The Lowest to the Highest:
The Death Valley to Mt. Whitney Walk

We reached the summit and after the obligatory picture taking, tried to eat. We had a few snacks earlier, but we really needed to eat some more. However, at that high altitude, nothing tasted good and we both ate very little. I had finally reached my goal, but I wasn't quite done yet. I was tired, hungry and cold and still had almost 7,000 feet to descend.

Ron near the summit; emergency hut in the background

Ron near the summit; emergency hut in the background

Dinesh and Harold at the summit

Dinesh and Harold at the summit

We started down just a little after 1 p.m. I was being very careful, maybe a little too careful, and slowly made my way through the rocky terrain. A couple of years ago, I had broken my arm and the memory of that fall was still with me. I was also aware that, in the mountains, more accidents happen to people going down than going up.

Harold stayed with me and we continued our slow descent. When we reached Trail Camp, I realized that we were walking down no faster than when we were walking up. That meant it was going to get dark well before we would reach the car. And it did. Slowed even more by the walk in the dark, we finally reached the car at 10 p.m. Forget dinner, forget any celebration; we just went to our rooms and crashed.

There was still one bit of unfinished business. Based on our original plan, I had invited the family living next door to me to climb White Mountain with us and they would be at the Grandview campground waiting. Of course, we now had no reason to climb that mountain. I had climbed it twice before but Ron hadn't. He and Jan were still interested in climbing it and early next morning, they drove to the campground to meet my neighbor and climb the mountain together.

Harold and I were happy that we could sleep in. After a leisurely breakfast, our first big meal in almost 42 hours, we bought some champagne and munchies and drove to the Grandview campground. When the six triumphant climbers returned, we finally had our long awaited celebration.

The celebration

The celebration: Jan, Dinesh, Harold, Ron, Monica, Michel and Maia

The participants: Dinesh Desai (Los Altos, California) and Ron Perkins (Menlo Park, California)

Harold Drake (San Carlos, California) provided the vehicle support. Dinesh and Ron are very grateful to Harold, without whose help the walk wouldn't have happened.

Read an account of my 1998 very hot Death Valley walk here.

Dinesh Desai
August 2003