Mount Whitney

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Template:Stub Mount Whitney is a very well-known peak due to its status as the highest point in the U.S. outside of Alsaka. It is located on the Sierra crest east of Lone Pine and has a multitude of well-established routes.


Mt. Whitney can be approached from Whitney Portal via Lone Pine from the East, or from the John Muir Trail to the West.


See the Supertopo High Sierra guidebook, which club members can access online. It covers the East Face (5.7), the East Buttress (5.7) and Mountaineer's Route (3rd class).


The Whitney Trail

Mt. Whitney features an extremely well-maintained and popular path from Whitney Portal to the summit. 11 miles each way, the trail meanders up the South Fork of Lone Pine Creek, makes 99 switchbacks to reach 'Trail Crest' and then makes a long traverse along the Western side of the summit ridge. Mount Muir is a class 3 scramble from this last section of the trail. This route is class 1 on a very nicely graded trail and is no harder than its statistics indicate (i.e 22 miles with 6000 feet of elevation gain/loss, starting at 8000 feet). It is a long dayhike, though, and most parties attempting it in one day (usually in the late summer) leave before daybreak to reach the summit before noon, thus avoiding any afternoon thunderstorms. This route can be used year-round, though, with the switchback section replaced by a long snow climb from trail camp to trail crest when appropriate.

Given the popularity of this trail, there is a lottery system for climbing it and you might need to apply a year or more in advance. These are some related useful links:

  • More information on lottery system
  • Statistics on unused permits for 2012 and 2013. If you are willing to take a small risk and drive to Lone Pine without a permit, the odds of you obtaining a no-show/cancellation permit for Whitney might be very good. The Lone Pine Ranger-Station/Visitor-Center has an on-site lottery at 11am for the Whitney no-show permits and a 2pm lottery for the cancellations. In case you want to get permits for your back-up backpacking plan, walk-in permits for other trailheads are issued at 8am. More information can be found at "Step 6" on this page.

The Mountaineer's Route

This is the route we use on our Winter Mountaineering Trips. It follows a couloir from Iceberg Lake to a notch from which one scrambles to the summit.

The East Face

The East Buttress

Trip Reports

See Also