At some point last year, I decided that I wanted to tackle Mt. Whitney as a day hike. I applied for permits in February, got one, and assembled a crew of crazy folks: David Wherry of Hiker Adventures & Christopher Sunnen the Last Adventurer.
We spent the day meticulously preparing for the hike. We drove down to Lone Pine to pick up our Mt. Whitney permits and postcards at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center. We stopped in the Alabama Hills and visited the Mobius Arch and Lathe Arch. It was absolutely breathtaking. It’s hard to believe things like these aren’t photoshopped!
We ate a bunch of candy and snacks while playing a very sober, yet still disturbing game of Cards Against Humanity. We also tackled an Italian-made, slightly Japanese game called Samurai Sword. Many battle cries could be heard from camp at Whitney Portal.
As darkness fell, we headed off to bed; I was beginning the ascent at midnight and needed all the sleep I could get. Thunderstorms and lightning rolled in, and snow fell above 13,000 feet.
The ascent in the dark was fast; time flew by, and before I knew it, snow was falling and melting on me before Trail Camp. I started up the 99 Switchbacks and caught the sunrise at just below the halfway point. Soon, I was racing towards the Trail Crest and into Sequoia National Park, putting one foot into the other on the last push to the summit.
I summited Mt. Whitney at 10:03AM PST and promptly found myself stuck in a cloud at 14,508′. I snapped a few photos and selfies, made someone take my photo, and began the scurry down. I consoled myself with the fact that the view from the Trail Crest was better and I’d seen pretty much everything from the 99 Switchbacks anyway.
At the base of the switchbacks, I met up with my friend who’d turned back about a mile from the top. Together, we descended down the 6 miles that really felt like 12 miles. The trail back to Whitney Portal never seemed to end! Total roundtrip hiking time was 17 hours.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip with a great crew of friends. I’m already itching to go back next year to shave some time off my record and maybe catch the view from the Mt. Whitney summit.
Hike: Mt. Whitney via Mt. Whitney Trail
Where: Inyo National Forest
Trailhead: Whitney Portal
Duration: 17 hours
Length: 22~ miles out and back
Gear: Icebreaker BodyFit 200 Oasis Crew Long Sleeve, Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie, Icebreaker BodyFit 260 Compass Legging, REI Sahara pants, Arc’teryx Alpha SL Hybrid jacket, CamelBak Aventura pack, Black Diamond Ultra Distance trekking poles, Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves, Arc’teryx Bird Toque beanie, Outdoor Research Echo Ubertube, and Salewa Alp Trainer Mid GTX boots
Cost of Parking: Free