I left my truck at 1:00 am at the top of the Whitney Portal Road, headlamp burning bright on the North Fork Trail leading up the Mountaineer Route, to photograph Mount Whitney in the Eastern Sierra, CA. I wanted to shoot that glorious early morning alpine glow on the Mount Whitney massif. I was allowing myself plenty of time to hike up the gorge, rock hop over Lower Boy Scout Lake, and scramble across moraine fields and talus slabs up to that breathtaking mountain landscape. As the sun crept above the Inyo Mountains to the east, the east face and buttress of Mount Whitney warmed in brilliant hues of pink, orange then gold.
Beginning at just over 8,600 feet, the steep hike up the Mountaineer Route to Iceberg Lake at around 13,000 feet is strenuous. With 25 pounds of camera gear, food and water on my back, my fitness level enabled me to position myself to photograph from the many gran- ite slabs at the base of the tallest peak in the Lower 48 states.
After scaling and photographing close to 20 mountains above 14,000 feet, I’ve learned by trial and error what camera gear to bring and what to leave at home. I discovered natural elements I could utilize as substitutes for tripods. I also learned that a grand mountain landscape needs some perspective, and that the natural wonders of the mountains can provide the elements needed to create awesome compositions in these rugged, breathtaking environments.