December 16th, 2008 | By | 4,016 Comments

MT. WHITNEY IS NOT FOR SISSIES

And I’m a total sissy! So…why in the heck did I try to hike it?!

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Well that’s a long story… I’ll give you the nutshell version.  My husband’s friend flaked a week before go time and I was the backup plan.  I’m always up for adventure,  so this seemed like fun.  In theory.  Plus, we would get to the top, take pictures (wearing our favorite Swell tees of course) and I would check it off of my list of things to do before I die.  I had it all worked out.  

Shopping for the trip was great. I already had my Swell thermals and tees, so I headed to REI. They have SO much stuff – night vision headlamps, SmartWool socks with fun designs, every kind of freeze dried food you can imagine… Wal-Mart and Sports Chalet were also on the list. I added on hiking poles, polyester pants (not flattering at ALL) and a back up windbreaker and I was ready.  

This was on the drive up, Thursday night – arrived around midnight to camp at the highest campground in the area – Horseshoe Meadow Camp. It’s at 10,000 ft. Air is thinner, snow on the ground and it was a ghost town. A long way away from the beach in San Clemente!! We settled in for a freezing night. Spent the next day acclimating and then it was to Whitney base camp so that we could begin our hike early – we agreed on 2am wake up time.

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It was 2:45am before we hit the trail, which is at 8,300 feet. To reach the peak of 14,500 feet it would take a while. The sky was clear – it was going to be a beautiful day but a storm was on its way for that evening, so we needed to get moving.   About 3 miles in, at around 4am we reached the actual Whitney wilderness (at 10,000 feet). The pics above show us at the sign. Kinda creepy looking, I know. One of my favorite parts was walking in the dark…pitch dark….the moon wasn’t around that night.

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The sun started to rise around 6am we were near trail camp (11,000 feet, 5 miles in). It was beautiful – we could see the shadow of Whitney up above. Around 7:30 we reached Trail Camp (12,000 feet, 6.5 miles in) then the real fun began. The trail was covered in snow so we skipped the switchbacks and went straight up – Edmund Hillary style. I felt so tough. Ha. Another couple of miles in (around the 8.5 mile mark), the mountain was too steep and the ice was too thick for someone without mountaineering skills like me! I threw in the towel.

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I was about 20 seconds from sheer panic. It’s like 1,000 straight down behind me. Picture doesn’t do it justice… I’m not just saying that! So, I decided to turn back. My partner in crime joined me for the descent.  

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The walk down was nice … here’s a pic from the meadow that we missed in the dark on the way up.

So, all in all, me, nor my Swell shirt, made it to the top of Mt. Whitney….we’ll give it another shot in the summer!

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