Mt Whitney Mountaineers Route: harder than we thought...
(but we made it!)

13-16 Sep 2003 - by Todd Byers

We are a group of hiking buddies and fellow FEDEX co-workers from Clovis Ca. I'm the group planner and leader so it was my responsibility to get permits, hotel reservations, and do all of the trip planning. It all fell in place really well after we got the permit for our desired entry date of sept. 13th, 2003. We drove to Lone pine after work on Friday the 12th (5.5 hours in Kenny's Lexus coupe, which was kinda cramped for three grown men). We arrived and stayed up late knowing that we didn't have to pick up our official permit till 10:00. I got up and drove to the ranger station and was instantly accosted by several people who wanted my permit...I offered to separate their shoulders for them and they stepped back in appreciation of my humor and guile.

We got to the Whitney trailhead and actually stepped onto the trailhead at 1430 pm. The weather was perfect, clear and breezy about 75 degrees. Our destination being lower boy scout lake. Having researched the route extensively, We didn't have any real trouble finding our way, other than some odd places where the alder got really thick. The ledges were no problem but there are several choices of actual lines to take, all of them muttled and cross over each other. The exposure was minimal. No big deal. The trail is mostly steep and gravelly the whole way so use caution. we arrived at lower boy scout lake around 6pm. We did the usual camp setup and dinner then did some stargazing and bullshitting till we one by one went to our tents.

The next day we packed up and headed for our next camp at iceberg lake. this was the hardest part of the hike. It is all steep and gravelly, with a short rest at upper boy scout lake. The trail from upper bs lake top iceberg is steep, gravelly, and ugly. right before iceberg lake, it gets really hard to follow the route. We had to do just a little class 3 at the very end to get to lake level. We finally got an awesome view of the gully and notch. It was very windy and got down to about 20 degrees not taking into consideration the wind chill. We got up early and started up the chute around 930 am. It is extremely gravelly and scree filled. It is very steep (steeper than it looks and steeper than anyone ever told us). The stones and scree make for slow going. None of us had any altitude issues so our progress was staedy. It took 2.5 hours to reach the notch. A climber was just reaching the notch and told us if we go up a class 3 section immediately left of the gap we would be on top in 10 minutes. Just walk about 15 feet to your left once you reach the top of the notch and took left and up, thats the summit plataeu. It took us about 15 minutes of casual class 3 climbing to do this. I took a line up the right side and reached the summit at 1230 pm. clear skys, 55 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

After 20 years of dreaming about it, i finally did it! We all summited and did the usual things one does from the summit, call our wives and girlfriends. From summit to upper bs lake was about 2.5 hours and exhausting. We stayed at upper bs lake and went down to trailjead on tuesday. It took 2 hours and it seemed longer due to cramping quad muscles.

Some little rope climber dude on trail was a dick and condesendingly told us that this is not a trail and that the way down off of the ebersbacher ledges was that way. This guy was the only asshole i ever met on trail. We got back to the trailhead and did a victory dance and got the best cheeseburger ever. I also exacted some revenge on the rude climber dude. He made a couple more shitty comments while he followed us down trail to the effect of you should only come up here if your gonna use rope and climbing aids. When we got to the store this guy had lost his wallet! ha ha...I laughed in his face ... See what he gets for being a dick. We all got burgers, cokes, beer, t-shirts and such, while this prick was filtering water from the pond. Alls well thats ends well.

All in all it was a trip of a lifetime and is was also the hardest thing i had ever done, even harder than halfdome in a day. The mountaineers route was harder than any website or book explained. It made it tolerable by spending three nights on trail acclimatizing.


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