Mt. Whitney

In 1971, Francia (my wife) and I made the typical (at that time) Mt. Whitney ascent. Living in Santa Monica, we left early Saturday morning the weekend before Labor Day and drove up to Whitney Portal and started on the trail. We met a ranger who informed us that they were trying out a new thing --- permits. He wrote one for us on the trail (There were no quotas.) and we continued up to Trail Camp. In the morning we left our packs there (with the marmots) and walked to the top, back to the packs and down to Whitney Portal and drove back to Santa Monica that night. Apparently, there had been snow flurries at the top the day before and it was fairly cool that day. In 1987, I was a last minute substitute in mid-July for a Scoutmaster who developed a lung problem and was told by his doctor that he could not go that high in altitude. I arose early and drove to Whitney Portal where I met the group that was going to hike up Mt. Whitney. The scouts ranged in age from 12 to 16 and had been camping at the portal with other scouts at the lower part of the age range. Because of the boys’ ages, this trip was more of a multi-day expedition. We walked through a rain shower up to Outpost Camp where we spent the night. The next day we walked to Trail Camp and spent the night. During that night, strong winds snapped two of the four support poles in one of the tents. The next day we walked to the top and back down to the packs and then back to Outpost Camp where we spent the last night of the trip. At the top, I had icicles of sweat hanging from my moustache. My son, Scott, was one of the Scouts and he celebrated his 12th birthday at the top with a cake baked by one of the mothers and carried up by one of the older Scouts. In 1991, I had become Scoutmaster and had promised some of the Scouts that we would ascend Mt. Whitney that summer. By now they were older, and we did a quite different trip. We started in Mineral King, crossed the Sierra and ascended from the West (or back) side. The last night before Whitney was spent at Guitar Lake. We walked up to Trail Crest where we left our packs and continued to the top where we had clear skies, warm sun ( I was in a short sleeve T-shirt.), and magnificent views. We then walked back to our packs and down to Outpost Camp where we spent the night. My last ascent was in 1993, also from the back side, at the end of a two week hike that Scott and I did on the John Muir Trail starting in Tuolumne Meadows. We spent our last night at a small tarn alongside the trail just above Guitar Lake. We left our packs at the same place and again we had clear skies and short sleeve temperatures at the top. This time we walked down that day (Labor Day) to Whitney Portal and the hot soapy shower that I had been craving for many days! I had my camera with me on the first three trips, but not the last. Photos taken on the trails and at the top are posted with the their dates noted.

Ascending with a Marmot (1987)

At Trail Camp (1971)

Icy Trail Above Trail Camp (1987)

Icicles Alongside 99 Switchbacks (1987)

Looking East Near Trail Crest (1987)

Heading Up to Trail Crest From the West – Early Morning (1991)

Nearing Trailcrest and Looking Back to the West (1991)

Looking West from Trailcrest (1971)

Looking East from Trailcrest (1987)

Cabin on Top of Mt. Whitney (1991)

Shortly after this, within a year or two, some people were electrocuted when they took shelter inside this cabin during an electrical storm. Subsequently, the door was permanently locked. The following pictures were all taken atop Mt. Whitney.



Looking West (1991)

John, Chris, Peter, Scott and the Owens Valley (1991)