On August 24, 2002, a group of nine friends set out to day hike the tallest peak in the continental US, Mt. Whitney. At 14,497 ft, the 22-mile round trip day hike is considered one of the toughest day hikes in the US, and a peak that all serious hikers have to bag.
After requesting our permits back in February, we began training in late May with weekly day hikes around Southern California, with each hike progressively getting tougher. Cold Springs Trail, Gridley Trail, Chief's Peak, Topatopa Bluff, and Mt. Baldy were just some of our training hikes. After 3 months of training, we were more than ready.
We all arrived in Lone Pine, CA at different times on Friday, but we were all booked at the Dow Villa Hotel. Our group consisted of myself, Jason McCarthy, Neal, Jamie and Eric (Jason's dad, sister and brother-in-law), Garland Jacobs, Andy Alcaraz, Joe Nanez, and Matt Overley. After carb-ing up with some pasta and some last minute supply shopping, we hit the sack so we could meet in the parking lot at 4am...
The trick to hiking Whitney is to pace yourself, and don't worry about how fast others around you are going. Set a steady pace and just stick with it, minimizing rest stops. Granted, it seemed I had to stop 8-10 times on the infamous 96 switchback portion of the trail, but that should be expected since it's by far the toughest section of the trail.
Fortunately for me, I did not get any altitude sickness--although 4 in our group did. Everyone who intended to make it to the peak were successful despite the altitude sickness, and no one was seriously injured (although Joe could not bend his knees on the way down so had to borrow my hiking poles...he should have gone on the training hikes!) It took me 8 hours to get to the top, and 5.5 hours to get back down... We're planning on doing it again next year on September 13th, where I hope to better my time.
Chuck and Joe at the top of Mt. Whitney