“I just walked. I was VERY happy.”–Bill Bryson, WALK IN THE WOODS
April 2, 2015
Lone Pine to Whitney Portal
4,600 feet elevation gain
Dow Villa beds are the softest and most cozy ever. So much so I doubted for a few minutes whether we would ever leave, much less go on and climb Mount Whitney. But after a self-tune up, shower, and the beauty of a new day, organization for the next and last leg of this adventure commenced.
We readied for winter conditions on Whitney, as the ranger station had informed us that the snow level started at Lone Pine Lake at about 9000 feet. The temps are predicted to be in the teens. We traded out our desert gear for snow gear adding: crampons, ice axe, and warm clothing. I have climbed Whitney many times from all different directions, but the conditions always differ making it just as intimidating and physically challenging. After coming through the desert I feel depleted and my body feels confused, burning hot, freezing cold, burning hot, freezing cold. Like make up your mind already…..
Breakfast at the Alabama Hills Cafe is the best. If you happen to be passing through Lone Pine between 7:00 am and 2:00 pm stop and eat. Everything on the menu is delicious. Just go. I had steak and hash browns. Yum.
After a stop at the ranger station to pick up a Mount Whitney permit (quotas do not start until the end of April) and dropping our car off at Burly and Lovenote’s, we headed on foot at 3:00 pm with loaded packs through the town of Lone Pine.
The trek up to Whitney Portal is interesting and very scenic with an 8 mile road walk climbing 3000 feet, then hooking up with the Whitney Portal National Recreational Trail climbing another 1600 feet. We arrived at the portal at 9:00 pm, quickly set up our tent near the trail head.
It is super cold.
Alarm set for 2:45.
Alpine start at 3:30.
Ready. Set. Climb to 14,505 feet.
What We Did or Wish We Did:
-You will need a reservation to stay at the Dow Villa, if not the Whitney Portal Hostel across the street is wonderful.
-Eat breakfast or lunch at the Alabama Hills Cafe.
-Elevation Sports is very knowledgeable, has lightweight gear and snow gear rentals.
-Hike the recreational trail, not the road to the portal. It is beautiful and well designed.