We had about 60 people sign up for the trip.  Clearly, this is way, way
too many.  So it's my goal now to scare some of you away.  Ideally, we
would have no more than about 15 people on the trip.  It's possible 
however that we could have two trips to accommodate a larger number of
climbers.

In general, I want to emphasize that this is not a guided trip.  The
other leaders and I are not paid, nor are we certified, nor do we have 
liability insurance.  Climbing in a large group provides safety benefits, 
and you can learn technique and tricks, but this is not a class.  Please
don't hold us responsible if you get frostbite or sprain your ankle.  
You'll be treated like an adult and a fellow climber, not a student.

The weather this year has been really snowy so far.  Deep snow means the
approach will be both longer (with possible road closures) and harder.
Fitness is key.  And you want good boots.  A warm afternoon with deep snow
means that if you have inadequate boots, they will be soaked for the rest 
of the trip. Avalanche danger is something we have to worry about also.

Many people asked me about gear.  The club only has about 6 ice axes and
3 crampons (and the Caltech Y has some snowshoes).  These won't go very far
among everyone.  Please try to find this gear elsewhere.  If you can,
borrow it from a friend.  Our website has useful information:
http://www.its.caltech.edu/~alpine/equipment.shtml
and specifically, 
http://www.its.caltech.edu/~alpine/equipment.shtml#REI
http://www.its.caltech.edu/~alpine/equipment.shtml#riverside
REI Santa Ana rents crampons and boots.  Feel free to use the mailing list
to arrange carpools.

It is up to you to find the gear you need for the practice and main trips.

Additionally, you'll need standard cold-weather hiking gear, such as gaiters
(which you probably cannot rent), shell (e.g. Gortex) jacket and pants, warm 
pants (I will not let anyone climb in jeans), long underwear, non-cotton 
jackets, very warm mittens and gloves, harness, large backpack, sleeping bag, 
pad, etc.  If you cannot borrow or rent these items, then you should be 
willing to buy them.  We'll put a detailed packing list on the website.  
You should have a 15 F sleeping bag at least -- and even then be prepared to 
suffer if the weather is cold.  Girls usually sleep colder than boys.  
If you are cold sleeper, I recommend a warmer bag.  I also recommend a big down
jacket.  

I think technical skills (using crampons) are less important
than good "outdoors sense".  If you're a strong backpacker, then you'll
probably be fine (we will have pretty heavy packs on the approach, e.g. 60 lbs).
Also important is being able to withstand some unpleasant cold and windy
conditions.  Cooking dinner in the cold, with a headache, exhausted and tired,
might be the hardest part of the day.

I wouldn't be concerned about hiking fast; I'd be concerned about having
enough energy to hike all day long through snow with a heavy pack,
gaining 4,000' of altitude.  Almost every aspect of backpacking is more
difficult in winter.  If you're not in good backpacking shape, please start
taking some long hikes now.

Whether we go to the Palisades or Whitney, the high camp will be at 12,500' or
higher, which is quite high, and most of us will have altitude headaches 
(which isn't serious, only unpleasant). We'll leave the cars at perhaps 8,000' 
or possibly much lower depending on snow.  It's a lot of elevation gain.

On an encouraging note, the final climb to the summit from camp is
relatively short (compared to the long approach) and it won't be too
hard to turn around in case you don't feel like making it to the top. 
We're descending our ascent route.  There should be enough people on the
trip that you can find a group of climbers going at your pace.  But we'll
be leaving very early in the morning, several hours before dawn, and it will 
be cold.  In the same day we reach the summit, we will have to descend
to high camp and pack up, and then descend all the way to the cars, and then
drive home.  You will have woken up at 3 am that morning, and you may not reach
Pasadena until midnight or later.

In short, I can't say whether or not you have enough experience.  
It depends on how much you can train in the upcoming month, how 
determined you are, you much you are willing to suffer in the cold, ...  
You are the judge.

Info on the trip will be at:
http://www.its.caltech.edu/~alpine/sierra08.shtml

Feel free to e-mail me at anytime will questions or concerns.

-Sean