Mount Whitney Mountaineer's Route

hard 60 reviews
#19 of 121 trails in

Mount Whitney Mountaineer's Route is a 8.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Lone Pine, California that offers scenic views and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

Distance: 8.8 miles Elevation Gain: 6,148 feet Route Type: Out & Back

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

views

rocky

snow

no shade

no dogs

hiking
icy
off trail
rocky
scramble
snow
washed out
5 days ago

rock climbing
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

Excellent route. Attempted twice, 10/26 and 11/3. Arrived at the notch on 11/3 but the sun was set and I was about to lose the light. Last 400' didn't look any more challenging than the scramble up the couloir but I really didn't want to down climb the whole way in the dark or get caught in the middle of the last 400' at night. Trail Notes: Ebersbacher ledges are the first place I was exposed to any significant falling hazard, but altogether is safe if you take your time and avoid risky route selection. Fairly straightforward trail from here to Lower Boy Scout lake that then turns into pretty vague trail and then a straight scramble through a boulder field and up the side of the incline until I dead ended at the base of a waterfall (frozen). From here you can either backtrack a little and crampon traverse the shallow, broad, frozen stream above the water fall feeding LBSL (risky IMO) or you can bushwhack through the vague trail(s) in the dense foliage (safer and annoying). Straight forward hike on some slabs up to Upper Boy Scout Lake. From UBSL you can hike around or over the benches to the South West of the lake. Here you can either route find and stay high on the incline or descend to a vague trail closer to the valley floor. Approach Iceberg Lake from either a lower couloir (loose gravel, some ice) that is somewhat hidden when approaching or up over the lip of some small ledges next to the waterfall (tricky, slippery). From Iceberg lake, the summit is nearly 2000' more feet of elevation. Scramble up about 1000' feet of boulder field, then onto the couloir. The couloir looks intimidating from the Lake, but once you are on it, the ledges are relatively safe and a slow and steady pace while keeping your head together is all you need. Stay on the left of the couloir but keep in mind you will need to bear right at the top to make the notch. Once at the notch, I cannot give any more advice other than from only having seen them. The backside traverse, even without snow, looks pretty steep and still had some ice patches. A guy mistakenly took this path off the top in May 2018 and slid to his death when it was snow covered. Probably very doable without significant snow coverage, but not my cup of tea. The final 400' is slightly less steep than the couloir. I would say it is doable if you can make it to the notch and have enough light left. Hiking out at night is hard and I've gotten lost the last two weekends for several hours. Good luck, be safe.

hiking
3 months ago

I was way over my head! I summited 10/23/19 but this is what happened. I found a day permit from someone cancelling their trip 5 days prior so I took it. Day of the hike I hadn't slept for 12 hours and did no actual training due to time. After driving 5 hrs from sea level I immediately took on the challenge at 5am. I was very pumped but wasnt 100% prepared in any way but I knew this. This trail starts off easy but at about 11,000ft it starts getting steep on some parts. It's easy to lose the trail in the dark and if you do that's energy being wasted. For an hour I was going the wrong way and that really discouraged me, then soon my tiredness started kicking in. I had given up already but thankfully a couple was passing by who knew the trail so I decided to follow them. After making it to Iceber Lake my spirit was renewed. The actual Whitney climb felt impossible, challenging and long. The notch was a false summit and it broke my spirit again. The last 400ft climb used my last reserves. I honestly cried when I saw the Hut.This trail broke me down in every way possible and it pushed me beyond my limits. The views and experience were so worth it but now I can see how ppl lose their lives here. This trail is serious and not for beginners or average hikers. I'm an experienced hiker but this was my first 14er. Next time I will definately prepare before taking on another 14er. * some ice & snow on the mountains but not on the trail yet. Cold wind blowing at the top, lots of scrambling, loose rock and bouldering. Lots of runing water, weather was clear.

hiking
rocky
scramble
4 months ago

Summited via Mountaineers Route on 10/5/19. No snow on the route. Took 3 days 2 nights. Hiked to Upper Boyscout Lake in day 1. Summit and back to camp on day 2. Back to trailhead on day 3. It’s challenging and requires plenty of stamina. Don’t attempt if you’re new to hiking or backpacking. Was about 10 hours round trip on summit day. The last 500 feet or so is class 4 scrambling and dangerous if you aren’t comfortable and experienced. I recommend being belayed on this section if you’re not an experienced climber. Tons of fun and extremely rewarding.

hiking
4 months ago

Submitted 9/28/19. Be prepared on cold windstorm, my water got frozen on my way up.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
5 months ago

Amazing Hike. We were fortunate to have clear weather with low winds. The hike to Iceberg Lake was very easy, a little scrambling here and there. After refilling water and taking a break we headed up the Chute. You'll definitely encounter some Class 3 hiking / climbing. Fortunately I've been bouldering for a few years and was able to help the rest of my group navigate some of the more tricky parts. Definitely nail biting! The last 400 ft via the Notch was so fucking fun. Just some light bouldering with amazing views. We descended the normal route. Definitely need to have a high fitness level to complete, good mental fortitude.

