8/24/2012 Mount Whitney (14,505 feet), California

Mount Whitney (14,505 feet), California

Ashley and I hopped on a flight out to Los Angeles, California on August 22nd to go out and climb the high point of California, and the highest point of any of the United States (outside of Alaska).  We decided to to drive into Lone Pine, and camp at the Whitney Portal Campground on the night of the 22nd, and then backpack up the Mount Whitney Trail on August 23rd to camp for the night.  We would summit on the 24th and head back out that same day.

Elevation gain: ~7800 feet
Trip length: 22 miles 

Climbing Mount Whitney requires a permit, which we first had to stop and pick up at the Visitors Center, just outside of Lone Pine, and on the junction of the road that heads out to Death Valley, over 100 miles away.  Climbing Whitney also requires a bear canister (which we had to rent) and that all climbers carry out their waste, including human waste.  We were provided some human waste disposal and storage bags to bring with us.

Holding the bear canister and WAG bags.  Whitney is in the background just to the left of the tree.

So excited to have the WAG bags!

 The drive up to the Whitney Portal Campground goes through the famous Alabama Hills, where hundreds of movies and TV shows have been shot.

The smooth rocks of the Alabama Hills.

Whitney is in the background here.

Once we got up to the Whitney Portal Campground (approx 8000 feet), we set up camp for the night.

We drove out to Bishop, California for dinner and had some awesome sunset pictures on the drive back to the campground.

We woke up on the 23rd (my birthday) and headed into town to get some last minute supplies and lunch, and then headed back up to the actual Whitney Portal to start the hike up to Trail Camp.

The drive up to the Whitney Portal to start the hike.

You are required to leave nothing in your car that has a scent, so Ashley made use of the shared bear vaults.

Full pack, ready to go.

The start of the Mount Whitney Trail.
Heading up the start of the trail.

The long pants only stayed on for about 5 min, it was pushing 90 degrees.

Looking west to the saddle that we would be heading over, center.

Following the trail, with the Mount Whitney ridge showing.

Looking back east towards Lone Pine, CA.
Heading up the trail, with Wotans Throne in the background.

More views along the trail.

Another shot of Wotans Throne.

Looking back on the trail to Lone Pine Lake, roughly 2.3 miles into the hike.

Taking a break, enjoying the scenery of Lone Pine Lake.

Ashley in the meadow on the approach to Outpost Camp.  You can see Wotans Throne in the background, along with the Mount Whitney ridge in the clouds behind her.

A waterfall as we near Outpost Camp.

Outpost Camp, about 3.7 miles into the hike.

Mirror Lake, with Mount Whitney above the saddle.

Wotans Throne in the background.

Looking west from our chosen base camp, at Wotans Throne.

Out base camp spot, with Thor Peak in the background.

We woke on the morning of the 24th at around 4:45 AM and hit the trail shortly thereafter.

Sunrise at 12,000 feet.

The shoulder of Thor Peak in the morning.

Slowly waking up, and turning off the head lamp.

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Looking back east, waiting for the sun to crest the horizon.

Mount Muir on the Whitney ridge in the sunlight.

The sun finally comes up.

We reached Trail Camp just as the sun hit.
Climbing the "97 switchbacks", and looking down at Trail Camp.

Snow on the way up.

On the "97 switchbacks", with Constitution Lake below.
Mount Muir on the left (one of 15 California 14ers) and Mount Whitney on the far right.

At Trail Crest, roughly 13,600 feet.  Here we head north along the west face of the Mount Whitney Ridge.
Mount Muir from Trail Crest.

Looking west from Trail Crest.

Looking down the exposed west face from the trail.

A view of our final destination, Mount Whitney in the far background.
On the summit after a long push along the ridge.

The summit benchmark.

Views from the summit, looking south.

The Smithsonian Institution Shelter on the summit.

Looking south again from the summit.

View north across the long flat summit.

View west.

Heading back down, looking south following the Mount Whitney Trail.

More views from the way back down.

Back at Trail Camp, still 6.3 miles from the parking lot.

Hiking down from Trail Camp, to our base camp to pack up camp.

The wildlife on the way back down.

Trail Meadow, about 5.0 miles from the parking lot, and .5 miles from our base camp.

A final view from inside our tent at base camp.

Packing up base camp, and preparing for the 5 mile hike back to the parking lot.

Some awesome shots of the hike down.

Heading down, just above Outpost Camp, about 4 miles from the parking lot.

The waterfall above Outpost Camp.

Heading down through the meadow past Outpost Camp.

Driving back down the road after completing the hike, stopping to take a final look back at the range we were just in.

Mount Whitney on the left, from the drive back down.

The final shot, from the visitors center where we returned our bear canister, looking at the range. 

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