Mt. Whitney Trip East Face, East Buttress, East Ridge of Russell September 2003
My buddy Dan and I were hoping to climb the East Face, East Buttress and summit Russell. We were hiking in on 9/6 and planned on camping at Upper Boy Scout Lake for sure and if we were feeling good we would try to make it all the way to Iceberg Lake on the first day. We had until the following Friday (9/12). We built in several days in case of weather, altitude sickness, etc. I had a flight the following Saturday morning out of Vegas. Gear for a week of climbing at Iceberg adds up quickly, especially food, but we were both able to keep our packs to just under 50lbs. This TR got a little long, but I think there is a lot of useful information contained in it. Well, here it goes.
9/5/03 – Arrival, Drive to Lone Pine, Pick up Permit, Find a place to Camp
I arrived in Las Vegas on 9/5 at 10am. I am coming from Cincinnati, Oh (elevation of about 1000ft). My buddy picked me up and we were on the road by 11am. We drove thru Death Valley (95N to 374W). It took us exactly 4 hrs to get to Lone Pine from Vegas. We stopped in and picked up our permits and headed up to the Portal. We did not have a campground reservation and were planning on getting one of the first come first serve hiker spots near the overflow parking lot. But, before we got to the overflow lot, we decided to see if there were any campsites available. What do you know, there were. We stayed in # 10. It was a great site, secluded, bathrooms and garbage close by. A nice view of some of the summer homes and a large boulder that we climbed up and watched the sun set. It was nice to get one of these spots as we could then organize our gear right at the car and did not have to lug our gear up to a campsite. The cost was $14 (much cheaper than reserving ahead of time). The only reason I did not have a reservation is because when I called they said that the campground was full. We organized our gear, ate dinner and then took a walk down the road that leads to the summer homes and then around the main campground loop. We were in bed by 7:30am.
9/6/03 – Hike into Iceberg Lake via North Fork of Lone Pine Creek
We awoke at 4am and began getting ready. Packed up our gear and the truck and headed up to the Overflow Parking Lot. We had put our small amount of “smelly items” into a small stuff sack to put into the Bear Boxes. Man was there a lot of crap in the Bear Boxes. We had a tough time finding space for our small stuff sack. Hopefully it’ll still be there when we return. (NOTE: My stuff sack full of extra food was stolen 2 years ago). After all of our organizing and putzing around we finally got on the trail at 5:40am. We made it to the start of the ledges by 6:40am and to the bottom of Lower Boy Scout Lake by 7:40am. The part of the trail seems to get easier every time I do it. The point at which you leave the main trail is totally obvious and if you just follow the trail and head back for the ledges once you cross the creek the first time you will practically run right into the ledges. I thought the ledges were even easier than I last remembered them. Climb up 70 feet of blocky, sandy 3rd class to the fox tail pine and then head right for 150 feet or so staying close to the wall. Climb up about 5 feet and behind a boulder and then continue right for another 150 feet or so and you will be presented with a series of small ledges (steps). Climb up these and then start heading left. It is best to get as high as possible at this point. It is just easier. We stayed low on the approach and then high for the descent. High was definitely better.
I drank a 20oz Gatorade and 1.5 Clif bars before we left. I drank approximately 1.5 L of water on the way to LBSL. At LBSL I drank more and ate ½ a Clif bar and some GORP. We pumped water at LBSL and started hiking again around 8:25am. The bugs were pretty bad at LBSL. We encountered 2 or 3 other groups heading up the North Fork Trail. They were all doing day hikes up the Mountaineers Route.
We made it to the bottom of Upper Boy Scout Lake by 9:20am. Again the trail was easy to follow and once you get into the boulder field above LBSL you start to see cairns everywhere. If you get lost after LBSL then you should probably just take the main trail or stay home. It is just a matter of connecting the cairns. I only drank about 24oz between LBSL and UBSL. Once we arrived I drank about 40oz and ate 1 harvest bar and some GORP. We stopped next to the creek and took off our shoes and socks, so that our feet and socks could dry out. We also filled up all of our water containers at this point, as there is not a good source of water between UBSL and Iceberg. We encountered 2 additional parties heading up. One group of 2 were attempting to do a one day climb of the East Face and a solo guy who was heading up to do the East Face in a day. We left UBSL at 10:25am.
