9-16-5 Fri. night Whitney Portal. Left @ 4:45pm, was in the parking lot asleep by 9pm.
2am I awoke to early birds whooping it up at the trail head. Its cold but clear out. An almost full moon is lighting everything up. Slim Fast for breakfast barely goes down.
3am I hit the trail. I tried to get lost at the Carrilon creek crossing. Then I tried to cross the N fork of Lone pine creek 100 yds. early. I actually cross & recross the creek several times before getting serious & bushwhacking straight back up the hill away from the h2o to the south untill I found the main trail. This I followed until the second slab section. No further route finding problems on the trail. From the E ledges I could see 30+ headlights trying to cross the creek early just like me. I tried to signal with my Streamlight Polystinger high powered police flashlight. I hope I helped, probably just blinded them.
7:30am Iceberg lake. Not feeling too good. I started to slow down 2hrs ago. Ive choked down 2 bars & a liter of h2o mixed w/gu2o on the way.
I talked to the first person I saw. Tony had hiked up w/50lbs yesterday. I would see him lator on the lower portion of the MR comming down from the top. Think “loose” when you think of the MR.
I gathered myself for an hour. I drank another liter, ate 2 more bars, pumped 2 liters out of the lake & mixed it with gu2o & gaitor aid.
8:30am I leave Iceberg lake for the top via the Mountaineers Route. Here is where everything goes out the door, all my plans, topos, hours on the internet researching the route, my sanity...
As I was slogging up into the MR I was having a lot of trouble making any upward progress. The phrase “Two steps up and one down” was my reality. To overcome this I started to trend slightly left to more solid rock. After an hour I found my self too far to the left to get into the MR. I could hike down and burn time & energy. (I couldn’t catch my breath. I was stoping every 5 to 10 steps.) F that! So it was I found my self in the gap between the first two towers.
Did I mention that this is the farthest Ive been up Whitney since I was a young boy on my fathers shoulders, in a snow storm. Until this point in my life I had never summited Whitney. I remember being on the trail many times, mostly in the dark & cold. I remembered the hell of camping. Camp food, cold sleeping conditions, bugs, & my favorite, freezing cold water showers. I remember water pouring over my head while I stood in a bucket, in the middle of camp, naked... WTF does a little kid need to be sooo clean while camping over the weekend? Combine this with repeated failed attempts @ the top, I wasn’t going to turn around now.
9:30am I started up the East Face! "Huge exposure signals the start of route."
An easy ramp leads across to a short chiminy,
followed by a few hundred feet of scrambling to a large alcove.
Scramble up & left over the arete. Then down to some large ledges. I had two Gu packs & h2o while taking more pics & resting for a while. I moved over to a small notch then up 10’ and traversed left. Airy!
Up left to a short chiminy.
Up aways over large blocks
to another chiminy (crux). Up and right and up. I could hear the people on top when I was 40’ from the top. I recovered some booty 20’ below the lip. Awesome! I must be doing something right. Right?
12:45pm I topped out. Lots of people on the summit..
I talked to the first people I saw. Sorry I don’t remember their names, but I do remember they were all bad ass cyclists. They started a couple hours after me & topped out way before me. They did warn me not to go down the Mountaineers Route. They came up that way and were going down the Main Trail. They said it was way too loose. Lator I would see what they meant. I ate, drank, & took pictures.
1:30pm I started down the MR. not. I started walking W along the ridge looking for the top of the MR. Others were walking the same way. I asked one guy where the top of the MR was? I had past it. The guy was a guide and was taking his group down the easy way. I went back up to the last set of cairns, & dropped in. A very loose and steep gully,
but not like the pics. 100’ down I saw the guide again. He was headed right. I turned right & saw the Notch @ the top of the lower MR.
I also saw that I haddn’t been in the correct gulley.
My thanks to the guide who showed me the way. I probably would have ended up at the base of Russell. As I past by he asked where my helmet was? Up till now I had knocked very little down but this last section was super loose. This last part was the scariest of the day.
This is where I saw Tony again. He was bad ass too. He had climbed up this loose death gully in the morning and was now down climbing it. He had a helmet.
3:10pm Back to Iceberg lake. Ate a bar & a Gu pak. Drank the rest of my h2o. I pumped 1.5 liters & added gu2o/gator aid. I wished Tony a safe trip.
3:50pm left Iceberg lake. I made great time going down hill. “Every 50’ down the air gets better” became my montra. I flew down. I made no route finding errors. I picked all the right lines down. I found some kids trying to cross the Lone Pine creek at the same place that I was @ 3:30am. I showed them the trail but they were done and turned back. About one mile from the car I see Tom walking up the trail to me. Hallucination? No Tom was hiking up to get me for dinner. Carmin was back @ camp prepping. That was sooo awesome!!! Lator I found out Mike & Marci had detoured to the Portal, on their way back to LA from Mammoth, just to see me! If theres one thing I am its Rich. Rich in family & friends.
6:10pm Back @ car. 15:10 ctc. I see the cyclists back in the lot ahead of us. Those guys & gal are fast! Tom & Carmin are camped down the road. I say hi to Carmin. We snack and have coffee. Thanks for the dinner
invitation. But sorry I have to get home. I owe you guys.
Traffic accident, W/helli lift, in the Red Rock cyn. delays my arrival home. Hope that guy is ok.
I get home. Kiss my wife and kids, except Nik, he’s up in Big Bear with his friends. All is good.
Not just an awesome trip. Sort of the end of a 41yr quest. Thanks Dad!