We got a permit to be up in the Mt. Whitney area for a few days around Fourth of July weekend. Routes on the list included the East Buttress of Whitney and Mithril Dihedral on Mt. Russell, two of the highest peaks in the Sierra. (If you’re into that sort of thing, Mt. Whitney is the highest mountain in the Lower 48.) If time allowed and all went well, we also planned to head over to Death Valley and go up Telescope Peak, the highest peak in the national park. At 11,000′, it was sure to be cooler than the bottom of the valley!
After staying overnight at 8000′ Whitney Portal to start to get acclimated to the higher elevations, we packed up and walked up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek to Iceberg Lake at the base of Whitney, and continued to acclimate for another night. We climbed our two routes over the next two days, and were fortunate to see hardly anyone but rosy finches and a few other climbers — a rare treat, considering the popularity of this area.
ON TO DEATH VALLEY
Perfect weather allowed us to go up both of our planned peaks. Since we’d spent three days at 12,000+ feet, we figured it wasn’t going to get any easier to try a run up Telescope Peak in the Panamint Range, whose trailhead begins at 8000′ and ends 7 miles later at the summit.
We started at sunrise and were down off the mountain by 11am as thunderheads were beginning to build over the Panamints. We headed to Bishop after this, and spent Fourth of July with friends. A great end to a great trip!