Earlier this Spring I was fortunate enough to draw an Overnight Permit in California’s Mt. Whitney recreation zone, which contains the lower 48’s highest peak (Mt. Whitney: 14,505′) along with some of its most rugged backcountry. This past weekend we completed our trip and got some great off-season gear testing in.
For this week’s post I wanted to share some photos of the trip, and also highlight the awesome high country we have here in California- which may come as a surprise to some.
On the trip was Ben Britton (KUIU), my dad Mike Harney, and myself. While we could not summit due to an impassable 8-day accumulation of snow along the cliffy portions of the trail on the final ascent, it was a quality self-assessment trip to gauge our strengths and weaknesses heading into the 2015 season.
Looking back toward the valley floor on the initial ascent.
Dad on a sit break.
Onward and Upward.
Dad and I.
Ultra Star in the afternoon….
And then the next morning.
The MSR Reactor boils snow incredibly fast at 13,000+ feet.
The top finally begins to show itself in the distance.
Once again, lots of overnight snowfall.
Feeling the elevation.
Ben and I broke in the trail for the day after a night of snow. This climb up “The Chute” was definitely the steepest and toughest portion of the trip.
Luckily we hit the chute early while the snow was still hard. The day prior, an avalanche slid through this section taking a few hikers with it.
Ben making his way up.
If you look closely in the bottom left corner below, a couple people can be seen following our tracks to the base of the ascent.
This is where we decided the trail became too sketchy. Having never been there before we didn’t want to guess where the trail was beneath the snow through this cliffy 1/2-mile traverse.
Lastly, Ben would like to remind everyone not to forget sunscreen when hitting the snow-covered slopes this Spring…
If anyone else has used their KUIU gear on any epic off-season climbs this year, email me your best photo and a caption at ToddH@KUIU.com. I would be glad to post it up here.
Thanks for reading.