Hikes Around Mt Whitney Inyo National Forest Hiking Trails

Mt Whitney Hike (2019) – HikingGuy.com

In This Guide
  • Selecting the Right Route Up Mt Whitney
  • Getting Your Mt Whitney Hike Permit
  • Planning Your Keep
  • Coaching for Mt Whitney
  • Gear For Your Hike
  • Dealing With Altitude and Climate
  • Mt Whitney Path Maps
  • Turn by Flip Mt Whitney Hike Directions & Video
Distance22 miles (35.Four km)Hike Time12-16 Hours (Complete)ProblemVery ArduousComplete Ascent (?)6,960 ft (2121m)Highest Elevation14,505 ft (4421m)Charges & PermitsQuota Permit & ChargeDog FriendlyNoPark WebsiteJapanese Sierra Visitor MiddlePark Telephone760-873-2400Stay In TouchPublication – Instagram – YouTube – FacebookHelpGrow to be a Patron – Shop at REI / Amazon

The Mt Whitney hike is on every hiker’s bucket listing. At 14,505 ft, it’s the very best level within the lower 48, and is a type of rare excessive peaks which you can hike to without any mountaineering expertise. There’s some prep work it is advisable to do, like getting your Mt Whitney allow and coping with the altitude. This hike information has every thing you want to know to efficiently climb Mt Whitney. Maintain reading for all the data.

Selecting the Proper Route Up Mt Whitney

cris hazzard on mt whitneyPlay your playing cards proper and this could possibly be you.

Earlier than you apply on your Mt Whitney allow, it’s essential to determine on a route. This guide focuses on the preferred Mount Whitney Trail. There are some other in style options listed under. All of these options require specific permits.

Mt Whitney Path Day Hike

Most individuals deal with Mt Whitney as a 22 mile round-trip day hike. It sounds lengthy but could be very doable with the right training. It’s usually the simplest route to get a allow for. There’s additionally an incredible sense of accomplishment in climbing Mt Whitney in a day. It’ll take you somewhere between 12-16 hours, and you’ll depart before dawn. It’s an journey and I highly advocate going for the summit this manner, at the least on your first attempt.

Mt Whitney Trail In a single day (2-Days)

You don’t need to deal with all 22 miles of the Mount Whitney Path in in the future, you can even do the hike over two (or extra) days and camp on the path. There are execs and cons to camping. Huge on the professional aspect is which you could cut up the hike up into smaller chunks, you possibly can acclimatize, and get an attractive night time beneath the celebs. On the con aspect, permits are harder to get, and you need to haul a a lot heavier pack up the mountain.

The preferred place to camp is Trail Camp (12000 ft), 6 miles up the trail. It’s fairly rocky and barren, and doesn’t supply a lot shelter from the weather. It’s also possible to camp at Session Lake (close to Path Camp), Outpost Camp (3.8 miles on the path, 10400 ft), or Lone Pine Lake (2.8 miles, 9900 ft). When you do camp at these spots, decide an established campsite, don’t injury the panorama by creating a brand new one. All of those websites supply water and are first come, first serve.

mt whitney campingThere are plenty of established sites to place your tent up. Don’t wreck the setting by creating a brand new one.

Some other ideas when camping:

  • It sometimes will get very cold at night time, so put together accordingly.
  • You’ll want to pack out all your waste (sure, meaning poop) in a WAG bag. There are not any porta-potties. You’ll be able to pee 100 ft away from water on the rocks (keep away from the crops). If you decide up your allow, a WAG bag is included with your allow charge, or you’ll be able to just decide one up at REI for a couple of bucks (beneficial). To use it, simply open it up broad, do what you are promoting, close it with a bunch of twists, and carry it out.
  • It’s essential to maintain your meals in a bear canister. There aren’t bears at the larger camps, however there are rodents and birds who will chew by means of your pack and tent (really). You possibly can lease bear canisters on the ranger station and outlets in Lone Pine, however call ahead to double examine.
  • Protecting frivolously lively whenever you arrive at camp will assist alleviate altitude illness.
  • No wooden fires are allowed.

backpacks on mt whitney hikeBy way of-hikers depart their packs at the JMT junction to lighten the load to the summit. It’s also possible to depart your pack on the campsite and decide it up on the best way back down, however you want to shield your food towards critters.

As an alternative of lugging all of your gear to the summit, you possibly can depart your gear at the campsite with a daypack (maintain studying for gear suggestions). Ensure all your food and scented gadgets (like toothpaste) are in the bear canister. Depart your backpack loosely packed and tent flaps open in order that critters can easily look around. Otherwise they’ll chew by means of your pack or tent. Also, secure your gear towards rain and excessive winds. If a storm blows via, you don’t need your gear scattered in all places, moist. It occurs.

Technical Approaches To Whitney Summit

mt whitney mountaineers routeUntil you’re skilled and really feel nice doing climbs like this, depart the mountaineering routes to those who know what they’re doing. Photograph Erik De Leon

There are over a dozen routes to the summit that contain mountaineering, the preferred of which is the (Class 3) Mountaineers Route which John Muir took to the summit. Depart these routes to those with climbing and mountaineering experience. Routes in the Sierra are graded in accordance with the Yosemite Decimal System, with Class 1 being a hike, Class 5+ being a very technical climb. You need to keep on with the Class 1 hikes (like the Mt Whitney Path), which might be executed with climbing boots. Class 2 and above require climbing expertise and climbing gear.

High Sierra Path

high sierra trailSwitchbacks climb above Hamilton Lake on the High Sierra Path. Photograph Jane S. Richardson

If you wish to do every week lengthy backpacking trip, you can begin in Sequoia National Park and do the High Sierra Trail.  The hike is 72 miles, and requires a shuttle back to the start from Whitney Portal, or you’ll be able to hike again to the start when you have extra time. This excessive Sierras web site provides a superb overview of the hike, HikingGeek has a very detailed guide that is great for logistics, and there’s a superb e-book / trail guide if you want to dig deeper.

whitney shuttle servicesThere are hiker shuttle providers if you wish to do a point-to-point hike to Whitney. The Japanese Sierra Visitors Middle has all the data.

