Mt. Dana Trip Report, July 19 2014

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Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society. Nowhere will you find more company of a soothing peace-be-still kind – John Muir
I just recently learned about Mt. Dana and it’s reputation as the easiest 13,000 foot peak. I quickly started planning an overnight trip in the hopes of summiting what would be the 2nd tallest peak on my ‘resume.’

The Plan

Unfortunately this had to be a quick trip:

  • Leave home (elev 1200) @ 1 PM on Friday.
  • Arrive in Mammoth (elev 9000) around 7 PM. Eat dinner, go to bed.
  • Arrive @ Mt. Dana trailhead around 5:30 AM Saturday morning, hike
  • Reach Mt. Dana’s summit (13,051′) by 10 AM
  • Finish hike before forecasted thunderstorms start around noon.
  • Arrive @ home around 7 PM Saturday.

With the hectic schedule and no time to acclimate, I was worried about AMS. I also had not recovered well from my leg workouts earlier in the week, so I was a little nervous about the steep ascent.

The Outcome

We got a late start Friday, but timing-wise everything basically went as planned. The weather was perfect for hiking and we were able to finish the hike before the rain started. The temperature was dropping and clouds were rolling in as we were leaving the park. The climb was tough, but the descent was brutal! For the first 4 hours of the hike, I was thinking that Mt. Dana might work as an acclimation hike before Mt. Whitney. By the time I finished, I had changed my mind. 72 hrs after the hike, my legs hurt more than they did for my Whitney trip last month. I will probably need a full week to recover from this hike. Although it may be the easiest 13 ‘er, I feel like I earned it!

Misc Notes

  • Gear: My pack was a little heavier than planned due to the need to carry rain gear (pack cover, rain jacket & pants). Loaded with 3 liters of water, food and my hiking poles, it was less than 21 lbs.
  • Water: I carried 3 liters, which was perfect for this hike.
  • Food: I didn’t feel like eating (elevation?) even though I was having hunger pangs for the last hour of the hike.
  • AMS: I got an ‘elevation’ headache and some dizziness, but overall the altitude didn’t affect me as much as expected. I feel that using diamox in the days leading up to the hike and Excederin the day of the hike is really helping. Once the headache starts, I use ibuprofen.
  • Improvements/Recommendations:
    • I believe that a full day at elevation prior of the hike would have been helpful.
    • An early start is recommended. You are exposed to the sun for the majority of this hike.


Geek Stats

Mt. Dana || Distance: 5.83 mi || Duration: ~5.5 hrs (3 hr ascent, 30 mins on summit, 2 hr descent ) || Elevation Change: ±3,000′ or more || Difficulty: Strenuous*
For me, the hike broke down into 4 distinct sections. Here is an explanation of each section and our stats:
Mt. Dana GPX tracks, July 19 2014
Section Mileage Avg. Incline Approx. Elev. ETIM

Trailhead to End of Lakes (light blue) 0 – .5  4% 10,000 – 10,141 0h 20m
  • Description: End of Lakes  – Trail passes between 2 small lakes. Trail starts to climb

End of Lakes to Plateau (green) .5 – 1.95 25% 10,141 – 11,620 1h 30m
  • Description: Plateau – Trail levels off after a steep climb, large cairn on the trail

Plateau to Steep Climb (yellow) 1.95 – 2.2 11% 11,620 – 11,773 1h 15m
  • Description: Steep Climb – vegetation disappears, the grassy plateau is replaced by a steep, rocky climb

Steep Climb to Summit (orange) 2.2 – 2.9 35% 11,773 – 13,051 3h 06m

*The hike was very strenuous, but too short in distance and duration to warrant a ‘very strenuous’ rating, in my opinion.

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