Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Overview of the Hike

I logically think of the trek up to Whitney in four main pieces:
  1. Whitney Portal (8000') to Outpost Camp (10,000') - 3 miles
  2. Outpost Camp to Trail Camp (12,000') - 3 miles
  3. Trail Camp to Trail Crest (13,500') - ~2 miles
  4. Trail Crest to Whitney Summit (14,496') - 2 miles

Our plan (if everything goes well) is to to do the first two steps the first day, spend the night at Trail Camp and then do the next two steps the second day. If things don't go according to plan, we have an extra day of provisions so we can either take two days to get to Trail Camp or wait out bad weather for an extra day before going to the summit.

The rule of thumb we've read is that if you're in decent shape, your pack is around 20% of your body weight and you take average length breaks, then your hiking time can average about 2 miles per hour plus one hour for every 1000' you climb. The two segments from Whitney Portal to Trail Camp would be 6 miles and 4000'. By the rule of thumb, that would take us 3 hrs + 4 hrs = 7 hrs. If we hit the trail by 8am, we could arrive at Trail Camp by 3pm with plenty of time to rest, set up camp and cook dinner before dark and maybe talk to some climbers coming down that day.

If getting to Trail Camp proved difficult or if we felt issues with altitude sickness, we could shorten the first day and camp at Outpost Camp and then add a day to the trip.  Unfortunately, there really aren't any places to camp between Outpost Camp and Trail Camp so you have to pick one or the other.

As a reminder, here's a map overview from the Inyo Forest Service web site:
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