Today we got up at 0000 since we wanted to reach the summit for sunrise. This meant doing the ascent during the dark night. We packed in the dark and were ready to hike at 0050.
We started out by missing the snow covered trail and had to take an alternative route to get back on trail. We struggled with navigation for a bit, but once we hit the switchbacks going up the way was pretty clear due to the trail and footprints.
The ascent was pretty difficult with a lot of snow crossings. I used the ice axe I had bought and was glad to have it since it allowed for additional stability compared to trekking poles in the hard ice. In many places one of the other used of the ice axe, self arresting would not be possible as the run-out was extremely short. I also briefly instructed the others in the use of ice axe and microspikes.
We ascended slower than I would have liked as I felt good and most comfortable while moving. Especially Jumanji seemed to struggle as we ascended in the cold dark. We took a few short breaks but I continually urged us to keep moving because of the cold. From the beginning I had taken leadership of the group for the ascent and tried my best to find the trail and guide the others.
The cold was pretty bad from the beginning and I started out in most of my clothes except the puffy. Later on I donned this as well.
As we made the ridge line and made our way towards Whitney summit the wind made its presence known and the cold intensified.
Navigation became difficult as we got closer to the summit. The trail was often covered in snow and footprints went in every direction. We finally made it to the shelter and discovered that one section was closed and the other filled with snow. As we were all cold we had hoped to take shelter there while waiting for the sunrise.
We tried our best to take shelter but were all quite cold. I tried to take shelter behind some rocks with my quilt. As the sunrise been everyone but Jumanji braved the cold to take pictures.
The cold was really tough for me but I wanted pictures of the amazing sunrise. I used every truck in the book to try and stay warm while taking pictures of the sunrise and the amazing views in every direction.
The sunrise was beautiful with clouds periodically moving in.
After a few hours at the summit we started our descent and made it almost all the way to our camp from the night before, before getting properly warm.
We had decided to make camp in a place that would make Forester Pass possible tomorrow so we hiked back to the PCT and then 7 miles to a camp. The day stayed very cold especially when the sun was behind trees or clouds. I suspect this is mostly because the trail stays at high elevation for most of the time
In general we probably should not have done the summit at the time we did as especially the other three did not have the necessary skills. Also when we arrived at the summit it was so cold that we were not able to stay for long. I would have liked to stay for longer but the cold and the wind made it hard to endure.