Thursday, October 14, 2010
A Winterish Ascent of Mt. Whitney
October can be a tricky time of year for a guide service. On one hand the weather in the valley is spectacular and the sun shines brightly. On the other hand the mountains can be finicky and the weather just never knows. This year we have gotten little flurries of storms and cold spells, covering the mountains with a thin layer of snow in the high country. Sport climbers and boulderers traveling from afar start to fill our parking lots and coffee shops looking for 'sending temps' in the shade and a tan in the sun. Guide services aren't hugely employed during these times and guides find themselves catching up on work or traveling to do some personal climbing. This year we have been pretty fortunate and have run several trips so far. Most recently, Jed porter took two accomplished Swiss climbers up to Mt. Whitney to give it a try. Between the two they had climbed over 40 of the alps 4000 meter peaks, completed numerous ski mountaineering (randonee rally) races, and traveled around the world for climbing and ski mountaineering. Their goal was the summit and their preference was the east face. However, suspicions of the seriousness of doing the east face in October were confirmed once they arrived. The route was cold and snowy and the days are just short. So the group decided to head up the Mountaineers Route instead. Jed led the way and they all thought it would be fun to ascent a gully on the east side of the notch. 7 pitches of 5th class alpine climbing led them to the summit. The climb was described as climbing rock, snow, ice, talus, and scree in crampons. Not an easy feat! What we love about this trip is that they went for it. You won't find Eastside climbers waiting for a better time of year to accomplish their goals and you shouldn't either. There is ALWAYS something to do on the Eastside.