Mt Whitney is the highest point in the contiguous US at 14,505, and it’s right next to the lowest point in the US Death Valley at -282 ft. So you get the general idea about the surrounding terrain. One word: formidable.
Unless you have some balloons. And a lawn chair. And a rifle. Beer optional.
This urban legend, believe it or not, is absolutely true, and it happened right overhead.
In 1982, Larry Walters USAF, did the thing. pic related and he doesn’t look anything like you’ve been conditioned to think he will. I love those shades, very very cool cat here. He used 1485 cubic feet of helium. So apparently, he aimed to fix the lack of zeppelins in the Air Force all on his own. He wound up at 16,000 feet, where he sat munching sandwiches, drinking beer, and causing LAX pilots to start believing in UFOs, for 14 hours, whereupon he shot out a few balloons, drifted gracefully into a set of electrical wires in Long Beach, unbuckled himself from his lawn chair, and buckled himself into the back of an LAPD cruiser. When asked why he did it he said “a man can’t just sit around”. In 1993, he was found dead in a remote canyon near Mt. Whitney, shot through the heart of an apparent suicide at age 44. Bummer way to go when you did something so awesome before.
Anyways, Whitney Portal Falls is probably the easiest place to get to in this area, meaning, you can practically drive to it, and there’s a campground, and a restaurant. Everything from there on out is uphill. If you decide to hike it, you have to file your flight plan so the rangers know when to go out searching for your decomposing remains if you don’t return. I think you have to weigh your backpack too so they can yell at you if you don’t pack out every ounce of your trash…remember that old sci-fi Douglas Adams take on such things? Once past the red tape, you get to hike into the barren moonscape of the famous 99 switchbacks, which lead to a 50ft section of an ice cliff ledge that you have to edge your way across (they put in iron cables to try and keep you from dying) Then you climb through the stabby jagged peaks called the Windows and scramble through a 45 degree angled shale field to the top. Again, follow the rules, the main rule being ‘don’t die’. Here’s a hiker’s slideshow, it’s truly an impressive climb. Once at the top, there’s a little stone house to keep you sheltered from the wind, and for you to try to catch your breath, because you gotta get back down again somehow.
Xander is too busy enforcing environmental regulations to pop in and teleport you down.
I really like it. Good job.
Don't know if it is still there, but there use to be a wrought iron cross some Mexican climbers who came up the east face hard way had planted to give thanks.
You have to do it right by spending a couple of days at the Portal to get acclimated to the altitude.
But for crazy, they used to foot race from the Portal to the summit and back down for time under a day. It is definitely a different world from then.
The slickness on the rocks is clay like and moldable whilst still looking solid, the water is as wonderfully reflective as per usual,and the soft green trees on the left is a nice contrast to the bold reds on the right. This whole picture feels hand shaped and within reach. I want to step into this place.
Honestly one of my favourites from you yet.