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  1. #1
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    Drongo Explained

    Drongo explained with back story-

    A friend and I did a trip from Kearsarge pass and up the backside of Whitney. We stayed off the JMT most of the time and cross-country’d a few days too…

    We were surprised when we got to the top of Whitney. There had to be 50-75 people on the summit – mostly day hikers. (Later we counted 150+ names in the summit book for that day.) There were 4 people on top with their backpacks – 2 of us – 2 other guys.

    I’m sitting near the summit block and over hear a couple of kids making fun of the ‘pack guys’ – saying how stupid we were for carrying our packs up to the top, etc. Bragging about all they needed was a water bottle, Cliff bars, Cell Phone and a GPS. If they got lost, they had the GPS. If they got hurt, they would call for a helicopter.

    Virtually all of the day hikers were dressed in all cotton (shorts and a hoodie) and carrying a SMALL daypack. Some had no pack at all. It freezes on Whitney almost every night….

    Later - the 4 of us ‘pack guys’ are kicking back watching the sunset when this guy comes stumbling up in the standard issue cotton shorts and hoodie about 30 mins before sundown asking for the ‘Aid Station’ where he could spend the night and buy a meal…??? We don’t want to have to deal with this idiot and the 4 of us start telling him ‘There is nothing here – go back down now! - GO DOWN NOW!’ He INSISTS there a long section of pure ice on the trail below Trail Camp and he won’t get down safely in the dark.

    It is quickly apparent this guy is severely dehydrated and is in first stage hypothermia. And from experience, he has altitude sickness from no acclimation time… First off, we get him some warm clothes on and hot Gatoraid in him. Later, we all pitch in some food to feed him.

    We bum him a space blank, wool hat, jacket etc. and make him stay in the hut. (He’s not getting my sleeping bag.) He sits up all night and ‘survives.’

    The 4 of us are up before sunrise for the obligatory show (fantastic sunrise on Whitney). We are just heading back to camp and Johnny Drongo walks out the hut, literally tosses our gear in the dirt and walks off the mountain. No - thank you, kiss my rear or even good bye. He never even looked back.

    Turns out John got on red eye flight in Chicago and landed in LA very early in the morning. He has a business meeting the next day and decides to climb Whitney. He rents a car and gets to Whitney Portal at 1:00 PM. He is wearing regular tennis shoes, cotton shorts, a short sleeve Tee and a Hoodie. His only ‘supplies’ are a single 500ml water bottle and an apple carried in the hoodie pockets. He skips the permit process and at starts out from 8000’ elevation on a 10 miles – 6500’ climb to the top (14,495’). Late afternoon, he gets to the 97 switchback area and pushes on after being told there was an “Aid Station” on top with shelter, food and water. One of the best parts is after getting some hot Gatorade in him and feeling better, he got all sassy and started saying how,"these mountains aren't so big compared to Alaska!"

    This story is full of so much fail, it isn’t even funny but I have to give it to the guy for his perseverance and the call on the ice chute. Whitney is GOOD climb for the seasoned climber, hats off for him climbing it straight off the plane. And there was a 1000’ long total ‘ice gully’ that I’m sure he would have slipped and died on in the dark. It was a major pain to get down with full on mountain boots in the day light. His phone was useless. Nobody is going to fly at night to save his butt from freezing if we weren't there.

    How or why he ever thought he could do a 5+ hr drive to the mountain, climb it, descend and then drive 5+ hrs back to LA in one day (20 miles and 13,000’ total climbing) is beyond me. I guess he missed his meeting!

    What a full on Drongo!

    A post card my friend sent me after the trip....



    BTW - we called it an Attempt because it wouldn’t have made on his own…

  2. #2
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    Yep thats a Drongo... Or true meaning Dick Head.

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