My April 14 issue arrived in today's mail, and as usual I started reading pretty much right away. I was soon into the Horror Stories, where I realized that Colin Weatherby's tall tale ("The Boy Scouts didn't prepare us for this") could have used some fact-checking. The peak named Mount Whitney is not "the highest in the continental U.S." In the conterminous U.S., yes, but Alaska's Mount McKinley (perhaps better known as Denali) is much taller. Then there's hatchet-wielding Tom Kimoura, who apparently almost chopped off his thumb on the night before the troop's final ascent of Whitney. Kimoura is described as being whisked away to medical help in a minivan. Having climbed Whitney myself a few years back, I have difficulty picturing a minivan being available at the last base camp before the summit. The entire tale is entertaining, but I think it deserves at least 1.5 Pinocchios as to its veracity.
Whidbey Island, Washington
Response from senior editor Ray Ring:
Thanks very much for correcting Mount Whitney's credential. However, in response to the rest of your letter, the writer of this horror story, Colin Weatherby, says that his description of the hatchet accident is accurate. It occurred at Whitney Portal, a road-accessible campground on the eastern side of the mountain. High Country News really values careful readers and writers, and we hope both of you continue to find the magazine interesting and enjoyable.