Mount Whitney Climbing Notes
Please submit any useful information about climbing Mount Whitney that may be useful to other climbers. Consider things such as access and accommodation at the base of Mount Whitney, as well as the logistics of climbing to the summit.
July 14, 2019
BT from United States
I've probably hiked to the top 5-10 times in my life starting at age 8 from the Portal trail as well as 2-3 time from Horseshoe Meadows. Last time I brought my 10 year old son and my Mother in Law (68yo) and her friend (70yo). It was their first backpack trips ever.
It's not a particularly hard trail, actually it's fairly easy to moderate if you take your time and adjust slowly. I always get mild altitude sickness so I usually spend the first night car camping at Horseshoe Meadows parking lot. Drink lots of water, bring some candy and aspirin.
Have a positive attitude, prepare for the weather knowing it can change quickly, and put one foot in front of the other.
If there is substantial snow on the mountain, I carry instep crampons and an axe. Don't recall if I have ever used them on the Portal Trail.
BTW: every time I hike Whitney it seems to grow. 14,492 when I was a kid, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 14,502 and most recently 14,505. Must be a marketing scheme for me to purchase a new hat, sticker, patch, mug, each time.
August 03, 2016
Misa from United States
Well friends. My last two trips where in June. Please prep for this climb I have summited about six times. I normally hike from June-August. I normally practice at Mt Baldy (about 10000+)and you can go up this place several ways and don't have get complacent. So at Baldy you'll have the chance to practice with your crampons or micro spikes. Learn how to adjust them before the trip. Stay hydrated and eat as you hike. And always tell a friend your location of your hike trail you'll be taking.
So with that in mind always have your micro spikes and check the weather. Be safe and if you have to turn back because your headache or dizziness please so. Mt Whitney is the highest in the lower 48. Is not going way. Come back next year
August 02, 2015
Laguna Hiker from United States
Notes from a three-time summiter:
Micro-spikes: If you're going up the Portal Trail, by al means, bring them along, along with a pair of hiking poles. They may come in very handy. But if you come across seriously icy conditions, turn around! The mountain will still be there next year.
If you are climbing the Mountaineer's Route, though, micro-spikes won't help. Crampons and ice axe are in order there, as well as experience in using them.
Altitude sickness: Take it seriously--it isn't just dehydration or poor nutrition. Two hazards: Edema, which can be life-life-threatening, and hypoxia, which impairs judgment.
If you become nauseated or throw up, do not continue your ascent; you are one step away from edema. Go back down at least 1500 feet, more if still nauseated.
And assume before you go up that your judgment will be impaired by hypoxia, because it will. You will hike the Summit Trail as if you had just downed several shots of tequila. So be extra cautious, and take your time on your way to and from the summit. Hypoxia has convinced people they can make it across a long icy patch, with fatal results. Be hyper-cautious!
Drink as much water as you can in the 48 hours before you start the climb--it will help hold altitude sickness (but not hypoxia) at bay.
July 25, 2015
David from United States
Regarding the twice previous post and micros spikes... By ALL MEANS TAKE THEM!!! They are safety equipment and can provide a tremendous amount of traction on ice and freeze thawed snow ice. Micro spikes are perfectly suited for traversing the west facing slope of Whitney under the correct conditions, knowing those conditions is key. Microspikes and crampons are designed for traction, not trying to stop yourself after you've slipped and are sliding out of control down a slippery slope, that's where you need the axe.
July 13, 2015
Armando Nunez from United States
I agree with Mark. Check conditions, people get hurt every year on the mountain. You may be in the best condition of your life, but dehydration and improper nutrition will ruin your hike. If the hiking conditions are risky with ice and snow, its best to be safe, and know your limits. Whitney is challenging, but it is worth it. Enjoy be safe and plan ahead.
July 03, 2015
Mark Elliot from United States
Regarding the previous post. DO NOT TAKE MICROSPIKES. They are ABSOLUTELY NOT the right thing to use on a mountain. Microspikes will simply allow you to get into a situation that you can't recover from. The proper equipment for ice and/or snow is an ice ax and crampons. And the skill to use them (as in a self-arrest). If you don't know how to use them, DO NOT bring them. If it gets icy, TURN AROUND. Now, a word on altitude sickness. A lot of what looks like altitude sickness is dehydration, insufficient calories and poor sleep the night before. As you climb drink water, lots of water.
September 12, 2013
JB from United States
I have day hiked Mount Whitney 3 times since 2010. October 2012, Sept 2011, and Aug 2012. If you go in Sept or Aug, I would take microspikes. Dont be cheap, just buy Kahtoola's for $50 and throw them in the pack. You can go so much faster and more confident with them on. This is the toughest thing I have ever done physically in my life. The switchbacks to summit section is just brutally tough. My suggestions are to 1. get in great shape, 2. go a day early and acclimate, 3. pack light, and 4. see number 1. I get pissed off when I'm up there and I see fat people or inexperienced people puking and lethargic from the altitude begging you for help (which ruins our experience when we have to baby sit out of shape people and novices down the mountain). This should not be a first climb for anyone, it is brutally tough, especially a day hike. If you are a novice wanting to experience this mountain, make Trail Crest your summit. Just getting to trail crest is an impressive feat. Save the summit push for when you are in great shape and have a little more experience. Good luck to everyone and hit me up with any questions!
October 16, 2012
Brian from United States
Hike Mt. Whitney on Oct 12th, 2012. Conditions above 10000 ft were cold and snowy. Got to the base camp just below the switchbacks to the top and one of the people in my party was having issues with altitude (felt like they were going to black out!) and we had to head down. We will attempt it next year during Summer months. When hiking Whitney no matter what season, prepare for snow! You can have it in late July. It can be hot and sunny at the base and snowing up top. It is a good idea to pack extra socks too in case you soak a pair [hind-site is 20-20 there for our group]. Took a pair of Yaktracks and it helped a lot in the slush and ice we dealt with on the decent. There is one very helpful site I would encourage you to visit that has forums with information about conditions, passes and everything else related: Google The Whitney Portal Store.
October 07, 2012
Brian from United States
Hiking Whitney on Oct 12th. First timer here going with two older teens, my son and his friend. Getting passes to hike Mt Whitney in advance is a bit tedious [you have to go to recreation.gov to get them in advance and the most popular dates are bought up quickly when the season opens early in the year], but in talking with a ranger on the phone at Whitney Portal some time ago he did say that there are a fair number of passes each day that go unclaimed due to no shows. It is a gamble to head up there hoping for an unclaimed pass, especially on weekends and other popular dates, but hiking during the week it does appear chances are good that you can get a tag. One thing, if you buy a pass on line and don't go, don't expect a refund or sympathy - even if the web site creates confusion and you got a pass for a wrong date. I got a pass realized a couple of minutes later that I had the wrong date, cancelled it and got the right date. When I inquired about a refund, making the obvious case that I cancelled it right then, they informed me there were no refunds on passes for Whitney. It appears that the only way to get out of a pass in such cases is to put the charge in dispute it with your credit card company. I'll pop back in after the hike and let you know how it went.
October 03, 2012
clarence bechter from United States
Planning an Aug. 2013 2 day summit. will apply in feb ..2013...for permit...Hard to get the permit??.....may just leave ohio and go to ranger station....did mt. yale and mt. elbert 14433 ft. in aug 2012.
Any info would be great.....thank you