Underestimating altitude and its effects remains the most costly mistake made by inexperienced Mt Whitney hopefuls. Diminished
performance in an atmosphere 62 percent of sea level density represents only
part of the problem. Coping with neurological changes, blistering
headaches, appetite loss, and nausea while your "engine" gets smaller
and smaller complicates matters greatly.
|Train high. Get strong. Climb Whitney.|
There is no substitute for altitude training. Yes, I
know not everyone has the opportunity to do so but, if you really want to enjoy
a successful climb, you have to make it so. This will be discussed in the
future. In the meantime, here's an acclimation approach to help one
"seal the deal" towards a successful, enjoyable Mt Whitney
summit. This covers only the last few days before the climb and is not a
substitute for solid training at high altitude.
Let me preface by saying I've only climbed Mt Whitney on Thursdays.
First, Thursdays are easier to get than any other day. Second, I show up
at Whitney Portal on Monday to avoid weekend crowds and spend time at altitude
before I head up. I attribute any success we've had climbing Mt Whitney (and we
haven't failed yet) at least in part to this.
Arrive at Whitney Portal
around 1:00 pm. That's
the earliest time allowed to assume control of a campsite. Set up
camp. Head up to the Portal Store
and check the weather report.
Look at the souvenir T-Shirts to see how tall Mt Whitney is this year. Make
supper and hang out.
|Reserve your Whitney Portal site early or you'll have to switch sites in mid-stay like we did |
If Whitney Portal has no availabilities, consider
staying at Horseshoe Meadow
in the Golden Trout Wilderness
. You'll camp at almost 10,000 feet. The
camping is more primitive but the whole place operates on a
first-come-first-serve basis and is rarely full. Adjust your schedule accordingly
for the 31-ish mile trip to the trailhead.
|Horseshoe Meadow is a pack station too|
Head down to the Eastern Sierra InterAgency Center
exchange paperwork for the actual Mt Whitney Zone Permit
. Hit Joseph's Bi-Rite Market
in Lone Pine for any forgotten food or gear items. On the way back to
Whitney Portal, turn left on Horseshoe Meadow Road all the way to the end at
Horseshoe Meadow Camp at almost 10,000 feet (3048 m). Start hiking up
towards Cottonwood Lakes
. Hike as far as you want. A round trip all
the way to the Lakes is 11 miles at 11,500 feet (3,505 m). We go in about 3
miles (5 km), find a nice spot to eat lunch, and spend quality time. It's 2 days
before The Big One. You're either in shape by now or you're not.
Return to the Portal for a shower, dinner, and a good night's rest.
|"A westful wetweat" - Elmer Fudd|
Head up to Lone Pine Lake
for a slow and easy leg
stretcher. Go to the opposite shore and look back at the granite
panorama. Eat a sandwich. This is a great opportunity to get a daytime
preview of the trail section traversed by headlamp at 3:00 am. Back
at camp, sort the gear and pack for the hike. Eat dinner and set up for
easy breakfast deployment tomorrow. Bedtime is 8:00 pm.
Up at 2:00 am. Have a good breakfast. Use hand
signals instead of talking as much as possible. After all, others are
sleeping because Thursday may not be their day. Don't be one of those
people. Pack your shower equipment in the car to ensure enough shower
time before the facility closes after your return. Drive up to the
trailhead and park in the "Day Use" area. Be making tracks by
3:15 am. Have a wonderful trip!
Eat more breakfast
than you ever thought possible at
the Portal Store before breaking camp, you successful Whitney climber you.
Next post: The multi-day formula
Like Mt Whitney Quest on Facebook
Excellent advice. It worked for me!ReplyDelete