FKT: Jack Kuenzle - Mt Whitney (CA) - 2019-11-18

Route variation
round trip from Lone Pine
Gender category
Finish date
Total time
12h 10m 19s

Lone Pine to Portal on the road, Portal to Whitney summit on Mountaineer’s Route, summit to Portal via main trail, Portal to Lone Pine via road. Elapsed time: 12:10:19. By far and away my scariest Strava upload. I originally intended to just do Whitney via MR but I woke up at like 5:30 am camping at Alabama Hills and was hit with the inspiration to save some gas and run it from there. I knew snow was coming Wednesday and this would likely be my last opportunity to climb until next year. I ended up starting at the intersection of the Portal road and 395. Road climb was uneventful, likewise with the first 3/4 of the MR. Once I got to the final couloir things got dicey. I’m sure to anyone competent enough to climb a ladder, this is a piece of cake, but to me I was horrified. It’s Class 3-4. I started climbing and wasn’t certain I was in the right couloir, but as I climbed I became increasingly worried I wouldn’t be able to down climb. I was very fatigued by the portal climb, the race on Saturday, and my lack of acclimatization. I didn’t have a headlamp with me so I was trying to rush a bit. The fatigue was causing me to stumble and AMS manifested with a minor headache. The couloir was loaded with awful scree, I was sliding constantly, and my Hoka moonshoes climbed like styrofoam cups. My hands were becoming increasingly numb, but I was hesitant to compromise my grip with gloves. All the while I was very concerned as to what the final 400 would look like. Fortunately, I was able to call a buddy who had done MR and he confirmed I was in the right couloir and gave me guidance on the final 400. I hung out at the summit for about 30 minutes and tried to get my heart rate below 250, then opted to go down via the trail. Rest was pretty uneventful. I think this route (Lone Pine to Whitney and back) has real potential as a major FKT route as it offers what I believe is one of the longest sustained climbs in the lower 48 (next to Death Valley to Telescope and Palm Springs to San Jacinto). I’ll certainly be back.

photos on Strava