Mount Whitney 2015

Saturday September 5, 2015
Arriving in Lone Pine

Sunday September 6, 2015
Hiking to Consultation Lake

Monday September 7, 2015
Whitney Summit


We found one of the closest parking spots to the trailhead, which was excellent.  Some folks have to hike a good quarter mile uphill from their cars before their official hike really starts...

The Sierra peaks were shrouded in smoke the night before, but they were clear now!







That sign marks the official start of 'The Whitney Zone' - you may not enter without a permit.





Rest break....


Ray asked for all the details of the Switzerland trip that he'd missed and I was more than happy to tell all those stories on the hike up.
It took us just over 4 hours to hike up to Consultation Lake.
We explored all the campsites near the trail. 
Most decent campsites had broken down tents and packs - most people camp overnight, then leave their gear behind while they summit, then pick up their gear on the way back down.
Folks were coming back into empty camps right as we were arriving.
We found a campsite further away from the trail and waited as the folks inhabiting it broke down their site and hiked down.
We set up my tent then went down to Consultation Lake.
The lake itself is a decent hike down from the trail - it took us about 20 minutes to get down to the lake, and there was no clear trail.
I thought about camping down near the lake but I didn't want to drag all the gear up and down the hill.






After a while Ray went back up to the campsite while I lingered lakeside.



Looking north toward the trail and campsites.
You can just make out a person in a red jacket.
All the campsites are along that ledge, though ours was perhaps a couple of hundred feet east (downhill) from the red jacket.


There's not much left of the glacier here.
I couldn't find its name online, but in a way it doesn't matter much because it will clearly be gone in a few years.
Good thing there's no global warming.


We came down the long way around. 
I figured I'd see if I could scramble up this mess. 
This was relatively ambitious for me to try to scramble with no definite path up.
I made it up with no problems and really enjoyed the scramble and route finding.

When I set up the tent I only put in 4 stakes in the corners and didn't put on the rainfly.
After we got back from the lake Ray asked me to put on the rainfly so we didn't freeze to death that night.
I argued that a rainfly doesn't hold any heat but put it on anyway.
We started to cook dinner on my stove.
I dumped boiling hot water into my freeze dried jambalaya and waited for it to re-hydrate, then Ray started boiling water for his meal.
And then something fairly amazing happened..

The wind had been gusting occasionally but we hadn't seen anything that caused us concern.
All of the sudden a gust of wind blew down the mountain, picked up Ray's matress pad, and threw it off the cliff.
Meanwhile all the rest of our gear was starting to blow away and the tent was collapsing.
Ray stood up and started to run after his mattress pad.
I scrambled ineffectively, trying to grab stuff within reach to keep it from blowing away.
Suddenly the wind shifted. 
The tent had been leaning over in one direction, and now the wind blew strongly from the opposite direction...and picked up the tent, and the tent was gone... blown over the cliff.

Houston, we have a problem.

Both our sleeping bags are in the tent, which is now gone - if we don't have sleeping bags, we have to hike back downhill... now.
I yelled in utter disbelief, turned off the stove, and went to look for the tent.
Ray was focused in his mattress pad, we agreed he'd look after the gear at the campsite while I went to track down the tent.
I assumed the tent would end up in the lake and that I'd just lost something like $1000 in camping gear.
As I started to walk toward the cliff to look for the tent, the wind blew Ray's mattress pad right back to him.
Once I got to the edge of the cliff I could see the tent below. 
The wind was still blowing hard, and the tent was stuck on the edge of the cliff perhaps 20 feet down from me.
One corner of the tent was lodged under a rock, and that appeared to be the only reason the tent hadn't continued down the cliff.
I quickly got down to the ledge and grabbed the tent.
I had to watch myself - the wind was still blowing, and if it picked up, I needed to let go of the tent or it would drag me off the cliff too.
Ray was securing our gear and the campsite.
I yelled for Ray to come help secure the tent.
The tent was very large and cumbersome and upside down.
I figured with Ray's help I could try to drag it back up off the edge of the cliff.
While I was waiting I realized that a second person probably couldn't help lift the tent much if any, and I gently pulled on the tent, expecting to tear it open and destroy it.... and it came up the cliff without incident!
Now I had the tent but it was still in danger of flying away.
Ray arrived, and he unloaded the tent, and then we dragged the tent uphill, and put it a little closer to the cliff to try to keep it out of the wind.
We were amazed that we got all our gear back and that the tent was more or less unscathed.
The tent had a single large tear in the rainfly that is perhaps 6" long as well as a few smaller tears.

I found the tent stakes that I had misplaced and meticulously staked the hell out of the tent to avoid another episode of 'my tent flew off the cliff!!!!'.
We couldn't stop laughing at the turn of events....

The tent in its new home closer to the cliff face.


After dinner Ray went to refill his water bottle.  It took perhaps 30 minutes.

Saturday September 5, 2015
Arriving in Lone Pine

Sunday September 6, 2015
Hiking to Consultation Lake

Monday September 7, 2015
Whitney Summit