day 54, June 15th

Mt. Whitney Day

At 5 a.m. I start hiking and reach Crab Tree Ranger Station around 8 a.m. (Crab Tree Meadows is simply lovely by the way, I’d love to just hang out there for a couple of days. It’s idyllic.).

I meet Lawnornament, Manfred and Twisted Sister. Manfred wants to return via Cottonwood Pass because over Whitney Portal there is too much snow for his taste. Twisted S. who summited with a couple of friends and Lawnornament who decided not to go to the top tell me about the snow conditions.

I take my pack apart, leave everything else except food for the day, warm clothing and the iceax in the bearbox and head out at 8.45 a.m.

I fear that I am late in the day for the summit but I nontheless want to give it a try. The trail is pretty much covered by snow, it is still firm so I go over the snow cups. During those hours until I hit the switchbacks I caught myself wondering if I am goin to make it. The switchbacks seem endless, there are also a couple of steep snow traverses which on the way back I cross with my iceax. If I thought that the switchbacks were endless then I didn’t know about the last 1.9 miles… Many times I have to stop and rest and motivate myself to keep going.

The last part is again covered by snow so I follow other footprints and go up straight. So at 2.30 p.m. I reach the summit. Wow. 360 degree view over snowcovered ranges on the Western side and desert mountains in the East.

The Smithonian hut is full of snow. Somebody has carved out a bench.

The peak is only half of the way, I still have the other half before me. But descending the switchbacks is easy, I almost run them down.

Bam Bam and Nameless have somehow missed Guitar Lake and they see me descend which is good because I can show them where to start. They also see a person glisade (??)/ slide across one of those snowy traverses and tumble! And thank God selfarrest and slowly make it to the switchbacks.

After a nice chat I go on, the snow is soft and I struggle back to the campsite. I reach it pretty beat after the necessary ford.

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