First Attempt to Climb Mount Whitney

This trip was done with my good friend Curt Blair in September of 1990.

We had travelled to Yosemite with the intent of climbing the North Face of Fairview Done in Tuolumne Meadows. We did do a nice warmup climb that consisted of two or three pitches. The next day, when we arrived at the base of Fairview Dome, a gentle rain was falling, water was running down the rock, and we chose to do something else. Something else, as it turned out, was to try the east face of Mount Whitney.

Day 1 - September 27, 1990

This may have been the same day we gave up on Fairview, drove through Bishop (loading up on Sheepherders Bread) and on to Lone Pine, where we obtained our wilderness permit. The North Fork of Lone Pine Creek is under a different quota system than Whitney itself, so a permit was not a problem. We began hiking up the Whitney trail, but left it after a bit less than a mile and headed up Lone Pine Creek. We may have gotten confused about the "Matterhorn shaped rock" and the place to scramble up to the Ebersbacher ledges, but in any event the rain was starting again in earnest and we found ourselves in the midst of a thicket of willows with darkness rapidly falling. Curt had his amazing gore-tex tent, and we had the good fortune to find a tiny spot of open and level ground just big enough to pitch the tent. With ourselves, our packs, and all of our gear in the tent, we spent a very snug and pleasant night. Not without worry since we were only a couple of feet from the stream, we had concerns about rising water.

Day 2 - September 28, 1990

The rain has stopped and the day looks decent, so on we go. We backtrack and figure out a place where we can ascend to a ledge system above and on the right side of the canyon. This keeps us above the willow tangle and proves to be the route on up canyon. We make camp near lower Boy Scout Lake (having hiked only a mile or so??). I suppose the weight of climbing gear is excuse enough.

Day 3 - September 29, 1990

We awake to find several inches of snow on the ground and the face of Mount Whitney coated with ice and snow. We decide that our climb is clearly out of the question, pack up and hike out. The snow is melting as we descend, but we feel good about our decision and begin the drive home.

September 30, 1990

We had driven to someplace in Arizona, I think south of Kingman, and I persuade Curt that we should spend a pleasant night out and not kill ourselves trying to drive the whole way in one day. We awake and drive to Wickenburg, having breakfast in the Cock and Bull Cafe (it still exists, but with a different name). We get back to Tucson amidst rain in the mid afternoon to discover that our second son Paul was born just this morning while I was on the road. Well, well - so much for predicted birth dates.
Have any comments? Questions? Drop me a line!

Tom's hiking pages /