Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
After hiking to the top of Half Dome, many hikers set their sights on the next two logical peaks in the easy-to-get-to California environs. Mt. Shasta and Mt. Whitney. Today we’ll chat about Mt. Whitney Pull up a chair and sip your tea. Mt. Whitney – named for good old Josiah Whitney, California’s Geologist in the early days of the state. It has good stories associated with it about false peaks and the race to be the first up it. But I will not go into all that. It is the highest peak in the USA besides Denali in Alaska. THAT is a big boy, but Whitney is a do-able by us mortals who want to preserve our brain cells. 14,500 ft. Measurements of the height tend to get revised with advances in measuring equipment, but it is the tallest in the lower-48. The actual vertical rise is not a whole lot more than the Half Dome hike, but the kicker is the altitude. Air is pretty darn thin above 12,000 ft. You will feel the effects. Sickness is a roll of the dice. Acclimatization is best, if you have the time. So try going gradually up higher each day… but few do that. In fact is is very common for hikers to do the whole enchilada I one long day. Ugh. The trail is better than the granite laced one on the John Muir and Half Dome routes. There are plenty of water sources to filter. But the rules have changed over the years. They took out the 2 toilets and you must now learn how to pack your human waste. You also need to use bear proof containers. And generally you will want to spend 2-3 nights so you have to haul a 30-40 pound pack up. We did it in the 90’s and only ate Power Bars and beef jerky rather than carry stoves and pots/pans. Yummy. If interested you have to enter a lottery and tell them when you want to enter/leave the Wilderness. Then you wait. All this is explained in the Inyo National Forest website <HERE>. A few good reference books for your planning are: “High Sierra Hiking Guide – Mt. Whitney” by Thomas Winnnet; “Climbing Mt. Whitney” by Peter Croft; “One Best Hike: Mt Whitney” by Elizabeth Wend (looks just like my book – same publisher); “How to climb Mt.Whitney in a Day” by Sharon Baker-Salony; and “Mt. Whitney” by Paul Richins. A super website is the Whitney Portal Store <HERE>. They have a great message board and a webcam. Go for it!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Remember – a bad day at Yosemite is better than good day in the suburbs! “ – Me
*Mr. Half Dome -Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com