Monday, March 26, 2012

Mt. Whitney 2012 - Chapter 1: Lottery Application

At last, the wait is over! Thousands of hikers entered into the lottery on February 1st to obtain permits to climb Mt. Whitney this year. The initial lottery period is now over and I am grateful to have learned that I have been granted my first choice for a permit to climb Mt. Whitney on June 18, 2012. It will be me, my brother who will camp at over 10,000 feet, and then attempt the summit as an overnight.

Check out Mt. Whitney right now - MT. WHITNEY - LIVE WEB CAM

On February 1st, literally at about 12:01am, I entered my lottery application and specified five different possible dates for my hike. My first and second preferred choice was for Monday, June 18th for either an overnight or a day hike, and then I selected three additional Saturday entry dates, all in August. It was my hope to be awarded the June permit so to coincide with an already planned trip to Las Vegas for a friend's wedding.

Since before February, I have been compiling information on Mt. Whitney to help me plan everything I need to plan and know. This year was the first year that the lottery system was done electronically through While some reported experiencing bugs in the system, everything appeared to have gone perfectly regarding my application. I was able to figure out everything I needed to do simply by reading the first-timer and permit information in the forums at

Just like I do when I embark on a challenge in the mountains of NH, I create a hike planning sheet where I list pretty much everything I want to know that's cool and important about the hike, such as facts that I want to know, sunrise and sunset times, and then of course the logistics of getting there. Since planning for this involves traveling across the country, renting a car, and maybe even shipping my equipment and more, its sure to be a challenge just to prepare - but all the reason why its important to have a good plan on any hike.

Below is some information from the first part of my planning sheet. My favorite facts listed below are who it is named for, that it is the 8th highest peak in the United States - That is totally awesome! AND its the 81st most prominent peak in the world, which is a pretty astonishing fact. Then, it is the highest peak on the Martin Luther King "I have a Dream" peak list. This would be a great one to complete someday.

Mountain Details and Facts (from multiple sources I've read in my planning)
Mt. Whitney

  • Elevation: 14,505 feet
  • Location: Whitney Portal Road, Lone Pine, California
  • Mountain Range: Sierra Nevada
  • First Ascent: 1873 by Charles Begole, A. H. Johnson, and John Lucas
  • Named after state geologist of California, Josiah Whitney
  • Difficulty:  Strenuous
  • Tallest peak  in the lower United States
  • 8th highest peak  in the United States
  • 39th highest 14,000 foot peak in the US
  • 81st most prominent peak in the world
  • State of CA highpoint
  • Highest Martin Luther King “I have a dream” peak
  • 76 miles from Badwater, CA, the lowest point in the United States

Here is the emergency contact information for the Mt. Whitney area.

Emergency Contact Information

Mt. Whitney Ranger District, Inyo National Forest
640 S. Main Street, P,O. Box 8
Lone Pine, CA 93545
(760) 876-6200

Eastern Sierra Interagency Center
Highway 395 & Route 136
Lone Pine, CA 93545
(760) 876-6222
Inyo Country Sheriff’s Office: 760-876-5606
Inyo County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team
760-873-6431 or 760-873-7887

In terms of logistics, I've already booked my flight to Vegas and my hotel. Now, I am able to book my flight home, arrange the rental car, AND establish my vacation time! That's it for chapter one. Trip planning for the most amazing hike of my life is in full swing. More on logistics, itinerary, pack lists, and more in chapters to come! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cannon Mountain 3/24/12

Yesterday, we were really undecided until we got into the car around 7:30 from MA. It was a slightly later awakening then we wanted, but just when you think you might not have a great hike, think again. This was a pretty enjoyable hike.

Bill's temperature gauge read 45 degrees all of the way up the lot from MA, and when we left, it was about 50. There was some humidity in the air with the incoming system, but it was perfect weather for hiking. There was a patch of snow at the beginning of the trail, and I thought maybe we were all set with any snow, but about halfway up, we had a dwindling monorail still pretty much intact. I was pretty surprised after looking at all of the reports, but then again its ski resort mountain, and the trail must have been nicely packed.
Start of the Kinsman Ridge Trail
My brother tackles an early steep section - wait, they're all steep!
View from the trail, somewhere near the glades section
Snow like this from here to top of Cannon Cliffs and col
Despite that fact they would have helped tremendously, I suggested a challenge to leave our spikes in our bag, and for this hike we let our boots, calves, and hammys do the work. No spills all day, but navigating or avoiding the gray ice sections sometimes required a solid effort. It was actually fun and challenging. A great leg conditioning hike :)
Ohhh Mt. Lafayette
Looking NE from top of Cannon Cliffs
Oh 93, how you take so much of my gas
Last time we hiked Cannon for the first time in April of 2011. There was still several feet of snow on the ground, and it completely covered the outlook sign, so we didn't even know to check out the cliffs then. It's amazing - its March and there's no snow! Just an example. Since we got a boost from the views here, we were at the summit in no-time.
Looking back towards the cliffs and Franconia Ridge
Arriving at the summit
There was a couple at the summit, which was one group out of 3 we saw all day. Me and Bill enjoyed the summit for quite a while as we devoured oranges, cookies, Gatorade, and some tea as we took in the calm 360 views consisting of Franconia Ridge, Kinsmans, Moosilauke, peaks along Asquam Ridge, and so on.

