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Anyone hiked Mt Whitney in Ca. (tallest point in lower 48 states)? Leaving Aug 18th. Suggestions?

Anyone hiked Mt Whitney in Ca. (tallest point in lower 48 states)? Leaving Aug 18th. Suggestions?

Old Jul 26th, 2004, 08:25 PM
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Anyone hiked Mt Whitney in Ca. (tallest point in lower 48 states)? Leaving Aug 18th. Suggestions?

We're trying to hike to the top of the tallest point in each state and Mt Whitney in Ca. (14496 ft) would be our 9th state so far, and the tallest pt in the continental US. It's 22 miles roundtrip and our biggest dayhike to date. We're coming (a buddy and myself) from Maryland to do it on Aug 14th 2004, camping for 3 nights by Whitney Portal Campground to acclimate to the altitude of around 10000 feet, and then waking up at 3am on Aug 18 and starting our hike at 4am in the dark. God willing we should make it back down by 7-8pm that evening, doing it as a day hike. Anyone do this lately? Any suggestions? We have a day pack each with a filled camelback of water, a water purifier to get more clean water later, a couple sandwiches, 2 powerbars and trail mix, all hiking clothing (a fleece jacket, waterproof rainjacket, short pants, a capilene shirt and underwear) and decent hiking boots.

I hope we're prepared enough. The only thing that will hurt us is getting acute mountain sickness that precludes us going furthur or a bad lightning storm where we'd have to turn around.

Are we forgetting anything?
We got alot of our info from this website:

Any Fodorites been here???

Silver Spring MD
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 08:34 PM
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I almost went, had to cancel, but my friends went ahead. They had a lot of regrets doing this as a daytrip. If you just want to conquer the peak, that may be the way to go, but you may want to do some backcountry camping to split the trip and enjoy the hike.
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 08:47 PM
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Do you have a permit? (Technically required but not strictly enforced, though perhaps more so on weekends.)

A couple of things: "Miner" flashlight you wear on your head because it'll be dark (full moon not until the 29th). Walking/hiking sticks which make it easier, especially on the descent. Walkie-talkies just in case you and your friend get separated. Hiking pants that zip off at the knees because, believe it or not, there's always a chance of snow flurries on top. Also consider lightweight gloves and a knit cap

Arriving three days early is a very good idea. Drink lots of fluids during that time and do some short hikes each day to get further acclimated.

Finally, "turtle up, rabbit down." In other words, take it easy on the ascent. Rest and hydrate. On the way down, go like heck.
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Old Jul 26th, 2004, 09:01 PM
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DH has hiked to the summit of Whitney 3 times, but never as a day hike. He overnites at Trail Crest (12000 ft). On his last trip (in June) they did meet a guy and his son on the trail who did it in one day. They were on the trail at 3:45 am and managed to make the summit before the lightning came in. (the reason for starting out so early is not to make it back before dark, but to avoid the early afternoon storms)
He says his best advice is, if you start to get sick, get back down a ways and wait till you feel better (which may be a couple hours or even overnight).
Your essential items are water, nutrition, rain gear and bug repellant (they carry some real good stuff at the Whitney Portal store).
He suggests you might try it after 2 nights at Whitney Portal, that way if you don't make it on the first try you can make another attempt the following day. (he prefers to acclimate at 12,000 ft., but if you don't have the equipment for that, Whitney Portal is the next best thing)
Do you have reservations for Whitney Portal? during the week might not be a problem, but the weekends may well be croweded.
Do you have your backcountry permit yet? I'm not sure if you need one if you're not going to be overnight on the trail, but you should check. You could have applied back in February, but if you didn't get one in advance they have day by day unclaimed permits at the ranger station in Lone Pine.
Good Luck

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Old Jul 27th, 2004, 05:59 AM
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Thanks y'all!!! Yes, we do have a dayhike permit for Aug 18th ONLY, so that's the day we're doing it. If we don't make it, we could always try for it 2 days later on Friday if we could get another permit for that day. I never heard of the "going down a bit if you feel sick part, and wait till you feel better to go back up!". That's tough but doable, as time is of the essence on a hike like this.

I thought about the convertible hiking pants but they usually chafe at the part where they separate into shorts. I'll check out the local Hudson Trail again and see what they have. I didn't think about gloves but may bring a cheap lightweight pair, and a knit hat? Never though of it - you don't think my baseball goretex REI cap will be enough?

We DO plan on drinking tons of water before hand and during. I know that's the key to avoiding AMS in part.

Thanks again for the extra advice. We're committed to doing it only as a dayhike and not a partial overnighter backpack trip. I DO have the stuff to do it as a partial backpack trip, but I hate lugging my pack if not necessary. It's too late anyway as we don't have the site permits to do it.

As for walkie talkies... that's a great idea but I don't want to spend that money Call me cheap, but I'm trying to go minimalist as possible as well.

Wish us luck. If we make it, we MIGHT drive a day and then do the highest peak in Nevada 2 days later if our bodies aren't too wracked in pain. I doubt that's gonna happen, but you never know.

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Old Jul 27th, 2004, 09:10 AM
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If you don't want to spring for a walkie-talkie, bring a whistle each.

Try to stay together, tho. A lot of mountain lions been sighted all around California. Don't know if they have been seen on the lower hiking trails in the Mt Whitney area. hope not!
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Old Jul 27th, 2004, 09:43 AM
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It's definitely doable as a day hike: I'd allow 12-14 hrs. if you're in pretty good shape. I'd second the headlamp and would start early (e.g., about 4-5a) by headlamp if necessary so you can get down before sunset. And definitely take thin pile gloves and hat (it can be below freezing even in summer on top). I also agree with the hiking poles, they help. One suggestion if you don't like the zippable pants chaffing: take a light wt. pair of long john bottoms (I'd take the tops and a pile jacket for the summit as well). Then if it gets chilly, you can wear shorts over the long-john bottoms. If it gets any colder, zip on the legs. I'd also take a gortex parka for possible wind/rain. Finally, I'm sure you know, but don't go anywhere near the summit if there are thunder clouds in the vicinity. People have be killed by lightning on Whitney.
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Old Jul 27th, 2004, 06:43 PM
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Thanks milemarker and easy traveler. We already have headlamps but never thought of whistles. Good idea. We plan on hiking at 4am and hope to be back by 730pm. I PLANNED on only bringing shorts as it's only supposed to be around 40 degrees at the coolest, but you're right. You never know. We'll check out the temps from the hikers returning and see what they are wearing the day before. And we NOW know not to go up to the summit if it's threatening out... We'll wait it out if possible and go up later when it's safer.

Thanks a million,
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