Monday, July 26, 2010

Grandson Zane

My wonderful grandson Zane made it from the hospital where he's been lingering for a week after coming into this world. Congrats to Whitney and Rob. You have a great challenge but there's nobody better than the two of you.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Mt. Whitney Summit Via Mountaineer's Route July 8, 2010

On July 8, 2010, I summitted Mt. Whitney on a day hike via the Mountaineer's Route with friend Greg and son Tadd. Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states, at 14, 494 feet.

The Mountaineer's Route is a couloir through a chimney up the to the "Notch" which looks frighteningly steep to ordinary backpackers and hikers. We were equipped with cheap-o running spikes for our running shoes (Greg had crampons) and ice axes. We were going to need them.

We departed at approximately 4:30 a.m. The trail to Iceberg Lake, or the Climbers Trail, leaves the main trail at the very point where Lone Pine Creek crosses the main trail from Whitney Portal. If you cross Lone Pine Creek, you've missed the Climber's Trail.The Climber's Trail is a breathtakingly steep and unofficial trail to Lower Boy Scout, Upper Boy Scout and then Iceberg Lakes. Iceberg Lake is considered a good base camp for the assault on the peak. The Mountaineer's Route begins at Iceberg Lake at 12,200 feet.

The climb up the chimney to approximately 14,000 feet is not for the faint of heart. It is a scramble up a very steep face.

At the notch, there is another couloir to the left, which a chute directly to the summit.

Climbers' guides report that this is a class four ascent, and Tadd and I were certainly intimidated. My pictures show us entering this col; I was too scared to shoot any pictures during the ascent. At several points, and I was very unhappy having to do this, I had to pull myself up to the next rock with no toeholds and no certainty that I could actually hoist my body to the next level. While wondering whether I could actually pull myself up this steep col, I also thought how crazy it was to take my 17-year-old son through this, but he was first through the col and first to hoist himself to the summit's plateau.

We descended through the main trail back to base camp.