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How Difficult is Hiking mount Whitney?

Ashik Uzzaman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 05, 2001
Posts: 2370

Is there any hiker here from West Coast, USA? I am a new weekend hiker in San Francisco Bay Area and last year completed Half Dome of Yosemite. Here are some details on that hike.

http://ashikuzzaman.blogspot.com/2009/10/victory-over-half-dome-of-yosemite.html

Our next mission is Mount Whitney where 4 of our friends decided to hike the one day trip there (start at 2 AM and come by evening). I have gone throiugh this book already but yet not sure how difficult is hiking Mount Whitney.

http://www.amazon.com/One-Best-Hike-Mt-Whitney/dp/0899974643/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269199372&sr=1-2

I have heard only one out of every 2 people succeeds in hiking it. Is it so? Any good resource or pointers for me?

Ashik Uzzaman
Senior Member of Technical Staff, Salesforce.com, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Paul Clapham
Bartender

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18712
    
    8

Here's a link to some info about the trail:

Hiking up Mount Whitney

One good thing is that you can't really climb it before July (climbing in snow not recommended for beginners) so you have some time to do training. Note that it's nearly 2,000 meters elevation gain which is nearly twice what you did at Half Dome. Apart from that there isn't any technical mountain-climbing required, if you go the right route that is.

One thing you'll have to work on soon, though, is getting a hiking permit. Looks like they are hard to get.
Ashik Uzzaman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 05, 2001
Posts: 2370

Thanks Paul for the nice link.

One thing we already did was applying for hiking in four weekends of June and we are expecting we will get permit for one of those (Fen 15 was last date to apply for this year). We deliberately chose June so that we get a little bit of snow. Looks like hiking half dome successfully has made me a little bit over-confident. But as the arrow has been shot out of bow, I can't do much any more for this year.

We will know the exact date first week of April as part of the lottery result. But I have confronted a few issues in between that I have to sort out how to manage (production deployment in office at third weekend of June and how to manage things for my wife and son so that they are okay the 2/3 days I won't be at home). Considering i have managed those, my plan is to start hard training once I get the lottery results and the date. For now it's just Sunday morning one hike even that irregularly which I am not happy with myself.

I believe I can do this with adequate preparation. I am looking for advise from people who earlier attempted and passed or failed. In fact the most valuable advise would be people who attempted but could not make it either because of reduced oxygen or height fobia or problem with endurance for the 22 miles hike. I want to learn from them.

Paul Clapham
Bartender

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18712
    
    8

I don't know what the snowpack is like in the southern Sierras this year, but up here in the Coast Mountains of Canada and Washington it's very low. So the hiking season is likely to start quite early. If it's the same for the Whitney area then perhaps late June would be okay.

As for altitude sickness there isn't much to say. Check out the things you should do to avoid it, but if you do get it on the hike then that's just the way things go and you'll have to deal with it if it happens. You won't be able to predict in advance whether you will get it, and I don't think there's much you will be able to do to prepare for it. Normally doing some other high-elevation hikes beforehand might help but it doesn't sound like you're going to be able to do that.

At any rate it sounds like you have the planning part under control. You'd be surprised what young and slightly crazy guys can do, so good luck with the project.
Ashik Uzzaman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 05, 2001
Posts: 2370

Yes, Paul. I am really looking forward to it. Once I stayed a night in a hotel at 12000 feet height in Mammoth Lakes (1oo miles forward from Yosemite) where my wife was feeling the headache causing from lower oxygen level at that height. But I didn't feel any thing. So from that I am thinking may be 14500 feet would also be not too serious for me. Instead the cold is what I am very afraid of and I have get over it for this hike. My only thinking is that if my other 3 friends can do and if hundreds of people are attempting everyday during summer then I can attempt too.
 
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