After gaining the first ridge above UBSL we stayed low and actually dropped down into the drainage. We talked to a guy who was coming down who had just soloed the East Buttress. Now that is hardcore! The path was easy to follow and we were planning on taking the easier walk up past the first water seep below Iceberg. We made it to Iceberg by 12:30pm. I have a slight headache and Dan is feeling fine. Again, there were numerous cairns along the way and all you really need to do is connect the cairns.
We picked a spot and set up camp. My headache began to get worse so I drank more water and laid down to rest. My headache started to go away but I started feeling queasy. I knew this was all some light AMS and I didn’t want to get worse, so I kept drinking water, took some aspirin and kept resting. Finally at around 6pm I started feeling better. I had a very light dinner that night, some chicken noodle soup and a bottle of Emer’gen-C. This stuff is great. I drank it twice a day while up there and it really seemed to give me a pick-me-up! I’ll be bringing it along on all of my trips in the future! We decided to do the East Face on Sunday and planned on getting up at 5am. We went to bed around 7pm.
The first night at altitude always sucks. You drink so much that day to stave off AMS and then you pee all night due to the altitude and water intake. We were up every 2 hours to pee from 7pm until 5am. The one cool thing about getting up at night was the brightness of the moon. We essentially had a full moon for the entire trip and the nights were mostly cloudless. And to top it off, Mars was shining bright as well. So Iceberg was pretty much lit up! I did not have to use a headlamp to pee for the entire trip. The only headlamp usage I got was in the morning to get ready after the moon had disappeared behind Whitney.
I think the keys to doing this hike in one push is to take long rests, drink lots of water, eat along the way and get up early to avoid the hot sun down low. I still got slightly sick, but had the entire afternoon to drink, eat and rest. I feel fortunate since I am coming from relatively low altitude. Fortunately Dan is coming from 7,200 feet (He lives in the Denver foothills) and was able to help take care of me. Additionally, my AMS was quite mild. I’ve had the bad stuff and it sucks big time, let me lay down, don’t talk to me, leave me on the mountain to die and I’ll be happy AMS. Now that is true misery.
Here is a copy of the route description that I have used in the past for the North Fork….
Take the main Whitney trail to the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek sign (begins immediately before the second river crossing), this is 150ft from the Wilderness Boundary sign. If you have any doubt stay on the main trail to the sign and then come back 150ft. Cross the creek and see the cut log faint path up the North Side/ Right Side of the creek. About 200 ft distance up this path you will see a sign and a poop bag dispenser. Read the sign Mountaineer’s Route.
Follow this path up through the trees and ferns until it flattens out. This will be about a quarter of the way up this canyon. From here you should see the notch/gap below Lower Boy Scout Lake. Continue on about 100ft and you will cross to the South side of the stream. This will be somewhat of a tunnel through the willows and it exits onto a slab (10’). Follow the path up the South side. Below the wall and above the stream, as the canyon narrows down and the path joins the slabs, you will cross the stream to the North side. This crossing can be very wet and icy. The stream has two threads at this point so you cross one and then go up a log and cross the next to/under a waterfall. As you leave the water go to the wall and turn up the canyon. Fifty feet along the base of the wall will take you to a dead-end. This is that start of the ledges. Look up and right and you will see the “pine tree”.
