Friday, July 30, 2010

Summit: Mt. Whitney #2

Getting to the base camp was a weary slog. Normal backpacking chores awaited the campers upon their arrival at Consultation Lake: the selection of a campsite and the setting-up of the tent amidst the above-timberline scenery. Very little soil was available for the tent pegs to find a purchase: some of the tent loops had to be wrapped around shards of granite.

Then, the eagerly anticipated freeze-dried spaghetti meal. Alas, the altitude (11,590 feet) had taken its toll—no one could eat more than a token amount of the spaghetti-substance meal. Luckily, in 1977 there was a convenient outhouse placed for the benefit of hikers. Mike carried the pot over . . . (here, we will draw a merciful veil over further description of spaghetti-substance disposition. Interestingly enough, there are currently no outhouses in the vicinity. Campers are now required to pack everything out. Everything, if you know what I mean, and I think you know what I mean.)

Windy during the night: classic high-altitude scene of flapping tent sides with intermittent clambering out to check the tent tie-downs. Neat. In retrospect.

Early the next morning came the push to the top on the at times frozen-over trail. Vistas opened up amidst the zigzagging switchbacks; the broad plateau summit of Mt. Whitney was finally reached (at that time, blessedly free of cell phones.) Mike’s Nikon F was pressed into service on a time delay as the intrepid climbers, clad in high altitude jackets warding off the chill mountain air, assembled for an "I was there" photo. In the background, the impressive peaks of the Great Western Divide.

The return events have mostly been lost to memory. Once back at camp we loaded up our backpacks, then had to endure the knee-banging trip back to the car. On our hike back down the trail we looked for the icicles, but of course by then they had all melted.

Photos: Mt. Whitney Summit (Joe, Joe & Mike)—Sierra Nevada, 1977; Mt. Whitney Trail—Sierra Nevada, 1977; Summit Lunch—Sierra Nevada, 1977


Mike Mundy said...

Kudos to Kay for the Mt. Whitney lunch pix find.


Mike Mundy said...

And, for those wanting more info on the Mt. Whitney "pack it all out" program, see here.

Wonder if those items can handle spaghetti-substance meals.

Diane said...

Mmmmm, "spaghetti-substance" meal. ;-))

Nice story, thanks for sharing.

Mike Mundy said...


My current freeze-dried methodology here.