The trip started with the long 6+ hour trek from San Jose all the way to Whitney Portal with a quick stop at the ranger station to pick up the permit. We camped Friday night at the trailhead in the backpacker camp. In the morning we began our first day hiking up to Trail camp at 9:30am. We wandered through the basin and had lunch at mirror-lake around 1pm. After Eric took a quick dip and Ben and I took a 20-minute nap, we were back on the trail and finally hit Trail camp at 4:30. The 10 mile hike had only taken us about 8 hours. Eric wandered off to boulder around, while Ben and I were dealing with altitude as we had been mildly sick a week before.
After a short night sleep from 9:30 to 5:30 (and falling asleep reading The Shining), we began our summit attempt at 6. Our first stop was the 99 switch-backs that lead up a sharp face. Our only mistake was that I had put my sunglasses on my head. While a nice place to store them, I took my hat off next to a particularly sharp ledge and the glasses went tumbling 1000’ down the mountain to the edge of a boulder field. Sans glasses, we continued up until we met with the John Muir Trail at the crest. From the ridge, it was a pretty easy traverse over to the final summit, though the view of the JMT winding up to our peak was stunning. The trail was quite exposed, but we never felt uncomfortable. Finally, the last stretch was a gentile boulder/talus trail to the top. From the top we saw Mt. Russell and Mt. Muir and enjoyed views as far as Lone Pine to the east and deep into the Sequoia National Park to the west.
The trip downward started with a quick side tour up Mt. Muir. There we did some class 2 rock scrambling up to the summit block. Here I chickened out as the hike was a rough class 3 climb to the top. Maybe next time and I’ll bring a rope! Back on the trail, we crossed the ridge and a quarter mile down dropped through some talus into a bowl. Here we enjoyed a nice easy glissade down the same 99 switch back section we ascended. By 1:30pm we were back at camp, packed up, and had an easy decent to Whitney portal with a rain shower along the way to finish the trip wetter than we would have liked.
Picture Credit - Ben Pope
Morning at Trail Camp