John Muir Path

john muir trailA log bridge on the John Muir trail crossing part of Thousand Island Lake. Mount Davis is seen in the background. Photograph Kaitymh

For a very epic expertise, contemplate mountaineering the John Muir Trail from Yosemite Nationwide Park to Mt Whitney. It’s 211 miles and can take you a few month. SoCal hiker has nice guides on the John Muir Trail (also referred to as the JMT).

How To Get a Mt Whitney Allow

The hike to Mt Whitney is in style. I mean actual widespread. In 2019, 84,000 hikers needed to hike or backpack to the summit from Whitney Portal sooner or later in prime mountaineering season. So the parks service enforces a quota system. Solely 100 day hikers and 60 backpackers are allowed up from Whitney Portal per day, from Might 1st to November 1st. These quota-controlled slots are awarded in a lottery. Getting considered one of these slots will probably be your first challenge, and it begins months earlier than the hike.

group on mt whitneyThere can be about 160 different hikers with you on the trail, plus these mountaineering the High Sierra Path and JMT.

The very first thing you want to do is decide 16 dates that you simply want to hike Mt Whitney on. The allow lottery allows you to select 1 principal day, and 15 alternates. When choosing a date, ideally you need a weekday, full moon in July, August, or early September. These months are the best choice to avoid snow, blizzards, and ice on the path. The complete moon will probably be good for the pre-dawn portion of the hike. These dates are, in fact, the hardest to get.

snow on mt whitney hikeEven in late August, you’ll doubtless see some snow on the hike.

Then you want to determine on your group measurement. You possibly can have between 1 and 15 individuals (for the primary Mount Whitney Path). The extra individuals you’ve gotten in you get together, the harder your possibilities for a allow. It’s additionally harder to keep an enormous group collectively. A gaggle measurement of 4 is right – if there’s a problem, 2 individuals can go for help and a couple of individuals can keep together. You’ll also need to name a gaggle chief. Often it’s the one that’s choosing up the permit.

The Mt Whitney Allow Lottery

Right here’s the overall course of for the Mt Whitney allow lottery (the dates and occasions may be slightly totally different every year, however this is usually the way it rolls).

  • Feb 1, 12:00AM – Lottery Opens.
    You visit the Whitney permit lottery web site, decide your day(s), pay a small payment, and wait.
  • March 15 – Lottery Closes
  • March 24 – Lottery Winners Introduced

winning the mt whitney lotteryYou’ll get a easy e-mail that allows you to know whether or not you got your permit or not.Whitney FailWOMP WOMP – that is it what it appears like should you don’t get a lottery allow. Don’t despair, there are other choices!

  • April 1st – Lottery Winners Can Buy Permits
    In case you gained the lottery, you now have to go to the web site and purchase your allow. It’s often about $15. You’ve a month to purchase your allow, or else it is going to be forfeited.

winning the mt whitney lotteryYou buy your permit on the identical website used to e-book campgrounds, and so forth. on the National Parks.

  • Might 1st, Random Time – Unclaimed Permits Go On Sale
    In the event you didn’t win your allow within the lottery, you’ve gotten another probability at climbing Mt Whitney! The parks service releases all the unclaimed permits at midnight. Go to the website at midnight and examine your date for availability. I’ve been successful utilizing this technique (along with profitable the lottery! whoo hooo!).

Once you buy your allow, you’ll get a confirmation with the actual allow information on it. Print this out and convey it to the Japanese Sierra Visitor Middle to get your precise permit the day earlier than your hike. Yes, there’s another piece of paper. More on that later.

winning the mt whitney lotteryThat is the precise permit confirmation that that you must convey to the ranger station immediately before your hike.

Go to the Whitney allow lottery page for up to date info on the appliance dates, course of, and hyperlinks.

Climbing Mt Whitney Without Profitable the Allow Lottery

For those who have been unsuccessful getting your permit, there are some different ways you may have the ability to do the hike.

First off, just examine recreation.gov website. I’ve had reviews of people discovering availability after the lottery interval. Why? Who is aware of, perhaps individuals cancelled, perhaps there were slots that just didn’t get claimed. Either means, it’s value a attempt.

Typically group permits have someone who bails out at the final minute. Be a part of a mountaineering group on Facebook or Reddit and let everyone know that you simply’re on the lookout for a gaggle to hike with. I’ve seen this work quite a few occasions.

It’s also possible to present up at the Japanese Sierra Visitor’s Middle the day before or day of your hike and see if there are any unclaimed permits. Weekdays are better than weekends. In response to the rangers, no-shows are pretty widespread. You possibly can’t name and have them hold the permit for you though. It’s essential be there in individual to get it. The excellent news is that it’s free.

Lastly, you’ll be able to hike Mt Whitney within the winter (between November 2nd and April 30th). There isn’t any quota, and you may merely stroll up to the park office and get a permit. In case you are not experienced in winter mountaineering and/or mountaineering, don’t hike Whitney within the winter. Actually, don’t hike Whitney till the snow is gone, which often happens by July or August. Spring circumstances when the snow and ice are melting may be most treacherous. Somebody has already died in 2019 when descending.

Even people who are prepared die on Whitney typically, and people who find themselves inexperienced and unprepared die extra typically. The summit is 100% doable with out risking your life whenever you’ve prepared and the climate and altitude illness cooperate. If unsure, turn round. I’ve rotated many occasions on many trails. And I’m still alive.

hiker in snow hiking mt whitneyA pal of mine who hiked Mt. Whitney after a snow. Discover the drop on the fitting hand aspect. Not my concept of a enjoyable day.

Oh, and in case you are contemplating doing the hike with out the permit, beware. There are rangers on the path who verify for permits, and I’ve heard tales of hikers without permits being walked off the mountain and fined.

Mt Whitney Allow Pickup

The e-mail that you simply get just isn’t your precise allow; there’s another piece of paper for that. Earlier than you do your hike, you have to go to the Japanese Sierra Interagency Customer Middle, just south of Lone Pine on 395, and decide up your actual allow. Some essential factors:

  • The visitor middle is open from 8am to 5pm every day.
  • You’ll be able to decide up your permit as much as 2 days earlier than your entry date.
  • The cutoff deadline is noon the day earlier than your entry date for day hikes, 10am the day of the hike for overnights.. For those who don’t decide it up by then, your permit is released to walk-in requests. Affirm this on the web site and in your confirmation e-mail.
  • You can also make preparations for the ranger to go away your Whitney allow in an evening field in case you are arriving late.
  • Solely the group leader on the allow can decide up the permit.
  • You want legitimate ID and a printout of your allow affirmation e-mail to get your permit.
  • Please go to the Whitney allow pickup web page to verify all these particulars.

Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor CenterThe Japanese Sierra Interagency Customer Middle is true outdoors of Lone Pine.Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor CenterThe Customer Middle providers the entire space, not simply Whitney, and will get numerous visitors.Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor CenterExamine the board outdoors the entrance for the newest climate and any bulletins.Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor CenterThe allow desk is instantly to the proper as you enter. The rangers listed here are super-friendly and may answer any questions you may need.Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor CenterThe visitor’s middle has reveals on the history and geology of the world. The middle covers Inyo, Sequoia, and Dying Valley.Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor CenterThere’s also a present shop that has some primary gear and a ton of great books.

At the finish of the permit process, you often get three items of paper. Right here’s what to do with them.

mt whitney permitPut you actual allow in your pack. You don’t essentially need to have this useful. This is only for whenever you actually get in hassle.mt whitney permitYou’ll in all probability get a allow tag. Rangers do a fast visual scan of hikers to see if they’ve this tag, so put it someplace outstanding on your pack. The highest handle is often a sensible choice.mt whitney permitYou may get a parking allow for Whitney Portal. Depart this on your sprint when you do the hike. There are designated parking areas for hikers (see instructions under).

Planning Your Stay

Until you live near Mt Whitney, you’ll in all probability end up staying in Lone Pine, CA. When you stay in Lone Pine, it’s a 13 mile drive (with 4000 ft of uphill roads) to the trailhead at Whitney Portal.

There are a couple of choices: off-brand lodges, chain inns, AirBnB, campgrounds, and the Whitney Portal campground.  My goto lodge has been the Greatest Western, which tends to refill far prematurely. The rooms are huge and clear, the employees friendly, it has free (early) breakfast, and you may park right in entrance of your room to unload your gear. In any other case I’d turn to TripAdvisor for different choices.

view from the breakfast room at the Best Western in Lone PineThe view from the breakfast room on the Greatest Western in Lone Pine.

I’ve also stayed at the Whitney Portal campground and it’s a lovely choice, because it’s right at the trailhead. There’s a basic store that has meals, drinks, beers, presents, and restricted gear. On the down aspect, it could actually get busy and loud with youngsters operating round. The Whitney Portal campground doesn’t simply have hikers. It’s full of parents just having fun with the scenery. A lot of hikers additionally sleep in their automobiles at Whitney Portal before an early departure.

If you want to camp at altitude, attempt the Cottonwood Cross Campsite at 10,000 ft. You’ll be able to drive in and spend the night time, and there are bogs and operating water.

Wherever you keep, I like to recommend booking as far prematurely as potential. It’s not unusual for Whitney Portal to be booked full 6 months out. Lone Pine is a popular spot for tourists doing the Sequoia/Yosemite/Dying Valley route, and will get a whole lot of via visitors.

Lone Pine is a small town. In case you’re coming from a serious metropolitan area, set your expectations accordingly.   I recommend testing TripAdvisor and Yelp beforehand to get an concept of the consuming choices. There’s a small supermarket, and a couple of fuel station comfort shops. For those who want mountaineering gear, your decisions are restricted to some small outlets and the Japanese Sierra Visitor Middle present store, so ensure you have what you want earlier than you allow house. There are some fascinating points of interest in the area and it’s value a day of exploring and enjoyable.

I’ve some hikes you can do around Lone Pine and on the best way to Lone Pine on my hikes around Mt Whitney web page.

Training for the Mt Whitney Hike

To start out, the Mt Whitney hike could be very doable. It could possibly also kick your butt. Most of the hikers who attempt the hike don’t make the summit. Coaching and getting ready properly can mean the difference between distress and fun. You’ve a couple of challenges to organize for.

First, it’s worthwhile to be used to the space and energy. In case you’re fortunate enough to stay in an space with a lot of mountainous climbs, you must have plenty of choices. If not, you’ll need to improvise. Typically this implies doing loops of the same hikes to get the numbers in. I’ve even heard of individuals getting on a treadmill, setting the grade to 15%, and climbing till that they had the elevation and distance (which sounds soul crushing to me). Likewise, you can use a stair climber.

cris hazzard on San JacintoThere’s no better training than climbing. So even for those who don’t have mountains like San Jacinto to climb, attempt to at the least get 10-11 hours on the trail sooner or later. Here I’m halfway on a 19 mile hike to 10000+ ft.

A very good weekend progression for a hiker who can do 10 miles comfortably can be something like this:

  • Hike 10 miles, 3000 ft of elevation achieve
  • Hike 12 miles, 4000 ft of elevation achieve
  • Hike 14 miles, 5000 ft of elevation achieve
  • Hike 16 miles, 5500 ft of elevation achieve
  • Hike 18 miles, 6000 ft of elevation achieve
  • Rest weekend
  • Hike Whitney, 22 miles, 6100 ft of elevation achieve

Ideally, these hikes can be accomplished at altitude. However not everybody has that luxurious, so do them the most effective you’ll be able to. We’ll cope with altitude later.

In Southern California, an excellent training development for Mt Whitney is:

(That is just a suggestion, there are literally 100’s of hikes you can do in SoCal that might work. Adapt your plan based mostly in your wants.)

Along with your hikes, I’d strongly advocate doing some other train often in the course of the week. Simply 30 minutes a day of vigorous biking, operating, circuit weight coaching, or exercise courses will work. HIIT coaching is effective and doesn’t take long. The fitter you’re generally, the extra nice the hike shall be. Exercise will even improve your body’s capacity to use oxygen, something that can be essential whenever you’re above 14,000 ft.

cris hazzard on bike to death valleyIn case you train so much, you in all probability find out about lively recovery. The thought is that an easy session will get the blood flowing and assist you get well quicker than just sitting round. Here I am doing an easy recovery experience the day before climbing Mt Whitney. I went by means of 40ouncesof water on my 60 minute journey on the street to Demise Valley.

