Mt Whitney, California, USA
Posted on October 24, 2019 by Von Mai
Conditions were optimal for a Mt. Whitney hike. The weather was warm and the trail free from ice. No rain fell. No lightening struck.
I had been preparing for this day for over two years. I spent countless hours hiking the mountains of Southern California, training my body and dialing-in my gear, finding the right balance of safety, comfort and light-weight efficiency. Among my ten essentials, I always carry an ACR personal locator beacon.
And here I was on the most perfect of days, ascending Mt. Whitney, fulfilling my dream. I felt great, even after almost 12 hours of hiking. I could see the summit, about 800 feet above.
But then everything changed.
Without warning, I lost control of my body. A tidal wave of nausea slammed into me, nearly knocking me off my feet. I stumbled, almost falling over the edge, vomiting at every step until I managed to lean against a rock. I slid into a sitting position and waited for my friends to return from the top.
They weren’t long in finding me. Apparently, I tried to stand, intending to descend to a lower altitude. My memory of this is hazy. I’m told that I vomited and once again nearly fell over the side.
My friends Jenny and Mariella decided that I needed evacuation. But there was no phone signal. Somehow, I managed to activate the ACR before passing out.
Next thing I remember, I was being hoisted onto a helicopter. And this wasn’t easy. First, there was no place near the trail for a safe air lift. The steepness of the terrain meant that the helicopter blades would chop into the mountain side if the craft came close enough to rescue me.
Mariella had to drag me off trail and down a scree-filled slope so that the helicopter could hover safely. And once it arrived, she helped hurl me up so my rescuer could reach me. Had she slipped or dropped me, I would have slid thousands of feet to my death.
I remember slamming against the helicopter floor. It hurt but I didn’t care. I was glad to be alive, and happy to have friends who are there for me when it matters. Most of all, I was glad that I always carry an ACR when I hike.
Of course, I am disappointed that I will never realize my dream and summit Mt. Whitney. I’m fine at 10,000 feet, routinely hiking throughout Southern California. But once above 13,000 feet, I’m done. My body betrays me. No matter how much I train, I just can’t hike above certain altitudes.
But there are plenty of smaller mountains nearby and I have good friends to hike them with. And thanks to ACR, I’m still here to enjoy them.
Words of wisdom
Always bring the beacon!
Thank you note
Thank you ACR Team!
Mt Whitney, California, USA
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ResQLink™+Go to product details
- LED strobe light
- Self Test
- 66 Channel GPS
- Easy emergency activation
- Antenna clip
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