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Itai Axelrad

Mount Whitney

After a surreal couple of days in the dust of Desert Trip, Cody and I made the moonlight venture up the hill to Tahquitz. Our short morning out on Coffin Nail (5.8) would both commence and conclude our ‘training’ for an attempt at the East Buttress of Mount Whitney. What could possibly go wrong?

A month later, we found ourselves at Whitney Portal, trying to force the rented bear canister into a brimming bag before beginning our trek. We climbed passed the Ebersbacher ledges and pushed on towards the lakes - Lower Boy Scout, Upper Boy Scout, and finally Iceberg. We had spent the night by Lower Boy Scout to acclimate.

So close, yet so far
The View from Iceberg Lake

While I had felt swell on the preceding approach, at the foot of the Buttress I was overcome with altitude sickness. After some quick deliberation, we opted to stash our climbing gear and bailed towards the safer option of the mountaineers route. While I still felt rather ill, we pressed on sluggishly towards the summit. Cody, who had felt the altitude earlier at Upper Boy Scout Lake, was nearly recovered and led the way up the 3rd and 4th class chute to ‘The Notch’. After a short pause for breath, we climbed the remaining 400 feet of 4th and easy 5th to the summit.

Cody, at the summit
Myself, at the summit

At the top, we signed the summit registry and took in the view before making the very long hike down.

Descending from summit to the notch

While we did not complete the original goal of climbing the East Buttress, the adventure was worthwhile. One day - perhaps with the proper training and experience - we will return for our redemption.

Till then, we’ll be icing our whole bodies in an attempt to recover.