Mt. Whitney One Day Ascent

24 Jul 2003 - by Nicole Starsinic

I just got back from a one day hike up to Mt. Whitney. It was a wonderful experience and I'd do it again. I met up with two of my aunts (both age 62) and my cousins (30's). We started at 4:05 a.m. at the portal. I am in good physical shape but had not done this kind of hiking. I also live at an elevation of 50 ft. and didn't have any chance to hike at higher elevations before the trip.

I took a gallon of water, too many power bars ( i only ate 3), and a PB sandwich. I was rarely hungry but made myself eat at 2.5 miles, 4 miles (mirror lake), high camp, and the saddle. I diddn't eat anything on the way down. I did drink all my water. I brought rain gear, which I now know is absolutely essential, even if it is sunny at the start.

The trip was uneventful until i reached the saddle and was traversing to the summit. Dark clouds were brewing and i was getting anxious about a storm so I tried to push on as quickly as I could. The altitutde did not bother me, other than a slight tightness in the head, but i also drank water continously and took advil periodically.

I reached the summit at 11:20 a.m. - took about 6:45 hours of hiking time - 7:15 total time. i did not take many rest breaks, nothing longer than 5 minutes with one 10 minute break at high camp. on the switchbacks and higher, i did stop ever y 20 ft. or so and take deep breaths.

By the time I reached the summit, it was starting to hail intermittenly. I signed the book, took a photo and got out of there. I managed to get down the switchbacks just as the sky let loose with pouring rain, hail and thunder and lightening. It did this over the next two hours. The trails turned into small rivers on the switchbacks and below high camp so it was slippery going.

I got down to the bottom at 5:25 p.m.

Other than the slow going at the top, I was surprised that it was so doable, assuming strong physical fitness. It felt more of a mental challenge, especially after reaching the saddle and seeing the summit in the distance. The last mile and a half were the longest.

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