Whitney dagi (14,505ft / 4421m), California eyaletinin en yuksek dagi. Ayni zamanda, Amerikanin diger eyaletlerinden cografi olarak ayri konumlanmis durumda olan Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico gibi bolgeleri haricindeki en yuksek zirvesi. Cok populer bir zirve ve izin almak icin cok onceden basvurmak gerekiyor. Ben de hep bu izin alma kismi yuzunden ertelemistim bu dagi ta ki 2014 Everest ekip arkadasim Magali beni arayip Mayis sonunda yapacaklari tirmanista bir kisilik yer oldugunu soyleyene kadar.
Zirveye giden birkac degisik rota var, en kolayi normal patikayi takip etmek. Bir de “dagcilarin rotasi" diye gecen daha teknik ve zor bir rotasi var, biz bu rota icin yola ciktik.
7-8 saatlik araba yolculugundan sonra tirmanisin basladigi kasabaya geldik. Burada bir gece gecirdikten sonra, arabalari parkettigimiz yerden yuruyuse basladik. Yarim saat sonra esas patikadan ayrilip, cok az kullanildigi icin pek de patika gibi gorunmeyen, yer yer yolumuzu sasirtan diger yone dogru yurumeye basladik. Nehirlerden gectik, buyuk kaya duvarlari uzerinde zikzaklar cizerek yukseldigimiz yan gecisler yaptik, slab denen buyuk ve egimli kaya yuzeylerinden yuruyerek/tirmanarak kamp yapacagimiz “yukari izci golu” denen kampyerine vardik. Birseyler yedikten sonra sabaha karsi 3te kalkip 4te yola cikmak uzere cadirlarimiza cekildik. Toplamda 5 kisi idik. Zaten izin oyle calisiyor: o rota uzerinde bir gunde sadece 5 kisi olabiliyor.
Sabah tirmanacagimiz kulvarin dibine geldigimizde gunes artik coktan dogmustu. Kulvar, sezonun daha cok basi oldugu icin kar doluydu. Magali daha once bu rotayi yaz sonu bu kulvarda hic kar yokken ve sadece surekli yer degistiren ve dusen kayalar ve taslar varken tirmanmis. Hepimiz kar’i tercih ediyoruz cunku sabahin erken saatlerinde, hala sertken, kramponlari takip buz kazmalariyla tirmanmak nispeten daha seri ve kolay. Bu sekilde 2 saat tirmandiktan sonra kulvarin tepesinde bir kose donuyoruz ve onumuzde daha kisa ama daha dik, ve yarisi kaya/buz baska bir kulvarla karsilasiyoruz. Bu noktada ipimizi cikarip emniyet alarak ilerliyoruz. Zirveye vardigimizda ayaklarinda normal yuruyus botlari, rahat kiyafetler, ve kucuk sirt cantalari olan insanlar bize sanki uzaydan gelmisiz gibi bakiyor once. Bunlar en basta bahsettigim patikayi takip ederek zirveye cikan insanlar.
Mount Whitney (14,505ft / 4421m) is the highest mountain in California. It is also the highest mountain in the lower-48 and in the contiguous US. It is a popular peak and one has to reserve a permit well in advance. I haven’t been able to plan properly to get permits for the mountain - that’s why I never climbed it before till one day my Everest teammate Magali told me that they have space in their permit for the last weekend in May.
There are a few different routes leading to the summit. The easiest one is just to follow the trail that takes you to the top. Another one, technical and more challenging, is called “mountaineers’ route” and that’s the route we had the permits for.
After a 7-8 hour drive to the town where the climb starts and spending the night here, we started the hike to our campsite. After half an hour or so, we had to leave the main trail and get on the other one that is not maintained at all since only few people use it. We crossed rivers, traversed on cliffs, walked/climbed on slabs and got to our camp site at Upper Boy Scout Lake. After eating some food, we got some rest till 3 am the next morning to leave at 4am. We were 5 in total and that’s the limit on the permits for this route.
When we got to the bottom of the couloir, the sun was out already. The couloir was full of snow since it was still very early in the season. Magali climbed this route before towards the end of a summer a few years back and it was full of loose rocks then. We all prefer the snow since, early in the am, it is relatively easier to move up with crampons and ice axes. We climbed about 2 hours like that and when we got to the end, we made a turn and faced another couloir albeit very short, leading to the summit. At that point we had to rope up since there was also rock and ice and it was much steeper. When we got to the summit, we saw other people there in their normal hiking shoes, daypacks, and normal hiking clothes and they were looking at us as if we just landed from space or something since we had all kinds of gear hanging all around us and we were all really exhausted. Since the conditions were more challenging than we thought, by the time we got to the summit, everyone had almost drunk all their water. We saved a few sips of our remaining water for the way down.