Thursday, September 8, 2011

Whitney Portal

I've decided to start with a trip we took about three weeks ago (August 18th - 21st). We were heading up to Sacramento to visit my wife's family because her sister was in town with her family from Germany. I obviously wanted to take the oportunity to do some climbing so I planned on making a few stops on the way there. I hoped to be able to stop at the Whitney Portal in the town of Lone Pine, then check out the Owens River Gorge in Bishop, we were planing on spending the night in Lake Tahoe with my wifes brother and his family who were also traveling to Sacramento from Utah, so I wanted to check out some of the Tahoe area climbing as well the following day.

Mount Whitney

Now, we have two kids, so of course we ended up leaving a little later than we had planned, but we were on the road by about 8:30 which isn't too bad. We made a quick stop at Taco Bell in Ridgecrest before continuing on to Lone Pine and the Whitney Portal. Let me just say here that if you've never seen Mount Whitney and the High Sierras, it is an amazing sight. We stopped a couple of times as we drove up Whitney Portal Road to take some photos of the view. When we arived at Whitney Portal, we decided that it is one of our new favorite places. You're in a beautiful mountain setting surrounded by huge rock faces, there's a waterfall right there, and the views of the high sierras are spectacular. We took a few photos of the area, loaded up with gear, and started up to trail to the Whitney Portal Buttress for some climbing.

Whitney as seen from the Alabama Hills

Whitney Portal

Whitney Portal Buttress

Now I had researched online about the hike up to the buttress, and everything I had read made it sound like a pretty quick hike. It sounded like you just took the Mt. Whitney trail to the first switchback then it was a quick jaunt up the hill to the base of the rock so I was thinking like 10-15 minutes. Because of this I decided that it would be fine to take all our gear including 2 ropes and 4 full sets of cams since we weren't sure what we'd be climbing yet (I weighed our bags at the beginning of the trail and we had a full 70 lbs of climbing gear). I also decided to just carry our daughter in her carseat so she'd have something to sit in while we climbed.

Amy after the hike

Sufice it to say, the hike was a bit longer than expected. 2.5 hours and much complaining from my wife later, we reached the rock. I had wanted to try a 5.10b crack, but it was baking in the sun so we decided to do the first pitch of a route that tunnels through a chimney so we'd stay cool.

The Route

I started up the route, and the first 50 feet or so went well as I climbed to the base of the chimney. The climbing was easy, probably around 5.6 max and all was going well, but I had some blisters on my big toes from playing ultimate frisbee the night before that were hurting when I'd jam my feet in the cracks. I started up the chimney and that's when the climbing turned into a less than enjoyable experience. The chimney was awkward, I had no protection, and my feet were killing me. After another 50 feet or so of climbing I realized that I climb for fun, and this wasn't fun, so why was I doing it.

At least Danny had fun

There was nothing to rap off of in the chimney, so I decided that I was just going to downclimb the route. I downclimbed the route without incident and we decided that we'd had enough fun at the Whitney Portal Buttress for one day. We packed up the gear and hiked back to the car, luckily the hike back was much quicker and easier since it was downhill the whole way.

After that, we were running short on time for getting to Lake Tahoe, and my wife didn't want anything to do with hiking or climbing, so that was it for the trip. We didn't do any climbing in Owens River Gorge or at Lake Tahoe. So basically the first post in my climbing blog is about an epic climbing failure. Awesome!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry I complain all the time...I'm trying to work on it!!