The East Face of Mount Whitney, John Muir Wilderness, California.

Roof of the High Sierra: A Father-Son Climb of Mount Whitney

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

On the long, uphill hike toward the highest mountain in the contiguous United States, in the middle of April, the alpine sun and wind behave like a couple married for far too long, who take their frequent disagreements to extremes that make everyone else uncomfortable. The sun offers us a hug of much-needed warmth one moment, only to later leave us wilting in its inescapable, unrestrained heat. The wind arrives at times precisely when we crave its relief from the sun’s thermal oppression, and at other times entirely unwelcome, an icicle knifing into bone. We alternately wish for and desperately try to avoid both of them.

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4 Responses to Roof of the High Sierra: A Father-Son Climb of Mount Whitney

  1. Patrice   |  June 2, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Great write up! Congrats to Nate on his first high peak; Whitney is a major accomplishment. I imagine a life of adventure for him, following in your footsteps. And great job with all the fundraising!

    • michaellanza   |  June 2, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      Thanks, Patrice, I’ll pass that on to Nate. Hope you guys are doing well.

  2. Mike Ryan   |  May 31, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Michael,

    Sounds like it was a great trip and one that you and Nate will remember forever as a father and son doing something special together. My dad and I climbed Mt. Rainier when I was 16. At least he climbed it. I got altitude sickness around 13,000 to 13,500 feet and had to turn back with one of the guides.
    It was the sickest day of my life and I will definitely never forget how I felt. I was so disappointed in having to turn around but I was definitely the weak link on our rope team and could have put myself and the team in danger had I attempted to go any higher.

    However, it was a special trip and one that I will always remember, not just because of how sick I became, but spending time with my dad, camping together before we left, the night at Camp Muir and then the climb itself. I look back and wish that we could still backpack and have those kinds of adventures. I am now 56 years old and backpack, paddle and explore most of the year, Dad is 79. He is still fairly active but can’t get around like he used too.

    We still talk about the adventures and trips we did together during our younger years. It usually brings a lot of laughter and tall tales about how we ‘outdid’ each other.

    I’m sure Nate will always remember this trip, not just for reaching the summit, but because he reached it with you.

    Mike Ryan
    Pocatello, Idaho

    • michaellanza   |  May 31, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Hi Mike, you summed up how Nate and I feel about this adventure perfectly. We’ve been talking about it since, including this past weekend while rock climbing together at the City of Rocks (not far from you). Thanks for writing, keep in touch.

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