A couple of weekends ago,
two sophomore beach volleyball players, Skylar Caputo and Kaity Bailey, were
accompanied by their fathers on a hike up Mount Whitney. Mount Whitney is the highest
summit in the contiguous United States. It offers high-altitude
hiking and camping, as well as breath-taking alpine scenery. The duo told us about their experience and how it played into
their lives as friends and as student-athletes at Pepperdine:
Q: First of all, tell me a little about the Mount Whitney experience.
Caputo: Climbing Mount Whitney for the first time was amazing. Being that I have never done it before, reaching the top, feeling the fast wind whip at my layers of clothes, and look across the valley knowing I was standing on the highest point in the continental United States truly was a moment I will never forget.
Bailey: I agree - it was a really fun experience that I will never forget!
Q: Why did the four of you decide to climb it? Why now?
Bailey: It was a father-daughter trip organized by our dads.
Caputo: Yeah, this past summer Kaity and my dad brought up the idea and we were all in. Since the four of us love the outdoors, doing the hike together was an easy decision. We chose recently to do it because since my dad is a fireman and Kaity's dad is a veterinarian, that weekend was ideal for both of their busy schedules.
Q: Have you done this hike, or a hike like it, before?
Caputo: I have done one other 34-mile hike about a month ago. It was not nearly as elevated as Mount Whitney, but I enjoyed the scenery and separation from society during that backpacking trip. I have never done Mount Whitney before this trip and now I can look back at the great memories I have from these two incredible backpacking trips.
Bailey: Yes, that was my third time doing Mount Whitney. I have been backpacking since I was about 3 years old and have done most of the John Muir Trail, Half Dome, etc.
Q: What was the most difficult part of the climb/experience?
Bailey: The hardest part for me was the temperature at night -- it was freezing!
Caputo: For me, the most difficult part of the experience was descending. Once we had made it to the top of Mount Whitney, we realized that we were only halfway. Staying mentally present while descending the switchbacks required focus.
Q: What was the most rewarding part of the climb/experience?
Bailey: My favorite part was getting to spend quality time with my father.
Caputo: The most rewarding part of the experience was when the four of us looked back at the mountain we had just summited from the valley below on our drive back to campus.
Q: Tell us one of your favorite specific memories from the hike.
Caputo: I can clearly remember how cold it got at night when the sun went down behind the mountains. As Kaity and I were wearing every piece of clothing we had packed in our packs, we hugged each other for warmth. Despite how cold we were at times we just laughed because we couldn't do anything else to make us warmer.
Bailey: Absolutely -- the cold brought us together for sure!
Q: With a total elevation of 14,494 feet, this could not have been an easy climb. Do you think that your experience training for volleyball helped you accomplish this feat? Or was a completely different type of stamina required?
Caputo: The training from volleyball definitely helped us accomplish this feat. Kaity and I did no training to specifically prepare for Mount Whitney, but the conditioning and weightlifting we had done prior to the hike got us ready.
Bailey: Yes, training was obviously a help, but it required more backpacking training because I had new boots that weren't broken in.
Q: How do you think this hike could help you on the sand?
Caputo: When I remember that I have hiked Mount Whitney, all I can really think about is how mentally grueling it was. Yes, it did require physical strength, but I felt it was more about mental strength to hike up and then down. Taking this experience back with me to the sand is a reminder that mental strength is an important factor to achieve an accomplishment.
Bailey: Exercise is always good. Like Skylar said, It helps out more mentally to accomplish any physical goals like the ones we have in sand volleyball as well.
Q: You two are obviously very close -- did you two know each other before coming to play at Pepperdine? Do you feel this experience brought you closer together?
Caputo: Kaity and I both knew each other before coming to play at Pepperdine. No doubt in my mind that this experience brought us both closer together as great friends.
Bailey: Yes, we knew each other a year or two before coming to Pepperdine, but we are roommates so we are already pretty close. It is just another shared experience.
Q: Would you do something like this hike again?
Caputo: I would love to do this hike again. I can't think of any reason why someone would not give it a try.
Q: What is next on your outdoor adventure bucket list?
Caputo: I think for me it would be completing a Catalina Channel crossing on a paddleboard.
Bailey: I'm not sure, to be honest. I don't really have an outdoor adventure bucket list, but I'm always down for an adventure.