In the event you’re biking, operating, and exercising, take a look at Strava, which is type of like Facebook for health. It’s also possible to use it with hikes.

Gear For the Hike

weighing backpack at start of mt whitney hikeWeigh your pack initially of the Mt Whitney hike to see how much you will lug up the mountain.

This can be a lengthy hike and you could think twice about your gear, and in addition follow with it. Listed here are my gear ideas.

  • You need a great headlamp. If you’ll depart before dawn (see the weather part under), you must do a couple of hikes together with your headlamp before the Mt Whitney hike. Climbing with a headlamp could be very totally different than climbing in daylight, and your summit attempt isn’t the time to check it out. Have additional batteries ready in a handy place in your pack. You don’t need to fumble for them in case your headlamp dies.
  • Plan for dangerous circumstances at the summit, even if the forecast seems to be okay. Alpine weather is risky and changeable. At the very least, it must be a lot cooler and windy up there. Long pants, gloves, a winter hat, a superb shell, and lightweight down jacket are often enough for the summer time. If it’s chilly, you will want the extra layers if you hit Trail Crest.
  • Likewise, have sufficient gear in a great daypack to remain the night time. That doesn’t imply summit with a tent, however a light-weight weight tarp, loads of water, food, an area blanket, and a winter hat can be a lot welcomed if caught overnight. If you wish to know what that might be like, here’s an fascinating account of a misplaced hiker who spent two days on Mt Whitney earlier than being rescued.
  • I deliver two GPS emergency beacons in case I wanted to sign for an emergency.
  • Convey loads of food. I attempted to down a ProBar every 1.5-2 hours, despite the fact that the altitude had sapped my urge for food. I additionally brought some gels that went down fairly straightforward at the greater altitudes. In the event you don’t eat, hunger may cause some AMS-like signs, resembling dizziness and fatigue. So just pressure yourself to eat frequently and take starvation out of the AMS equation.
  • I went by way of 6 liters of water on a day hike. I made positive I was nicely hydrated – I didn’t want dehydration to be a purpose that I received AMS. Consuming ceaselessly is a simple method to put the chances in your favor. There are plenty of places to refill on water. Some individuals don’t filter the water, some individuals do. Filter it to be protected. I brought a Three liter bladder in my daypack, and then two 1.5L bottles of water. I often deliver the 1.5L bottles in case another hiker is in dangerous shape – the bottle is straightforward to only hand off.
  • In case you’re climbing Whitney, there may be snow on the path. Ask the rangers what the circumstances are and for those who need micro-spikes. Typically the cables section has snow and ice into July.
  • Get a very good paper map of Mt Whitney and research it in the weeks before the hike.
  • I know I just informed you to deliver a bunch of drugs, however try to lighten your pack as much as you’ll be able to without sacrificing safety and health. The lighter your pack, the better the trouble, the more you’ll enjoy the hike. I ditched my binoculars and another non-essential gear for the hike.

cris hazzard on mt whitney hikeGet used to climbing with a headlamp. If you hike with the headlamp, you are likely to concentrate on the ground right in front of you, lacking the scenery. You’ll have the ability to take pleasure in it on the best way down.

Dealing With Altitude

I’d say altitude is what stops most people who try and hike Mt Whitney and fail. There are two important challenges with altitude, getting sufficient oxygen to continue and avoiding altitude illness (also called acute mountain sickness, or AMS), which may happen in hikers once they go above 8000 ft. For those who already stay or practice at altitude, AMS ought to be a lot less of an issue for you than most.

To start out, air all the time accommodates 20.9% oxygen, at all altitudes, no matter what. However decrease air strain at high altitude makes it really feel like there’s a lower proportion of oxygen. On the summit of Mt Whitney, your efficient oxygen proportion shouldn’t be 20.9%, however about 12%, because of the low air strain. When you do the maths, meaning your getting about 57% of regular oxygen levels with every breath. Consider it as exercising with one nostril plugged.

cris hazzard on mt whitney hikeHaving fun with a relaxation on the hike to Mt Whitney. A prudent strategy is to pace yourself and take numerous breaks to let your physique modify to the altitude. It’s also a great excuse to catch your breath.

As mentioned earlier, being match might be an enormous assist when mountaineering Whitney. In very tough phrases, exercising increases your physique’s capability to make use of oxygen effectively. So you are able to do extra with each breath you’re taking. Your physique may also do a lot better should you’re hydrated, so take additional water in the course of the hike, and drink tons of water the day before. We’re typically dehydrated once we wake, so hydrating before will assist offset that. And lay off the alcohol until after the hike.

To extend your probabilities of coping with altitude successfully, you must plan to acclimatize. Acclimatization is just the process of getting your physique used to extracting the oxygen from the lower air strain. In a really perfect world, you’d spend 1 week acclimatizing for every 2000 ft of difference in altitude. However you don’t have to go to these extremes to hike Mt Whitney. Here’s an acclimatization plan that has labored nicely for me, based mostly on the previous climber’s adage of “climb high, sleep low.”

  • (non-compulsory) 5 days before – take the tram to San Jacinto in Palm Springs (8,500 ft), do a light-weight hike, hang around, eat, come back down
  • Four days before Whitney hike – travel to and overnight in Lone Pine, CA (3700 ft)
  • Three days earlier than – hike White Mountain Peak (14250 ft), turning round if AMS symptoms set in, keep the night time at Lone Pine, CA
  • 2 days earlier than – relaxation, nap, hydrate, do lunch and hang around a bit at Whitney Portal (7850 ft), in a single day in Lone Pine
  • hike (or camp) Mt Whitney (14505 ft)

cris hazzard on white mountain peakMy Mt Whitney prep features a hike to White Mountain Peak, about 90 minutes north of Lone Pine.

