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58 by photographer avatarPrestonSands
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Mount Whitney 14,505Sierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Jun 06 2014
Hiking21.00 Miles 6,977 AEG
Hiking21.00 Miles
6,977 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Wally and Bob picked up Denny and I just before sunrise and were off on a California road trip. A brush with LA and many miles of desert nowhere brought us to the little town of Lone Pine, at the eastern foot of the impossibly rugged Sierra Nevada. Many treeless summits loomed in the distance, but which one was Mount Whitney? Up the side of the escarpment we drove to Whitney Portal to claim and set up our camp among towering trees. A quick trip back to Lone Pine for dinner and then we returned to camp, where a light rain shower danced over us. Denny found a waterfall and I found a shirt at the little store. The other guys were in their tents shortly after dark, while I walked the road taking star photos for a bit.

Stars were shining brightly when 4 am rolled around and we were packed and on the trail shortly after 5 as dawn arrived. We were soon high on the wall of a glacially sculpted, forested valley on an endless climb. The rising sun set the high peaks above ablaze. Bob rapidly forged ahead while Denny, Wally and I continued up together. Each stairstep of Lone Pine Canyon would bring us to another scenic valley hemmed in by tall trees and vertical walls of pale granite. The stout, reddish trunks of ancient foxtail pines eventually gave way to alpine slopes and lingering snowdrifts.

A shy marmot greeted us as we arrived at the highest lake. Above us rose the imposing, jagged cliff face of Mount Muir, Keeler Needle and Mount Whitney itself. We left the lake and began trudging up the slopes of Discovery Pinnacle via scores of switchbacks. A bottleneck at an icy step and a snowdrift over a tricky spot were only minor obstacles to the Ridge Crest saddle, where we crossed over to the mountain's western slope.

The final two miles to the summit along the ridge crest were definitely tiring in the oxygen starved atmosphere, but the necessary frequent rest stops were also an excuse to enjoy the amazing views of endless mountain peaks to the west. Following an icy butt slide and a couple of snow trenches, we reached the top, victorious after nearly seven hours of climbing. After many photos I caught up with the rest of the guys, who had already started down. Bob and I attempted to summit Muir Peak along the way, but the exposed climb up the final rock face wasn't to our liking, so we headed down.

Bob talked me into a short glissade near the bottom of the switchbacks which we both enjoyed. We caught up to Wally and Denny at Mirror Lake and continued down together, stopping to see Lone Pine Lake along the way. By late afternoon we were back at the trailhead and driving down the mountain to the town of Lone Pine. We enjoyed burgers at the Mount Whitney Cafe and then checked into Best Western for the night.

The next morning we started the long drive home. Watching the new Godzilla with the family that night, the town of Lone Pine was featured in a scene. How timely. :lol:

Had a great time with great friends on one of the best hikes of my life. Thanks guys! And thank you, Wally, for
putting this all together! :thanx:

The video:
"As soon as I can I’m sneaking back in them mountains..." -Johnny Paycheck
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