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approaching mt whitney from the west side of the sierras

A former hiking friend came by the house the other day. We had not seen each other for five years. Our last hike was to the top of Mt Whitney in 2010.

We reminisced for awhile, sharing stories of hikes and trips each had done during the previous years. He had returned to the Sierras and to Mt Whitney again and taken a vacation to Hawaii.IMG_0108

I had hiked the John Muir Trail and le pèlerinage de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle and traveled to southern France several times. That conversation brought back a lot of fond hiking memories, and prompted me to find the photographs of our trip to the top of Mt. Whitney, the first time for the both of us. Another mutual friend went with us.

The most common and obvious route to the top of Mt Whitney is from the east by way of the Whitney Portal. One needs to apply for a permit in advance; they are hard to obtain.

Ken, Jerry, and I decided to approach from the west. We had not obtained a Mt Whitney permit, but we knew that we could get a permit that would allow us to hike two or three days to the base of the western flank of Mt Whitney. From there we could hike to the top. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

The guide book told us that it would take us four to five days, but it didn’t. All of us were experienced, strong hikers. We arrived within a couple of days. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

The trick to hiking to the top is to begin climbing early in the morning, very early, when the sun has not peaked over the horizon, when it is still dark. The climb begins in blackness.

On the east and west side of the ridge of Mt Whitney, the trail winds back and forth back and forth endlessly. I believe the west side is the easiest to hike. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

Other views of Mt Whitney can be seen in some earlier posts.

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