Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mt. Whitney 2012: Chapter 3: Itinerary

We are now 48 days away from our attempt to summit Mt. Whitney. Just about every single day, I add something to my planning sheet for this adventure. Over the last several weeks, and after continuing to read up on everything I can, I have compiled a pretty-close-to-final itinerary for our entire trip.

Since I posted Chapter 2, we have purchased trail maps and a couple of books on Mt. Whitney. We have also established that it will be just my brother and I on this adventure. We have confirmed our flights, and will be flying both ways together. This entire plan can change slightly, and I expect it will on the go, but its mostly set. If you have hiked Mt. Whitney, or even if you haven't, I welcome any suggestions that anyone may have or other ideas for consideration. As you will see we actually have 2 nights to spend in the Whitney area, and maybe a third. Are there any camping spots between Whitney and Vegas for Tuesday night after we descend?
Photo courtesy of George Vargas - George's Epic Adventures
Itinerary: Part One - Getting Out West and into the Sierras
Wednesday, June 13 - Sunday, June 17
  1. Take flight from Boston to Las Vegas on 6/13/12. Flight departs Boston in the early evening lands in Las Vegas after 11pm. (There will be several of my friends from HS on this flight too) 
  2. Check in to my hotel on the strip and confirm receipt of my shipped gear (stove, knives, etc), and immediately start partying!
  3. Attend wedding festivities Wednesday-Friday, and attend my friend’s wedding Friday evening in Las Vegas. 
  4. Pick up rental car from Las Vegas on Saturday Afternoon. 
  5. Depart Las Vegas by 7:00am Sunday and drive 234 miles, approximately 4hrs 20min to Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine, CA. 
  6. Pick up the official wilderness permit at Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center. (Tentative pick-up time is around noon-time. (If, in the event we arrive after 5pm, there is a night box under a gazebo to the left and behind the building, we must contact them in advance) 
    • Ask about snow cover, trail conditions, and upcoming weather conditions 
    • Inquire about bear canister rental.
  7. Pick up any other last minute personal items, hiking items, or luxury-type food before leaving Lone Pine. If we want to have a campfire at Horseshoe Meadow, purchase our own firewood. 
  8. Follow driving directions from Lone Pine to Horseshoe Meadow Road (left off Whitney Portal Rd), and drive to the walk-in campgrounds located at Horseshoe Meadow, 10,000’. 
  9. Establish a campsite location, lock up our food, and focus on having a great evening resting, preparing, and acclimating. If time allows, take a short hike to exceed 10,000 feet, if possible.
Itinerary: Part Two - The Mt. Whitney Adventure - Day 1
Monday, June 18, 2012
  1. Wake around 6:00AM at Horseshoe Meadow, pack up the campsite, and begin our drive to Whitney Portal. 
  2. At Whitney Portal, scope out the store, grab a bite to eat, ask of any updated snow, trail, or weather conditions, and both of us will perform a thorough and final gear check.
  3. Leave Whitney Portal on Mt. Whitney Trail at approximately 9:00am, no later. 
  4. At 2.8 miles, take a short break at Lone Pine Lake at 9,900’ for pictures and to drink water.
  5. Hike 1 mile, and at 3.8 miles, take a break at Outpost Camp at 10,300’ for more pictures and water. Refill water here if necessary, and it must be treated. (If weather is questionable, establish camp and re-align the itinerary for day two.) 
  6. At 4 miles, stop to photograph Mirror Lake and the meadows below. This is treeline. 
  7. At 5 miles, stop at Trailside Meadow for a break if needed for water and to take photos. 
  8. At 6 miles, arrive and establish camp at Trail Camp, 12000’. Should we have about 2 hrs of free time and no symptoms of AMS, explore trail camp, and maybe find and sit on top a throne (hint). 
  9. Take it all in spending the evening and camping out at 12000’ - get everything ready for morning, and get as much sleep as possible, but not too much.
Itinerary: Part Two - The Mt. Whitney Adventure - Day 2 (Summit Day)
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
  1. Wake around 2:30am, eat breakfast, and plan to leave camp no later than 3:30am. The plan is to allow 4 hours to reach the summit, and be approaching Trail Crest around sunrise. 
  2. At 8.2 miles, and after the 99 switchbacks, arrive at Trail Crest 13,700’ and take a break to take in the views. Look for Mt. Hitchcock, Hitchcock Lake, and Guitar Lake, and more. 
  3. At 11 miles, arrive at the summit of Mt. Whitney. Depending on conditions, we will enjoy the summit for 1 hour. 
  4. Sign the summit register. 
  5. At the summit, look for the city of Lone Pine, Owen’s Valley, Mt. Russel, Langley, Muir, and the Sequoia, Inyo, and White Mountain Ranges. 
  6. After we’re done at the summit, we begin our descent. 
  7. On the descent, look for the Mt. Muir turnoff near the John Muir Trail junction. - Climb the class III scramble to Mt. Muir (14,015ft) and return to junction (optional, and only in favorable conditions). Mt. Muir is a CA 14,000-footer. 
  8. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon in the Sierras, and hike continuously down and out to Whitney Portal. Stop at Whitney Portal Store for some food and souvenirs. Drive to the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center to return the rented bear canister (if necessary).
  9. Getting back to Las Vegas
    • Option 1 - Drive 234 miles, approximately 4hrs 20 min back to Las Vegas and rent a low-cost room for the night.
    • Option 2 - Maybe camp out on the way back to Las Vegas? Any good ideas?
    • Option 3 - Maybe camp in the Whitney area Tuesday night, and drive back to Las Vegas on Wednesday morning or stay at a hotel near the airport.
  10. Leave Las Vegas for Boston on the red-eye. We must be at the airport in Las Vegas by 7:00pm.
That's how I plan to hike Mt. Whitney folks. At this point, the only thing that needs to be reserved is the rental car, and the only thing left to do really is buy a few more gear items, finalize the pack lists, and do a test overnight hike with all of the gear we intend to bring. Bill and I are crafting that test hike right now (in addition to other planned hikes) for the one of the first two weekends in June, and it will be another unique one, which may include Mt. Washington, Mt. Isolation and several other mountains with spectacular views. It only gets more exciting from here, and there is so much more to come from DMOutdoors this summer. In fact, somehow, I've got to finalize planning for our 4-night kayak camping trip to the North Woods of Maine. As of right now, it is my favorite place on this Earth, and I will be there in exactly 3 weeks!

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