Summit and Anti-summit

Lone Pine Travel Blog

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Tents were tucked into the cracks during the night to sheild against the winds. The temperature had plummeted as soon as the shadow of the mountain passed over the camp
In the morning, the wind had stopped! The sun came out and a tall ice chute loomed above us. The last 1000 feet is usually traversed on a trail with endless switchbacks, but the ice had removed the trail. The only way up was straight up the ice. After talking to some mountain "regulars" we determined that the idea was to start the climb at about 10am, when the snow melted enough to grab onto, rush to the top, then back down before the slope re-froze at 3pm, as the shadow of the adjacent peak crossed over.

I was feeling fine again, and we headed up another thousand feet to the slick part of the ice chute, but altitude sickness, a potentially dangerous condition, had struck another of our climbers. It's really miserable- nausea, fainting, headache, and general weakness.
Crossing an ice bridge
You really have to get someone down fast once they start blacking out. Since I seemed to know about altitude sicknes, I was voted walk her back to a lower altitude while the others continued on. This worked out well since there was only ice gear for 3 anyway. Because there is not liquid water this high, we transfered most of our remaining supply to the climbers (there's a flowing creek just an hour below), and headed down as they headed up.

It worked well, a couple thousand foot drop and she was feeling better. Downhill's a lot easier, especially with a light water load. We continued down, arriving back at base camp in the afternoon. After sending my friend off, I felt really good (suddenly adding all that oxygen and pressure gives you super powers.
Approaching the ice chute in the morning. One of our companions had terrible altitude sickness, so I took her down to lower altitudes while the others climbed the last thousand feet to the peak
..), so I continued the the rest of the way down to the desert with a day pack, 4000 feet below, making an "anti-summit" to the base. Paid for that having to climb 4000 feet back up to the camp as the sun went down...

In the mean time, the others made it to the summit! They ascended the ice chute, crossed the knife edged ridgeline that leads up to the peak with breathtaking (if there was breath to take that high) of the western Sierra and Central Valley to the west, and the desert and Nevada to the east. The bronze survey marker at the top reads 14,505 feet!

Meanwhile, sleeping alone at the base camp, I had a visitor during the night. I woke the sound of my empty day pack being torn apart. I cracked the tent door to see if I could film the bear (if you know me, I film everything), and a horrible bear nose and blast of foul breath greeted me as he shoved his nose in.
Thin air, black skies - we're high in the atmosphere
I think we startled each other and he wandered off. Not a lot of sleep that night, I could hear him tearing the doors off cars in the parking area nearby.

The next afternoon the others came down off the mountain and we exchanged stories of highlands and lowlands. This was just a day climb, I have new respect for the climbers on Everest or K2, more than twice as high!

I would recommend the climb, but remember to reserve a climbing pass far in advance (usually for next year). I would suggest going a little later in the year unless you really like cold and ice, it would be a lot easier. If I do it again, I think I'll try the one-day alternative. Whereas we climbed with overnight gear, camped, summited, camped and descended, you can also leave before dawn, run up the mountain with a day pack, then come back down the same day, covering the easier lower slopes by headlamp. To me, this would be a lot easier than lugging camping gear and food for two nights up the mountain, and you'd have more freedom to explore without the bulky packs. Downside is that there is less of a safety net since you aren't equipped for an overnight stay if something happens.
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Tents were tucked into the cracks …
Tents were tucked into the cracks…
Crossing an ice bridge
Crossing an ice bridge
Approaching the ice chute in the m…
Approaching the ice chute in the …
Thin air, black skies - were high…
Thin air, black skies - we're hig…
This pond at 13,000 feet was our o…
This pond at 13,000 feet was our …
The rest of the party starts up th…
The rest of the party starts up t…
Me part way down the mountain.  No…
Me part way down the mountain. N…
Meanwhile, at the summit, the to t…
Meanwhile, at the summit, the to …
USGS marker at the summit, 14.505 …
USGS marker at the summit, 14.505…
Meanwhile, on the anti-summit run,…
Meanwhile, on the anti-summit run…
Cactus at 3000 feet.  This was the…
Cactus at 3000 feet. This was th…
Bear prints and torn off panel on …
Bear prints and torn off panel on…
Back at Whitney Portal, waiting fo…
Back at Whitney Portal, waiting f…
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Lone Pine
photo by: daveruz90