So, this is a list of people who expressed interest in the climb on Whitney.
We have about 40 people interested.  There's not a clear-cut maximum number
of people for the trip, but obviously, this is too many, so now it's my job
to scare away a bunch of you.  

First, let's settle on a date.  Most people wanted to go late in February 
(weekend of the 24th and 25th).  Another good reason for this weekend is 
that we get a better chance at having some more snowfall in the Sierras, 
which would make for a better trip (it would actually make the final part
of the climb easier).  So, let's plan on the 24th and 25th.  To clarify,
the regular group will leave Friday evening and start hiking Saturday morning.
The group that goes early will leave Thursday evening and start hiking 
Friday morning.  Both groups will attempt the summit on Sunday.

It would be nice to do some practice on Mt. Baldy, but so far there is no 
snow.  If there is snow there, we'll take a trip (perhaps stay overnight a
t the hut).  If you are in Pasadena and don't have previous experience, 
then this trip will be required.  We'll cover ice axe and crampon use.  
If we don't have such a trip, then it's strongly recommended you leave
in the earlier group (in fact, we'll consider making it mandatory).

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 cold.  A serious issue will be adequate 
gear.  One of the most difficult items of gear to find will be boots.  
It might be possible to do the trip in leather hiking boots, but due to 
the abnormal cold weather, you'll have a pretty high risk of frostbite.  
Thus I strongly recommend either special insulated leather boots or
insulated plastic boots (e.g. La Sportiva Nepal).  A double plastic boot
would be excellent for the trip.  If you have an insulated overgaiter,
then you could probably get away with normal leather boots.

Many people asked me about gear.  The club only has about 6 ice axes and
3 crampons (and the Caltech Y has 3 snowshoes).  These won't go very far
among 40 people.  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
If anyone wants to organize a carpool to riverside or santa ana, Reply All
to this email.

Renting boots is a problem.  If you find a place to rent them, please let
me know.  It is up to you to find the gear.

Additionally, you'll need standard cold-weather hiking gear, such as gaiters
(which you probably cannot rent), 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.  A warm sleeping bag (e.g. 0 F) and 
thick down coat are very nice; if you don't have them, prepare to suffer a bit.

About half of you expressed a bit of worry about whether you'd be able to
do the trip.  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, might be the hardes
t part of the day.

It is possible to make the climb without prior winter mountaineering
experience, but ONLY if you're a fast learner, athletic and determined. 
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.

The camp at iceberg lake is about 12,500', 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'.  Another thing to consider.

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, and it will be cold.

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 are the judge.

You don't need to decide immediately whether you want to come.  
A week before the trip, I'll have an on-campus meeting which will
be mandatory.  If you don't come to the meeting, then it means you're
no longer interested in the trip.  If the time of the meeting conflicts
with something important, or if you don't live in Pasadena, then it's ok,
but email me.

The meeting will be very important -- you'll need to choose a tentmate,
make sure you have a stove and tent, etc.  We'll go over transportation
as well.  It will also be a good time to ask questions.

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

Email me if you have specific questions that you want to be answered
before the meeting.  If you find a good source of rental gear, please
share it with me and I'll post it on the website.

-Stephen