Adventures in California can sometimes feel like Disneyland. Lines, crowds, fierce permit lotteries and long term planning are all run-of-the-mill and have been for some time.
Six years ago today I stood on the top of Mt. Whitney. I avoided the crowds by climbing in May, before the lottery system kicks in, and only saw a handful of folks on the trail. On my summit morning, there were just two headlamp beams on the mountain. This is a unique Whitney experience.
Overuse is an obvious problem in our wilderness spaces, especially walk-ups with the prestige of highest point in the lower 48. As this documentary from the 1970’s illustrates, the phenomenon is nothing new and regulators are constantly tasked with balancing the evolving challenge with the promise of freedom in the outdoors. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the culture of California adventure in the 70’s and the way we interact with nature and each other.
Hat tip to Alli Ryan at California Revealed for unearthing this film.