On June 14th, a group of 10 Altra employees set out to climb Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous US. Mt Whitney towers at 14, 508ft and is accessible by an 11 mile trail through sub alpine forest, high alpine meadows, and rocky, rugged slopes.
Altra is a brand that truly inspires its employees to live with #zerolimits. While not a requirement of the job, the brand attracts passionate individuals who run, hike, or otherwise explore and embrace the outdoor world around them. This trip up Mt. Whitney was part of a training experience for Altra’s field service representatives, as well as a team building experience for all employees who attended.
We wanted to reach Trail Camp, 6.5 miles in before sunrise so we set out at 2:30AM. The sky was very dark, the stars were beautiful and bright and we clipped along at a steady pace, not speaking much, just putting our heads down and. As we made our way up the trail we began passing people going the other way, perhaps they had started too late and been stuck on the mountain, maybe they stayed up at trail camp and were just heading back down before sunrise, either way, we were happy to be heading up the mountain so early. We hit Trail Camp as planned, before sunrise and filled our water bottles at the lake there. As the sun began to rise. It was very cold and windy at this spot but we spent some time there capturing the moment and refueling a bit.The altitude had started to get to a few people a bit but we just kept encouraging everyone to hydrate and kept pressing on. For the next section we had the choice of either the switchbacks or the shoot; we’d been watching the reports and were pretty confident that the switchbacks were clear enough to take, but nobody had posted a full report yet, the shoot on the other hand was definitely open, but it was snowy and slushy, and would require a little more experience to tackle than our group had as a whole. We chose the switchbacks. There were 99 of them. As we made our way up we ran into a few sections of snow and ice, but surprisingly, not much. At one point there were cables to help get through a particularly icy spot, we had brought along one ice axe and actually ended up cutting a nice path here to clear the way (shout out to our very own Mike McKnight for heading that operation!). As we reached the top of the switchbacks and hit Trail Crest, the sheer magnitude and awe hit us hard, we took some time just staring into the distance, on both sides of the ridge, taking it all in. It was windy up here but the sun was shining and the temperature was actually pretty pleasant. Trail Crest to the Peak was a gorgeous ridge hike/run and we began to spread out a bit naturally forming two main groups according to our pace. We stopped often to grab some awesome photos, but we could all smell that finish line, i.e. summit so were pretty focused on a strong last push. Reaching the summit, and the top of the contiguous United States was breathtaking (in more ways than one!). All ten of us summited and we spent some time taking in the 360 degree view, chatting with fellow hikers and eating. Some of us even got in a little cat nap on the sunny rocks.
Descending Mt. Whitney was a total blast! Rocky, technical mountain ridge running–bring it on! A group of us flew down that trail, jumping off a rock here, hopping a hole there and throwing in very short glissades in a few spots. It was heavenly. The first 6.5 miles of our hike that morning had been in the dark so one of the coolest things about coming down was seeing all the lower, forested areas for seemingly the first time. Excepting a badly twisted ankle 2.5 miles from the trail head and a resultant team effort to get our injured team member out, everyone summited and descended safely.
Between all 10 team members almost every Altra trail shoe was represented including the Lone Peak Low and Mid, Timp, Olympus and Superior. In addition, some of wore the Trail Gaiter, as well as our Uintah Jacket, Zoned Heat Jacket, StashJack, Performance Shorts, Women’s Performance Tank, Men’s Performance Tee, The Altra Trucker Hat, Lone Peak Trucker Hat and Tech Hat.
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