Work your way up the crack to the tree. At the tree look to the east and ramp is straight ahead. Stay close to the wall and you should see the path. Walk 150’ east on the ramp (level), then at this point you will be able to gain about three feet of elevation. Step and follow this ramp east 175’ again staying next to the wall (away from the drop-off) and this will get you to a short section of stair steps up and about 5 feet and about 5 feet east. MAKE A MENTAL NOTE OF THIS POINT. This is the turning point on the way down. If you miss this and continue on the upper ledge you will need a rope and climbing skills to get down. As you leave the ledge, head straight for the main wall in front of you. At the base of this wall (100’) you will find the path. Follow the path at the base of the wall until it exits onto an open area and you will see the notch/gap below Lower Boy Scout Lake and the path is easy to follow.
At the notch lose a little elevation to a sign that reads ‘no wood fires.” Cross here to the south side, follow the path through the trees to the boulder field. Look along the base of this scree slope (south side of LBSL) and you will see the track to follow. Also see two giant rocks near the waterfall. Head to the downhill side of the lower boulder. Stay close to this rock. As you get to the rock you will see the willows. At the very edge of the downhill side of the lower rock is the path. Follow it in the willows about 15’ and it will turn north and down into a small stream. Cross this stream and work up several feet and cross another thread of the water. As you exit this crossing you will be at a slab. Climb on to the slab and follow the slab to a group of trees (1500 ft +/- distance). These slabs will be icy and very slick. If not icy, mossy, so watch your step at all times through this section. When you get to the trees (Clyde Meadow) look up and left to the gap/saddle and follow slabs to the path switchbacks up to this saddle. You will find a grand path at this point.
Now that you are here (11,500 ft). This should be about halfway and your last water spot is Iceberg Lake. Turn around now and you can see most of the North Fork Drainage. Your path should be almost a straight line to the Portal. Follow this path up and past the small water-seep below Iceberg Lake. Many old climbers use this west end of the water-seep to climb up to Iceberg Lake, but now most travel past the water and go up the next draw west. This is much safer and faster with a pack. This takes you to Iceberg Lake.
Here is some additional miscellaneous information that might be useful….
Iceberg Lake 12,600
NFLPC 36 35.212, 118 14.722
1st creek crossing 36 35.188, 118 14.952
2nd creek crossing 36 35.132, 118 15.152
top of ledges 36 35.165, 118 15.145
LBSL outlet 36 35.082, 118 15.553
After LBSL 36 34.978, 118 15.663
After talus/L of slabs 36 34.972, 118 15.720
Travers R onto slabs 36 34.860, 118 15.858
Upper slabs 36 34.876, 118 16.067
Switchbacks above UBSL 36 34.775, 118 16.304
Start of descent down MR 36 34.713, 118 17.615
Russell-Whitney Pass 36 35.037, 118 17.302
Russell W Summit 36 35.403, 118 17.447
Russell E Summit 36 35.435, 118 17.355
We woke at 5am to begin hiking for a 6am start. The hike up to the start only took 30 minutes. We started the East Face at 7am. We climbed the Tower Traverse roped up. There is a short section leading up to a belay spot just before the Tower Traverse. This is a good spot to get pictures from. There is a piton and a fixed cam at the belay just before the Traverse begins and one piton on the Traverse itself. After you finish with a short chimney there is a large flat ledge to belay from. We had decided to simul climb the Washboard. We flew up this section following the main crack in the middle of the Washboard. I placed gear about every 50 feet or so. We then simul climbed up over the small ridge to gain the ledges leading to the Fresh Air Traverse. I did not place any gear on this section, we just did not feel like unroping. It is mainly 3rd and 4th class with one or two 5.6 or 5.7 move. We then down climbed approximately 100’ through a series of sandy ledges. Once on the ledges you can get a good look at the Fresh Air Traverse. You head right back into the corner approximately 60’. At this point I climbed up to the belay spot for the Fresh Air Traverse and brought Dan up. I had done the East Face back in 1997 so I had a good idea of the route. I headed out onto the Traverse and made the chimney fairly quick. It is an amazing feeling to make the step across and look down about a 1000 feet to the bottom of the true East Face of Whitney. There are 3 pitons on the Traverse. Two of them are right next to each other and the 