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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Trip Report: Mt. Whitney Summit on 07/17/12

So I know this is a little overdue as it was almost 2 months ago now but here it goes so I hope you all enjoy.

The first part is the back story and the 2nd part is the trip report if you care to skip around!

I'm 25 now but just about 2 year ago I decided that I wanted to climb Mount Whitney. I think that a friends facebook update from the summit is what made me want to do it myself but I am not sure. At this time I was overweight and out of shape. Talking a lot about it I received a bunch of hiking gear for Christmas with the hopes of getting in shape and making it to the summit. Well, I didn't get in shape, didn't enter the lottery, and didn't make it to Whitney that year. However, that was 2011, Jan. 2012, 234lb, and still just as out of shape I made the decision that this was the year. I went on a diet and started to train, Hike every weekend, run during the week to get my endurance up, and enter the lottery (now online so much easier for me). With my Uncle and Aunt applying for permits and the training continuing and already down from my 234lb to a remarkable 170lb's we came up on the week of July 16th when we had our overnight permits.

After Hiking White Mt. just the weekend before I was quite confident that the Altitude would not effect me to bad. We drove up from our hometown of Thousand Oaks on Sunday, got our permits in Lone Pine and then Drove up to Horseshoe Meadows campground to spend the night and acclimate at 10,000". Hiked around there a bit but basically just relaxed and thought quietly about the enormous climb we had the next day.

We were up at 6 that Monday morning and had the car and gear packed by 8. Got to the trail head, fought for parking, stored the excess gear and food in lockers, and headed up the trail. It was clear that training with a fully loaded pack was the way to go. When we got started we of course weighed our packs on the hanging scale and mine weighed in with 3L of water and WAY TOO much food at 43lb. Starting off on the trail I quickly saw that this was probably the most scenic hike that I have been on and wondered why anyone would want to miss all this beautiful scenery starting on a day hike! Making our way to Lone Pine Lake I quickly was able to outpace my uncle, who on every other hike I would struggle to stay with. The full pack, that he DID NOT train with weighed him down heavily. It took about 2 hours to get to lone pine lake, when we went to the lake shore to have a snack my uncle laid down and took a nap. Not wanting to wait, and having walkie talkies I went ahead of them. Making my way up the trail I came to Bighorn Park and was in awe, Probably the best part of the hike for me (maybe because it is flat? lol). Continuing on I finally made it trail camp in just about 6hrs. Found 2 perfect spots to camp and sat down to wait out my Aunt and Uncles arrival.

1hr went by and no sign of them, No big deal he did take a nap...

2hrs went by and I am starting to panic a little bit....

2.5hrs go by and I guess I was visibly panicked because a guy and girl about my age came up to me and asked if I was alright and if I was waiting for a couple? I said yeah and told them their names and they said "oh, that kinda sounds like who we ran into and they said they were going to camp at outpost and wait for you tomorrow."

My heart sank, I PROMISED my mom and girlfriend that I would not go it alone so I had a choice to make... Stay and break the promise or turn around and go back to them. I grabbed the walkie talkie and headed off down the mountain to try to reach them on the radio. I ran (actually ran!) down to the overlook just below trail camp, just before it heads down to the meadow, and called on my radio, they were able to hear me the whole time as I was up high but they were not able to send a message back.

Finally they got me on the radio and they were on their way, not stopping at all and continuing as planned to trail camp. I was happy and hiked back to camp.

Made it an early night and got about 10hrs of sleep! for the next morning. Got up at sunrise and packed my day pack. My Uncle was suffering from dehydration so he BARLEY ate. We made it off to a late start but we still made it off. Got to trail crest and my Aunt was not making it very fast due to a hidden injury. My uncle decided to call it quits at trail crest, told me to continue on to the summit. With TONS of energy I continued on.

Made it to the summit at 12:30, tried to call everyone and nobody answered their phones but that's probably for the best as I was so emotional that I had made it. Just 6 months earlier I could barley make it up a flight of stairs without losing my breathe and here I am, Standing on top of the tallest Mt. in the Contiguous USA! I'd be lying if I said it didn't bring a tear or two to my eye.

Made my way back down after 30 minutes on the summit and passed my Aunt, who was supposed to wait at trail crest for my return. It was already 1:30 when I met her and we had to turn around THEN or we would risk hiking in the dark on the way down. After some words were exchanged she reluctantly turned around and headed back.

We got back to trail camp, broke camp and at 4:30 headed back down. Got to the portal store at 7:30 and started our drive back home.