My Mt. Whitney Climb is Finally Here!

The big day is nearly here. Tomorrow I will be heading to the Sierra Nevada mountain range and my long-awaited hike of Mt. Whitney.

I’ve been training for this moment for about six months. But my routine was nothing like the contestants of The Biggest Loser. I sporadically lifted weights, did cardio 2-4 days a week, and cut back only slightly on my dietary vices.

Even though I wasn’t as hardcore about my diet and fitness regimen as I would have liked, I still lost about 16 pounds!

I could be down on myself for my lack of discipline, but I see the glass half full. It goes to show that even if you change a few relatively subtle things in your lifestyle, you can make a difference.

There are three of us on the trip. With the real chance that any of us may suffer from altitude sickness (Mt. Whitney’s summit is 14,496 feet, the highest in the continental U.S.), it is far from certain that we will make it to the top. We’ve taken the precaution of having our doctors prescribe Diamox, which combats the effects of thin oxygen. But after reading conflicting firsthand accounts of its use, I’m still not sure if I will take it or not.

The weather will be mild during the day (in the 40s), but will dip into the 20s at night. And there is plenty of snow to contend with. In fact, there is snow on the ground where we will be setting up camp after our first day of hiking.

Here is our plan of attack:

Saturday – Travel to and camp at the portal campground to acclimate ourselves to the altitude (elevation 8,000 feet).

Sunday – Wake up early and begin the ascent to the trail camp (elevation 12,000 feet and six miles in distance). It will take approximately six hours. Set up camp, eat dinner and get some early sleep since we will be up before dawn.

Monday – Wake up early and begin our ascent to the summit, about five miles and a four hour hike. Spend a short period of time enjoying our accomplishment, then begin the descent to the portal – a 10 hour hike of 11 miles.

I’m going into this trip with a positive attitude that we will all avoid altitude sickness, endure the long climb, and make it to the summit. But, I won’t look at it as a failure if we don’t make it to the top, especially considering I am a rookie climber.

I’ll be sure to post pictures and my results when I return next week!

2 Responses to My Mt. Whitney Climb is Finally Here!

  1. Brandi says:

    Congrats and best of luck Jason!!

  2. I’m envious! Too bad you don’t have several more days at 8000 feet for the acclimation process. I’m sure you’ve read that slow ascent (less than 1000 ft/day) is the best way to prevent acute mountain sickness. And good hydration is important. says people with a prior episode of acute mountain sickness “should probably be treated prophyllactically” with diamox of dexamethasone. I bet you reach the summit. Best wishes!
    -Steve Parker, M.D.

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