I reside at sea degree, and this acclimatization plan had me feeling excellent on Whitney. I did have delicate AMS symptoms on White Mountain Peak although. It’s totally different for everyone, so keep versatile and all the time stay alert for symptoms of AMS. Its onset can happen no matter your health, and tends to be a bit random. Which brings us to our next point…

To place it bluntly, altitude sickness (AMS) can kill you. However you’d be stunned on the variety of hikers you’ll see making an attempt to push by means of it, treating AMS prefer it was a sore foot or blister. When hikers do this, they not solely put their very own lives in peril, but in addition endanger another hiker or ranger who would probably need to be involved in a rescue. The last time I hiked Mt Whitney, there have been no less than a dozen hikers ‘grinding it out’ by means of extreme AMS signs. Not sensible; not value it.

How have you learnt when you have AMS? The signs are often delicate to start out, and progress in depth as you climb. They embrace headache, nausea, lack of appetite, swelling, diarrhea, and lightheadedness. For instance, a light-weight, uninteresting headache is pretty widespread, a pointy, intense headache means you’re in the hazard zone. AMS can progress to swelling of the mind or fluid in the lungs, each acute, life threatening circumstances.

Should you begin getting signs of AMS, stop climbing, take a break, and see if they subside. Delicate signs could be manageable, but if they intensify, you should descend instantly. It’s the one method to get higher shortly. Don’t anticipate a helicopter rescue, plan on strolling off the mountain your self. When you’ve climbed to the purpose the place you’re vomiting or lost your stability, you’ve gone method too far. Consider it or not, I’ve seen individuals with these symptoms making an attempt to summit.

swollen handDespite the fact that I didn’t have any AMS symptoms, my arms nonetheless swelled up like sausages. In hindsight, I ought to have additionally put sunscreen on my arms.

Some people also have luck with a medicine referred to as Diamox. If you wish to go that route, see you physician and have them prescribe it for you. An alternative choice is straightforward Ibuprofen. A Stamford research (that happened within the Japanese Sierra) found that popping 600mg of Ibuprofen may also help with AMS too.

Weather and Timing

Hopefully, the climate will cooperate with you in your hike to the summit. If the weather is dangerous, you have to play it protected and do the hike another day. Winter storms can nonetheless hit on the fringes of the summer time season. If the climate is okay, you continue to run the danger of summer time thunder storms and lightning on the summit. These storms usually bubble up after midday. You’re in an alpine local weather and the climate can change shortly.

lightning warning on mt whitney hikeAn indication warning of the risks of lightening at the JMT trail junction.

To keep away from thunderstorms, most hikers depart within the early hours of the morning. 3am is a well-liked begin time from Whitney Portal. That ought to get you on and off the summit before noon, until your pace could be very sluggish. The only downside is that there will probably be a variety of people mountaineering at the similar time. You possibly can attempt to depart a bit of earlier to keep away from the large rush. Alternatively, if the prospect of rain is low to none, and you’ve got the daylight, you possibly can depart at dawn and maximize your daylight mountaineering time. In fact, you run the danger of having the climate flip, which might stop your summit try.

As you climb in the direction of the summit, all the time hold your eye to the sky. Constructing clouds are not an excellent sign. Once you attain Trail Crest (see instructions), scan the horizon towards Sequoia Nationwide Park. If it seems dangerous there, that weather will in all probability be at Mt Whitney shortly.

Mt Whitney Trail enters Sequoia National ParkIf you get to Trail Crest, it is best to have the ability to see approaching weather coming from the west in Sequoia Nationwide Park.

If you do the ultimate stretch of the Mount Whitney Trail (past the JMT junction to the summit), you’ll see a lightning warning signal. There have been some much publicized deaths on the summit from lightning, including the dying of a hiker within the stone hut at the summit. The easiest way to avoid getting struck is to turn across the second you hear thunder. It’s a bummer, but hey, you’re nonetheless alive.

In case you’re caught on the summit in lightning, your greatest guess is to take refuge within the stone hut.  There’s some controversy around this, and the official park signage signifies that it isn’t protected in the hut, however this discussion was ok for me to be ok with that choice.

mt whitney hutAffirmation that the Mt Whitney hut roof and window frames at the moment are bonded and grounded. Head in the hut to play it protected.

To throw a wrench into this entire lightening concern, army jets typically fly by the summit. They’re loud and typically break the sound barrier, and may be confused with lightening.

Other Notes Before You Hike

mt whitney hikeFor those who’re terrified of heights, there are some challenging sections. Right here’s an instance of a few of the cliffside trail on the hike to Mt. Whitney. The image seems worse that it truly is. The slender elements are 3-4 ft large at the worst.

  • Take a look at current trip stories for the newest circumstances and attainable modifications.
  • Even when you’re in nice form and you’ve achieved all of your prep appropriately, this is still a hard hike. It’s necessary that you simply tempo yourself and provides your self some rest breaks. Rest breaks will allow you to acclimatize, and are great occasions to gasoline and hydrate.
  • This will likely sound obvious, however in case you have an acute worry of heights, this hike shall be difficult. There are some sections previous Path Crest with sheer drops on either aspect. The trail is at the very least Four ft broad in these locations, and very doable. When you have issues with heights, just hold your eyes on the path. If it’s windy and you’re scared, crawl. I’ve crawled plenty of occasions, there’s no shame on the subject of being protected.
  • Attending to the highest is just half the battle. You still have an 11 mile hike back right down to Whitney Portal. I’ve seen many people wrestle on the best way down after blowing by means of all their power on the best way up, ending at Whitney Portal lengthy after sundown. Keep in mind to tempo your self, stay fueled and hydrated, and don’t go beyond your limits. Individuals have just lately died on the descent after taking a fallacious flip.
  • Let someone at residence know your plan, and have them anticipate a call on the night after your hike. Give them the variety of the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office (760-878-0383) and tell them to report you lacking in case you are 24 hours overdue in your check-in. And assume your hike will take longer than you assume, and that you simply won’t have cell service at Whitney Portal (although I had respectable service on AT&T).
  • Don’t depart food in your automotive at Whitney Portal, there are bears lively. Put any food in the bear packing containers around the campsite.
  • Why is it named Whitney? It was named after Josiah Whitney, the state geologist of California who sponsored the first survey in 1864. It was first climbed by gringos in 1873. John Muir was one of the first to summit as nicely, doing it in 1873.

Reader Q&A

mt whitney hike signPlay your playing cards proper and you may be reading this plaque on the summit of Mt Whitney.

