High Sierra

Climbers hiking toward the Mountaineers Route on California's Mount Whitney.

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

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 …

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Near high base camp below Mount Whitney's East Face.

Review: Gear For Climbing Mount Whitney

By Michael Lanza

For our spring ascent of the Mountaineers Route on California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney—highest peak in the Lower 48—my 15-year-old son (in lead photo, above, approaching our high camp below Whitney’s East Face) and I used technical gear that you would use on many classic snow and glacier routes up peaks from Cascade Range volcanoes like Shasta, Hood, and Rainier to Mount Olympus, the Tetons, and the Alps. Here are my from-the-mountain observations about the gear that got us up and down Whitney, including backpacks, a mountaineering tent and boots, climbing hardware, super warm sleeping systems, and technical apparel.

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Video: Hiking to Yosemite Valley Waterfalls

By Michael Lanza

Yosemite Valley gets a bit wetter and louder at this time of year. With snow melting out of the mountains and swelling the park’s creeks and rivers, world-famous waterfalls begin roaring and raining heavy mist onto hikers on the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail, Mist Trail, and other paths. Whether you’ve been there to experience it or just hope to, live it vicariously through this video of dayhiking with my family to the top of America’s tallest waterfall, Upper Yosemite Falls, 2,425 feet above the valley floor, and to 317-foot Vernal Fall and 594-foot Nevada Fall.

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Climbers below the East Face of Mount Whitney.

3-Minute Read: Climbing Mount Whitney

By Michael Lanza

At 6 a.m. last Sunday morning, four readers of The Big Outside, my 15-year-old son, Nate, and I, led by three mountain guides from Sierra Mountaineering International, left our high camp at 12,000 feet below the East Face of California’s Mount Whitney en route to climb the Mountaineers Route. I shot the photo above shortly after we left camp. Four-and-a-half hours later, we all stood at 14,505 feet above sea level, atop the highest peak in America outside of Alaska.

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Photo Gallery: An 86-Mile Walk Through Yosemite

Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.
Todd Arndt backpacking in Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park.

By Michael Lanza

For years, I had gazed longingly at my topographic maps of Yosemite, eyeballing the biggest and most remote swath of wilderness in this flagship national park: the vast realm of deep canyons and mountains rising to over 12,000 feet north of Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Road, a region that includes the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River and a chunk of the Pacific Crest Trail. I had to explore it. So I finally decided it was time, mapped out an 86-mile hike, talked a friend into a four-day blitz, and we ticked off one of the most glorious backpacking trips of my life.

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