Mount Whitney

OutAndBack • 22 mi • 6000 ft

This expedition takes you to the top of the highest peak in the contiguous United States, and to unparalleled views.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Lone Pine
Length: 22 total miles
Elevation Gain: 6,000 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: Day hike or backpack
Season: Best mid-July through September
Trailhead Elevation: 8,500 feet
Top Elevation: 14,494 feet
Local Contacts: Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center, Junction of US 395 and SR 136, 2.0 miles south of Lone Pine, CA 93545; (760) 876-6222; road and weather conditions, and general information; fs.usda.gov/inyo/. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, 47050 Generals Hwy., Three Rivers, CA 93271; road and weather condi- tions, and general information; (559) 565- 3341 (24 hours); nps.gov/seki/.
Local Maps: USGS Mount Whitney, Mount Langley; USFS John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia - Kings Canyon Wilderness
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9/13/2010

Lives up to expectations. We stayed at Horseshoe campgrounds at 10K ft to acclimate, then the following day drove to Whitney Portal, hiked to base camp and set up tent. next morning, we ascended up to the summit and came all the way down to the portal. Perfect itinerary.

9/6/2009

This hike is a mental battle to overcome fatigue but it's a great physical challenge to do in one day.

7/27/2008

This was my second attempt on Whitney. The first came nine months before in late September. My party of three got stopped by hip deep snow drifts at the chains on the switchbacks. It looked like everybody got stopped there that day. A small party of Marines tried to break trail higher; I don't know if they were successful. Despite the fact my small party didn't summit, the experience was exhilirating. This summer I returned with my nephew. We camped the first night at Whitney Portal and then the second at Trail Camp. Carrying 40 pounds to Trail Camp was an immense physical exertion for me at 60. Our plan called for us to rise at 3:00 AM and head for the summit. I drifted in and out of sleep with lots of doubts about heading up the switchbacks but figured if my nephew was game, I'd go with him as far as I could. We headed up at 4:00 AM. Dawn at the top of the switchbacks was breathtaking. From Trail Crest to the top was a slogging meditation, no beautiful speed hiking here. The summit unbelievable! Clear in every direction, no wind, mild temperatures, a truly rare confluence of weather features! Headed back down to Trail Camp, broke camp and returned to the trail head. Took a well deserved overnight in a motel in Lone Pine.

9/11/2007

I hiked up Mountaineer's Route and returned down Mt. Whitney Trail, 17 miles RT (6 up, 11 down). Awesome hiking and scrambling (class 3 at top). Views were incredible! This route is not for faint of heart. Doing this as a dayhike made it very enjoyable due to light pack weight. Permit required but got walk-in permit day before hike no problem.

7/3/2007

I have hiked this trail several times. It took me longe this time because I am older and it was hotter than ever. I went up in one day. I got on the trail around 4 am. Reached the summit around 2pm. Climbed down to the bottom around 7 pm. Next time I am going to start around midnight. There was a full moon and I suggest going when there is a full moon. I met a lot of people climbing in the dark--it is easier. One person I met was going for two climbs back to back.

7/19/2006

Crazy monsoon weather. We took too much stuff to prepare for rain or hail. It didn't happen but we wanted to make sure we make it. There were a couple of hairy moments with snow and ice towards the top of the switchbacks (I don't like exposure) but otherwise, the two of us thought the ascent was good. WE filtered plenty of water up to Trail Camp. Thiry minutes before reaching the summit it was clear but we faced heavy clouds. Later, it rained and in the evening it was clear. The humid weather is supposed to end on Thursday. It was my 60th birthday present and it was much easier than I thought. We made it in 11 1/2 hours up and down with only minor soreness. Paul F

6/26/2006

The information contained in the literature was not up-to-date which meant that we could not submit due to the fact that it was an unusually snowy winter and the last 4 miles to the Whitney peak were snow and ice... imposible and unsafe to do without grampons and ice picks(which we did not consider after reading about the mild summer temperatures, easy ascent... one of the trails reviews actually noted that sneakers were ok!!!). CALL THE VISITOR CENTER FIRST AND ASK SOMEONE WHO KNOWS!!

6/3/2006

As most of you will already know, Mt. Whitney is famous. There is little to be said that you won't find readily in any of the numerous books and online guides. I did this trip solo early in the year and I want to leave a few pointers. The trail can be snow covered till late July which means crampons and ice-ax are needed. The temperature can vary a lot in spring/early summer and cause the snow to go from slush to ice depending on the time of day. Plan your ascent for early in the day so you have solid footing on the hardpack. Wet snow can make the first 7 miles more difficult than the actual ascent to the peak. There is plenty of water so bring a pump or iodine tablets and reduce your water load to a one day ration (and limit your pack weight). Eventhough there is snow, the sun can be merciless and hot. Be prepared with multiple layers and lots of sunscreen. While Whitney is often thought of as a one day hike, in spring/early summer this is difficult unless you are prepared/fit for a 14-16 hr hike in wet snow. Take the time to enjoy the mountain and plan for an overnight trip. If you plan a two day hike, I would recommend to stay at the trail camp. This is the closest to the peak and allows for an early ascent and a beautifull morning sunrise. Whitney is a spectacular climb and an amazing experience that includes wooded swithbacks, pristine, troutstocked mountain lakes, mountain splendor, and a very diverse hiking experience on the highest peak in the lower 48. Enjoy

9/4/2003

Mt. Whitney was a tough one day hike. I started in the dark, which was a new experience for me, and when the sun rose an hour later at 6:15 or so, I realized I had been moving very slowly. The next stretch was beautiful and not too tough but I was worried about my slow time. Once I reached the 6 miles mark with more than 50% of the distance and elevation covered, my time was better. But the land was barren. Trail Camp, the last camp prior to the summit, seemed bleek and bitter, but that may have been the cold winds, lack of sun and upset stomach (altitude already at 12,000 feet?). The 97 switch backs were as tough as everyone said. At the trail crest, the views were spectacular but at 13,600 feet and with narrow windows (e.g. no walls on either side of the trail) my nerves got a bit jittery. The last 2 miles were difficult and not sure what drove me on but the summit was amazing. Going down was long and tough. Although the pain was brutal, the sights and feeling of accomplishment will last quite a while.

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