|Hike #1 (Natalie Moore photo)|
So when my friend Cory Walsh approached me about putting together a Mt Whitney trip, I assembled a two-pronged program (hiking /running) to train for the climb. Today I will talk about the hiking /climbing aspect of training and the list of hikes I created called The Mount Whitney Dirty Dozen. Here they are in order:
- Malibu Creek – Backbone Trail loop 14.5 miles (23.5 km) 2,000 ft (610 m) vertical rise 2,500 ft (763 m) max elevation. Use this hike to gauge your conditioning. You should finish this hike in under six hours including lunch break. If you cannot, and your Whitney date is less than seven months away, consider putting off Whitney until next year. Start getting yourself in shape to get in shape!
- Mt Lukens via Stone Canyon 8 mi (12.8 km) 3,200 ft (976 m) vert 5,068 ft (1,546 m) max el. There are only two reasons to climb Mt Lukens; To stand on the highest point in the LA city limits or to train for something bigger. Not a really pretty hike except the first and last mile, the summit is anticlimactic, and the view may be hazed out. 800 ft/mile is a good stiff test. If the creek at the trailhead is too high to cross safely, come back another day.
- Mt Wilson via Chantry Flat & Upper Winter Creek Trail 14 mi (22.5 km) 3,600 ft (1098 m) vert 5,710 ft (1742 m) max el. Scenery-wise, this hike is a big improvement over the last one. Layout-wise, it’s very similar with a three mile warmup gaining only 300 feet followed by four miles of climbing at 800 ft/mile.
- Mt Baden-Powell via Vincent Gap 8 mi (12.8 km) 2,800 ft (854 m)
vert 9,399 ft (2867 m) max el. This one should tickle your altitude bone. The real purpose is to
prepare you for the next hike. On a scale of one to ten, the summit
view is a stone cold 12. The Baldy massif is spectacular. The
40-plus switchbacks get you psychologically prepared for the 97 (98? 99?)
switchbacks awaiting you in a few months.
Hike #4 (Suzanne Szalay photo)
- Mt San Jacinto via Tramway Trail 11.5 mi (18.5 km) 2,300 ft (702 m) vert 10,834 ft (3,302 m) max el. Our first foray into five-digit altitude. Every step is more gorgeous than the next. One friend of mine has hiked all over the world. This is her favorite.
- Cucamonga Peak via Icehouse Canyon 12 mi (19.3 km) 3,800 ft (1,159 m) vert 8,859 ft (2,702 m) max el. Taking a step back in altitude, we move forward in vertical rise, completing almost two-thirds of a single-day Whitney trek. You can thank me later for the scree slope near the top.
- Mt Baldy From Manker Flat via Baldy Notch & Devil’s Backbone 15 mi (24 km) 4,000 ft (1,220 m) vert 10,064 ft (3,070 m) max el. This hike is fire road for the first four miles to the ski lodge at Baldy Notch (not to be confused with the Sierra Club Ski Hut). Take it hard, then do the rest of the hike on Devil’s Backbone. A lot harder than taking the chairlift. The descent is really long. So is Mt Whitney. Get used to it.
- Mt Wilson Toll Road 18 mi (29 km) 4500 ft (1,373 m) vert 5,710 ft (1,742 m) max el. This road was built originally to haul the first telescope up the mountain. Graded to accommodate the mule teams, it’s a very steady 500 ft/mile. Can you summit in three hours? An even longer descent than the last one. Your legs will be Jello from nine miles of resisting gravity on descent. Imagine what they’ll be like after 10.8 miles of descent.
- Mt Baldy from Baldy Village via Bear Flat 13 mi (21 km) 6,000 ft (1,830 m) vert
10,064 ft (3,070 m) max el. This is the make-or-break hike. Everything that came before is preparation for this hike. It’s not
enough just to complete it. You should average two miles an hour
for 6 ½ miles so summit in 3 ½ hours or so. That’s why
you can’t “cut the line” and prove to yourself you’re ready for Whitney merely by completing this hike. To average two miles an hour, you must be in pretty good shape. The hike averages almost 1000 ft/mile
for 6 ½ miles. Actually, the first mile is easy! So it’s far
more precipitous than that. You’ll have the best views in the valley
and I’ll almost guarantee seeing bighorn sheep. The summit ridge is
a moonscape. The approach to the summit proper is much mellower than
Devil’s Backbone. Good thing too. Be careful going down.
- Mt San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek 18.4 mi (29.6 km) 5,423 ft
(1,654 m) vert 11,503 ft (3,508 m) max el. If you complete this one in
eight hours (not counting summit time) and hit the performance goal
for the last one, you are well on your way. Incredible 360-degree
views. The descent will send you around the bend. Sorry about
the first mile.
Hike #10 (Mauricio Aviles photo)
- San Bernardino Peak via Angelus Oaks 16 mi (25.8 km) 4,731 ft (1,443 m) vert 10,691 ft (3261 m) max el. This is your victory lap. Not as hard as the last two but freakishly beautiful. Probably my favorite climb in SoCal. Use it to pat yourself on the back, but beware. If you’re in the right condition, the summit will appear sooner than you think. It’s also on a spur trail so don’t go by it. Complete this hike 7 to 10 days before…
- Mt Whitney via Whitney Portal 21.6 mi (34.8 km) 6,148 ft (1,874 m) vert 14,508 ft (4,422 m) max el. The Big Kahuna. Be careful and remember: Summiting is optional. Descent is mandatory!
In the future, I will feature each of the Dirty Dozen hikes with its own post containing trailhead info, parking and highlights.
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