3rd is about 5 feet past these 2. I only placed one other nut on the entire traverse. The bottom of the chimney is pretty tight for 2 and would be really tight for 3. I set a bomber anchor and headed up. I would have to say that this was the most awkward pitch. Maybe I got a little off route? I would say that it was 5.6 for most of the chimney with a few 5.7 moves. I reached the bottom of the Grand Staircase and brought Dan up. The chimney was about 140’. We unroped at this point and began to climb the 3rd class stairs to the exit crack. I would highly recommend unroping for the Grand Staircase. If you climb it roped you will be knocking down lots of loose rock on anyone below you. We actually had to wait a little while, as there was a guided party of 3 ahead of us who kept knocking stuff loose. A helmet is a must! About half way up the Grand Staircase there is a short (15’) 5.6 or 5.7 right arching crack that we did unroped. Some parties may rope up for this short section. After another 100’ or so we gained the exit crack and roped up again. The exit crack is a short but fun 5.7 at 14,000 feet. I placed 1 nut half way up and then gained the lip. Once out of the crack I moved up and right to a good belay spot and brought Dan up. There is one last section of actual climbing. As you head up and right you encounter a short 5.6 face, climb this and gain the talus area. Keep moving up and right (relative to the headwall on your left). You will come to a corner where you can no longer move up and right. Look to your left and there is a slot that will take you over 3rd and 4th class boulders to the top. If it gets hard then drop down left or right. There are many ways to the top from here, just take the path of least resistance. We topped out at 11:45am. We were pretty happy with a time of 4 hrs and 45 min.
We stayed on the summit for a while. We ate, organized gear, took the obligatory pics and signed the summit register. It was actually a fairly quiet day on the summit…only about 20 people or so. We left at 12:35pm and were back at camp by 2:40pm. The day was warm but breezy and due to the nature of the East Face we moved in and out of the sun all day. I wore a TNF Wind-X shirt all day and soft shell pants.
As a side note there was 2 groups that were starting to climb as we finished the Tower Traverse (one group of 3 and one group of 2. They were all friends). Since we simul climbed the Washboard I was not worried about getting pushed by them, but I began to get worried for them as we were on the Grand Staircase and I was hearing “on belay, off-belay” in the distance. I knew that they were belaying every pitch. We never did see them after that. When we got back down to camp we were surprised to see that they were just getting on the Fresh Air Traverse. The group of 3 ended up summitting around 8:30pm and spent the night on top. The group of 2 ended up down climbing and rappelling from the Fresh Air Traverse and got back to camp just before dark. They were not happy, and knew that their friends were going to have a miserable night. They would not know how miserable, as the winds were going to pick up later that night.
I think the keys to doing this route in a timely manner are simul climbing the easy stuff and unroping for the Staircase. If you belay every pitch, you should be prepared to spend all day on the climb and you had better start early.
9/8/03 – Rest Day
Last night sucked. Around 2am the wind picked up and I barely slept from 2am until 7am when I decided to get up. Good thing it’s a rest day!
We decided to take a rest day today. We hiked up above Iceberg onto the plateau that looks down at Upper Boy Scout Lake. There were several parties on the East Face. I had brought binoculars up with us so we sat back and watched everyone climb. At about 11am a party arrived at Iceberg and promptly headed up toward the East Face and East Buttress. We thought it was a little late to be heading up. They quickly got set up on the East Buttress and began simul climbing. They finished the climb in about 3 hours. It was really nice to watch them as we were planning on doing the East Buttress the next day. Talk about great beta!
So I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but man does it get cold after the sun disappears. This occurs around 4:30 every day. Your sitting there in shorts and a t-shirt and then the sun disappears and you begin to throw on every piece of clothing that you have.
This evening we talked to the couple that did the East Buttress and also met another couple that were planning on doing it the next day. They were a little confused about the start and the actual route and seemed to be more interested in following us.
