Ascent of Mount Whitney on 2000-11-16

Climber: James Barlow

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, November 16, 2000
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Whitney
    Elevation:14498 ft / 4418 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was an outstanding trip, full of adventure. I did this one solo, for lack of a climbing partner, starting at the standard trail head above Lone Pine, CA. I backpacked up to Trail Camp around 12,000 feet, and set up my tent for the night. There were a few other climbers camping there and I chatted with a few before heading to bed. As the night wore on, I kept waking up freezing my ass off and putting on more stuff in my sleeping bag.

By 4:30am, I had it, so I climbed out, filled my summit pack, grabbed my ice axes and was on my way. I put on my crampons for the fabled 99 switchbacks, which was probably overkill, but it was still dark and I was alone. I reached the top just before sunrise and wished for the sun to just come up. The only thing keeping me warm was the fact that I was on the move. The sun finally lit up the sky around 7am, and I made it to the overlook above Guitar Lake around that time. Another climber had passed me near the top of the switchbacks, so he took a picture for me. Another one passed me at the Guitar Lakes overlook, so I got another picture.

After that, it was pretty easy going to the summit, so I put my crampons in my pack and made the pretty easy hike to the top. The 2 people who had passed me were there, so I was able to get another few pictures and make a quick call to my mother on the brand new invention of a "cell phone" before heading back to camp. I actually spent over an hour on the summit before going back. This was the first hike in my life where I had carried a cell phone with me, and one of the first that I owned a cell phone for, as they were just hitting the mainstream in the late 90's and into 2000.

I headed back down to my campsite, which was pretty easy going. I ran into some of the guys who I had talked to the night before and they told me that their thermometer in their tent had gone down to -5 degrees F the night before. No wonder I was so cold! I made some dinner and then determined that there was no need to spend another night freezing in the cold and that camping lower down the trail was preferable to the cold here.

So, I packed up all of my stuff as dusk set in around 6pm and used the moonlight to guide me to the treeline. Once I hit the treeline, I switched on my headlamp and kept going. As the batteries died on my lamp, I went to my quick access pouch for more and realized that in my haste to break down camp, I buried them in the bottom of my pack. I then figured that the moonlight could get me back to the trailhead. The going was slow, but I made it to my car by 11pm. A quick drive to Lone Pine and a motel room across the street from a 24 hour diner awaited me with a warm bed and warm meal. All in all, it was a great hike, and one of my most memorable.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6133 ft / 1869 m
    Total Elevation Loss:6003 ft / 1829 m
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Headlamp, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Crystal clear skies and freezing cold
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:6133 ft / 1869 m
    Route:Trail / Snow
    Start Trailhead:8365 ft / 2549 m
    Time:2 Days 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:6003 ft / 1829 m
    Route:Trail / Snow
    End Trailhead:8495 ft / 2589 m
    Time:12 Hours 

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