Our first climb of the East Face of Mt. Whitney in 2009 was a one day car to car ascent. Leaving Whitney Portal wearing headlamps we ascended the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek with the goal of reaching the base of the route at sunrise. We would then climb efficiently up the route leaving us plenty of daylight to return to Whitney Portal in time for burgers from the Whitney Portal Store.
Our guests on this trip were a group of fun loving adventurous guys from Orange County who wanted to do an overnight backpack trip and cover lots of mileage. After considering several trip options we settled on this loop trip. This route covered a lot of ground over two days. In addition to the 35+ miles our elevation gained and lost added to the challenge. Starting at 9250+ feet we hiked up to Lamarck Col at almost 13,000′ then descended down to the John Muir Trail where we ended up at Wanda Lake at 11,426′ 12 hours after we began. After a good dinner of pad thai with shrimp and vegetables we went to sleep prepared to wake early for day 2.
We woke early and were hiking before 7 AM. A short ascent got us to Muir Pass at 12,000 feet then a long very scenic drop in elevation over a 7 mile period as we headed south on the John Muir Trail. We turned off the JMT at the LeConte ranger station at 8900 feet. The next 6.6 miles was an ascent through Dusy Basin to Bishop Pass at 11,972′. Finally we descended the last 6 miles down the Bishop Pass trail to the South Lake trailhead at 9600+ feet.
The weather has isolated storm cells around but none of them ever got near us so we stayed dry the whole time. The scenery was gorgeous the whole time. The Sierra wildflowers were in full bloom. The scenery included an abundance of blue alpine lakes, meadows, pine trees, white granite spires, and patches of snow. A great time was had by all and we celebrated that evening in Bishop with a big dinner at Whiskey Creek.
Exciting views of remote part of the Sierra and supurb route conditions greeted us on this annually scheduled SMI trip. We allow 5 days to tackle two of the Sierra’s most remote 14ers. Mt. Williamson at 14,375′ is the second highest peak in California and access to the peak is restricted past July 15. Mt. Tyndall lies outside of the closure area located closer to Shepherd Pass. The climbs are enjoyable ascents involving 3rd class climbing over excellent quality Sierra granite. Breathtaking views from the summits add to the majestic beauty of these peaks.
On our first summit attempt we came up short stopping at 17,150 feet just before the saddle between the east and west summits of Mt. Elbrus. Weather turned stormy with increasing snow accumulation and fierce winds.
The following day was clear though and we managed to climb to the highest point on the European continent on a warm and windless day.
A few pictures showing some of the highlights of the trip are below. The entire photo gallery can be viewed here: http://kurtwedberg.smugmug.com/gallery/8678076_8HFF9/1/573243990_vrdww