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Mount Whitney  California   #9063
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Sierra Nevada Range

Height: 4417 m -> 14491 feet
Prominence?: 3072 m above Playas-Pride Pass
Line Parent?: Volcan Popocatepetl (2734.9 km away, at bearing 130 degrees)
Greater Parent: Volcan Popocatepetl (2734.9 km away)

Location:   36.57833,-118.29278     36:34:42, -118:17:34   11S 384339 4048875 (21 km W of Lone Pine).   AreaCode: DL68/FC79
First Ascent: 1873 C. Begole, A. H. Johnson, John Lucas
Mount Whitney - East Face
This peak is #1 on the Height List for California . This peak is #1 in Prominence List for California .Mount Whitney is in the Sierra Nevada, and is the highest peak in the lower 48 states. It is located just above the Owens valley which is just east. The west slopes are mellow scree, while the east face is a massive rock cliff with numerous Class 5 routes. A trail on the south ridge leads to a stone cabin on the summit. The summit itself is a gently sloping surface, which has not yet been divided by erosion. Mt. Whitney is the most frequently climbed peak in the Sierra Nevada.

Viewpoint: Mt. Whitney cannot be seen from the west, because it is on the east side of the Great Western Divide, the chain of mountains that runs north/south through the center of Sequoia National Park, dividing the watersheds of the Kaweah River to the west and the Kern River to the east. Because many of the snowcapped peaks in the Great Western Divide reach altitudes of 12,000' (3657 meters) or higher, it is impossible to see over them to view Mt. Whitney from any of the roads on the west side of the Sierra. The best place from which to see Mt. Whitney is the Interagency Visitor Center on Highway 395, just south of the town of Lone Pine on the east side of the Sierra. Highway 395 can be reached via Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park (open summer only), or by going around the southern end of the Sierra from the town of Bakersfield. There are no roads across the Sierra in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Permits: The National Park Service and the US Forest Service, who manage the Whitney Portal Trailhead, have implemented a permit system to minimize the impact of day-hikers on the Mt. Whitney backcountry. All hikers entering the Mt. Whitney zone, including day-hikers, are required to obtain a permit. These permits are in great demand, so you have to reserve well in advance.

The hike up Mount Whitney is a 34 km round trip with 1900 m of elevation gain from Whitney Portal. There are two places to camp on the trail. Outpost Camp is the lower of the two, while Trail Camp lies just below a long series of switchbacks up a steep face. The one-day hike up Mount Whitney is extremely strenuous: hikers are advised to be careful of altitude sickness. People also hike the trail in two, three, or four days, sleeping at the camps on the way to the summit.

Climbing: The steep eastern side of the mountain offers a variety of climbing challenges.

To the south of the main summit there are a series of minor summits that are completely inconspicuous from the west, but appear as a series of "needles" from the east. The routes on these include some of the finest big-wall climbing in the high Sierra. Two of the needles were named after participants in an 1880 scientific expedition to the mountain: the Keeler Needle and the Day Needle; the latter has now been renamed Crooks Peak after Hilda Crooks, who hiked up Mount Whitney every year until well into her nineties.

Name Notes: Mount Whitney was named after Josiah Whitney, the chief geologist of California. The first ascent was in 1873 by Charles Begole, A. H. Johnson, and John Lucas, a fishermen who lived in Lone Pine, California.


1. Mt Whitney Trail from Whitney Portal Class 1 after July. According to the parks, the trail is 17.1 km trail from Whitney Portal, which is 21 km west of the town of Lone Pine. Lone Pine is on the east side of the Sierra. Ice axes and crampons are needed in spring and early summer, but technical climbing equipment is not usually necessary between mid-July and early October. The trail starts at 2550 meters and climbs to 4417 meters at the summit. Permits for this trailhead must be obtained through the Inyo National Forest. The Forest service asks that you read the reservation information if you are interested in going to Mt. Whitney from Whitney Portal. Contact the Mount Whitney Ranger District, PO Box 8, Lone Pine, CA 93545, 760-876-6200, for additional information about this trailhead.

There are other routes besides Whitney Portal from which to reach Mt. Whitney. These are less heavily used, but are longer. The High Sierra Trail leaves from Giant Forest on the west side of Sequoia National Park, and takes a minimum of 6 days (shuttle trip) or 10 days (round trip) to complete. The Sequoia Natural History Association's book store offers books and maps for planning hikes to Mt. Whitney and elsewhere in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon areas.

Equipment: Iceaxe and crampons in winter
2. Mountaineer's Route (1873.10.21) John Muir. Class 3. This route begins at Witney Portal and follows the main Mt Whitney trail for 1.6 km until it crosses the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. Here it turns right up the creek valley, following this up toward Lower Boy Scout Lake. At one point before Lower Boy Scout Lake the creek canyon squeezes the trail out and it is necessary to scramble up the "Ebersbacher Ledges" on the right hand side of the canyon. Follow the trail left past Lower Boy Scout Lake to Upper Boy Scout Lake. From here ascend the ridge on the left side of the lake and follow it up past Iceberg Lake and into the prominent gully to the right of Mt Whitney. Ascend this gully directly if filled with easy snow or ascend the rock on the right hand side until forced back into the loose scree near the top. From the notch at the top of the gully traverse along the side of the mountain until you feel comfortable ascending the slope above you (depending on how far you traverse, the scramble to the summit plateau will be class 4 - class 2; the further you go the easier it is). From here it is a short walk to the summit.

If descending this way, walk North West down the summit plateau about 75 yards past the outhouse then find your way down the same north slopes; again the further down you walk, the easier it will be to descend and traverse back East to the the gully's notch. (Unless you walk too far down the north slope. If this is the case, just continue all the way down the north slope and access Iceberg Lake Via the easy Whitney-Russell Pass).

Note: At this point (2004.09.07) you do not need a permit to ascend the mountain via this route unless you intend to camp overnight. Check with the Lone Pine Ranger station for up to date information. Equipment: Ice Axe and Crampons in winter
3. East Face Route (1931.08.16) Robert Underhill, Glen Dawson, Jules Eichorn, and Norman Clyde. Mostly class 3, up to 5.4. The East Face route, first climbed in 1931, is a classic easy climbing route of the Sierra; mostly class 3, with the hardest parts at only 5.4. Other routes range up to 5.10 in difficulty. The descent is normally along the "Mountaineer's Route" or via the north slopes and the Whitney - Russell pass.

Trips within 1 km
77 2004.09.07 Mount Whitney via the Mountaineer's Route Brad Braun
63 2000.10.02 Mount Whitney in a Day Klaus Haring

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Subject Photos   View Thumbnails
27 Mount Whitney and Whitney Portal Ed Farrell
17 Whitney Crest, Sierra Nevada Ed Farrell
12 Mount Whitney - East Side Fred Touche
10 Mount Whitney through Mobius Arch Klaus Haring
10 Mount Whitney - East Face Closeup Kevin Altheim
9 Mt Whitney From The Northeast John Scurlock
9 Mount Whitney from the South Klaus Haring
6 Mount Whitney - East Face Serguei Okountsev

Placename Photos
10 Mount Russell from south Serguei Okountsev
8 Mount Muir Serguei Okountsev