Friday, August 23, 2013

Day #1000: Climbing Mount Whitney! - Outpost Camp - Trail Camp - 97 Switchbacks - Whitney Summit

Supporting Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation

1000 HIKES
1000 DAYS

Day #1000 * Hike #1295 * New Track #997
Lone Pine Lake to Trail Camp - Mount Whitney Trail
Monday August 12, 2013
My Tripometer: 3 Hours * 3.75 Miles * +2200 Feet

Good Morning 4:00am from Lone Pine Lake

Yesterday we hiked up to this camping spot to shed 2.5 miles (5 miles round trip) off the long day hike to the summit: Day 999: Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake.  With the much lighter day packs strapped to our back and headlights on, Adam and I were first to leave the camp at 4:00am.  Ian and Nick began their journey about 30 minutes later and eventually passed us...

Entering the Whitney Zone

We were legit and all had permits to legally make this move.  That said, we did not cross one ranger.

Outpost Camp - Elevation 10365 Feet
Outpost Camp is just slightly more than one mile from Lone Pine Lake (3.8 miles from the Portal).  We climbed about 500 feet to reach this camp.  At this point, Elevation was a non issue.  There were many hikers on the trail, most of which were passing Adam and I by.  Due to the pitch dark sky, we could not actually see the surroundings of this camp but did notice a few tents just off the trail.  Compared to Lone Pine Lake, this is a more popular place to call base camp.  However, Lone Pine Lake in my opinion is a better place to Chill Out...

...And here comes Nick, with his shirt on...

Don't be fooled by the brightness of the photo, the sun had still not lifted over the horizon.  Where's Ian?  He's coming...

Above the tree line into the meadows...

Sun starting to shine it's light on the mountain ahead.



...and the climb continues...


Here comes Ian

Consultation Lake Elevation 11680 Feet

Three Amigos

Water Obsticle - no worries, trail goes Right around it

Trail Camp ~12000 Feet

Here I am all Bundled up

Jimi's Tattoo - That's more like it


At Trail Camp there were more than a dozen tents set up.  This is a popular overnight spot and day hike break before climbing the infamous 97 Switchbacks!  Like everyone else there, we filled up water from the glorified pond (no name small lake).  If I had it to do over again, I would not have filled up here.  Too much commotion, stagnant water, etc.  Nearby Consultation Lake would have been a better spot but it's not easily accessible.  However, a short way up the 97 switchbacks is an underground watering system.  On our way down I snapped some shots of a good place to fill.

We rested nearly an hour here.  Nick was long gone and we figured he blew right past this spot.  There is no tree cover but with the cool morning temps, no big deal.  I stripped off some layers, applied the 50 SPF and then chilled out a bit longer.  I left a couple of sweaty shirts on some rocks to sun dry for pick up on my way back,  Now that we were all recharged, Forward March....

Day #1000 * Hike #1296 * New Track #998
Trail Camp - 97 Switchback to Mount Whitney Summit - Mount Whitney Trail
Monday August 12, 2012
My Tripometer: 3.5 Hours * 4.75 Miles * +2750 Feet

Looking back down at Trail Camp

97 Switchbacks
The hikers above us looked like ants.  It's wide open.  This shot gives you an idea of what is ahead.  I believe we counted 98 switchbacks, but whose counting.  Ian charged ahead while Adam and I rested often along the way.  I blame him, but I enjoyed the rest as well and time was a non factor.

Marmots ruling the land

Mice with no tails???

Easy grade, but long - Switchback after Switchback

Starting to notice the elevation

Dizziness over 13000 Feet.  It was hitting Adam and I hard!  At one point there was some doubt of our continuation.  We slowed the slow pace, rested more often and I walked leaning toward the mountain as if I needed a V8, just in case I was going to faint.

The Cables

Water Source - Icicles
(there is a better place below to refill water but this is your very last chance)

Close up on Consultation Lake from high above

Three more small lakes below

Make that 5 or 6 Lakes...

Trail Crest 13650 Feet - We Made it past the Switchbacks!

The other side of the world - Hitchcock Lakes

Entering Sequoia National Park - Guitar Lake below

Fact, from the Whitney Portal, to drive to Sequoia National Park is 299 Miles.  For us, 9 miles :)

In the distance (Franklin Pass?)

Trail Junction, just 1.9 Miles to go 13484 Feet

After Trail Crest you will lose a couple hundred feet of elevation.  You may notice several heavy packs ditched off the trail here.  I imagine these are the long haul hikers trekking the John Muir Trail or coming from Horseshoe Meadows.  No sense lugging the big bags up since you'll have to just come back.

The final stretch

This is anything but easy.  It will take you at least an hour to complete this portion.  There is a spot where you will lose some elevation before gaining it back again.  What a drag.  In the pic above, the peak on the left side of the picture is Mt. Whitney.  It is not a straight shot...

This might be Arctic Lake below

Close up, look up, you can see the shack on top of Whitney

Watch your step

Steep drop offs

Around the final turn and finally, the summit is in sight!

Inside the shack

Century Home

NO boom booms outside today - Perfect weather

Whitney has grown several feet since this plaque was installed

Ian and I were competing for the tallest living thing in the Contiguous United States

What was so cool is that for a good few minutes, I stood taller than any living thing in the lower 48 states (standing on Solid Earth).
Resting my overweight hiking poles


Nap Time

I tried sleeping but fell short on breath.  I could not rest comfortably.  Nick said when he was up here, he took a long nap and some fellow hikers attempted to wake him but he did not immediate come too.  Pretty scary.  I reached the peak in under 4 hours and passed us by on his way down.

Over 10000 Feet above the high desert in Lone Pine

This is the view of the canyon we hiked up and through to reach the summit.  We are standing at the peak that you can easily see from the town of Lone Pine.  Pretty magnificent!

Marmots posing for food

Marmots and chipmunks swarm the top of Whitney.  There are deep narrow crevices beneath the rocks on top in which they live and thrive.  Keep an eye on your food because they will sneak up on you and snatch it...

We reached the summit at about 12:30 and hung out there for nearly an hour.  We signed into the log book, ate some snacks and took some naps.  But, it's not over yet.  We still have to trek all the way back.  Stay tuned for the completion...


  1. Very nice. I always forget how desolate the high country of the Sierra can be.

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  5. When I come across this site, I was searching for the day you completed your 1000 th day of hike. I was really thrilled to read that story. So for your 1000 day you chosen Mount Whitney trail, an awesome trail.
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