone service? not that I want to be connected, but curious if my GPS app will work on the trail to monitor distances?


Intermittent at the very best. Complete blackout at the very worst. Depends on your carrier, your phone, the weather, etc. AT&T seems to have the worst reputation for a signal on Whitney in recent years. In other words, don't count on it.

If landmark distances on the main trail are your interest, very simply:

0.7 mi - North Fork crossing
2.8 mi - Lone Pine Lake
3.5 mi - Big Horn Park
3.8 mi - Outpost Camp
4.3 mi - Mirror Lake
5.3 mi - Trailside Meadow
5.8 mi - Consultation Lake
6.3 mi - Trail Camp
8.7 mi - Trail Crest
11.2 mi - Summit Hut

These are approximate distances, but you get the general idea.

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#91577 - 07/17/12 03:26 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: bulldog34]
freddy p Offline
Member

Registered: 07/16/12
Posts: 3
Loc: sacto
thanks bulldog
heading up in August for virgin hike
we did 2 years time in ATL... miss the Flying Biscuit

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#91580 - 07/17/12 06:53 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: freddy p]
bulldog34 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 556
Loc: Atlanta
Freddy, I haven't been to one of the FBs yet. I'll have to make a point of it. Bet you don't miss the traffic, though. I spent an hour the other day going less than a quarter mile near Perimeter Mall. No lie, scout's honor.

Good luck on your first time up Whitney. Day hike or overnight?

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#93035 - 10/16/12 03:28 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: freddy p]
Budha Offline
Member

Registered: 09/04/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Central Valley, CA
Originally Posted By: freddy p
question for those who have been up the trail:
is there any cell phone service? not that I want to be connected, but curious if my GPS app will work on the trail to monitor distances?


Yes, my friends had AT&T and Verizon and were able to get some texts out here & there. Since GPS runs off the sattelites then you should have no issue. Below the timberline the forest is not very thick so I had service.

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#93037 - 10/16/12 03:54 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Budha]
Budha Offline
Member

Registered: 09/04/12
Posts: 5
Loc: Central Valley, CA
Tips for fist timers by first timers:

1. Thoroughly portion out your food for all members of the group. Lucky me brought up the bearcan and it was rediculously heavy and we didn't eat half the food.

2. The night before you head out avoid pizza at the Pizza Factory. Yeah it was good but probably the greasiest pie I have ever eaten. Next time I'll get the spaghetti.

3. Know your group members strengths & weaknesses. For overnight Whitney hikes I found that many noobs are not prepared to haul a backpack that distance. People will say that they did this hike or that hike to train but it's not enough! Fortunately I hiked every weekend this summer sometimes with a loaded pack but unfortunately some team members did not.

4 For Fall hikes go to the portal the day before and talk to A LOT of people about the trail conditions. It's subjective based on peoples own skill level but if you talk to plenty of hikers then you get a complete picture. I left the crampons & snowshoes in the car and did very well with microspikes due to snow & ice from trail camp to summit.

5 Force yourself to drink & eat or you will die at the end of the hike.

6 Don't eat snow instead of packing water since your body will burn much needed calories to turn that snow into water.

7 Guys don't piss ON THE TRAIL! Since there was snow I counted at least 6 pissers ON THE TRAIL.

8 Always pack your essentials. We helped a lost day hiker who asked us to call 911 at trail camp. He was not prepared for a night out much less he didn't even have a headlamp.

That is all.

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#94946 - 05/04/13 04:55 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Budha]
lilbitmo Offline
Member

Registered: 01/21/09
Posts: 105
Loc: Yorba Linda, CA
Cy posted this on Facebook but it's a reminder that bears do go after smells in your car so put everything in the bear boxes and don't risk it - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22407417

Just a friendly reminder

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#95290 - 06/03/13 08:40 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: btsan]
livinwhilealive Offline
Member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 21
Loc: Las Vegas , Nv
[b][/b][i][/i]Do you still have those spots open ? I think I have a small group that can use them ??
_________________________

" What one man can do ,another man can do " ,
Or Women !

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#95777 - 07/11/13 10:33 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: livinwhilealive]
NoUglyOneYet Offline
Member

Registered: 03/09/13
Posts: 35
Loc: San Diego, CA
A very basic tip: clean out your car BEFORE leaving home! It was such a time-sucker to scour the car looking for every last Altoids tin and lip balm, then looking for a bag to stick them in before stowing them in the bear locker! (And remember to label your belongings in the locker.)

