A friend recently told us they couldn't wait to read about our Whitney trip... to which I replied you should read our blog post. "Hmmm" was his response "must have missed it". NOPE somehow this was never published. So here it is better late than never! 11:00 am Saturday Mt. Whitney, Lone Pine, CA 14,505ft The shutters clicked with crazy abandoned, we were all very excited and enjoying our perfect weather on this perfect summit. The team signed the registry, noting where they were from, New York, Laguna Beach, Denver, Boulder, Boise, Pasadena. We took pictures with our flags, with each other, with the mountain and looked down to where we came from... and still had to return to.
7:00 pm 6:00 pm Wednesday Whitney Lodge Lone Pine, CA 3,727ft
We moved dinner up so we could get to bed earlier. Saveria and I would meet the team for the first time in its entirety. We had driven up from Pasadena, got settled then took a drive to Whitney Portal with two of our team mates earlier now we were sitting down for a final civilized meal, meaning with chairs. The team was in great spirits some arrived just in time for dinner others were excited we moved up the time so they could catch Survivor before turning in. We talked about where we were from and our experience the weather forecast, but I'm sure most thoughts were on the mountain ahead which for most of the day was covered in one cloud. Team one was already up there and reports of snow and wind were coming to our guides.
12:00 pm Saturday The Notch, Mt. Whitney 14,000ft We down climbed the summit block in our rope teams with our guide bringing up the rear giving us support and tips. Our guide, Forest lowered us down over the last step section and we gathered at the Notch. We put back on our crampons, grabbed our ice axes and poles, all which we had cashed and began what I thought would be plunge step heaven down the couloir. Well not quite. The snow was softer but just soft enough to ball up our crampons upon each step. The pace became step, step, bang, bang as we hit our crampons with our axes to gather a little purchase for the next go. After a while we reached Iceberg Lake and unroped for a bit, we all walked our own pace thinking about our effort of the past few hours, our teammates, but mostly about breathing.
3:00 pm Thursday Lower Boy scout Lake 10,200ft We reached our first camp after a good breakfast at the Whitney Cafe, I decided to only eat an egg, oatmeal, berries and some toast. We finished breakfast with a gear check some parting wisdom from our guides, Tristan, Thomas and Forest, and we were off. We got to the Whitney Portal took a "clean" photo, the rest of the pictures would be examples of "not clean" photos, weighed the packs, mine was just 3 lbs heavier than Saveria's to her disapproval, and started up the trail. The first fork we came to was the split for the Whitney Trail and the Mountaineers Route, the last time Saveria and I were here we took the left fork, to the trail this time the right, Mountaineers Route here we come! It was not bad walking and we just concentrated on breathing and rest steps for most of the way, the biggest challenge was near the end the Ebersbacher Ledges It was the first exposure we faced on the trip with a bit of climbing needed, super exciting, we were in it now. We reached camp and started to soak it all in, while eating a great dinner provided by the guides.
3:45 pm Saturday High Camp 12,000ft After roping up one last time down a steep snow section which we had done in the dark earlier this mourning we unroped fro the last time and skipped all the way into camp, or at least it felt like that in our heads. Everyone started stripping down as it had gotten very warm, I got down to a T shirt and bare feet. I laid down for a while and thought mostly of how I was happy of my training, my fitness was good but I need more practice climbing in plastic boots. As Saveria recovered in the tent I was outside getting a little cold, I realized at 12,000ft it is probably colder than I think, I put my socks and boots back on and a light jacket, much better. I sent a message out on our Delorme inReachSE that we were down safe. Now time for dinner.
4:20 am Saturday High Camp 12,000ft Our headlamps lit up the trail as we headed out. No one was tired, we got hot drinks and a small breakfast, harnesses on and we set out. We got to Iceberg Lake as the sun was coming up, our guides had ordered perfect weather for our ascent. The group broke up into three rope teams we headed up the couloir at a deliberate pace, rest step, breath, repeat. We finally got to the Notch at 14,000ft, just 500 more to go. When there is enough snow you just stay with your crampons and snow climb the rest of the way, because of how warm it has been we instead switched to what I was told was the spring Mountaineers Route which was third class rock scrambling, with some moderate exposure to the summit. We were roped in a team with our guide, Forest and we sent it! I finally peaked over the last ledge and saw the Whitney hut glowing in the light, we made it, half way at least. Now where is my camera?
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