Mount Whitney

Mount Whitney Trip Report (#7881)

  • Signed By: Nick Nedelchev
  • Date submitted: August 09, 2004
  • Number of People Encountered:

Ah, nothing like the 1-day hike!... Started at 5 am on a crisp Friday morning. Rabbit-hopped to Trail Camp (got there by 9 am). Took a lavish 1-hour break for refueling and mini-acclimatization. I knew about the crucible of the 97 Switchbacks, so I was mentally (not to mention physically) prepared. Still, it took me 2 hours to ascend. Wolfing down a sandwich at Trail Crest despite initial signs of altitude sickness, I thought: "Well, at least the hard part is behind me, right?" Wrong! The next two hours were the hardest of my life (for now, at least). It wasn't so much the climb as the headache and nausea, both of which hit me pretty hard. I had no idea AS would affect me so much, never having climbed past 10,000 feet before. Sure, I had read about it, and had taken aspirin and ibuprofen in advance, but still, the last 1 mile of the climb I was waging a massive battle with my guts... So, to such low-altitude-dwelling enthusiasts as myself, I'd say: Sleep at Lone Pine Lake, if you can (too crowded at the Portal), and bring loads of aspirin!

Anyway, I figured no matter how bad I felt, if I just kept putting one foot before the other, there was just no way not to make it. And so that's what I kept doing, while a few fellow hikers threw up and/or gave up. I even found the pluck to keep one of them going, though he, too, had seemingly run out of steam around the 10th mile or so. So many times I wanted to just sit and die a little, but - damn if I was giving up with the summit in sight, even though it felt like it was taking ages to make the tiniest progress.

So in the end, there I was, perched on America's roof (sorry, Alaska), feeling like a zombie, dizzy and air-headed, but drinking in the views with all the insatiability of a career drunk... It was soooooo worth it! The feeling is indescribable - but I guess most of you already know what I am trying to describe... Next time I am going to pitch camp at Trail Camp before tackling the summit, and on the way back probably set sail via Crabtree Meadows - they look gorgeous from up high. And after that I think I'll try something higher, say the Andes in Argentina :)

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