hiking
5 months ago

Started 11 AM 9/19 at Whitney Portal. Trail conditions and weather to Iceberg Lake were overall nice. Cool at the start, then a little windy, and even a very light snow as I was passing UBS Lake at around 3PM, but apparently the wind was quite bad the few days before. I was shivering a bit when I arrived at Iceberg Lake but as I set up camp those grey clouds blew over and the night was very calm, clear and maybe 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Next morning was nice. Clear and cold but warming up some with the sun. Stashed the camping gear and started going up at 8:30 AM with a light pack. It was my first time on this route but I would guess that the conditions in the chute from the lake to the notch would be considered less than ideal- what little hard snow/ice that remains looked not very friendly to climb and the rest was loose and dangerous rock. I chose to use the bigger rocks well to the sides which felt safest, but was still a bit dizzying at times for me. Everyone told me I should stay left of the snow but I quickly decided I didn’t like that and donned my crampons for two minutes to cross the 6 foot wide section of snow/ice to the right side where I stayed the rest of the way up to the notch. Spending some time in the loose rock was still unavoidable. Made it to the notch though and the rest seemed comparatively easy. Summited at 11:30 and down-climbed the way I came up. Seemed easier going down but still very tricky. Went slow. But anyway, amazing hike! Gorgeous views!

hiking
8 months ago

Incredible but be prepared.

backpacking
Tue Oct 02 2018

Completed 9/30/2018. Second attempt after a previous year failed day hike attempt . This year opted for overnight stay and camped at UBSL. Started the ascent to the summit @ 5:30am. Reached the summit @ 11:30am after taking a long break at iceberg lake. The chute took longer than anticipated navigating the loose rock, but was much easier going down. Only saw four other climbers going up the chute.

Tue Oct 02 2018

Great trail to a beautiful peak. Watch for the tree ;)

hiking
Thu Aug 30 2018

This hike is no joke. You WILL get lost once or twice when starting that early in the morning. We got turned around in a circle near a waterfall and then again when trying to reach upper boyscout lake. On top of that it is very likely you will get stuck at an impassable section and will need to find another route along the right or left. When going up the notch at the end we opted to stay next to the left wall since that appeared to be the easiest. We were pretty burnt out once we reached iceberg lake and the last section took us probably 3 hours. The back side of the summit was pretty rough too and we almost needed to get some ropes out to complete it! After we were finished up top it was amazing. Two of the three in our hiking party did get some altitude sickess so we had to take the normal trail back down and took a long break at the camp below 97 switchbacks.

hiking
Mon Aug 20 2018

All the reviews are (correctly) 5 stars. Leagues better than going the main route. Way more interesting, way more challenging, way more fulfilling. Cannot overstate how spectacular this is. Camped two nights at Iceberg Lake and summited between those. Unbelievably, we reached the summit when __no one__ was up there and had about 90 minutes to ourselves. I don't think many can say that for Whitney. Quirk of the timing, since coming from Iceberg you're so close, whereas those coming up the main trail are many more hours from. The approach from Iceberg is awe inspiring, as you're just below the final vertical face from the summit. Much more impressive than the main trail view. Incomparable experience overall, will always be a highlight of my life's outdoor pursuits.

Thu Jun 28 2018

What a climb! Went up the Mountaineer’s route (6/27/18) and returned on the main trail in the same day. Snow in the couloir was varied—The first section was still filled, but became more broken and often completely devoid of snow the closer we became to the notch. The traverse section (if the notch is avoided) was still covered in snow. While this super amateur mountaineer played it cautious, one may be able to make it up the final section of the route past Iceberg Lake without the need for crampons and an ice ax if staying to the far left in the couloir. Great experience!

backpacking
Tue May 22 2018

Did this last Sunday with great snow conditions above iceberg lake. The route provides a great mixture of scrambling, route finding, and technical sections. The 400 ft above the notch was turned into an exposed class 4 because of the fresh snow from the night before and alpine ice. I took the traverse on my way down to the notch. Awesome route!

Wed Apr 11 2018

Many times, in winter only, solo most times, once with friends

Mon Sep 25 2017

Completed mountaineers ascent yesterday. Route has nice mix of hiking and scrambling. Scrambling in the couloire was fun but quite challenging due to recent snowfall. We did not have equipment to use the snow chute so we stayed to the left and eventually made it up.We were fortunate to be the only group on the couloire at the time we ascended, otherwise we surely would have experienced falling scree from hikers ahead of us. Helmets and poles are obligatory. We took the notch to the summit, which had some icy patches but enough grips and footholds to allow us to reach the summit safely. Overall we were fortunate no one in our group of 5 was injured. Took the main route down, which was very long and less interesting than the way up.

hiking
Wed Sep 06 2017

Much more enjoyable way to summit Whitney. It involves some simple route finding, since you need to start super early in the morning (if doing it as a day hike) and there's no single maintained trail to get there, but they all generally lead to the same place. If you're doing the mountaineer's route I'm sure you'll be gathering beta from much more informative sources so I won't go into that here. I'll just talk about the trail condition. There was still enough snow in the chute to take it almost all the way to the notch. We opted for the class 2 traverse once at the notch and it was OK. Had to avoid some ice, which made for some careful scrambling, but once past it was pretty easy getting up to the plateau. We took the main trail down - instead of returning the way we came - which is always a mind-numbing grind.

Sat Aug 19 2017

awesome!

Sun Aug 06 2017

Quite the adventure.

Mon Sep 13 2010

Lives up to expectations. We stayed at Horseshoe campgrounds at 10K ft to acclimate, then the following day drove to Whitney Portal, hiked to base camp and set up tent. next morning, we ascended up to the summit and came all the way down to the portal. Perfect itinerary.

Sun Nov 01 2009

A great climb on the Mountaineer's route in perfect weather and with snow to make the couloir climb enjoyable. The very top of the steep slope above the notch was iced and pretty sketchy with no protection. Going up was OK but getting back onto the slope was not going to be safe so we did the traverse across to the notch from lower down the summit plateau. We had the mountain to ourselves on summit day. I tried uploading a GPS route for the ascent, but only the first mile or so showed up?? Sorry.

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