As another side note. A group of 2 young guys started up the East Face today around 8am. We watched their progress all day and they were moving very slow. We thought they would be spending the night on top as well. Fortunately they moved quickly after getting out of the exit crack. One of their big mistakes was that they missed the Fresh Air Traverse (they were actually about 15 feet too high). They ended up aiding up the Shaky Leg Crack. They wasted a lot of time doing this. They made it back to camp just before dark.
I’m thinking that this scenario plays itself out week after week during the peak climbing season.
9/9/03 – Climbing the East Buttress
Rack - 9.4mmx 60m rope, 1 set of BD nuts (4-12), Aliens (Green, Yellow, Red), 6 DMM cams (1.25, 1.5, 1.75, 2, 2.5, 3), 17 biners (all OP Dovals), lots of slings (8-24” & 3-48”), 2 spare lockers
We were up at 5am again and started on the route just before 7am. The climbing on the East Buttress is just better than the East Face. The rock quality is better and much less loose stuff. Here is a pitch-by-pitch description of how we climbed the route.
P1. Left facing corner to a good ledge. 160’ 5.6
P2. Mixed 4th class with the occasional 5th class move to the top of the second tower. We did not actually go to the top of the second tower. We set up a belay just below and behind it. 150’
P3. We opted for the 5.6 ramp on the right side of the unprotected 5.7 arête (maybe someday, but not today). At the top of the ramp, stay low on the sandy ledge and set up a belay. 160’
P4. Climb up and left through 4th class to a red right facing corner (5.6). Climb through this to a very small ledge on your left. This was a very cool ledge right on the buttress with tons of exposure in all directions. Barely enough room for 2. 140’
P5. We decided to simul climb to the bottom of the Peewee. This was mainly 4th class stuff with the occasional 5.5 or 5.6 move. 200’
P6. Climbed up past the Peewee to a good ledge just up and to the right of the Peewee. We did a full rope length pitch to gain the ledge. 4th class with occasional 5th class. 200’
P7. Climb up a right facing corner and face to a small ledge while working left. Climb up and left across a large flake to small ledge. We decided to belay on this small ledge to minimize rope drag. 5.7 130’
P8. Climb up the right facing corner thru a small roof to a large ledge. 5.6 90’
P9. At this point you can continue to climb up through some large blocks. They did not look fun, so we opted to continue out to our left, which ended up being 3rd class to the talus area where we proceeded to unrope. 3rd and 4th class 90’
Once at the talus you should see a ramp in the right corner straight ahead. Take this ramp and the path of least resistance to the top. If you encounter anything hard, go left or right to find an easier path.
I would rate the climb at 5.7 as a whole. While you don’t encounter many 5.7 moves, it is a different game at those altitudes and the wind certainly made it more challenging. There were times were I stopped climbing and held on due to the wind. Route finding was fairly easy, but there are places where you could get off route. Below the Peewee there are several ramps that lead off to the right and subsequently off route. Above the Peewee you have many route option. I did not encounter any fixed gear on the route, although as you climb you can see some fixed pins that are off route.
We made it to the talus area just below the summit and the final 3rd class section by 11:45. We waited for our friends to finish up and then started the final 3rd class section at 12:10pm. This took about 20 minutes and we were on top at 12:30pm. We left the summit at 1pm and were back at camp by 2:40pm.
Our friends that we met the night before followed us the whole way and it worked out very well. We moved fast enough not to get pushed and they never gave me the feeling of being pushed. The only bad part of the day was the cold and wind. It was miserable as far as the weather was concerned. Very, very windy and subsequently very cold. On several pitches I could not feel my hands. We were fortunate in that I had decided to bring my 2-way radios. This made communication a breeze. We were enjoying listening to our friends trying to yell over the wind. Did you say off-belay? When we reached the summit it was even more windy and cold than on the climb. We didn’t stay long. We took some more pics, signed the summit register again and headed down. There were about 20-30 people on top.
