Mountaineer's Route 3rd class
Trip ReportMt Whitney Ramble - with Pix
I flew into Reno and drove to Lone Pine. Yes, the campground is 6 miles outside of town. You must turn at the only light in town. Wish I had reviewed that note before darkness fell. I cruised around the campground for some time unable to locate site 42. That is because sites 39 - 43 are not near site 38 and in a day use trail head clearly labelled "no camping". So I poached site 8 for the first night.
Morning arrived, and the right site was located. This was a day to acclimatize from sea level and get the administrative paperwork completed. I was just agonizing about not yet meeting my friends when lo and behold, they walk up to the administrative building at the same time. Gear, permit, partners - check. We are ready to go.
We set off the Whiteney Portal Trail. We checked the first trail to the right, but it didn't match the GPS coordinates that supertopo gave by just a smidge. I began to worry about map datum and GPS settings. Just another 1/4 mile up the trail , a large sign clearly pointed to the North Fork Lone Pine Trail - and I was relieved to still be "on route".
I noticed one common trait on this trail. You must traispe through water before crossing rock or committing to a hard fourth class section with a heavy pack. Perverse. I was delighted with the Smedges which performed admirably. I was somewhat unstable with 60 pounds on my back, almost half of my weight. After making our way up the ledges, we were caught in a snow squall. My friend has Raynaud's Syndrome, so camp was established at Lower Boy Scout Lake to warm her up. It is a great camping spot.
When we rose the next morning, we decided to just do a short hike up to Iceberg Lake and allow everyone to fully acclimatize before climbing the East Face. Since retreat would involve reversing some of the pitches, we did not think it was wise to go up if a party member was experiencing some dizziness. She seemed fine - except when she turned her head. She seemed to improve throughout the day, and we were hopeful.
We packed for an early morning departure. I noticed that I did not see my car keys as I packed and repacked. Hmmmmm.
It was finally time to climb the East Face. We should have heeded Supertopo's warning and not turned up to Iceberg lake on the steep wet section. We knew what laid ahead of us from the foray the day before. I packed extra socks, plastic bags (Cascade Gaiters), handwarmers to recover from splashing through the waterfall. The breeze had blown throughout the night, and the wet spot was now frozen. We broke out the rope for a little assurance. As soon as I got to the top of the flow, I quickly changed my socks and inserted handwarmers into my shoes. It didn't go as well for my friend. The cold and fear conspired to bring on a major asthma attack. After calming and rewarming her, the decision was made to go back down. Drats, defeated again. I needed to do something productive, so I ran down to our first campsite to search for the misplaced car keys. No luck.
The forecast was perfect. We had not seen a cloud in several days, and none were expected. I took off about 9:30 AM. Hopefully there would be no ice on the waterfall or I could find a way around. I am very cautious when alone. I followed the cairns, and they actually led up through a gully, dry and safe. Imagine that.
Above Iceberg Lake, it became more challenging. I now followed the book's instructions. Stay to the left it urged. I guess I went too far left and found myself staring at the Fresh Air Traverse. Glorious. No partner. Major bummer.
The next morning, I gave away everything I did not need to others camping in the vicinity, ate as much as I could, and begain the trip down. We were disappointed not to climb the East Face, but the day was most marred by the stench of the wag bags. I don't know how they can claim that it deoderizes. At our breaks, we moved AWAY from the packs. I can't tell you what I looked forward to most - a shower or getting rid of that wag bag. A better system is needed!
I checked in the store for lost car keys. Yes, they had a key. The clouds liftd and birds sang. It was a Honda key, and the world was dark again. I dropped my pack and ran 1/2 mile down the road to where the car was parked. Peering inside, I thought I saw the key on top of the rope bag. At Whitney Portal, I only got cell phone reception at the store, specifically the trail side of the store. Many calls were made before the rental car company's road side assistance located a serivce to open the car. This angel drove 88 miles one way to open the car, a bargain at $43.
1) Keep track of car key at all times
2) Follow approach notes
3) Make sure your partners are training even if they are 20 years younger than you.
4) Bring a hard, sealed container for your wag bag
5) Bring a fishing pole and take less food
6) A camera is essnetial equipment
7) Dry feet are happy feet
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