Mount Whitney Dayhike

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August 29, 2005

Outline and Background

Each year, around Labor Day, I dayhike Mount Whitney. Some sort of personal tradition. I generally have an extra permit or two and a campsite to share, in case, for whatever reason I am not alone. The actual hike, I do solo, since I have a pace (fast) I like to keep.


Mt. Whitney Trail
Dawn on the Whitney Trail.
30 seconds after sunrise...

Got up to the campsite around 4pm, and as is my tradition when I am solo, solicited company from the neighboring campsite which would have been excessively crowded otherwise. So we were able to separate the dayhikers in my site from the overnighters in the other. My campmates were planning on a 4am wakeup and 430am departure, I was aiming for a 5am wakeup and 530am departure, although I would not have been averse to an earlier departure, or, later up to my traditional time of 6am. The other camp was planning for a 5am wakeup and a much more leisurely 7am departure, with packs to get to Trail Camp[12,000] in the early afternoon (then going for a dawn summit dayhike before packing out). I don't know what time my campmates woke up, but I was awake by 445am, taking my leisurely time to get to the trailhead, not having much interest in headlamping the beginning of the trail, on the trail at 549am, just ahead of my campmates. Including nearly three liters of water, my pack was 12 pounds, which is pretty good. I finished the last of my food just before getting back to the trailhead, however, I didn't finish my water, bringing 850mL back to San extra 30oz. of weight that I think could be more profitably spent on pizza and whiskey. Lest anyone worry about me cutting things too close, Talus Spring is a source of good water, three miles from the Whitney Portal Trailhead.

Mt Muir
Mount Muir from below
from the bottom of the switchbacks.

Anyway. Up time to the summit [14,495] was 3:54, with no significant stops...down time was 3:55 with a number of chatty stops...probably closer to 3:30 of hiking time. The side trip to Mt. Muir [14,012] to 42 minutes. I was home in SF by 11p. This trip, no hitchhikers down from the Portal. I'm sure I sounded like a puffing steam engine on the way up, but managed to stay out of oxygen debt the whole way, with enough reserves that I could kick into "passing gear" as needed...which I did, passing 50-60 people on the way up. When I got to the summit at 942am there were only a few people up there, when I left an hour and a half later, it was more the usual crowd spread about. I made my second attempt at Mt. Muir (a prominence on the ridge south of Mt. Whitney, just 250 feet higher than the main Whitney Trail). This time, in approach shoes (with sticky rubber yay!) I was confident enough to tackle the last 20 feet I'd skipped the previous year. I'd call this "spicy" 3rd Class for this hiker, but well within my current comfort zone. Amazing feel of solitude given that there were dozens of people toiling up the trail a few hundred feet below me (my campmates passed upwards while I was on top). Mt. Muir is only my third California 14er...after White Mtn [14,246] and Mt. Whitney. Next year, I think I'll do Keeler Needle (Class 1, 14,27x) and maybe Discovery Needle (Class 2, 13,680).

Me and West Slope of Mt. Whitney
Me on top of Mt Muir
I was having a hard time framing the background, and then the batteries died. Argh.

West Slope of Mt. Muir
Coming down Mt. Muir (2004)
(from last year)
The is the middle steep bit, below is a traverse with some exposure, above is the summit block, also with some exposure.

Summary and Technical Details

21.4 miles of generally good trail, with approximately 6600 feet of ascent. 0.2 miles and 280 feet of ascent for the side trip up Mount Muir. Actual hiking time, round trip, was ~8 hours. Bunnyhike rating = 130.

Weather and Conditions

Sunny, cloudless and pleasant (cooler at summit, of course). The trail was in its usual great and well graded shape. No snow on the trail anywhere, also, virtually no trash on or near the trail.


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1:65K topo
Map with route
Detail map (625 x 454, 81K) - Fine detail map (1110 x 758, 234K)

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Mount Whitney / Robert Parks / / revised September '05