Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier mountaineering school and guide service – Bishop, CA

Mount Whitney with a group from Japan

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This has been one heck of a spring in the Sierra. One day is a perfect spring day; the next four are full on winter. The snow pack is still not melting and we have had to cancel trips because of the quantity of snow.

But we have been lucky on Mount Whitney and managed to get to the summit on all of our trips including this one. We have worked with Katsuhiro Yamashita, a Japanese IFMGA guide, before and this year he brought a group of five women and one man to climb Whitney in a quick one week trip from Japan. All of the group was older with the youngest being 59 and the oldest 69. One woman had also climbed all of the Seven Summits as well as a host of other peaks.

We left Whitney Portal on June 26th. This spring has been typified by strong winds and this trip was no exception and was with us all of this trip. Above Lower Boy Scout Lake it is solid snow, but we were lucky to find bare ground for camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake..

Overnight we had cloud and sprinkles and were not sure about the 27th. We left early and made good time with easy cramponing on firm snow. Travel up the Mountaineers Gully went well with the snow but the final section to the summit was definitely hard than without snow. We were on top by midday in a very strong wind but with fantastically clear skies. We were able to be able to see all the way tot he Coast Range, the San Bernadinos and barely, San Jacinto above Pal Springs. These days there are few times you can do this!

The snow had softened a lot by the time we headed down so it was hard work back to camp. But all went well and by midday on the 28th we were back at the Portal enjoying Doug’s burgers and fries.

It was great to work with this group and in particular the ladies were tough.  No one was taller than 5 foot six inches, were not used to carrying a big backcountry pack and had to adapt to the carry out your own waste system. Some had not been to four thousand meters before, but everyone smiled, had a great time and was happy to be in the mountains of California.

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Written by SP Parker

June 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm

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