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Mt. Whitney Bound…Again!

Still Plenty of Snow

On Saturday morning I will be flying to California to spend a couple of days backpacking the Mt. Whitney portal trail with my good friend Ben Tang. This will be my second attempt to summit Whitney. If you recall, at about this time last year I made the same trip but was unable to reach the summit due acute mountain sickness (AMS), or altitude sickness. I’m hoping that won’t happen this time.

I’ve taken some additional precautions this year to help avoid AMS. My doctor has prescribed me Diamox to help combat the effects of AMS. Glen Van Peski of Gossamer Gear bought me some packets of Acli-Mate Mountain Sports Drink mix that you add to your water and which are supposed to lesson the effect of altitude sickness through better hydration. And thanks to my previous fitness preparation for the GORUCK Challenge, I’m in better physical shape than I have been in years. We’ll see if any of this makes a difference.

Testing New Gear
I’ll also be taking some cool new items of gear with me for testing while I’m hiking. I’ll be beta testing the new
Gossamer Gear Air Beam Pack Frame, made by Klymit, that is custom tailored to fit into the back panel of GG backpacks where the SitLite pad would normally go. It looks a bit like the world’s smallest inflatable sleeping pad at first glance. I’m curious to see how this works out and whether I can find any other uses for it during my hike so that it can perform double duty.

GG / Klymit Air Beam Pack Frame

Slightly less sexy that the GG Airframe are some prototype WAG bags from my friends at Cleanwaste. These special WAG bags have been formulated with a mild perfume to help cover the smell of what’s inside. I’m eager to try these out.

Waste Alleviation and Gelling (WAG) Bag

In addition to the new WAG bags, I’ll be carrying some advanced NyloBarrier odor proof bag prototypes from Jhaura at LiteTrail. Originally intended for use as food bags or bear bags, I’m thinking that using one to contain my WAG bags will be about the best empirical “smell” test I can possible perform with it.

I’ll be using my new SPOT II Messenger to check in via GPS from along the trail, but other than that I’ll be offline for most of next week. I’m looking forward to telling you all about my trip, good or bad, when I return.

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  • That back panel looks like it could work as a pillow, especially if you folded it over and put it in a thin cover/case.

  • Using it as a pillow was the first thing tha came to mind for me, although I hadn’t thought about folding it over. I don’t know if it would be durable enough to use as a sitting pad, always risky with an inflatable anything.

  • We have some lightweight pillow cases that we use for stuffing jackets or sit pads in for pillows. We have used a Therm-a-Rest inflatable sit pad (folded over) in combination with something like this: with good success. Although we did have to sew the pillow cases a little smaller to make them the right size.

  • Have a great trip! Hope the precautions help with the AMS and sounds like you should have lots of fun tinkering with some new gear that we’ll all eagerly be waiting for reviews on. The Klymit frame has me intrigued. I use FlexAir pillows in that pad holder as my pillow at night and it’s worked pretty well, but not that durable/reliable for longer trips.

  • Snctool

    Brian, I also got the altitude sickness years ago when I was 19 years old hunting in the mountains in Oregon. I would get very weak from the thin air and my legs would collapse on me. We Easterners are not used to such elevations and thin air. As you say being in great physical shape makes all the difference. Good luck.

  • Best of luck Brian. I summited Whitney 2 weeks ago and a member of our party had a long history of severe altitude sickness as low as 9000 ft (though his fitness is superb at sea level). With his Diamox prescription and one night at altitude he made it to the top and back safely. If you intend to camp at Trail Camp, check out Consultation Lake instead. It’s about a quarter mile away, just off trail, has several established and well sheltered campsites, and is much less crowded with great water access. Several pics of our camp there are in my Whitney album: My zPacks Hexamid performed beautifully in a downpour). I also used an odor proof Lopsak bag for my WAG bag (which looked like the same wag model as the one you’re testing) and it performed flawlessly at sealing in a reek that made me believe I’d excreted pure evil. I’ll never use a wag without one again. Anyway, best of luck–looking forward to the write-up.

  • JamminJim

    Brian: I’ve used very successfully Ginkgo Biloba…the best you can find. It’s plant-based, slight blood thinning, improving microcirculation. Have a great time!

  • Good luck Brian and have a safe trip. Can’t wait to hear your trip report and some new gear reviews.

  • Lance Milks

    Have a good trip. My girlfriend is from Cali and we go to the San Gabriel Mountains every year. I plan to do Mt. Whitney soon.

  • Good luck on your hike man! I wish I could be going with you…maybe next time…
    And I am looking forward to hearing how the LiteTrail bags contain the …odor… :)

  • Best Wishes on your Climb! I found the Wag bags contain odors quite well, unless they are left in places where the marmots and critters have a chance to investigate. If you set a Wag bag with warm contents on the ground, tears in the plastic will magically appear, guaranteed.

  • Daryl Davis

    Good Luck! I’ll be making my first attempt at the end of September.

  • BarefootJake

    Best of luck and hope to see some epic photos when you return.

  • Theresa

    Where are the photos for this? How did the trip go? I hope you managed to get a lot of decent photos and make a lot of great memories. Best of luck and health to you, Brian.

  • Joseph

    Odd that you don’t mention making the summit or not, a month later.

  • Joseph, it’s not odd I’ve just been extremely busy with work and family life – that happens sometimes. For the record I did summit Mt. Whitney this time and had an absolute blast. I have a post drafted but need to finish it up. Thanks for you patience.

  • Daryl Davis

    Work? Family? And you call yourself an ultralighter–HA!
    Seriously, though, I know about that. I’ve been largely absent from the outdoors since the birth of my daughters (twins) 9 years ago.

    Congratulations on topping out. My buddy and I are driving down to Whitney Portal, about 6.5 hours from San Jose, on Tuesday. We’ll camp at the Portal for a couple of days, and will enter the Main Trail on Friday.