We woke up from bed few minutes after 2 AM, took a little time to get prepared and have breakfast. By the time we started the hike at Whitney trail (8360 feet above sea level) it was 3:45 AM. We took too much weight, mainly water and Gatorade, compared to what we needed. Shahriar took 37 pounds, I took 33 pounds and Tanjeem took 25 pounds weight. Initially, Tanjeem was slower than us, as in the dark trail he felt the constant headache due to high altitude or sleeplessness. But we all thanked the trekking polls that we were using; otherwise we would have slipped often in the trail resulting in injuries. After the sunrise Tanjeem was matching our pace and we thought we started going faster despite some frequent breaks we took. However, we noticed after a while that some other people were crossing us coming from behind. That’s when we realized that we had been going on a too slow pace to reach the peak of Mount Whitney on time. But we still kept pushing ourselves forward. Tanjeem told us that he wanted to go till the Trail camp from where he could have a quick look at the famous 99 switchbacks and return from there. Shahriar and I were still dreaming of reaching the summit that day. Shahriar and Tanjeem were eating energy bars as and when they got tired. But due to my weird food habit, after some Gatorade and breads with nuteela, I stopped eating. This was a serious mistake, as I didn’t get enough food intakes to recharge myself when I was getting tired. Now I believe that it was also a side effect of high altitude – loosing my appetite. So after crossing 12000 feet, I got so tired that I started taking break every few minutes. But by that time Shahriar and I already could calculate our pace and decide that we were giving up for the summit push. A little earlier than that time Tanjeem tried out a steroid food bar as an experiment as he was approaching his physical limit to continue any more. He felt better energy than us after that and went ahead of us till the trail camp at more than 12000 feet above sea level. After crossing 2 snowfields just before the trail camp I told Shahriar that I needed a longer break then, so he could go ahead if he wanted. He was also exhausted but was regaining energy as and when eating snickers, energy bars for calorie intakes. But he decided not to go further as anyway we were nowhere near a summit push. I could realize by then that it was not the heavy weight I was carrying but the combination of high altitude with that heavy weight that took my energy and appetite for food. As I was not eating food or energy bars, I was not regaining energy like the other two. This is why mountaineers talk about acclimatization again and again. Tanjeem was anyway returning back and when he heard that we have decided to go back too, we all turned back from the place trail camp after the Consultation lake. During our descend that started at 11:10AM, we sat down near Mirror Lake for lunch break when we even prepared tea. On the way back, Shahriar slipped once and cut his hand. But he was carrying first aid, so he could cover the cut with a band aid and didn’t complain about the pain. Although Tanjeem bumped into the rocks several times, he didn’t fell down. I was careful enough not to fall down or hot the rock. My target was to go back to Whitney Portal with whatever energy I have left in me so that I don’t have to eat the bad tasty energy bars. I was successful as I only drank water and a little nuts that Shusmita gave during the whole descend. We reached back to Whitney portal at 5 AM with 18 pounds weight apiece in the bag. We had a nice evening meal in Whitney Portal store where we socialized with other hikers. I got energized again after the meal as I didn't eat anything last 4/5 hours except drinking water. Shahriar got fever at night but was ok next morning. Tanjeem was tired so told not to call him before 8/9 next morning. I and Tanjeem forgot to bring cameras, so Shahria's camera was the only one. I carried it most of the time in my neck but we made sure all of us are in the pictures.
Here is a good summary of our trip from Shahriar's facebook photo album - http://www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?aid=467276&id=775925174
Few reasons, that we couldn't summit:
1. Very less practice before the Whitney hike
2. Less team work
3. High altitude that made us tired in very short time
4. Back pack was too heavy, we carried too much water! We should purify water in future as there were sources of water in many places throughout the trail
5. Because of #1-4, we took much time to reach trail camp (around 3 hours) which made the day hike not possible. But if we could have stayed 1 night in the trail (one night camping), we could have reached the summit!
Back pack weights:
Shahriar: 37 lbs
Ashik: 33 lbs
Tanjeem: 25 lbs
Here's the trip report:
Got up from Bed: 2.00 AM
Breakfast: 2.40 AM
Lone Pine-> Whitney Portal took around 30 minutes (13 mile drive)...
1. Whitney Portal 8360 feet 3.45 AM 0.00 Miles
2. Lone Pine lake 9960 feet 6.03 AM 2.8 Miles
3. Outpost Camp 10360 feet 7.00 AM 3.8 Miles
4. Mirror lake 14 sb 10640 feet 7.30 AM 4.3 Miles
5. Mirror Lake 7.37 AM (lost around 20 minutes as we lost the trail) 4.8 Miles
6. Trail side Meadow 11395 feet 9.15 AM 5.3 Miles
7. Trail Camp 12039 feet 10.50 AM 6.3 Miles
Returned to the Whitney Portal @5.15 PM (6.3 Miles)
I will write a separate entry on our Death Valley report the day after this hike shortly.