FKT: Emma Erwin, Larson Lovdal, Jack Kerby-Miller - Lowest to Highest (CA) - 2018-10-05
A predominantly dirt route from the lowest to highest point within the contiguous United States. The route is a minimum of 135 miles through desert and alpine environments, and includes off-trail navigation, 4x4 tracks, hiking trails, ghost towns, and 33,000 feet of total elevation gain. The route is a back-country sister to the infamous Badwater 135 race, but includes less than 10% paved surfaces, and ends at the summit of Mt. Whitney.
Time is from Badwater to the summit of Whitney. Some photos in the Strava links above.
We took the Wildrose alternate route (roughly 4 miles longer than the Main Route), the Cerro Gordo Altrenate route (about 1 mile shorter than the Main Route, with a little more elevation gain), and a DIY-not-to-be-recommended-class-4-scramble-altrenate out of Darwin Canyon due to a run-in with wildlife after dark.
An absolutely incredible route through the Eastern Sierras and desert. water carries were typically 10-25 miles, however the contaminated spring in Hanupah Canyon made the first water carry 34 miles We ran low between mile 20 and 25. Carrot Quinn and company had completed the route in 5 days 19 hours in October of 2014 (https://carrotquinn.com/2014/12/08/lowest-to-highest-a-backcountry-route-from-badwater-to-mt-whitney-part-six-triumph/).
Trail Conditions, Water, Ect.:
Hanupah spring has been contaminated, as noted by the NPS ... We had intended to carry from badwater to our first cache at the Wildrose rd. intersection, but ran through most of our water it by the time we topped out north of Telescope peak. We carried an emergency gallon of water from the spring, but were able to contact a friend, who met us with water at the charcoal kilns, avoiding the contaminated water altogether.
Trail conditions were pretty good on the Whitney Trail on Friday: we started around 1:30 and made it up to the summit by 10:00 am. (about 10 minutes after another L2H party, according to the Whitney Summit Log!!) There was a bit of snow, but microspikes &/or traction devices were optional.
Party of 3 started at 3:00 am on Sunday, September 30th, and finished by 10:00 on Friday, October 7th, elapsed time ~5 days, 7 hours.
We had a friend (Nathan Kowalski) hide our caches and meet us for Whitney.
Caches: Water delivered at the Charcoal Kilns, and water and food cached at Wildrose Road, Saline Valley Alternate Road, Cerro Gordo, and Lone Pine proper.
Night 1: Wildrose Road intersection
Night 2: Above Darwin Canyon
Night 3: ~6.5 miles short of Cerro Gordo
Night 4: Long John Canyon bottom ~7 miles short of Lone Pine
Night 5: Shuttled from Whitney Portal to campsite in the Alabama Hills, Shuttled back to where we left the trail for a 1:30 am start for the Whitney Summit.