Thursday, July 23, 2009

East Buttress of Mt. Whitney

Just down after climbing the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney 11 pitches 5.7, the highest mountain the lower 48. I linked up with Chris who I had met the first week I was in Yosemite and we had climbed together for a few days. He had mentioned that he wanted to do some High Sierra climbs, so I gave him a call to see if he was game. We decide to do the route car to car since no permits we available, however we stopped in Lone Pine and were lucky and got some permits. We hiked in on Monday which involves a very steep hike all the way up to 12000 feet. I felt great having been at altitude for the last week in Toulmne, while Chris struggled a bit, but I moved at a solid pace. We set up camp below Iceberg Lake, which took us close to 4 hours to hike to. The next morning we woke at 4:00 AM and approached our route the East Buttress. I wanted to be first on the route and we had talked to two other groups the day before so we knew it might be a race to base of the climb. We reached the final approach hike and I could see two climber have way up the last approach. I blasted up the approach passing them and making it too the base first, I actually climbed 20 feet up the first pitch to a ledge to establish our position. Chris was struggling with the altitude but made up to where I was, I was already geared up and ready to launch up the first pitch. I started up the pitch while Chris was putting on his shoes and trying to catch his breath. I brought Chris up and he continued up the 2nd and 3rd pitches, we did a bit of simul climbing up the route and moved quickly despite the high altitude. We never saw the other climbers the rest of the route. We made it to the summit in about 4 hours and we were meet by hikers on top who thought we were the greatest since we had just climbed the steep face of Whitney. After some lunch and Summit photos we head down the Mountaineer Route which was our decent rout. Lots of loose rock and scree skiing brought us down to where we had begun the route. A short hike back to our base camp which concluded a 10 hour day. Lots of napping and refueling the rest of the afternoon. We had planned to climb the Fish Hook Arete the next day on Mt. Russell. The next morning came after a long night of being harassed by an alpine mouse. I tried to wake Chris but he was dead to the world, so I went back to sleep, and hour and half later Chris awoke from the dead and was ready to go however we were behind schedule and due to all the afternoon thunderstorms and the fact that we were tired and would not be able to move fast decided to not proceed with the climb. After some breakfast we hike back down to Whitney Portal. If you do any climbs on Whitney bring trekking poles to save your knees from the steep trail, I was glad to have mine. Overall it was a great time up on the mountain in a beautiful alpine setting. The route is a classic way up the mountain, it is not a route that I would repeat as I think there are better routes in the area on better rock, but if you have not climbed Whitney it worth climbing. I have lots of great photos I will try add eventually.

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