The 45-year-old thrill seeker deemed the scene atop Mount Whitney as one that defies adequate description.
“It’s hard to describe the view from the top of the mountain,” he said. “The closest thing I can compare it to is the view from an airplane. Instead of gazing through a tiny window, imagine if you could sit out on the wing.”
Gear on hand and reservations forgotten, Lavender set out on the adventure of a lifetime.
His solitary climb took two days to accomplish.
“It was my first time to tackle Mount Whitney,” said the avid outdoors-man. “I climbed on June 14 and 15.”
The rock climber said it was his friend Ray Burcham who first sparked his interest in conquering Mount Whitney.
“I had been backpacking with him in the Smoky Mountains when he started telling me about Mount Whitney,” said Lavender. “It sounded fun and challenging, so I wanted to do it.”
While he didn’t encounter any problems along the way, Lavender said it did take a toll on him physically.
“I could tell the altitude was tough on me,” he said. “It’s difficult to train and prepare for the altitude when you live as low as we do.”
In the beginning there were several determined souls wishing to reach the peak, but as the climb grew steeper, the numbers plunged dramatically.
“There were quite a few from the trailhead to First Camp, but after that people started to thin out,” he said.
Blessed with fair skies throughout his journey, Lavender was greeted with beautiful blue skies as he finally ascended to the peak.
“It was 80 degrees at the foot of the mountain, the sun was blazing and most of the snow had melted. Once I reached the top, it was 30 or 32 degrees and the wind was blowing hard. All I saw was clear, unobstructed, blue sky,” he said.
Born in Lansing, Mich., Lavender relocated when he was only four years old. After graduating from Adamsville High School in 1987 he resided in Selmer, Tenn. until he met his wife Lori Anderson.
The two now live in Corinth where Lavender owns his own company, Lavender Engine Development. He also drives a bus for Corinth City schools.
In his spare time, the former National Guardsman enjoys drag racing, mountain biking, caving, canoeing, rappelling, camping and other outdoor activities.