  • Can I exploit an altitude mask to coach for Whitney if I can’t practice at altitude? The overall consensus is that altitude masks don’t work, however I can’t prove or disprove that myself. If you must travel to Whitney, you’re investing quite a bit within the hike already. I might strongly advocate investing one other day or two so you’ll be able to stay at altitude and hike White Mountain Peak.
  • Will a StairMaster assist me practice for the hike? It could’t harm. If you can do 11 miles on a stair master, I’d say it’s going to be respectable training, however in all probability fairly boring.
  • If I climbed a 10,000 foot mountain without problems, ought to I be high-quality on Mt Whitney? 10,000 ft and 14,500 might be very totally different. I wouldn’t assume that you ought to be fantastic. Undergo the steps on this article to greatest acclimatize.
  • Is it protected to hike at midnight with a headlamp? Yes, and many individuals do.
  • Do cell telephones work on the hike? Usually, no. There are remoted spots on the summit which have reception, but don’t rely on it. Carry something like a Garmin InReach if it is advisable communicate with the surface world.
  • Can I rent a guide to take me up Mt Whitney? No, guides aren’t allowed. I’d advocate becoming a member of a Facebook or Reddit mountaineering group and in search of companions. You may also do an overnight camp at Trail Camp and hitch together with another hikers.
  • Do I want a bear canister for a day hike? Nope.

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The best way to Get to the Mt Whitney Trailhead

Here’s the trailhead GPS handle: Mt. Whitney Trailhead, Whitney Portal, CA, 93545, USA.

In case you’re arriving at Whitney Portal for the first time, early within the ayorning, discovering the appropriate place to park and trailhead might be your first challenge.

mt whitney hike parkingThe parking spots on the left (inexperienced) as you first pull into Whitney Portal are your greatest guess. If there are not any free spots and also you cross the Portal Retailer, continue around the loop and park within the greater tons.

If you want to use a real toilet, the bogs across from the trailhead are your solely selection on this hike, so deal with business earlier than you begin.

mt whitney hike parkingThe trailhead is true before you get to the Portal Store. It may be onerous to spot in the midst of the night time, but the store is an effective landmark to seek out amidst the automobiles.

Don’t overlook to go away your parking allow in the window. Rangers DO give tickets if your allow doesn’t match your stay.

Mt Whitney Trail Maps

Mt Whitney Hike Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

How Will You Navigate the Hike?

I recommend using a mixture of paper maps, GPS, and a guide to navigate the hike. Before the hike I’ll take a look at any guides, print out sections which might be helpful or take notes, load a GPX monitor onto my GPS models, and then take a look at the paper maps. I know the path names, know what elements are exhausting, which elements are straightforward, and where the key landmarks are.

In case you are tempted to only use a smartphone, please don’t. You’ll typically unfastened cellular phone reception on the path. On the very least, print out a paper map and this information. Better yet, take a look at the navigation part on my gear picks page to see the newest and biggest that I’m utilizing. There’s even a particular low cost on GaiaGPS for HikingGuy users.

See The Nav Gear I Use

mt whitney hike 3d mapI’ll go into detail later concerning the particular sections of the hike. Usually, you ascend along Lone Pine Creek to Trail Camp, then do a steep section to Trail Crest, then ascend alongside the ridge, behind the needles, as much as the summit.mt whitney hike elevationYou possibly can plan on about 11 miles of straight climbing, with some minor parts of degree and downhill. The little sections of uphill on the best way back to trail crest can really harm after all of the climbing to the summit.

Mt Whitney Hike Directions

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Turn By Flip Directions

mt whitney hike signA pleasant huge sign marks the start of the path. Good for a photo op once you finish.mt whitney hike startYou’ll move by way of a framed area with some information and warnings initially.mt whitney hike notice boardTake a look at the hiker notice board for any final minute updates.weighing pack at mt whitney hike There’s also a cool little scale to weigh your pack within the framed space.

It helps to interrupt the hike into sections, both for navigation and mental consumption. Don’t look as much as the Whitney summit and take into consideration how lengthy it is going to take to get there. Simply concentrate on the current part and the subsequent landmark, it’ll help mentally break the hike up into digestible chunks.

