|Happy New Year 2000 from Cathy & Bob
|Frozen waterfall from Outpost Camp
|Sandra & Jay, where we turned around (that's Whitney's summit in the upper-left haze)
We got up before sunrise on the 31st, the temperature a brisk 7 degrees F, heated up water for breakfast, and proceeded to break camp. The sun reached us at 9AM, and for a little while, we were stripped down to a single layer each of polypro and pile.
|That's me just south of Whitney
It soon clouded up, and it was probably around 10:30 and 13000' when we got our first snow flurries. It didn't seem like a big deal, so we pushed onward, up and over Trail Crest. From there, it's 2 miles of northward traverse along the Sierra crest, past Mt. Muir, to Whitney's summit.
As the clouds thickened and the breeze picked up, we added layers. The day's trek started to feel like less of a hike, and more like alpinism. Guitar Lake, and its neighbors west of the crest, lay frozen beneath us through the cloudy haze, and we negotiated the occasional snowdrifts on the exposed trail.
|Descending the Whitney summit ridge
We discussed our options. We could get to the summit within about an hour, which would leave us plenty of time before dark to prepare camp on the summit, but perhaps not enough time to then descend back to Trail Camp in daylight if that's what we decided to do. The concern was that if it continued to snow into the night, there might be so much fresh snow on the steep ramp below Trail Crest that the route would be difficult, hazardous, or both. We didn't actually think that this storm had enough of a punch to do that, but we didn't know that for sure.
|Whitney Trail Crest, 13600', on New Years Eve
At the turnaround point, we talked with one guy, a soloist, who was also concerned about the snow, but who decided to go for the summit anyway. He had summitted the previous day as a warm-up. Another fellow, also solo, had traveled from Onion Valley along the Muir Trail; we saw him descending from the summit with a full pack, saying that he too thought staying overnight was too risky with the possibility of fresh snow. Another couple with full packs turned back near Mt. Muir.
|Cathy Bianco descending at 13K
We spent our New Years at Outpost camp, after a very tedious hike in the dark below Trail camp (we wanted to get all the way to Outpost since it would be more sheltered there, and also because there was a creek with some actual liquid water). We had soup, ate dinner, and Jay pulled out the obligatory mini bottle of champagne. Then we crawled into our sleeping bags to await the new year.
Saturday morning we hiked out. Dayhikers greeted us with the news that the world survived Y2K, and that, more importantly, restaurants were open and serving breakfast in Lone Pine. And from our table at PJ's, we could see Mt. Whitney, looking wonderful, surrounded by blue sky.
-Bob Akka, 1/4/00
|Wake up, it's midnight! Bob & Cathy 1/1/2000 on the Whitney Trail.
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