The last weekend you could possibly get permits for Mt. Whitney I (Kolby) got invited to go on a little adventure with 5 other recent Pepperdine graduates to hike to the summit of highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney at 14,505 ft.
My training? Nothing but CrossFit 3-4 days a week. Constantly varied, functional movement, performed at high intensity. I even wore my Rebook Nano5’s for the entire trip!
We camped Friday evening at a campground about 5 miles from the Whitney Portal, where we did a gear check and made sure we had all the proper equipment for the climb. Last minute we went into Lone Pine (the closest town) and bought micro spikes just in case it was snowy or icy on the way up. Made a fire Friday night, ate dinner, and watched the stars for a few hours.
Saturday morning wake up was 5:45 am moon still shining. Packed up camp, ate some more food, and headed to the portal at about 8,000 ft. Not moving, the cold really gets to you. Wearing multiple layers and jackets we all geared up and weighed our packs and averaged 40 lbs for each of us and started our trek up this 7 mile day. Numerous and numerous switch backs start to take their toll, even though they aren’t steep, I could feel the air getting thinner, and my legs getting tired. I continued to take big deep breaths to keep my heart rate at a reasonable pace. We got to our camp at about 1:30 pm, plenty of time to enjoy the afternoon, set up camp and watched the sunset, which happens pretty early while we were in the valley. Just 100 feet above us the snow was all over the ground and ice and wind were ready to give us a challenge. Boy was I glad I decided to buy those micro spikes on Friday afternoon. After a cold dinner and literally freezing temperatures we headed to bed with very warm sleeping bags and man did I bury myself deep that night.
Sunday morning wake up was 3:30am, earlier than the day before. Headlamps got turned on right away and as soon as we had eaten a little food and gotten as warm as we could in our gear, we headed off to the summit with small packs, leaving our camp as it was until our return. My hands and toes were very cold for about the first hour of climbing the 99 switch backs. Snow in some places was ankle deep and in others it was frozen over so our spikes dug in effectively. Many groups before us had turned around because of the conditions, saying it wasn’t worth the risk of slipping on the ice or snow off the side of the mountain. We didn’t let that bother us 🙂 We got to watch a beautiful sunrise about half way up the climb. Altitude definitely took its toll on our bodies as we slowed from our usual quick pace into slow steps putting our way to the top.
We spent about 20 minutes at the summit taking pictures and doing other foolish things 🙂 Then we started our journey back to the portal! We got back to camp, packed up, and started the quick decent. We got back to the portal by sunset (about 6:30) and decided on eating crazy amounts of pizza for dinner and boy did that pizza taste glorious after 2 days of snacks and dehydrated foods.
This CrossFit thing has given me the opportunity to do so many things that I didn’t think I would ever do! Adventure with fitness.