mt whitney trail mapThe first part takes you from the trailhead to Lone Pine Lake. The trail is a gentle uphill with some degree sections. Straightforward to comply with and corresponding to a mountain path in Southern California.mt whitney trailThe primary part of the Mount Whitney Path from Whitney Portal is steep however straightforward to comply with.mt whitney trailThe first landmark comes at a few mile into the hike. Stay straight on the Mount Whitney path and avoid the North Fork of the Lone Pine Creek Path, which takes you on the Mountaineers Route. There’s additionally a small stream crossing here.john muir wilderness signShortly after that, you’ll cross the John Muir Wilderness signal.The John Muir Wilderness extends virtually 100 miles, within the north by Mammoth Mountain, to only south of Mt Whitney.mt whitney trailThere’s also a hiker discover board once contained in the John Muir Wilderness.mt whitney trailThe path could be very straightforward to comply with, but in case you get misplaced, the Mount Whitney Trail is marked with cut-out notches in the timber. You possibly can see two of them here.deer on mt whitney trailHold your eyes open, there are many mule deer that don’t get too afraid of hikers. mt whitney trailAs you strategy Lone Pine Lake, the path begins to degree off. mt whitney trail stream crossingThere are a few log crossings of Lone Pine Creek.trout in lone pine creekHold your eyes open for rainbow trout. The Division of Fish and Recreation stocks Lone Pine Lake with rainbow trout, and there are also allegedly brook trout here too. Should you’re into fishing and are tenting, you possibly can deliver a rod with you and fish. I’ve heard to people landing trout at each Consultation Lake and Mirror Lake. Word has it the fish are largest at Consultation Lake.mt whitney trail to lone pine lakeAt round 2.eight miles, you attain the turn off for Lone Pine Lake. You’ve climbed about 1500 ft. You’ll be able to hike to Lone Pine Lake with no permit, and it might be used for a pleasant acclimatization hike. You may also camp at the lake. Hold going proper on the Mt Whitney Path to continue (avoiding the turn-off to Lone Pine Lake).mt whitney trail mapThe subsequent stretch of the hike goes from Lone Pine Lake to Mirror Lake, and is probably the simplest stretch of the hike.mt whitney trailThere’s a pleasant degree section after Lone Pine Lake. Take pleasure in it, there usually are not many on the hike. You’ll additionally notice that the landscape gets more barren and rocky.Whitney Zone permit signShortly after the Lone Pine Lake turnoff, you’ll see the allow sign. You want a Whitney Zone allow to hike previous this level.mt whitney trailThe path climbs regularly, and could be very straightforward to comply with.blue grouseI spotted some blue grouse on this section of the hike.mt whitney trailThe trail descends a bit after climbing. This can harm just a little on the best way again.meadow just short of Outpost CampThere’s an attractive meadow just before you reach Outpost Camp. The trail follows the edge of the meadow.deer on mt whitney trailMaintain your eyes peeled for wildlife within the meadow.stream crossings on mt whitney trailThere are some small stream crossings on this stretch of trail.Outpost CampAt about Three.eight miles, you’ll reach Outpost Camp. You altitude right here is 10400 ft.Outpost CampOutpost Camp is flat and has numerous tent spots. There’s water right here too.Outpost CampBehind Outpost Camp there’s a nice waterfall. Outpost Camp has a stream that runs by means of it the place you’ll be able to refill.mt whitney trailBecause the path continues via some brush, there are some secluded campsites off the path in the higher a part of Outpost Camp.mt whitney trailThe path winds by means of Outpost Camp and then again out the opposite aspect, marked by an indication for the Mt Whitney Trail. There are some aspect trails to campsites, so take care to remain on the primary trail, especially at night time. This can be a good place to cross-check your GPS place with the monitor.mirror lakeAs you climb you’ll see Mirror Lake right down to your right. There’s no camping at Mirror Lake, however you’ll be able to fish there. In the event you’re staying at Outpost Camp, it’s a pleasant place to hangout.mt whitney trail mapThe subsequent stretch from Outpost Camp to Trail Camp are the place they hike starts to actually go uphill. You’ll comply with Lone Pine Creek for a very good portion of this stretch.mt whitney trailAfter Mirror Lake, the path climbs at a troublesome grade.Clarks NutcrackerMaintain your eye’s open for Clark’s Nutcrackers, found in the Sierras. They use their beak to interrupt by way of pinecones and get at the seeds, which they stash in a pouch underneath their tongue.Lone Pine Creek The path climbs alongside Lone Pine Creek (the place the inexperienced is).Lone Pine Creek There are some small crossings of Lone Pine Creek on this stretch of trail.mt whitney trailAs you climb here, you’ll notice that you simply move the tree-line.mt whitney trailThis section of the trail is rocky and steep, with some rock stair sections.marmot on mt whitney trailYou may begin seeing marmots here. Trail Camp is crawling with them, nevertheless it’s still fun to spot them.mt whitney trailThere are some sections of trail that go over sheer rock. Scan the permitter of the rock for the right continuation of the path. It’s not all the time straight.mt whitney trailSearch for probably the most worn path to know the right approach to go. It not all the time obvious, but usually straightforward to spot after pausing.Trailside MeadowsAt about 5 miles in, you come to Trailside Meadows.Trailside MeadowsTrailside Meadows is the last patch of inexperienced you’ll see for a while. It’s a stupendous area and a pleasant place for a break, however don’t injury any of the fragile ecosystem here. You’re at 11400 ft, and also you may need began to really feel the consequences of altitude by this level.mt whitney trailAfter Trailside Meadows, you climb again on the rocky path.trailside meadowsA view again to Trailside Meadows as the Mount Whitney Path climbs previous it.Consultation LakeQuickly Consultation Lake will come into sight off to the left. The path continues west towards Path Camp.mt whitney trailOne last rocky, steep, half-mile stretch after Session Lake to Trail Camp.Trail CampWelcome to Path Camp! It’s about 6 miles into the hike, 12000 ft, 5 miles to go. Depending on what time you get here, Trail Camp could be crowded. Should you’re camping, come early for a great spot. And keep in mind which you can also camp at Consultation Lake, which is far quieter.trail campYou may notice gear at Path Camp from campers who’re summiting. Here’s a bear canister. There are a ton of marmots and rodents right here that may come up to you and sniff around on the lookout for meals. Beware of leaving your pack unattended.trail camp pondIn case you need water, that is your home to refill before you hike to the summit. There’s a walkway to Path Camp Pond where you possibly can refill.cris hazzard at trail campTrail Camp is an effective place to take a break, eat, hydrate, and rest before your subsequent stretch of path to the Mt Whitney summit. It’s additionally a very good place to verify the weather.mt whitney trail mapRight here’s a map of the subsequent part of the hike, which many people contemplate the hardest section. From Path Camp, you climb up the 99 switchbacks (also referred to as the 100 switchbacks or 97 switchbacks). This section is totally uncovered and principally goes straight up the mountain for two miles. See the snow to the correct of the trail? On the best way down, some hikers slide down that on their butt (referred to as glissading), slowing their velocity with ice axes. It’s a risky endeavor greatest left for many who have a ton of experience and a slight dying want.mt whitney trailComply with the trail out of Trail Camp and towards the mountain. The timber are long gone, however he trail is nicely marked with rocks and hundreds of boot prints.mt whitney trailThe