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14495 Club Award
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BSA 14495 Club Award
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BSA 14495 Club Award
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Arizona Highways

Outdoor Culture
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    Hike Mt Whitney
    Elevation 14,495 Feet
    Highest Peak in Continental US

    Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States. Trek challenges include struggling with altitude sickness, cold air, and occasionally treacherous surface conditions (because snow and/or ice are normally present on parts of the trail, except for a short period from early July to late September.)

    Currently the official summit elevation is 14,505 feet, but for many years it was quoted at 14,494 (which is stamped on the brass disk at the top). And only 84.6 miles to the east-south-east is the lowest point in North America at Badwater in Death Valley National Park (282 ft below sea level).

    The west slope of the mountain is in Sequoia National Park and the summit is the south end of the John Muir Trail which runs 211.9 mi from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. The east slope is in the Inyo National Forest in Inyo County.

    Mount Whitney is above the tree line and has an alpine climate and ecology. Very few plants grow near the summit: one example is the Sky Pilot, a cushion plant that grows low to the ground. The only animals are transient, such as the butterfly Parnassius phoebus and the Gray-crowned Rosy Finch.

    Mount Whitney Trail Hut The most popular route to the summit is by way of the Mount Whitney Trail which starts at Whitney Portal, at an elevation of 8,360 ft, 13 mi west of the town of Lone Pine. The hike is about 22 mi round trip with an elevation gain of over 6,100 ft.

    Trail Permits are required year round, and to prevent overuse a limited number of permits are issued by the Forest Service between May 1 and November 1. Most hikers do the trip in two days.

    Extreme Day Hike: Those in good physical condition sometimes attempt to reach the summit and return to Whitney Portal in one day, thus requiring only a somewhat easier-to-obtain "day use" permit rather than the overnight permit. This is considered an "extreme" day hike, which normally involves leaving Whitney Portal before sunrise and 12 to 18 hours of strenuous hiking.

    Longer approaches to Whitney arrive at its west side, connecting to the Mount Whitney Trail near the summit by way of the John Muir Trail.

    The Mountaineer's Route, a gully on the north side of the east face first climbed by John Muir, is considered a scramble. The fastest recorded time up this route to the summit and back to the portal is 3 hours 10 minutes, by Jason Lakey of Bishop.

    The steep eastern side of the mountain offers a variety of climbing challenges. The East Face route, first climbed in 1931, is a classic route in the Sierra Nevada and involves technical free climbing (Class 5.7) but is mostly Class 4. Other routes range up to Class 5.10.

    South of the main summit there are a series of minor summits that are completely inconspicuous from the west but appear as a series of "needles" from the east. The routes on these include some of the finest big-wall climbing in the high Sierra. Two of the needles were named after participants in an 1880 scientific expedition to the mountain. Keeler Needle was named for James Keeler and Day Needle was named for William Cathcart Day. The latter has now been renamed Crooks Peak after Hulda Crooks who hiked up Mount Whitney every year until well into her nineties.


    14495 Patch Requirements

    Each Participant must:

    1. Have taken a minimum of two (2) conditioning and/or preparation hikes prior to the Mt. Whitney trip...ONE of these must have taken during the month preceding the climb, and must have been to an elevation in excess of 9,000 feet.
    2. Have had a physical exam within two months of this climb.
    3. Back pack to and from the top of Mt. Whitney, involving at least three days, with two nights at a trail camp. At the top, take a photograph of the participants at the hut. It is not necessary to carry a pack on the last portion of the trail involved in reaching the summit.
    4. Backpack carrying their own pack. Only those taking part in the entire trip from planning to completion, will be eligible for the award. Pack out all your own trash and leave a clean campsite. Do a good turn and have each participant carry out approximately two (2) pounds of additional trash, if possible.
    5. Outing Leader/Unit must: Submit an itinerary showing the trip plan, roster, pack list, menu, and food list to a High Adventure Approval Counselor from your Council's High Adventure Approval roster. Fill in trip report on reverse side and affix photograph taken at the hut on top of Mt. Whitney in space indicated.
    6. General Requirements - mandatory basic rules for all BSA High Adventure Treks.
    7. HAT Award Application Form - ask your local council for the High Adventure Award Application Form.
    8. Tour Plan Application - a council approved tour plan is required.

    Hiking Mount Whitney 2012


BSA Fieldbook
BSA Fieldbook
Outdoor Trek Guide

Based on experiences of millions of Scouts and leaders, this book holds essential information for every outdoor enthusiast. A comprehensive reference, this handbook includes sections on trek, preparation and adventures, appreciating our environment, and more.




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