Taking it to new heights

So after much training (except for the last two weeks… which is due to something saved for another post) the Wiktors set off on a quest to climb Mt Whitney! If you want the cliff notes: we made it, the mountain is tall (at 14,505 feet it’s the tallest mountain in the 48 contiguous states and the 24th tallest in North America), it takes quite a bit of effort to climb, and we had a blast. For more details continue reading…

Mt Whitney stands at 14,505 feet (apparently this number is more accurate than the old 1929 altitude of 14,497) and we embarked on our journey to the top on Saturday by leaving sunny San Diego and heading up to Lone Pine, CA. Since we couldn’t get a reservation at the trail head we stayed in a.. shall we say.. “charming” little motel. We had some pizza from a local joint who’s motto was “we tossem, they’re awesome” and headed to bed.

Up early on Sunday, we made the drive up to the base camp (8,300 ft) and started hiking. While we were planning on snow, we were pretty surprised to find the first of it at 9,300 ft! Not to be slowed by a little white stuff we kept on trucking. And trucking. And… food / water break… And trucking. The first day’s journey ended 7 miles later at Trail Camp (12,000 ft) and took us 6 hours to complete.

Once at Trail Camp we set up the tent, boiled some water, ate some food and passed out around 7pm. Meredith was the first up on Monday and snapped some beautiful pictures of the sunrise before we strapped on the crampons for the journey to the summit.

With our spikes on we headed up “the chute.” Normally there are 90-some swtch backs between Trail Camp and Trail Crest that bring you up 1,600 ft in less than a mile. Now they’re simply called the chute because they are covered in 20 feet of snow. Instead of slowly weaving your way up the steep incline, you simply walk straight up (notice the slope of the hill on the first picture).

After about two hours we made it to the top! Nothing tastes better than peanut butter on a bagel at 13,600 ft.

After we finished up the snack, it was back on the move. The trail continues at a near constant elevation for about 2 miles before it climbs the last 1,000 ft to the summit. Even though we weren’t going up, we still had to stop and catch our breath (and maybe a photo) more than a few times due to the thin air.

The crampons came on for the last 1,000 ft climb then it was sweet success! The summit at last! No log book to be found so we left a note. Soon after we made the summit, another group came up off the Mountaineers Route so we were able to get a good picture of the two of us looking down on the rest of the 47 states.