Sunday, August 28, 2011


MOUNT DANA (13,045 FT)
(for my European friends: 3976 Meters)

It was with some apprehension that I attempted to climb Mt. Dana after having to turn around the last time. In 2009 when I attempted the climb, I became dizzy and actually felt like I was going to fall off the mountain. It also doesn’t help that I don’t like high places with exposure, like the edge of a cliff. Having spent the three previous days hiking at high elevation, I figured it was now or never.

The trail up Dana climbs 3,000 feet in 3 miles, so it’s pretty steep. It’s not a designated or marked trail, but due to the fact that you can climb a peak that is over 13,000 feet in such a short distance, it attracts lots of climbers. The trail made by all these people is well worn for most of the way up. In the last 800 to 1000 feet the trail becomes less defined as people pick the way that looks best to them. This latter part of the ascent is mostly picking your way up through rocks of varying sizes.

I started out at 6:30 with the temperature in the low 40’s. Last time it was in the 20’s when I started out with some wind. I was hoping for no wind this time because it was so cold with my last attempt. This first half mile or so winds its way through trees, past several small lakes and is pretty level. Then the trail starts its climb in earnest passing by lots of pretty flowers. About halfway up at an elevation of 11,500 feet, the trail levels out as it crosses a high plateau. I rested here for about 15 or 20 minutes hoping to better acclimate myself to the elevation.


After the plateau is where the trail becomes less defined and you begin picking your way up through the boulder field all the way to the top. It was here, about 400 feet or so from the summit, where I stopped last time. This time I stopped and rested a little bit every so often. I felt really good with no light headedness or dizziness.


I reached the summit after 3 hours and 40 minutes, not too bad for an old man. Once on top I did get some light headedness. With the east side of the mountain a shear cliff down over 1,000 feet, I just sat down so I wouldn’t feel like I was falling. I stayed at the summit for about 40 minutes, taking in the fantastic views and searching for the summit register. It was no where to be found which was disappointing as I sort of wanted to sign in and claim my mountain. My only company during my stay on top was a whole bunch of bees or wasps. There were buzzing around everywhere, but I never saw them land. What they’re doing on top of Mt. Dana beats me.


Here's a 360 degree video

After a while I noticed other hikers crossing the lower plateau, so figuring that it would soon be crowded on top, I headed back down.

At the end of the day, a meal at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining was in order and well deserved.  Cathie helped eating this pizza, which by the way provided us with lunch for the next two days.

Now that I have completed this entry on my bucket list, I’ll have to find other peaks to climb. Then again, I didn’t get to sign the summit register, so I just might have to go back.


Julie Camacho said...

Good job Dad!!

john neibert said...

Congratulations Dana! Well done. I'll stick to riding my bike down here in the flat lands