Mount Whitney, my first ascent, August 1995

    During a conversation with Amelia and Lou, I mention my idea for a road trip.  I wanted to visit, by car, the lowest point in Death Valley and the highest point on Mount Whitney nearby.  Included in the list of stops on the epic road trip would include the tallest Sequoia redwood tree and the oldest living tree in the Bristlecone Pine Forest.  I thought it would be wonderful, epic tour of some of California's amazing natural wonders.  Amelia immediately responds with an offer to hike to the top of Mount Whitney.  I protested that I only wanted to drive to it and see it.  I never considered a hike to the top.  I did not think seriously about it.  Eventually she applies for and gets hiking permits, the hike is on.  Physical fitness preparations are now a top priority.  I started lunch time runs starting off with 15 minutes minimum and some stair climbing.  The trip was a total success and I had an experience of a lifetime.  Here are some photos from that trip.  Click on the thumbnails to see a larger full color image.

We arrive at the Whitney Portal campground and find our campsite reserved for us.  We set up camp and have a nice stew dinner, it was great meal.

An early morning photo blinds us and starts the day off with a healthy laugh for all of us.

The highest point in the lower 48 states makes it appearance.

The hike up with backpacks in uneventful and enjoyable.  The preparation and training pays off.

Looking back toward Whitney Portal provides a picturesque and dramatic reminder of the altitude we gain all day.

We reach 12,000 feet and the lake next to Trail Camp.

Marmot attack!

I am lethargic and feel tired after reaching Trail Camp.  Weather was cool, wind was mild, but as you can see the sun was shining brightly.  Summit day should be near perfect.

In this photo you can see the lake, our tent and the base of the switchbacks behind.  The tent is that small yellow dot in the center of the photo.  We spend the evening looking up at the amazingly clear night sky.  I have never experienced a more profound sight in my life.  The immense panorama of sky visible and massive number of celestial objects was unimaginable. Numerous satellites criss crossed the sky like precision pinpoints of light.  Having lived at low elevations in urban areas I never saw the full glory of the night sky before.  I will never forget that night that the Milky Way burned it's timeless, magical image into my mind.

Summit morning preparations in front of the Trail Camp campsite

Sunrise paints a fierce color on a granite 'canvas'

A pause for photos and a look at the interesting rock formations

Trail Crest and a sign indicating the border of the National Park

Looking back down the snowfield

Looking up the traverse of the snowfield.  After the snowfield and Trail Crest is the trail past the 'windows'.  Gaps between peaks allow one to see glimpses of the view to the east.   The view west is a rocky panorama.  The final yards up to the summit is a massive jumble of rock slabs with no obvious trail.

Lou signs the summit log book just outside the summit building

Happy hikers at the top of the world

View from the top.  All of these photos were taken by Amelia and with Amelia's camera.