Climbing Mt. Whitney
Photo © by Jim Baumgardt, Image Counts, www.ImageCounts.com
Accessing Mt. Whitney
Know Before You Go
Mt. Whitney can be most directly reached by a 10.7 mile (17.1 km) trail from Whitney Portal, 13 miles (21 km) west of the town of Lone Pine 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 elevation at the trailhead is 8360' (2550 meters). The elevation at the summit is 14,494' (4418 meters). Altitude sickness is an illness that can occur when at high altitude (typically above 8,000 feet or 2,400 m). Symptoms of mild to moderate altitude sickness include dizziness, fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, and rapid heart rate. The best treatment for altitude sickness is to descend to a lower altitude.
Permits for this trailhead must be obtained through the Inyo National Forest. Please read the reservation information provided by the Forest Service if you are interested in going to Mt. Whitney from Whitney Portal. Contact the Mt. 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 leave from less heavily-used trailheads, but require a longer hike to reach the summit. 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 bookstore offers books and maps for planning hikes to Mt. Whitney and elsewhere in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon areas. Remember, backcountry permits are required for all overnight travel in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.