Havasu woman scales California’s tallest mountain
On the slopes of California’s highest mountain, a Lake Havasu woman made camp with two companions this month. Faced with freezing temperatures and 70 mile-per-hour winds, there was a bright side: They were halfway to the top.
Two years after scaling Arizona’s tallest mountain, Havasu resident Daina Alvord set her sights on California’s Mount Whitney. The trek began early Sept. 13 at Whitney Portal, near Lone Pine, California. Alvord, accompanied by Havasu resident Brianna Jones and Las Vegas resident Erika Wheeler, made their two-day, 11-mile climb to the summit for the thrill of the challenge as well as the view.
“I love the view from above and I love to challenge myself,” Alvord said. “To say that I can do that … it gives me motivation for other things in my life.”
According to Alvord, the elevation proved difficult and those who plan to attempt Mount Whitney should train appropriately. For the 14,505-foot climb, bringing the right equipment is also a must. Alvord’s group brought trekking poles to aid with their footing, as well as warm clothing, MREs, an electronic water boiler, a water filter, tents, sleeping bags, headlamps and cameras for the climb.
“The second half of the hike was the most physically challenging thing I have ever done,” Alvord said. “I was so exhausted I could have fallen asleep anywhere. My fingers were purple and frozen, and I stuffed hand warmers into my gloves to try and help. Above the tree line, the terrain and scenery was comparable to what Mars looks like – nothingness. No bugs, no lizards … big rocks and boulders … but the view from the top was the most satisfying thing in the world.”
With a view spanning miles in every direction, the peak of Mount Whitney loomed over Death Valley, Inyo National Forest, endless sequoia trees and hidden lakes beneath the largest mountains Alvord had ever seen.
“It’s truly a beautiful gift from God,” Alvord said. “I’ve wanted to climb that mountain for two years. Now I’ve done that, so I need to find what I want to do next. I wanted to bring my son with me, but he wanted to wait a year. I thought of him a lot on the trail since I had countless hours to think.”
Alvord’s excursion ended Sept. 14, when she and her companions hiked 13 hours back to the Mount Whitney trailhead.
“It seemed like it took an eternity to get off the mountain,” Alvord said.
Outdoors enthusiasts who want to visit Mount Whitney are required to apply for a permit from the U.S. Forest Service, and a limited number of visitors are permitted each year – chosen by lot – are allowed to make the climb. For more information, visit www.nps.gov, or contact the Mount Whitney Ranger District at 760-876-6200.