9/10/03 – Mt. Russell & Mt. Carillon
We decided to get a late start today due to the non-technical nature of the routes. We got up around 6:30am and didn’t leave Iceberg until 8am. We worked our way up over the Whitney-Russell Pass. We then dropped down and crossed over the ridge that takes you over to the South Face of Mt. Russell. We hugged the South Face and stayed high and picked up the Rockwell Variation. The chute that you take up to the Russell-Carillon Pass was excellent. If you stay high and left you can avoid virtually all of the scree. We encountered excellent rock and fun boulder hopping. I would highly recommend this route from Iceberg. We reached the Russell-Carillon Pass at 10am. We decided to jump over and bag Carillon. We were on top of Carillon by 10:25am. The summit of Carillon was great. Not a soul in sight and no one had been up there since 8/28 (if my memory serves me correctly). The last person up there was a NPS Ranger. We were back at the Russell-Carillon pass by 11:00am and started up the East Ridge of Russell. This was a great climb. Fun and exposed class 3 the whole way. You can easily make it more exciting by staying left or easier by dropping down and right. We made the Summit by 12:20. We hung out on top for a while, took pics of Whitney and enjoyed the solitude. While on top, one other guy showed up. He had day hiked from the Portal. It was nice to be able to hear yourself think. We headed down around 1pm. We descended down the South East Face right side. This involves some 4th class and 5.0 down climbing. I found it pretty easy and straightforward. The moves were short and you always had a good ledge to drop down on. The scree descent was fairly miserable. It is considerably looser compared to the Mountaineer’s Route. I was very happy to be done with that descent. We made it back to Iceberg by 3pm.
The weather was perfect and it was very warm all day with only a light breeze.
9/11/03 – Hike Out
We hiked out today and man was I glad. It was packed up at Iceberg last night and on the way down we must have seen over a dozen parties. We ate as much as we could stomach last night. We had brought food for 6 days and essentially had an extra day worth of food left over. I tried to see if anyone wanted any extra food but could find no takers. We left at 8:20am and made it the trailhead by 11:40am with one 15-minute break at just below UBSL. I drank about 70oz of water on the way down. I did not really eat anything and was starving when we got to the car. The one thing I noticed on the way down was the abundance of cairns. If you get lost on this trail these days, you should probably stick to the main trail.
We dropped off our “human waste” and hit the car and got the hell out of Dodge! We were happy to find the car in tact and our stuff sack still in the Bear Box. We headed down to Lone Pine and had pizza at the Pizza Factory. Talk about the best damn pizza! But, after eating freeze dried dinners, power bars and Gorp all week, just about anything would have tasted great.
Shoes: Montrail D7 sticky rubber approach shoes. This is the only pair of shoes I brought and did the approach and all of the climbing with them. I did not have any blisters or hot spots after the approach. They cinch down pretty tight for climbing. I did have some hot spots after the descent, but with a 40+ lb pack on coming down the North Fork, I wasn’t surprised to have some issues. They were great and I don’t see myself using my climbing shoes for anything below 5.7 in the future. Same goes for the hiking boots, they’re now in semi-retirement.
Tent: Eureka Zeus Exo 2 single wall tent. This tent was chosen as a back up as my first tent (Quest Preying Mantis) decided it was time to retire. The lamination on the fly failed. The Eureka was actually great. Just roomy enough for 2 (I’m 6’ 1”). No real room for gear, but we both brought pack covers in case it rained. The tent did have condensation problems when there was no wind, but that was only a problem on 2 nights. The other nights the tent was dry and very comfortable. The other great thing is that it is only a little over 4 lbs.
Sleeping Bag: Mountain Hardwear 1st Dimension 30 degree. I was a little cold and I suspect it was because there is not draft tube around the neck area. Nighttime temps probably hovered around freezing. Some mornings we came out and our water was slightly crystallized, but never frozen.
