Boy Scout troop reaches summit of Mt. Whitney |

Boy Scout troop reaches summit of Mt. Whitney

Oxygen is highly overrated. Just ask the group of Boy Scouts from South Lake Tahoe who tromped to the top of Mount Whitney and down in a day.

Sure, the hike helped them on their quest to get another badge — but it was much more than that.

It was about setting a goal and accomplishing it.

“The thing I told the kids after we were at the top is that they can do anything, any challenge as long as they prepare for it,” said Marshall Matzinger, assistant scoutmaster for Troop 594.

And prepare they did — unlike a couple years ago.

The Scout leaders learned the hard way that preparation is the key. Only a few in the first trip made it to the top. This year all seven Boy Scouts and eight adults crested the summit.

To prepare to climb the 14,494-foot monster in Southern California — the highest mountain in the continental United States — the boys took to the trails at home.

Before the Labor Day weekend ascent the group hiked about 150 miles throughout the basin, with about 100 of those miles on the Tahoe Rim Trail.

They gave up five of their weekends; starting at Mt. Rose and then going clockwise to Bay View by Emerald Bay. There were three 10-mile hikes, a 15-miler and then some 20-mile day hikes.

“We pushed them incredibly hard,” Matzinger said. “They learned what type of liquids and food to bring.”

Power Bars are what sustained Douglas Glover.

“It was just like another hike, just longer and higher,” the 13-year-old said about Whitney.

He was so jazzed about reaching the top that he didn’t want to go down.

“I wanted to sleep up there,” he said.

It was the 360-degree view of surrounding mountains and more than a half dozen lakes that enthralled him.

It was 4:20 a.m. when they got on the trail. Mini flashlights lighted the way. It was well into the day before they saw other people on the trail. They broke up into groups, taking between 5.5 and 7.5 hours to reach the top.

Half way up it was just granite surrounding them. Trees were dots below them. Few animals scampered about, just the occasional squirrel and marmot.

Getting to the top was the ultimate thrill for Carr Rieger, 13. His thoughts along the way were fixated on summiting the mountain. And he did.

It was a little chilly up there and the air thin, but he said it was worth it.

There was not much time to enjoy their accomplishment. The next goal was to make it down before darkness set in.

Rounding out the group were Aaron Datrio, 13; Chris Detarr, 15; Bryan Kurek, 15; Tyler Rieger, 16; and Chris Rogers, 13.

Kathryn Reed may be reached at (530) 541-3880, ext. 251 or e-mail

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