Cannon Mountain Observation Tower
Cannonballs & Kinsmans, the Moose behind them
Franconia Ridge from Cannon summit.
Bill stands proud in front of Lafayette, where he finished his 48
Even after a late wakening, a great hike can still be had. We started at 10 and it took 4 hours and 35min. We took our time, enjoyed the cliffs twice, and sat at the summit for about a half hour. This hike paints a different picture of Cannon compared to round one, I feel like I appreciate it a bit more. A great hike for number 40 on round two. On we go to the final eight - hoping to take care of them pretty quickly.

Hike Stats
Trails: Kinsman Ridge Trail
Distance: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,100 ft
Book Time: 4hrs 35min

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Tripyramids 3/11/12

Since completing the NH48 around Christmas time, my brother Bill took a much deserved break from hiking, but it was such a beautiful day this past Sunday to get back into it with me on the Tripyramids. When I, myself go beyond two weeks without hiking, I really start to dislike that.

We got started around 9:20am, which is late for us, as we like to start early. The road walk was very pleasant along the groomed trail system, and things were going great to start. 
Livermore Trail nearing Tripyramid Loop trails
After hopping onto the loop towards the North Slide, the trail meandered along the valley for a little bit before it opened up and began to steepen significantly. The slide just appears, and early on, it was  looking steep. 
Arriving at the base of the north slide
Up we go - Pemi peaks start to appear
Layer of soft snow over a hard pack
Beautiful view of Presidential's to the left
Getting some GoPro footage of us both climbing by
Looking back with the snow-capped Lafayette in distance
For a hike with very limited views the view from the North Slide was the most unexpectedly beautiful view, and as we reached neared the top of the slide, the effort until this point was worth every ounce. No matter what happened the rest of the trip, it was already amazing.With North peak in the bag, we looked forward to the easy trek across. Middle Tripyramid is shown below from near the North peak summit.
Middle Tripyramid from North Peak
The trail was packed out decently, but snow shoes were necessary for this section. We arrived to Middle peak to see summit flags all around. The views from Middle peak were actually extremely good, being able to see Lake Winnipesaukee and all.
Me on Middle Tripyramid - #39 on round 2
Lake Winnipesaukee from Middle Tripyramid
We continued on, and quickly, we were passing over South Tripyramid. We then took off our snow shoes, and prepared for some glissading. Before that, we took in the view from the South Slide while standing still.
View from top of South Tripyramid slide
After that, we cautiously went onto the open slide where the top had a lot of exposed rock we had to carefully maneuver around until they were sparse enough to get moving. To check out what it looks like going down you're going to have to watch the video below! Check out my rolling action to avoid exposed rocks and trees to keep going. If only the snow wasn't so wet, we would have traveled much faster. It was still awesomely fun!

When we got the the bottom, which was pretty quickly, we thought it was going to be an easy jaunt out, but we were wrong. Look at what we were greeted with. Snow shoes don't necessarily help this.
Tripyramid Loop Trail at bottom of slide
Below, my brother is shown where the trail was in relation to the aimless bushwhack we were following for a while on the way out to Livermore Trail.

This was an awesome hike and experiencing the slides makes this one special. With this Trip to the Trips, I've got 9 more to go for round 2.

Hike Stats
Trails: Livermore Trail, Tripyramid Loop
Distance: 11.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,215 ft
Book Time: 7hrs 14min

Below is a montage of footage from the trip, which includes awesome footage of going up the north slide and glissading the south slide!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

DMOutdoors 2012 Progress Update

Well, two months of 2012 have come and gone just like that, and just as we're waiting for winter to start, I'm already thinking of and looking forward to the summer and some planned adventures for making my 2012 plans a success. This post is an early follow-up to my post titled What's Next For DMOutdoors in 2012?

Since January 1st, I've climbed 18 New Hampshire 4000-footers (winter), 15 of them in February. All of those 18 peaks, have been a 48x12 grid hike, and I have increased my completion percentage to just over 18%. Included in those numbers is a solo winter Presidential Traverse. Within a month or two, I should complete my second round of the NH 48, which will certainly be exciting. You can check out all of my individual peak lists on my "Peak List" page.

Once that is completed, I will shift focus to the New England 4000 footers list. I am estimating that it may take a minimum of 10 hikes this summer to complete Maine and VT. That's a lot of driving and possibly car camping, but I expect that I will take certain available weekends, and simply hike until the weekend is over. I have never hiked in VT, so that will be fun. One thing I am most definitely looking forward to is hiking Katahdin, including Knife's Edge. To bag all of the Katahdin peaks in a weekend, an overnight or two in Baxter will be in order.

For Mt. Whitney, (and I'm not getting my hopes up), the lottery results will be posted online March 26th, which is about a month away. If I am accepted, the rest of my planning goes into full swing, and I am considering sharing everything related to this trip, such as my planning, pack list creation, and general thoughts and discussion with readers that may be helpful to me.

Plans are already in the works for another camping and kayak trip to Deboullie Pond, Maine this summer. This place is one of the most beautiful and remote places I have ever been. Because of so much hiking last year, we didn't get back up there for a 2011 trip. There is nothing quite like kayaking across a glacial lake over 100 feet deep and then camping for 4 nights more than 40 miles away from the nearest paved road, and possibly even more to the nearest hospital.
Twilight on Gardner Pond, ME - 2009
This photo is currently the background on my desktop computer in my office. Its a National Geographic photo of Mt. Whitney in the month of June. If you want to accomplish something, remind yourself every day.

That is it for now! Good luck to anyone else working on 2012 goals, and I would love to hear if any of you have outdoor goals for this year.