Pack: Mountainsmith Auspex 4200 cu in. What can I say, this pack was awesome. I had just purchased it a few weeks earlier and only taken it out 3 times on training hikes. I put on 2 side pouches and it carried the 50 lbs without a problem. It had a low profile and I never felt like it was going to topple over. The 50 lbs is probably a little over it’s recommended capacity, but it did great. I did not have any shoulder or hip pain during or after the approach or descent. I can’t wait to take this pack out for a regular backpacking trip without climbing gear. It’ll be a pure joy to carry.
Food: We brought enough food for 6 nights. We primarily brought a freeze dried meal for dinner, bars and gel for breakfast and lunch. We snacked on GORP and we brought a few cookies, some oatmeal, some soup, a few apricots and Emer’gen-C to drink. Our total food weight per person was approximately 9lbs.
Other Gear Notes:
1) Hiking poles are invaluable for the hike in, especially on the North Fork Trail
2) We filtered our water from the streams and lakes, but more than half the folks we encountered were taking the water directly without any treatment. We used an older MSR Miniworks. We had to clean our filter about every other day. There is a lot of algae in the lakes and streams that builds up after a couple of days.
3) We used MSR Iso-Pro fuel and a MSR Pocket Rocket stove. We did not fully use an 8oz canister. We had hot meals and hot drinks each night. We actually brought a second canister.
4) I used AA Lithium batteries in my headlamp and 2-way radios and all were at full strength by the time we left.
5) I took a Canon S230 digital camera and took several hundred pictures and some video. I did not have any problems and went through 2 batteries while up there.
6) I can’t stress enough how important sunscreen is. I put it on every day and still got mild sun poisoning on my nose, ears and the backs of my hands.
7) I brought up a Granite Gear Summit Light Pack as my climbing pack. It was light and carries a low profile and only weighs about 22oz, but holds 2000 cu in.
8) Climbing Gear List….9.4mmx 60m rope, 1 set of BD nuts (4-12), Aliens (Green, Yellow, Red), 6 DMM cams (1.25, 1.5, 1.75, 2, 2.5, 3), 17 biners (all OP Dovals), lots of slings (8-24” & 3-48”), 2 spare lockers, belay device/locking biner, Edelrid Ultralite helmet, Metolius Raven 3D harness.
As for training for the trip, I do adventure races and duathlons and therefore do a lot of running (20+ miles per week) and cycling. I went to the climbing gym once a week for about a month prior and bouldered on my small bouldering wall in my garage twice a week for about a month prior as well. Due to the birth of my first child this past May I have been unable to get on real rock this summer. I also went for 5 long hikes during the 2 weeks prior to leaving with a 50 lb pack. I sought out hills in my neighborhood and focused on those for most of my hiking time. I think this helped tremendously as I did not have any shoulder or hip pointer soreness during the entire trip.
This was my third trip to Whitney. The first two trips were also climbing trips up the North Fork. The first trip was in 97 with 2 college friends. We summitted via the East Face, but had to bivy at the notch of the Mountaineers Route due to darkness. To top it off one of my friends forgot his headlamp. We were also slowed down by being a party of 3, belaying every pitch and getting behind 2 other very slow parties. Needless to say it was a memorable trip, but not very successful in my eyes. Trip number two occurred in 2001 and was via the East Buttress. We got way off route and spent the night on top of the Peewee after finally getting back on route. We then got off route again and got ourselves good and dehydrated. We made it to the top late the next night and spent the night in the summit hut. Again, a very memorable trip but not very successful in my eyes. Well I guess the third time is a charm. This was a great trip and finally a very successful one as well. And for that it will be memorable for being the trip that did not have anything go wrong!
Well that is all I can think of. I’m going to try and put some more detailed info together for the East Buttress. I think there are enough topos, route descriptions and trip reports for the East Face, but not nearly as much for the East Buttress. I hope this helps someone. I’m glad my boss is out of town today or I would never have gotten this done!
I’ll be adding a link to pictures soon. I took over 400 pics and I need to get them uploaded to Webshots.com and put captions on all of them.