We made it! We conquered the tallest peak in the contiguous U.S.A. - Mt. Whitney (14, 497 ft.)!!! Located near Lone Pine, CA in the Sierra Nevadas. See the map.
The Expedition Team: Ed & Becky Reber, Eric Reber (Ed's brother), Eric's girlfriend Eve Tokos, Matthew Reber (Ed's cousin), Becky Marlis (Ed's cousin), Dan Duffy (Ed & Becky's friend from FSU), and Tom Mann (another friend who went to high school with Ed).
We all met up at the Lone Pine Campground 6 miles west of Lone Pine, CA on Saturday, August 14, 1999. Four members of the expedition arrived at 3 AM (Sunday), since their plane was 15 hours late getting in. Sunday at around noon we were at the trailhead and headed up the mountain. Sunday we hiked 3.5 miles from the trail head (8,360 ft) to Outpost Camp (10, 365 ft) where we camped for the night. Monday we hiked 2.5 miles to Trail Camp (12,000 ft), this camp would make a good wind tunnel! Above the tree line and just 2,497 feet below the summit this camp got very cold after the sun went down, few of us got a good night's rest. Tuesday morning at 6 AM we got up and by 7 AM we were heading up the mountain with plenty of water and food. The round trip to the summit and back is 9 miles with no water sources on the way. At 11 AM, August 17, 1999, WE MADE IT TO THE SUMMIT!! Summit day was actually the easiest because we could leave all unnecessary gear at Trail Camp although it was cold!
After eating a small lunch and taking lots of quirky pictures, we headed back down to Trail Camp. It was 2 PM by the time we reached camp rested for a half hour, packed up camp and then headed further down to Outpost Camp. Outpost Camp was much warmer with no wind. We had dinner by 7 PM and fell into our sleeping bags, very exhausted! Wednesday morning by 8 AM we hiked the rest of the way down to the Whitney Portal - very excited we all made the summit together, and in one piece! Some crazy lunatics were doing the 6,137 ft. (22 mile) hike in one day. We decided it was better for our group to do it in four days (its better to take your time to acclimate to the altitude than to have a miserable time, or not to make it at all!) - words of the wise!
The only bummer came when we got back to the cars. We left 3 of the 5 cars in town so they would be safe from bear attacks. The bears are very bold and break into cars all the time to find food by smell or sight. The day before the hike we checked out the trailhead and found one car that had been broken into. So, when we left the two cars we were very careful about getting all the food out of the cars. But not careful enough, there was a small bag of trail food left in the trunk of one of the cars. A bear broke the driver's side window and then shredded the back seat trying to get the food. There were 4 other cars in the parking lot that were broken into.
We had such a great group of experienced hikers with us! Eight people four states (CA, NY, PA, ID)! The group dynamics were wonderful - they had to be after 5 days without a shower or shave!
Wednesday afternoon we all drove back into town and had the meal we had all been craving for 5 days - the best hamburger and french fries we had ever tasted! Our victory celebration could only be topped with a nice cold beer or Coke!!
We don't do these hikes because they're easy - we do them because they're hard!!