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Backpacker Magazine – August 2012

60 BACKPACKER Readers to Climb Mt. Whitney

Bookmark this page for ongoing updates about our 2013 expedition benefiting at-risk urban teens.

by: Jonathan Dorn

Mt. Whitney (Forest Wood Ward)
Mt. Whitney (Forest Wood Ward)

In the August 2012 issue of BACKPACKER, editor-in-chief Jonathan Dorn invited readers to join him on a great adventure: climbing 14,505-foot Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48, in April 2013. He’d worked with guides from renowned outfitter Sierra Mountaineering International to reserve 20 spots on the classic Mountaineer’s Route, thinking he’d be thrilled to have that many readers join him—not because Whitney isn’t popular with BACKPACKER readers, but because this climb came with a greater-than-usual cost. Dorn conceived of this event as a benefit for Big City Mountaineers, a nonprofit that provides wilderness mentoring for under-resourced urban teens, and told readers that he expected each one of them to commit to a fundraising goal of $4,000. Readers would receive great guiding, free gear, and other benefits, but he knew that the fundraising goal really raised the bar.

Then the unexpected happened: BACKPACKER readers responded in droves, flooding Dorn’s inbox with entries—far more than his wildest dreams. They represented every sector of BACKPACKER’s audience: young and old, rural and suburban, Ohio and California, men and women, experienced and beginners, and from every background, ethnicity, and profession imaginable.

Ultimately, we couldn’t take everyone. Because of USFS quotas for camping on that route, we had to cap the number of climbers at “only” 60. But those spots filled up instantly, and BACKPACKER will now take over the mountain for almost the entire month of April, with six consecutive climbs on the Mountaineer’s Route, each with 9-10 climbers and 3 SMI guides. It will be a remarkable show of support from BACKPACKER’s reader on behalf of the youth that Big City Mountaineers serves.

Over the next several months, we will update this page with more news about the climb—plus live feeds from our training and the climbs themselves courtesy of DeLorme, which is joining the climb and providing inReach 2-Way Satellite Messaging devices (a BACKPACKER Editors’ Choice Award winner) for our climbers to use.

Scroll down past the news updates to see the BACKPACKER readers who are participating. If you’d like to contribute to their fundraising efforts, head to


November 15, 2013: Polar explorer Erik Larsen to join Whitney expedition. BACKPACKER and DeLorme announced today that Larsen—the only person to have reached the North and South Poles plus summit of Mt. Everest in one 365-day period—would be joining one or two of BACKPACKER’s Climb for Kids trips as a guest leader.

BACKPACKER readers on the Whitney expedition
Mouse over each climb to see the participants


Kari Post
James Hicks
Johnathan Wojtewicz
Brigit Bingula
Shannon Nottingham
Sabrina Wojtewicz
Rachel Johnson
Orly Marmur
Linda Adler
Katherine Rea


David Heinze
Karen De Shazer
Paul Tilden
Saveria Tilden
Tanner Gronowski
Liane lau
Matthew Schreiner
James Viggiano
Roseann Ferraro
Benjamin Harvatine


Bryan Casteel
Denise Lanier
Benjamin Lee
Melissa Bartt
Christine O'Neil
Chris Petrini
Daniel Mangual
Steven Reinhold
Nicholas Adams
Jacob Cannon


Anthony Cerretani
(BP Deputy Editor)
Nicholas Cerretani
Chris Dinielli
Sonja Evans
Tammy Vanden Heuvel
Eddie Boyer
David Lurty
Chad Patton
Wesley Ripley


John Jordan
Fred Brakeman
Kelly Holland
Lou and Tawna Mena
Rick Tarr
Brian Harper
Rick McBee
Matthew Landi
Anthony Coviello
Jenna Larson


Hob Chen
Mark Frasier
Sean Estep
Keita Sakon
Jayson Yagi
Diana Ramkissoon
Lucas Hendrickson
Judd Glasser
Wayne Turner

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Reader Rating: -


Laguna Hiker
Aug 23, 2012

Great idea! Best thing you guys have done in a long time!

And let me put in my two cents about the Denali/ McKinley issue. I don't agree that the indigenous peoples get perpetual naming rights, any more than we do. It was known to them as Denali, to us as McKinley, and it will be known as something else after we are gone. And that is as it should be. The mountain will remin long after us, and it will have many names.

Jason S.
Aug 06, 2012

What are you talking about Blackburn Denali is not in the lower 48! Whitney is the right mountain.

Jul 21, 2012

C Blackburn, Denali (Mt. McKinley) is in Alaska. Wrong mountain.

C Blackburn
Jul 19, 2012

I am sure that this is a great cause, but I would
surely respect the history of this mountain and
Native American/First Nation people by referring it to
the mountain as Denali... I find it bizarre as well
that the climb's fundraising would likely help a diverse group
of teens yet ignore this insensitivity.

Discussion for this story has been closed.

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