At ~14,500 feet, Mt. Whitney is the highest peak not only in the California Sierras, but in the contiguous United States as well. With a paved road leading to a trailhead at over 8,300 feet, and a well-maintained trail free of snow for several months a year carved all the way to the summit, Mt. Whitney is ascended hundreds of times annually. The peak is often done as a day hike, either by the 22-mile (round trip) trail or by off-trail routes, such as the 3rd class Mountaineer's Route. Once upon a time, when I was fit and well-acclimated from living at around 8,000 feet in Mammoth Lakes, I hiked the trail in 11 hours round trip. That same summer, I took three days to do the Mountaineer's Route. Suffice it to say, climbing to the top of Mt. Whitney from Whitney Portal and back again in one day is challenging for most mortals.
But climbing Mt. Whitney once in one day is not enough for some. Recently, several contributors to the Whitney Portal Store Message Board have chronicled climbing to the summit twice in one day from the trailhead at Whitney Portal. Such a feat involves around 12,500 feet of elevation gain (and, of course, 12,500 feet of elevation loss). One of the mountaineers, Rick Kent, reported taking about 17 hours for the double-header, while Richard Piotrowski reported taking 20 hours. Even before their Whitney doubles, these peakbaggers had become notorious in the regional mountaineering community for their outlandish outings. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next. It will also be interesting to see what kinds of harebrained outings their Whitney doubles inspire among their peers.