Mount Whitney - Mountaineer's Route, July 2010
For my final High Sierra venue of the summer, I felt Mount Whitney would make for an appropriate finale to an unforgettable week's worth of classic alpine rambling. I was not to be deterred by the peak's US states highpoint status (excluding AK) and the masses of hopeful summiteers that typically flock to places bearing such proud distinctions. Accepting the fact that I would not experience the solitude I had enjoyed on the preceding climbs, I would count myself among the 100+ that make the pilgrimage each and every summer's day. To me, Whitney was simply about ticking off an iconic peak from my long list of climbing objectives. As they say, "when in Rome."
The East Face route appealed to me the most, but at a sandbagged 5.6 it's one that I would want a partner and a rope for. Since I had neither, I had to settle for something a little friendlier. There are at least two easy and popular routes that lead to Whitney's summit. The vast majority of Whitney climbers do so via the class 1 Mount Whitney Trail. About 22 miles in length (round trip) and gaining over 6000 feet from the trailhead, this sounds like a mind numbingly painful affair that not even I would dream of trying. Fortunately, for those seeking somewhat more adventure, no crowds and a significantly shorter 12-mile round trip trek, there's The Mountaineer's Route. Mountaineer's shares the same start as the Whitney Trail and so also entails over 6000 feet of gain. But in dry summer conditions like I experienced, a 10-hour round trip time is perfectly doable for a fit and reasonably fast party. (more...)
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