Whitney Basin Traverse Lone Pine to Mount Carillon

Lone Pine, California

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This route traverses the ridgeline from Lone Pine Peak in the south to Mt. Carillon in the north, taking in the summit of Mt. Whitney along the way. Of the area, Norman Clyde wrote, “As one approaches Mt. Whitney from the east, its series of granite pinnacles stand in beautiful perspective at the head of Lone Pine Canyon, a fine gorge walled in through most of its length by high granite cliffs.” In addition to providing an attractive and challenging means to the summit of the tallest peak in the continental U.S., this traverse involves a number of fine individual climbs, including the north ridge of Lone Pine Peak. Long-time Sierra guide Bela Vadasz has compared this traverse to the famous enchainments of the European Alps, calling it the “Grand Traverse.” As in the Alps, variations of this fine traverse have been done since the days of Norman Clyde. Rob Schneider and Bill Andre climbed the route in the late 1970s and later said, “We figured Clyde had climbed it years ago, but never told anyone, so we never told anyone either.” Long-time Mt. Whitney ranger Marty Hornick made many attempts before finally linking all of the sections in a solo push during the summer of 1988. Hornick noted, “Living in the Whitney Basin all of those years, the idea of traversing the entire crest became something of an obsession with me. Finally it all came together in 1988.” The crux comes during the traverse of the many pinnacles on the summit of Mt. McAdie. The traverse that the Occasional Peaks Gang made of the main crest all the way from Mt. Langley to Mt. Russell and beyond points out the endless possibilities for traverses in the High Sierra.

Whitney Basin Traverse: Lone Pine to Mount Carillon Professional Review and Guide

"This route traverses the ridgeline from Lone Pine Peak in the south to Mt. Carillon in the north, taking in the summit of Mt. Whitney along the way. Of the area, Norman Clyde wrote, “As one approaches Mt. Whitney from the east, its series of granite pinnacles stand in beautiful perspective at the head of Lone Pine Canyon, a fine gorge walled in through most of its length by high granite cliffs.” In addition to providing an attractive and challenging means to the summit of the tallest peak in the continental U.S., this traverse involves a number of fine individual climbs, including the north ridge of Lone Pine Peak. Long-time Sierra guide Bela Vadasz has compared this traverse to the famous enchainments of the European Alps, calling it the “Grand Traverse.” As in the Alps, variations of this fine traverse have been done since the days of Norman Clyde. Rob Schneider and Bill Andre climbed the route in the late 1970s and later said, “We figured Clyde had climbed it years ago, but never told anyone, so we never told anyone either.” Long-time Mt. Whitney ranger Marty Hornick made many attempts before finally linking all of the sections in a solo push during the summer of 1988. Hornick noted, “Living in the Whitney Basin all of those years, the idea of traversing the entire crest became something of an obsession with me. Finally it all came together in 1988.” The crux comes during the traverse of the many pinnacles on the summit of Mt. McAdie. The traverse that the Occasional Peaks Gang made of the main crest all the way from Mt. Langley to Mt. Russell and beyond points out the endless possibilities for traverses in the High Sierra."

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Lone Pine
Skill Level: Easy to Moderate
Class: Class 5.6 - 5.8
Local Contacts: Inyo National Forest; Sequoia National Park
Local Maps: USGS Mt. Whitney, Mt. Langley Cirque Peak, and Johnson Peak
Grade: Grade V
Driving Directions: Directions to Whitney Basin Traverse: Lone Pine to Mount Carillon

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May 2018