Caltech Peak / Mount Whitney Hike

The Itinerary:

Daily Schedule
7/18 (wed) Drive to Ranger Station in Lone Pine to get permits, drop off a car at Whitney Portal, drive on to Grays Meadows campground, maybe go to town for our last taste of real food, and car camp the night.
7/19 (thurs) Hike partway up to Shepherd's Pass and camp at Anvil Camp.
7/20 (fri) Hike up to Shepherd's Pass and set up camp between the Pass and Caltech Peak.
7/21 (sat) Climb Caltech Peak, possibly other peaks that look too tempting to pass up, and camp in the same area.
7/22 (sun) Hike toward Whitney and camp within striking distance of the summit. Guitar Lake is a likely spot to set up base camp.
7/23 (mon) Wake up early and climb Whitney, arriving at the top just before sunrise, and spend the rest of the day laughing at the pain everyone else is experiencing, as we descend, fully acclimated, to Whitney Portal. Drive the car we left there back to the camp site, and return with all cars and head home that night.

If possible, allow for an extra day, just in case we decide it would be best to spend another day in the mountains.
It appears that camping is allowed pretty much anywhere, with certain restrictions. The plan is to camp at somewhat "established" campgrounds when possible, probably near lakes or streams.

Here's a tentative plan for cars.
Car#1: Sara (from the north)
Car#2: Kevin, Angie
Car#3: Marc, Paul L
Car#4: Paul S, Sabrina
Car#5: Yuri, Michael, Felicia


Directions to Mount Whitney Ranger Station (in Lone Pine):
Take 395 to Lone Pine.
The Mount Whitney Ranger Station is supposedly located at:

640 South Main Street
Lone Pine, CA 93545

South Main Street is just 395, though, so it shouldn't be too hard to find.
However, MapQuest couldn't find the address, so be prepared for a bit of searching.

Directions to Grays Meadows Campground:
Take 395 to Independence.
The Campground is located on Onion Valley Road. You can take Market St. (go West, toward the BIG mountains) from downtown Independence, and it will turn into Onion Valley Rd. I think the campground is near Foothill Rd.


Here are some maps of lone pine and independence, courtesy of Yuri:
Lone Pine (close-up)
Independence (close-up)
Independence (not-so-close-up)

Some maps of the campsite:
The Campsite Map(We're near the center set of restrooms)
Close-up of our sites(We're sites 21, 33, and 35)

Technical Data

Here's some stuff from Paul's book about the hike:

The Adventurers

The following people have confirmed their interest in the hike:

Kevin Foltz (me)
Paul Lemahieu
Marc Riedel
Angelique Louie
Sara Roberts
Felicia Rusnak
Michael Johnson
Yuri Beregovski
Paul Storaasli
Sabrina (Paul's girlfriend)

This is 10 people interested, but we only have room for 9 on the current permit. We'll try to get Paul and Sabrina a permit (fax or walk-up).

Hiking Groups

Since we have a large group, it will probably be best to break into 2 or 3 smaller groups. This will make things easier from a practical standpoint, since it's easier to keep track of 3 or 4 people than about 10, and we can divide into groups that have similar hiking speeds, so people don't get pressured to go too fast, or get tired of waiting all the time. Also, it will help to reduce noise, impact on the environment, etc. Of course, choosing groups might be difficult now, since we don't all know each other yet. Here's my assessment so far (subject to change, when we figure things out better):

Paul and Sabrina (assuming things work out with the extra permits) will probably want to hike together.
Angie and Felicia seem to know each other well, and Sara knows Angie, so they will probably want to hike together.
As for the rest of us guys, Paul, Marc, and I all know each other, but I'm not so sure about Michael and Yuri.

The first day will be a pretty short day (in terms of distance) if we stop at Anvil Camp. We could use this as a "getting to know each other" day, to get a feel for how different people hike and help us to break into groups for other days. If you have any definite preferences on who you'd like to (or not like to?) hike with, make them known and we can divide accordingly.

Food Groups

We've pretty much decided on the following two groups for breakfast and evening meals:

Group#1: Angie, Felicia, Sara, Michael, Yuri
Group#2: Kevin, Paul, Marc, Paul, Sabrina

The basic idea is to plan and cook meals in groups of 5 instead of 10. This should help with organization. We can all share and sample each others' culinary creations, but we'll organize as small (well, not that small, I suppose) groups.


This isn't such a big deal, but just to get a feel for how the tenting situation will work, I've listed what I think the tent situation will be. If this is wrong, just let me know and I'll fix things up.

12 person tent Some subset of {Paul, Kevin, Marc}
22 person tent The rest of P,K,M
31 person tent Angie
42 person tent Sara, Felicia
52 or 3 person tentMichael, Yuri
6tarp Paul, Sabrina

Equipment, etc.

Here's a multiday trip "Equipment Checklist" from Paul's book "Mount Whitney, The Complete Trailhead-to-Summit Hiking Guide".
I expect that everyone will have everything on this list by the time we hit the trail!