trail is rocky and steep, but straightforward to comply with.mt whitney trail switchbacksLookup on the hikers (in the higher left). This provides you with an concept of the gradient here. The switchbacks go one ceaselessly, but are doable.mt whitney trail switchbacksOne of the nice things about this stretch is that you would be able to see right down to Trail Camp Pond and Consultation Lake as you climb. I typically discover a nice overlook and take a break. Keep in mind, you could have much less oxygen here, and you’re properly served by climbing sluggish and regular to attenuate AMS.mt whitney trail cables sectionAbout midway up the switchbacks, you will attain a piece referred to as “the cables” because of the cable hand railing put in to help hikers. This part of the path doesn’t see much direct sunlight, so it may be coated in ice and snow. After July it’s much less of an issue. Either means, take your time and use the hand hold if you could. This shot was in August and there was still some minor spots of ice.mt whitney trail cables sectionThe cables are type of gnarly in places. This part is just about 50 ft. You will get an concept of the steepness in this shot.ice on mt whitney hikeWatch your footing on this stretch via the cables. Here’s some ice in late August.marmot on mt whitney hikePassing another marmot at the finish of the cables section.mt whitney trailAs soon as the cables are cleared, it’s again to the switchbacks, which supply great views down into Lone Pine.mt whitney trailTowards the top the switchbacks turn into longer. You’ll still have the ability to lookup and see different hikers.mt whitney trailAt around 8 miles the path mercifully evens out and climbs at a mild grade toward Trail Crest. You get a view of the ridge that you’ll hike behind after Trail Crest.trail crest on mt whitney trailAt about eight.5 miles you attain Trail Crest. Getting here will virtually really feel nearly as good as getting to the summit. To your left you’ll see the gorgeous peaks in Sequoia Nationwide Park.trail crest on mt whitney trailHere’s the Path Crest signal. You’re truly at 13700 ft here, less than 1000 ft from the Mt Whiney summit. This can be a good place to rest, eat, and hydrate earlier than the previous few miles to the summit. In the event you’re suffering from AMS now, you must relaxation or flip round. It’s not going to get any higher as you climb another 1000 ft.Views into Sequoia National Park from Trail CrestViews into Sequoia Nationwide Park from Trail Crest, including Hitchcock Lake. Trail Crest is an effective place to do a intestine verify on the weather. Should you see storms approaching here, it is best to in all probability head again down.mt whitney trail mapThe last stretch to Whitney summit doesn’t have loads of climbing, but will feel robust due to the altitude. The one junction it’s a must to be careful for is the intersection with the JMT. Just hike to the fitting and head to the summit.marmot on mt whitney hikeTake a look at the fats marmot on the trail welcoming me into Sequoia National Park. You enter Sequoia NP a couple of minutes after Path Crest.mt whitney hikeOkay, onto the summit. The subsequent stretch of path hugs the aspect of the cliff. In the event you’re afraid of heights, this half can be robust. Just go sluggish and you need to be high-quality. The good news is that there are some downhill sections on this stretch.mt whitney hikeShortly after the stretch of path along the cliff, you’ll come to the junction with the John Muir Trail (JMT). Discover the sign in the backside of the image. Maintain right here to go toward the summit. The trail also turns very rocky from right here on out.mt whitney hikeRight here’s the junction with the JMT up close. Hike to the suitable toward Whitney. Via-hikers typically depart their backpacks here to summit. When you’re a day hiker or left your pack at Path Camp, I don’t advocate leaving your gear here. The summit is probably where you want your gear probably the most. That is additionally a great level to do a gut verify on AMS. In case you’re feeling dangerous, rest and/or turn round.mt whitney hikeThe path climbs up by way of the rocks to the summit.mt whitney hikeRight here’s a view of the trail wanting again toward the JMT junction. You possibly can see the path is properly outlined, even on the rocky terrain.mt whitney hikeThese sections are very rocky. Some hikers like trekking poles, however I discover it easier to make use of my arms to climb and stability on these sections.mt whitney hikeThe path has been carved by way of some greater ridges, creating beautiful framing for the path.mt whitney hikeSoon you’ll be capable of catch a glimpse of the Whitney Hut on the summit, up to the best.the windows on mt whitney hikeThe windows are sections of trail (about Four ft broad) the place you’ll be able to see hundreds of ft right down to the east and west. This picture provides you an concept of the width of this section. It’s very doable and appears worse than it’s.mt whitney hikeHere’s a view right down to Lone Pine by way of one of many home windows.mt whitney hikeAnother stretch that crosses one of many home windows.mt whitney trailAfter the home windows, the path ascends steadily via the rock subject.mt whitney hike needlesHere’s a view of the Needles wanting backward from the path. These are the jagged peaks you see from down under.mt whitney trailThe very last part has some brief and steep switchbacks up to the summit. The hut will come into sight as you climb. Discover the hikers at the prime making their approach to the summit.mt whitney summitYou made it! The hut comes into view and also you’re at the prime of Mt Whitney!mt whitney summit hutSign the trail register on the hut. There’s often a paper sign up there you can take your Mt Whitney summit photographs with. The hut, officially referred to as the Smithsonian Institute Shelter, was inbuilt 1909.cris hazzard on mt whitneyEnsure you seize your compulsory summit shot with the sign.mt whitney summitThe precise summit is a short distance up from the hut. Surprisingly, some people had cell reception on the summit and have been capable of call a beloved one and share the information.mt whitney hike viewsYour 360 views will probably be great. Along with Sequoia and Kings Canyon, you’ll be capable of look east to Lone Pine, the White Mountains, and Dying Valley.mt whitney hikeWhen you’re completed exploring the summit, take some time to eat and hydrate (weather permitting). You’re only midway completed your hike.clouds on mt whitney hikeAfter I summited right here, clouds started to construct in Sequoia. You’ll be able to see them dumping rain within the distance. Time to boogie and head again down.

After the summit, head back the best way you got here. You still have 11 miles of climbing, and you must still be making an attempt to eat and hydrate. In the event you’re feeling the consequences of AMS, I’d advocate taking it slowly and ensuring your footing is strong as you descend. A lot of the occasions that I’ve rolled an ankle or slipped, it’s because I used to be cruising back down the trail from an enormous climb, tired, and not paying full consideration to my footing. If it’s darkish, take additional care. Individuals have died descending at the hours of darkness.

mt whitney hikeHeading back down from Whitney is a feast for the eyes. Now that you simply’re going downhill, you possibly can absolutely benefit from the unimaginable views.mt whitney hikeBack at Whitney Portal! Regardless of how fit you’re, or how little AMS you suffered, the Mt Whitney hike is a troublesome day any means you slice it.cris hazzard on mt whitney hikeWhenever you get back to Whitney Portal, head to the Portal retailer. It’s a practice to get a burger and beer after the Mt Whitney hike. I can’t all the time stomach a burger after this hike, however I do often discover room in my gullet for a cold beer.

Did one thing change on this hike? In that case, please contact me and let me know. I’ll update the information.

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