Home / Climbing Mt. Whitney 20
After our family trip to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe we drove to Reno, NV, where I met up with Kurt Mensch while Fran, Rick and Alex flew back to Denver. Kurt and I drove down the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada to Lone Pine, CA, which is the starting point for climbing Mt. Whitney, at 14,497’ the highest point in the “Lower 48” (it’s higher than Mt. Elbert in Colorado by all of 64’). There are several ways up Whitney, ranging from a strenuous but non-technical hiking trail to steep climbs on the East face. We opted for the classic East Buttress route, a 5.7 first climbed in 1937 with all of two pitons. Actually it’s mostly 4th class with only a few sections of 5.7 climbing, but the rock is excellent and the position is spectacular.
Kurt and me at the Ranger Station in Lone Pine, CA. There’s an elaborate permit system for climbing Mt. Whitney, but the rangers were oddly uninformed about conditions on the mountain.
Kurt at Whitney Portal, the starting point for the approach to Whitney. The summit of Whitney is almost 11,000’ above Lone Pine, but fortunately one gains almost half that altitude in the drive from Lone Pine up to Whitney Portal.
Kurt hiking up the Ebersbacher Ledges – probably the route-finding crux of the ascent.
Kurt at Upper Boy Scout Lake.
Kurt at our camp beside Iceberg Lake, just beneath the East face of Whitney. Luckily there was some dry ground here. Most of the trail beyond Upper Boy Scout Lake was still under several feet of heavy, wet, snow, which made for arduous going in the afternoon sun. The right-hand spire in the background is Keeler Needle.
Looking across from our camp at Iceberg Lake to Mt. Russell.
The East face of Whitney at dawn. The East Buttress climb goes up the right-hand skyline, and the descent (the Mountaineers’ Route) goes down a gully to the right of that.
Kurt hiking up the slopes above camp on the approach to the East Buttress.
Martin leading one of the 5.7 sections on the East Buttress.
Kurt on the East Buttress.
Martin leading past the “Pee-Wee Buttress”.
Another view of Kurt on the East Buttress.
Kurt and Martin at the summit. Whitney is notorious for having a crowded summit, but it was completely deserted when we arrived – perhaps the snow on the trails kept everyone at home.
Just to prove we were really there – the official summit plaque.
By the time we got back to camp it was late afternoon and we’d had enough hiking through deep, soft snow, so we decided to spend another night at camp and hike out in the early morning when the snow was frozen. Here’s sunrise on Whitney as we were leaving.
Another look back at Whitney as we were hiking out.
Kurt on the hike down.
Martin at Lower Boy Scout Lake, the last of the snow now thankfully behind us.
Kurt back at Whitney Portal.
Martin back at Whitney Portal, ready for the long drive back to Denver.