Some friends and I just returned from a trip to the top of Mt. Whitney with Sierra Mountain Guides and we had such an amazing experience I wanted to share it with anyone considering making a similar trip.
When deciding to summit Whitney in the winter, we knew choosing the right guide company would be crucial. After doing a considerable about of internet research and speaking with friends who are knowledgeable on the subject we decided on Sierra Mountain Guides. What a great choice!
We started the initial trip fact-finding with Sierra Mountain Guides by grilling Annie. She was an absolutely amazing resource for us as we set out to learn about all the particulars that are involved in such a trip. Over the course of several weeks, we spent countless hours on the phone with her and the more questions we asked, the deeper and more personal the answers became! We were establishing a relationship with the Sierra Mountain Guides team before we even left home. Amazing!
Once everything was set, we hopped in the car and set off for Lone Pine. As we were driving we began to wonder: what if our guide is a nut? Then we started to worry: What if he pulls up in a smoke-filled Volkswagon bus? What if he says “Duuuuude!” a lot? What if every sentence ended with the word “EXTREME!!” Luckily we had our trusty iPhones with us so we started Googling to find out about Jed. The more we read about him, the more confident we became about our guide.
When we finally did meet Jed the morning of the climb we immediately knew we were headed up with a great guy. Because we had never been on such an expedition before, there were an unending number of questions for Jed as we began to ascend the mountain. Time after time, Jed proved to be extremely knowledgeable about our questions and was more than happy to answer them.
Being a first-timer, most of the questions were about safety. Because of Jed’s thorough understanding of both mountaineering and professional guiding, we all felt safe the entire time. This is no small feat considering that two of us were afraid of heights and had no formal mountaineering experience at all. Throughout our four-day adventure Jed was continually making decisions based on the terrain and weather conditions and then was more than happy to share his decision making process with us. Because of this willingness to share, we came away from the trip feeling like we had taken a four-day course in mountaineering. What a great bonus!
As for the trip up Mt. Whitney, it was the epitome of adventure from beginning to end. We crossed icy streams, saw flowing waterfalls, and watched walls of blue ice crack loudly and fall off the side of mountains. We got our water from frozen lakes, sawed snow-blocks to make a wind barrier for our tents, and went through extensive avalanche training. We made a dining table out of ice, learned the basics of mountaineering, and bonded with each other in a way that can only happen when it’s you and your closest friends against nature. There were points where our bodies were put to the test physically and others where the challenge came in our minds. We climbed super-steep inclines on the way up and slid down some on the way back down. We started in a tiny little parking lot and ended up at 14,491 ft. on the peak of one of the tallest and most beautiful mountains our country has to offer and through all of it we learned a lot about mountaineering and a lot about ourselves. This is the definition of epic!
To conclude, I’d just like to say that our summit of Mt. Whitney was absolutely extraordinary in every way and a huge part of that is because of Jed and the Sierra Mountain Guides team. From start to finish, our expectations were exceeded and our needs fulfilled. I wholeheartedly recommend Sierra Mountain Guides and the adventure of a lifetime they make possible. Thank you.
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