Potentially active volcano.
For some, an unnecessarily complicated way of saying, "Nope." For others, a dare.
To find out which type you are, you need to drive but a few clicks north, to Mt. Shasta.
Shasta's in a promising middle ground: it doesn't feel like quite as much of a slog as Mount Whitney — your mileage/previous personal experience may have varied — and it comes with challenges, but not insurmountable ones.
Plus: It is gorgeous.
Especially in the company of a guide — like those at Shasta Mountain Guides. They're booking now for the summer summiting season.
You can take your pick of approaches, but if you're looking for some instruction preceding the push for the peak, they recommend the four-day mountaineering seminar. Or you can race to the top on a two-day trip. Day One includes a hike to basecamp at 9,500 feet; summit day starts at midnight. You're gonna need to be prepared for this option.
On the way down, we say treat yourself to a couple nights at this cabin near Stewart Mineral Springs.
It's a three-bedroom on 10 acres of forested land, within spitting disance of the aforementioned springs: exactly the right place to look back on a Shasta summit.
So long as you didn't fall in back at the top.