Monday, September 12, 2011

Mt. Whitney & Mt. Muir Trip Report & Photos

Saturday & Sunday September 3 & 4, 2011: Rest, Recover & Travel. Finished the Mineral King Backpack and craved a hot shower and bed. I had a permit to climb Mt. Whitney on Labor Day and needed to get over to Lone Pine Sunday afternoon. My awesome wife got me a room at the Econo Lodge in Bakersfield to piece the two trips together. A nice hot shower, some Subway and Long John Silver put me in a good place for a wonderful night of rest. It was also the opening weekend of College Football, so seeing some games and highlights while I rested were great. I woke up the next morning feeling great. Stopped off at Target to pick up some supplies and headed east for Lone Pine. I got my permit, drove up the Whitney Portal road and was able to obtain the last campsite at the backpackers site. It was going to be a busy Labor Day on Whitney. I had a delicious Portal burger and fries and bedded down at 6:00 pm. The plan was to get started around 2:00 am to beat the forecasted thunderstorms. I was able to fall asleep and all was well until the Portal Bear came a knocking and ran off with someones backpack. The subsequent yelling and screaming woke me up to say the least. Then around 11:00 pm a female hiker came into camp and was very noisy. She had completed the dayhike to Whitney in a lightning quick twenty hours and needed to tell her group how great it was. There were headlamps shining into my tent, fragrant cooking right outside my tent with the Bear on the prowl. I fully appreciate being excited after climbing Whitney, but you have to be respectful of others and this person was not. Needless to say, my night at the Whitney backpackers campground was not a good one.

Monday September 5, 2011: Mt. Whitney. I was able to get to get some breakfast, pack up my backpack and get on the trail at 2:20 am (no bear shenanigans either :o ). I always enjoy hiking the lower section of the main trail in the dark, can't really tell what progress you are making or not making, just hiking in the dark. There were quite a few people on the trail at this ungodly hour, they must have the same weather report. I made great time and before long I was on the switchbacks at the first hint of light. I could see the clouds out over the eastern desert, but nothing over the crest, so far so good. It was amusing watching the headlamps march up the switchbacks below me. You could make out most of the switchbacks there were so many headlamps dancing in the morning light. I reached trail crest in time to see the sunrise, very cool. The traverse over to the summit was nice, not too many people ahead of me. I reached the summit at 7:15 am, just a little under five hours and I felt good as a bonus. The only other people on the summit were Guitar Lake folk from the west. The views were outstanding as usual. The thunderstorms that were forecast were staying away so far. I sent out a message to my wife from my Spot Connect saying on was on the summit of Whitney and all was well. The Mineral King trip was the Spot Connect's first time out and I was impressed. Very easy to use and accurate, highly recommended.
I headed back down the summit at 8:30 am after spending a lengthy amount of time on top enjoying the wondrous views and great weather. When I reached the cut off for the class three climb of Mt. Muir I decided the weather was great and gave it a go. Mt. Muir is one of California's fifteen fourteen thousand foot peaks. It is an easy peak to obtain from the Whitney trail, just three hundred vertical feet above the trail. Its summit block is a nice class three climb to the 14,015' summit. The Whitney massif is impressive from here. There is also a bird eye view of the 97 switchbacks from the summit block. I signed in, took some photos and was on my way back to the Portal. I was able to make it back to the trailhead in a very leisurely five hours, those giant blocks between trail camp and outpost camp are best done slowly. I arrived back at my truck at 1:50 pm. Another successful day in the Sierra's.

2:20 am

First Light

Sunrise On The Kaweah's

Looking West From Trail Crest

Little Bit Of Snow On The Backside

Milestone, Midway & Table Mountains

Myself On The Summit

Summit Crags

Mt. Muir

Whitney Massif From Mt. Muir

The 97 Switchbacks & Trail Crest

Hitchcock & Guitar Lake

Another Great Day In The Sierra Nevada

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