Photography by Louis Perrochon
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Mount Whitney, CA

The Outpost Camp.
On a nice late summer Sunday, we drove to Yosemite and stayed in the Tuolomne Meadows Campground. It was raining a little, incredible, probably the only week of rain in the Sierra between June and October. Still we could do all the hikes as planned. We climbed Mt. Dana, a 13'053 ft peak (3979m) and hurried down, as the black clouds were coming in. Tuesday featured the famous Glen Aulin hike, to one of the High Sierra camps. It was very nice, except the rain now and then. Surprisingly, there is a small lava field in Yosemite, it kind of doesn't belong there, and - less surprisingly, lots of waterfalls and rivers. We saw bears too, walking around the camp sites. One of them was really big, about a meter high, fully grown up, impressive. He (or she?) did not care about us, as we did not have food out. Other people panicked and made noise, and wanted to tell the rangers, but the rangers already knew and warned us before.

Lone Pine lake
After three nights in Tuolumne Meadows, we drove to Whitney Portal, about 200 miles south of Yosemite. There we stayed for the night. The next day, we back packed towards Mt. Whitney, and camped about two hours up the hill in Outpost Camp, still below the tree line. There it was relatively warm (but freezing in the morning). There is another campground higher up called Trail Camp, but that one is alpine, and really cold. As I was cold all week, I did not need more cold wind. The rest of the day we were playing cards (Tschou Sepp, Jassen) at nice and sunny Mirror Lake, half an hour above the camp.

Mt Whitney is the bump at the very right.
Thursday, we climbed up Mt. Whitney, with 14497 ft (4418m) the highest point in the contiguous USA and a new personal record! We left in the dawn, and when the sun hit Mt. Whitney, I was there to take pictures. Unfortunately, I followed John Muir's mistake and shot about a dozen pictures of what he named Mt. Muir, the the highest peak around. It took Whitney's surveyors to figure out that an seemingly flat, uninter-esting shoulder about two miles to the north is higher. Whitney decided to name it after himself. I was running ahead of the others, because I wanted to get the nice shots, but I guess I have to go again. My new 17mm lens is very nice. I took over a hundred pictures that week, and another 50 the weekend before, most with the new lens.

Chicken Roch and the Sequia View
After everybody arrived, we just continued hiking up and up and up and up through the famous switch-backs. The trail was pretty crowded by now, after all some 250 people climb the peak every day. In the mid-dle of the switch-backs, we started to cross a dangerous snowfield, but then realized that we could scramble over some rocks to get back on the trail, less exiting, but safer. The view got better and better as we walked. Hitting the trail crest opens the view to the west, over the High Sierra of Sequoia National Park.

The last two miles are not as steep anymore, but unfortunately, they are at a pretty high elevation. It took us two hours! One was dead tired, the next felt nauseated and was just concentrating on not throwing up, and I had a head-ache. My head got worse on the way down, I am glad, it did not hurt like this on the way up. Altitude sickness, I believe. We really tried to get used to the elevation by staying in Yosemite for a while, but that did not seem to help much.

The plate on top of Mt Whitney
The highest trail, we know.

Yes we all did it.
The view from up there is really great, you are so high, and can see over half of Sequoia National Park on the one side, and into Death Valley on the other side.

Me and Sequioa National Park

Unfortunately, as we reached the top, some clouds came up and it was really freezing. And we did not feel too well, either. So we did not stay too long and went down again. People that came down later, told us it started snowing on their way down.


Whitney from the East
These pictures show the trail, the lower part on the East side, the higher part on the West side. They are from the Whitney Portal Store Website.
Whitney from the West
Check out the High Sierra Trail section for a 90 miles approach from the West.
1998

1998-2003 Louis Perrochon. All Rights reserved. (See details)