Individual Items:
Map and compass
Internal frame pack
Sleeping bag to 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit
Sleeping pad
Lightweight gloves
Midweight polypropylene top
Powerstretch or microfleece vest
Fleece jacket with hood
Light, waterproof parka with hood
Lightweight polypropylene bottoms
Baggy nylon shorts
Wind pants with full-length zipper
Extra pair of wool-blend socks
Hat with sun visor
Cold-weather hat
Plastic measuring cup (2-cup size) and spoon
Wide-mount water bottles (2 liters)
Water purification tablets (iodine)
Sport drink (powder form)
Headlamp or flashlight
Extra batteries
Inexpensive watch
Small trash bag
Personal toiletries: sunbock (SPF-50), lip balm, aloe vera gel, insect repellent, toilet paper, cleansing wipes, antibacterial waterless soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, bandanna, retractable scissors, pocket knife

Group Equipment:
Hanging stove with cooking pot
2 lighters
Fuel canisters
Free-standing (2- or 3-pole) tent
first-aid kit: ibuprofen, moleskin, antibiotic, codeine, decongestant, antacids, elastic bandage, 4-inch gauze pads, adhesive bandages, butterfly bandages, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, first-aid field manual

Optional Items:
Ski pole or walking stick
Ice Ax
Camera and film
Global positioning system (GPS)
Cellular phone
Notebook and pen
Reading material
Day pack
Light down jacket or down vest
Water filter
Mosquito repellent

OK, now that you've read the list, you know I'm kidding about having everything (Ice Ax???), but it gives a good idea of stuff you may want to consider packing.

If you're looking to rent, Sport Chalet has some stuff.
Here's their rental rates page. I went in person and the rates were actually considerably higher than what's listed on the web.
I've heard good things about Adventure 16, also.
The Caltech Y has a good assortment of stuff, too, at cheap weekly rates.

The bear issue is still open for debate. I'm recommending that everyone use canisters, but that's mainly because I've never been in the region and it sounds like the safest thing to do. We'll get bear cans at the ranger station, if necessary, since they seem to have the best rates and the most up-to-date info.

Here's a little chart to help keep track of who has/needs what:
Name PackTentSleeping BagOther...
Kevin renting 1
Paul(L) 1 2 person 1 2 stoves, 2 water filters, 1st aid kit, repair kit, fishing gear
Marc 0 2 person 0
Angie 1 1 person + 2 2-person (heavy) 1 water purifier, 2 stoves, pots, fuel bottles
Sara 1 1.5 person 1 Stove, pots, water filter
Felicia 1 1 or 2 person 1 water filter
Michael 1 2 person 1 stove (MSR Whisperlite), cookset
Yuri 1 3 person 1 gas stove (1-burner)
Paul(S) 1(tarp) 1 white gas stove
Sabrina 1(tarp) 1

Here are some food suggestions from Paul's book. Bon Apetit!

Other Stuff

Here are some inspirational photos from Yuri:
Some Whitney pics from November 1999:
A pic from Caucasus in 1984:

Altitude Sickness
This could be a killer for us. Going from sea level to 12000 ft. will definitely take its toll. Of course, we're all in top physical form, so the effects will be minimal compared to what others would feel.

Here's a list of stuff that may help in battling altitude sickness:
Keep hydrated! (this will help in a lot of other ways, too)
Vitamin C/E (inconclusive data, but it probably won't hurt)
Cloves, Garlic, Mint, Ginkgo (I've read that these each help a bit)

Here's a nice link from Felicia describing Altitude Sickness:

Add Your Own Comments!

Click here to add your own comments.

Wed Jun 20 21:28:24 PDT 2001

Hey everyone, feel free to add any information, links, or random thoughts
here that the group might find useful or amusing. Chris Brennen's account
of his hike of Caltech Peak and Mt. Whitney makes for an interesting read.

Thu Jun 21 14:34:30 PDT 2001
Paul Storaasli

A large topo of the area can be viewed at Topozone:
In the Northeast corner is a trailhead (where the solid black
road meets the dashed trail). In the Southeast is Mt. Whitney.

Satellite imagery of Caltech Peak from the Terraserver:

A description of another route to and up Caltech Peak from Tet's Mountain Corder:

Thu Jul 12 15:27:46 PDT 2001

About altitude sickness: I don't expect any
problems (except for possible headache 2-3 hrs.
after arrival to the campsite) if we camp below
7000 ft. the first night. When I was there in
'99, our first camp was at Outpost Camp - that
was REALLY unpleasant, though I was in a better
shape than now. 7000 ft is probably an optimum.
We may feel colder than expected the first
evening, but that's about all.

The best cure that won't hurt in any case (and,
I guess, in any reasonable dose) is lemon or
orange juice. Some experienced people say ginseng
is very good, but I don't know the right dose.
Vitamin C is certainly helpful (we used about 0.5
g/day back in the USSR), but excess dose may cause
heartburn (it's acid, after all). If you want to
experiment with larger doses - make sure you have
some bicarbonate soda in your first-aid kit (or
baking soda). We didn't have powdered drinks in
the USSR, so I don't know how helpful they are.
The most sensible way is to drink juice and, if
you feel any signs of altitude sickness, use
vitamin C tablets.

There's another "interesting" effect of altitude
that we aren't going to experience (thank God for
small blessings). Rapid ascent to 10,000+ ft
sometimes causes a sort of euphoria - you feel
great and full of energy. The thing is, if this
happens, the full-scale altitude sickness is more
than likely, especially if you keep going up OR
careful if your condition suddenly becomes "too
good to be true". This isn't even a "hidden
reserve" - more like a "voltage spike".

BTW, my first trip to Mt Whitney was with two Russian
kamikazes who (would you believe that?) knew about
this effect and wanted to use it to get to the top
and back in one day - straight from L.A. They were in
superb shape, so they made it past Trail Crest to the
saddle, then decided to turn back - and you should've
seen them when they returned to the parking lot. I
tagged behind (out of curiosity) till just above Trail
Camp, then turned back and went down as fast as I
could. It turned out I guessed my "point of no return"
pretty accurately and just managed to keep my lunch
inside :) . Next time, we all did it "by the book",
after spending a night at Outpost Camp.