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Tough Choice...

February 19 2009 at 8:34 PM

Alan Ritter  (Login jaritter)

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Having done Whitney as an overnight backpack in 2001, with two nights at 8,000' in Mammoth Lakes and one dayhike to 11,000' worth of acclimation first, I'd be leery of flying back to CA and hitting the main Whitney trail the next day. Remember, you'll have been (literally) at sea level in HI and will have had a fairly long (5 hours) flight at cabin altitude (8,000' or so) before returning to sea level at LAX.

Much as I'd like to say "spend the extra day in HI," I vote for coming back to CA and spending a night (and preferably a day) at altitudes between 8k' and 10k' before hitting the trail for Whitney. Altitude sickness is no fun and if it keeps you from summiting Whitney, you'll be kicking yourself.

Also, keep in mind the schedule of the ranger station in Lone Pine. You have to pick up your permit in person (and listen to the requisite bear lecture) so depending on your HNL-LAX flight schedule, you might not make it to the ranger station in time to pick up your permit if you want to get an early start on the trail.

Hawaii is worth several short trips or one really long one...I've been there twice now and have yet to make it out to Maui, so I'll look forward to a third visit someday. I'm just conservative about acclimation any time I'm headed over 13k', so I think the tradeoff favors a quicker return to CA, despite my bias toward seeing more of HI.

Mark, chime in if you think I'm way off base but that's my call on the choice...

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