Aug 4, 2004

50,000 reasons why i must hike whitney.

this evening i called to get my reservation to dayhike mount whitney, as all the camping spots had been taken. and it turns out that i am the 50,000th person to make a reservation to hike whitney. that just adds yet another reason why i must be successful on my whitney climb - 50,000 can't be a failure! there is also a geocache up there that i want to get because i have two travel bugs that i want to deposit in significant caches. there is the fact that i have to pay money to hike the mountain and i don't want to waste that money. there is the fact that the mountain is 3000 miles from home and it takes a good deal of time and expense to get there. there are my friends, coming from new york with me, who are also sacrificing a lot to be there and i would feel personally responsible if they didn't make it. and finally, there is the personal sense of satisfaction that i would lose if i didn't make it. now i'm self-aware enough to know that being turned back for whatever reason wouldn't make me a failure as a person - and i would get over it. but i would have a profound sense of dissapointment if i came back without summitting, regardless of how much i would have enjoyed the hike.

so when you have a high-altitude peak like whitney, there are basically two things you can do to prepare; and one is be in the best physical fitness possible when attempting it. my fitness is below average, but i am building endurance in the gym and on other hikes and the improvement is noticable. i will do everything i can to maximize the endurance before the hike - and losing a few pounds wouldn't hurt either. but the other thing that would really improve my chances is something called acclimization - getting used to the high altitude so your body will be prepared for the lack of oxygen, where the summit of whitney has only 60% the atmoshperic O2 that most of us get at sea level. Going straight from sea level to the summit of whitney borders on crazy because you're maximizing your exposure to a medical condition called AMS which can develop into life threatening conditions such as HACE and HAPE. (do a search if you're interested.) SO I'm doing what I can in the short amount of time available to me to acclimize - there's nothing i can do here in new york to prepare for a 14494 foot peak in california as the highest peak east of the mississippi river is mt. mitchell in north carolina which is only 6684 ft. additionally, my reservation is on september 2nd - the end of a two week trip out there. so to acclimize, i plan on hiking the arizona highpoint, humphrey's peak, which is 12,633'. I would go to flagstaff on the 30th, hike up on the 31st and then drive to whitney trailhead, where i would camp that night and rest on the 1st. my attempt on whitney will start before midnight on the 2nd, giving myself some extra time which will hopefully compensate for my fitness. it's not a perfect acclimization schedule, but probably better than average and it'll have to do. i might spend a day or two in idylwild and maybe check out san jacincto peak before humphreys, but with all the friends i want to see, i really don't see that happening.

i'm still looking for hiking partners, particularly for humphries. let me know if you're interested. if you want to hike whitney with us then go ahead and secure a permit for yourself - there are a bunch left at $15 per person. for information on how to do this go here: Be sure to ask for a dayhike permit for whitney on September 2nd. The more the merrier!!!

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