The Mt Whitney Web Cam

The Whitney Web Cam is housed in the attic of the Whitney Portal Hostel, 238 S. Main Street, Lone Pine, CA.  This location is 12.85 miles from the Mt. Whitney summit.

The camera is an Olympus C-740 UltraZoom and is driven by SebecTec software running on a Windows Vista laptop computer.

We chose this camera based on its zoom ability, picture quality and cost. Since our target is almost 13 miles away, we needed significant magnification. None of the commercial webcams have the ability to zoom in as well or produce a picture of this quality.

The other point about this camera is that it can be operated remotely by computer software. There are only a few camera models around that can be driven from a computer, specifically the Olympus UltraZoom models from the C-740 through the SP-500. In later models, Olympus discontinued the computer-driven capability, except in some very high-end models.

About the picture

The camera takes a picture every 10 minutes, and the software uploads 4 copies of the picture to the Whitney Portal Store's web site:

    Size Dimensions   File name
Small 320x240 whitney_s001.jpg
Medium 640x480 whitney_M.jpg
Large 800x600 whitney_L.jpg
Original 2048x1536 whitney.jpg

Multiple small pictures are stored.  For the current day's pictures, they are whitney_snnn.jpg, where the "nnn" are 3 numeric digits in numeric sequence, 001, 002, ... throughout the day.  The previous day's pictures are stored, and named the same, except the "s" is replaced with a "y".  The full set can be viewed at this web page.

Picture Archive

WPS Message Board member Joel Baldwin has been maintaining an archive of the web cam pictures.  You can find it here:  Archive of Whitney webcam images.

Future Plans

First of all we need a Windows XP Laptop to run the software.  The current system running Windows Vista does not allow remote access.  Once a remotely accessible computer is installed, we can work on upgrading the software.  (Note that the new computer may not be necessary, as we gain experience working with remote access via the Vista operating system.)

We have plans to capture pictures more often, and then convert them into a time-lapse video of the entire day.

Credits

Doug Thompson, Sr, at the Whitney Portal Hostel and Whitney Portal Store, for providing the location and the computer, as well as supporting the web site.  Doug also installed the camera at its current location.

Michael McCormack, provider of the SebecTec software.  Mike worked with us closely to help us set up the system, and also to make adjustments to the software to better accommodate our setup.

Dayle Dalrymple and Wayne Pyle for work on the photo above.  They identified and labeled the locations in the picture.

Participants from the Whitney Portal Store message board helping me identify and select available web cam systems.