Monday, June 3, 2013


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Please remove your shoes before entering Mt Whitney Quest

Thank you. The carpets here are brand new and I'd like to keep them that way as long as possible. Now that that's settled, thank you for for joining me here on this server located somewhere near Peshawar I'm sure. If you're unsure of Peshawar's location, get out your world map and find a country with cheap labor that hates us. Peshawar will be pretty close.

By the way, if you like acerbic humor, keep it parked right here.

Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed herein on each and every blog post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions, beliefs, morals or standards of any of the author's employers, co-workers, family members or friends unless otherwise noted.

The high-minded purpose for creating Mt Whitney Quest is providing a clearinghouse for real solid beta backed up with experience.  There are a lot of misconceptions around climbing Mt Whitney so rumor quashing will be a large part of what goes on here.

The low-minded purpose for creating Mt Whitney Quest is finding a way to monetize my outdoor lifestyle.  How's that for full disclosure?  Don't worry, kind reader.  I will never charge for your eyeballs.  Someone once said,  "If you want to make a small fortune in the outdoor industry, start with a large one."  I'll let you know how it all works out.

L to R:  Myself, Andy Hindoyan, Rodney Hsueh representing REI Arcadia, CA at the JanSport 8000-Meter Challenge

So what makes me think I'm some kind of expert?  Well, I climbed my first mountain in 1966.  Mt Carmel, aka The Sleeping Giant, towers 739 dizzying feet above Hamden, CT.  I took my first backpacking trip in 1969.  I took my first multi-week backpacking trip as a 16-year-old in 1972.  That trip resulted in an end-to-end of Vermont's Long Trail in 20 1/2 days.  A thousand mountains and a hundred thousand trail miles and here we all are.

My first foray up Mt Whitney was as a 46-year-old in 2002.  My friend Cory Walsh asked me the age-old question, "If not now, when?"  I had no answer for her so we commenced preparation.  

In a previous life,  I competed as a track & field athlete for 15 years and coached high school track for five.  To create a plan, I blended my outdoor experience with my training and physiology knowledge.  We needed to improve our oxygen uptake as well as acclimating to high altitude. To facilitate our goals, I came up with a list of hikes in our local (to LA) mountains.  Here in SoCal, we are lucky to have mountains over 11,000 feet for training, backpacking and general pleasure walking.  This hike program is designed for adapting the body gradually to stress.   I use running to augment the muscle-and-altitude aspects of the hikes.  More on this to come.

Since 2006, I lecture on climbing Mt Whitney (as well as other outdoor subjects)  through REI Outdoor School.  I also do pic-filled Powerpoints for private parties and groups.  Through my classes, the hike list I alluded to earlier became known as the infamous Mt Whitney "Dirty Dozen."  These are eleven hikes ramping up in mileage, vertical rise and ultimate altitude as one completes the list.  The 12th hike is the mountain named by members of the CA Geological Society after State Geologist Josiah Whitney in the ultimate underling / boss suck-up.

Our first Whitney foray ended with a successful summit attempt after a seven-hour ascent from Whitney Portal with a six-hour descent.  Actually, we would've climbed it in six hours, save for a solo climber who joined us the night before.  He kept falling behind and we kept waiting for him.  I guess he summited faster than he originally planned.  He looked a little green from doing so.

On that first trip we saw some people in real distress.  That planted the seed for the lectures and subsequently, this website.

Since then, I've summited numerous times, highlighted by a 12-hour solo round trip (six hours up, five down, one at the top), a 15 1/2-hour round trip where we were chased off the top by lightning and proposed to my wife Robin (she said yes, thank God.  That could've been a long hike back down), and last year's 13-hour round trip with my youngest stepdaughter who was in such good shape, she was rock-hopping for fun at 14,000 feet.

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In ensuing posts, I'll lay out a training plan, acclimatizing strategies, the single-day versus multi-day trip (I like single days better), and describe the whole Dirty Dozen hike by hike.  Since many of you want to climb Mt Whitney from other areas of the country (world?  Solar System?), I'll spell out ways to prepare in more altitude-challenged areas.

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OK guys, let's keep 'er civil and mannerly. This is not a political site so diatribes of that ilk are not welcome and won't be published.