Another tip that I think allowed us to rest easier when acclimatizing: we took full car-camping gear. At home, we packed up our backpacks with our backpacking gear, then had a totally separate set-up for our 2 nights of car-camping: full stove with propane, big tent, air mattress & regular sleeping bags, etc. We slept so much more comfortably while acclimatizing, and it made prepping our stuff the night before our hike so much easier. Then in the morning before starting our hike, we just had to break down our car camping set-up & stash it in the car & bear locker, but our backpacks were already ready to go.

We car-camped for 2 nights: the first at Horseshoe Meadows and the 2nd at the Portal. The first night was a big difficult with the elevation, but we took 600mg ibuprofen at the first sign of a headache, walked slowly and drank lots of water.

Talk to your dr about Diamox. I got a prescription, and took my first dose the morning after we arrived at Horseshoe Meadows. It can possibly mess with your ability to drive, so I didn't want to take it before driving up to the mountains. Then I took one pill a day (vs the recommended dosage of 2), and was fine. I intermittently had mild headaches, but no other symptoms of altitude sickness. I also drank water like crazy.

I hope these tips help and that your climb is successful!

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#97997 - 06/08/14 08:28 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
AndybyLake Offline
Member

Registered: 05/26/14
Posts: 1
Loc: Oakland, CA
This site is fantastic, but I've been sore tempted to try to create a new thread for folks looking to join with others when their friends let them down - on long and short notice - for planning a Whitney ascent. In the mean time, this thread looks like the best
I am looking to join a group between July 4th and 14th, or between about August 14th and 20th, or in September. It would be my first time on Whitney, and while I'd love to get with a group going via the Portal, I've been thrilled with the prospect of the approach from Cottonwood Lakes via New Army/cross-country/Sky Blue Lake and Upper Crabtree Lake, possibly returning the same way, but also via Whitney Portal. Any interest? Thanks,
Andy

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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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#100381 - 09/13/15 08:51 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: jwest]
paul Offline
Member

Registered: 12/23/02
Posts: 428
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
There is no water between Chicken Springs Lake and Lower Rock Creek. It is a sandy, dusty trail, exposed to the sun all day from Chicken Springs until you reach the junction of the trail from Siberian Pass and Soldier Lake trail (junction). From there the trail is okay and level to downhill until Lower Rock Creek

You could, once you reach the junction of the Siberian Pass trail and the trail to Soldier Lake, take the Soldier Lake trail. About 1.3 miles, you cross a small spring feed creek. From there it is .5 miles to Soldier Lake. This side trip is most likely out of your way, however.From there, you just head on down Rock Creek.

I would not count on water from Lower Rock Creek to Lower Crabtree Meadow, which is 5.5 miles.

The climb out of Lower Rock Creek is hard, dug up by horses and mules....dusty.

If you see hikers coming your way, ask about water conditions.

if you need any further info, just post.

Good luck

paul

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#100382 - 09/13/15 08:55 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
tlrobb Offline
Member

Registered: 07/05/14
Posts: 1
Loc: California
How do end these constant updates? Its gotten very annoying.

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#100383 - 09/13/15 11:00 AM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: tlrobb]
paul Offline
Member

Registered: 12/23/02
Posts: 428
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Are you receiving email notifications every time a topic or post is made on the forum? And, you would like to stop this?

Under your profile, there is a "My Stuff" header, click on that and scroll down to "watch list" and delete the entry.

My apologies if that is not what you are asking.

paul

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#100386 - 09/13/15 06:43 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: paul]
RickiR Offline
Member

Registered: 08/14/15
Posts: 5
Loc: Long Beach, CA
Thank you for the info.

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#100387 - 09/13/15 11:11 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
Bob R55 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/29/11
Posts: 9
Loc: Lakewood, CA
For the new people....hikers going UP the trail have right of way over hikers going Down the trail. And yes, this includes those barreling down the trail in their $500 gear! You move over to the side and let hikers going up pass by.

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#102464 - 04/03/18 03:24 PM Re: Tips for First timers by First timers [Re: Doug Sr]
borboleta Offline
Member

Registered: 03/27/18
Posts: 16
Loc: California
My husband and I did summit Whitney on the first try all in one day. We left at 3 am and returned by 9 pm. We brought an oxygen can (inexpensive and very light) and if i didn't have it i doubt i would had reached the top. When we got to trail camp I was extremely nauseated and running out of air, that was when i started taking hits from the oxygen can and it saved my bumbum.
We did slept for 2 nights at the portal campground to acclimatization and that helped a lot. We just won the lottery to climb Whitney again on 8/31/18, doing again all in the same day and i will absolutely take my oxygen can again.
My tips as a first timer to a first timer is pace yourself. its not a race. Small steps and steady, enjoy the ride. Pack light, eat light, drink your water. Good luck!


Edited by borboleta (04/03/18 03:25 PM)
_________________________
"Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn."


www.borboletadecors.com

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