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Ascent of Mount Whitney on 1992-10-17

Climber: Greg Sweel

Date:Saturday, October 17, 1992
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Whitney
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:14498 ft / 4418 m

Ascent Trip Report

Back when you didn't need a permit after the end of September. A group of 4 co-workers drove first to Lone Pine to get our camp stove permit and noticed a sign indicating that ice axes and crampons were recommended for the route we had been planning to take to the summit. We looked up towards the peak in the distance, and seeing no visible snow, considered the sign did not apply to us. So, onward to Whitney Portal where we spent the first night before heading up towards Iceberg Lake which was our second night on the trail. We awoke early, gathered our gear and topped off our water containers before proceeding up the Mountaineer's Route. After a long scramble up the chute we finally reached the notch and discovered 2 ice covered chutes on the north side which were not visible from Lone Pine. Well, we stood there for awhile and watched as another group passed us but not before putting on their crampons, roped up, and used ice axes to traverse the ice chutes. Stubborn (or stupid) we decided to give it a try by using the holes the previous group had driven into the upslope ice as finger holds for us. The ice had formed cups which we gingerly stepped ever so carefully all the while clinging fingers into the holes. Greatly relieved, we all made it across safely and proceeded to the summit. On the way we were joined by a fifth hiker and together we settled into the small stone hut next to the Smithsonian structure next door for our third night spent on the summit. The quiet after the last day hikers left and the alpenglow/sunset were glorious. The next mornings' sunrise proved equally stunning. None of us slept well due to mild altitude sickness (headaches, lack of appetite, irritability), so down we went on the main trail past the many switchbacks and finally reaching Whitney Portal after what seemed like forever. We stopped again in Lone Pine for a last look back up canyon at where we had just been a few hours before and were taken aback with this awesome accomplishment.
Summary Total Data
    Trailhead:Whitney Portal  
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Nights Spent:3 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy



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