Mount Whitney via Mount Whitney Trail

HARD 453 reviews
#1 of 45 trails in

Mount Whitney via Mount Whitney Trail is a 21.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Lone Pine, California that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

DISTANCE
21.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
6715 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

camping

cross country skiing

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

skiing

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

This the big daddy, an 18 mile out-and-back trek that summits Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. The trail averages 550' of elevation gain per mile and features two designated campsites along the way, the generally uncrowded Outpost Camp (10,360'), which is situated in a nicely sheltered meadow beside some running streams, and the much more popular Trail Camp (12,039'), an exposed, rocky field at the base of the infamous "97 switchbacks." At 6 miles from the trailhead and the highest possible place to camp, Trail Camp is considered the best site to acclimate to the altitude for overnight hikers. It is also popular to hike Mt. Whitney out-and-back in one day, but given the rigor and the length of the trail, a very early start from about 2-4am is recommended, as well as some prior training. From May-Oct., the trail is permit-only (apply by Feb. 15), and it is common to be denied a permit the first year one applies. Dogs are actually allowed on this trail up to Trail Crest (13,777'), but they may not be your best friend after the 97 switchbacks! Hiking poles are strongly recommended, as are multiple layers with at least one being wind- and waterproof, and definitely be prepared to purify or filter water along the way. The hike is strenuous, long, and the effects of the altitude can become intense, but the rewards are a panoramic, jaw-dropping view that stretches as far as the eye can see, as well as the joy of having achieved a true hiking milestone. As far as trails go in the lower 48, this is the ultimate natural high. Note: Dogs on leash are only allowed until the top of the 97 switchbacks, 2.5 mi from the summit.

hiking
3 hours ago

Day hiked and summited 6/15/18. The trail up to trail camp is straight forward. i used the chute going up and the switchbacks coming down. Hopefully the snow conditions are getting better by the day.

hiking
1 day ago

We did this hike on 6/14/18. We lucked out and got a walk in overnight permit. We stayed one night at Lone Pine Lake and one night at Trail Camp in order to acclimate. We left our tents from Trail Camp at 330am and got to the top of the chute using Crampons and an ice axe at 9am (we took a lot of breaks....). We hiked the longest 2 miles of my life from Trail Crest to the summit and summited at 12pm. We were terrified of glissading down as we had never done so before and of the 8 people we were with by the time we reached the chute, no one had ever done it before. So after 5 minutes of writing our wills and exchanging goodbyes we started down. It was so much fun and very intuitive. Watch a YouTube video or two, know how to hold the ice axe, know how to properly self arrest and be smart about speed on the way down and you should be good to go. A very physically challenging hike but so very worth it. I would recommend spending as many nights out there as possible to help break it up. We wished we had had another night to stay instead of doing 16 miles the last day. Also the water crossings and glissading will soak your shoes. Would recommend gaiters and water proof boots or shoes to cross creeks in.

hiking
3 days ago

We did Mt. Whitney on 6/15. Instead of taking chute, we took infamous 96 switchbacks. Crampons and ice axe helped us to navigate few challenging spots. But I saw few folks did the complete hike with micro spikes as well. It was tough but memorable hike. Best wishes.

6 days ago

Summited at 1:30 after a chute climb. We hit the summit in a fair time, but our descent was challenging.

As of yesterday, the "chute" was very technical and moderately dangerous. The chute section pretty much requires you to use an ice axe and crampons or spikes to climb up the snow that covers the chute to the right of the switchbacks. There is exposed rocks, mixed ice, snow, and slush with more water run off in the day light. Try to get to the chute as early as you can for better conditions.

Yesterday alone I witnessed at least 4 falls, with one person having multiple hand lacerations and body contusions after sliding down from the top snow into rocks below. Many hikers bailed and justly so. It's pretty nerve tracking if you haven't done something like this before. You can practice ice axe techniques on the safe snow patch below the switchbacks to the left of the chute.

I was hiking with 2 others, and one didn't have an ice axe and the other was a novice. I am more more experienced and gave my axe to my friend and scrambled up the chute with a trek pole.

We finally got over the chute and headed to the summit. Our weather was great, but we would have been in a lot of trouble if there was wind or thunderstorms coming in.

Aside from ascending, the descent is also fairly dangerous to green ice axe and crampon users. You'll have to glissade down on the right side of the snow (you'll see tracks in the snow) after scrambling down the top of the snow pack directly above a rock field.

Great hike, and even better with friends.

backpacking
9 days ago

DO NOT do the chute without an ice axe and crampons or microspikes!!! Yesterday someone used trekking poles, got seriously injured, and took out two other hikers in the process! Just because people said they made it with trekking poles doesn’t mean you should do it too!

But the hike is beautiful and challenging! We camped at Whitney portal 6/8/18, hiked to trail camp the following day, then summited and came pack home on Sunday! We started the chute around 3 in the morning which is perfect because all the snow is iced over! I wouldn’t attempt doing it when the sun is out because the snow turns to slush!
Make sure you glissade down! It’s super fun and easy! Since the ice will be slush by the time you head down you won’t go too fast! DON’T try and climb the rocks down because you risk rocks coming loose and hitting someone at the bottom!
If you don’t know how to glissade, ask the guy that works at elevation! There is a right and wrong way to do it! But once you learn it’s super fun!

While we were climbing up the chute, my toes were freezing so maybe where an extra pair of socks or throw toe warmers in your shoes.
Once we got to the top, my hands were freezing because all the sweat in my gloves got cold! So I would look into getting a wool liner for your gloves or some kind of glove that wouldn’t freeze when you sweat!
If you don’t want wet feet, I would invest in some nice gaiters! I got the outdoor research verglas gaiters and they were perfect! Snow never got in my boots and they helped keep my lower legs warm!
MAKE SURE to wear sunglasses that are polarized!! I just wore cheap $10 ones from some random store and my eyeballs got sunburnt!

Marmots did get in our tent and go through our stuff, but didn’t ruin anything because we left our tent partially open and our packs unzipped!

Hopefully this info helps! Good luck on your hike!

hiking
14 days ago

Amazing hike. You need crampons and an ice axe for the Chute and don’t even think about the switchbacks for another week or two. I would recommend hitting the chute right as the sun comes up and bringing sunglasses for this section. This was my favorite part of the climb.

There are about 5 50-100 foot sections on the crest trail with a rock wall on your right 6 inches of ice to walk on and a 50 foot cliff on man your left. I would recommend not slipping here as it would be quite painful.

We left the trail head at 130 am at got back to the car at 530 pm. There is enough water on the trail where you can bring a single bottle and filter at every stream.

hiking
15 days ago

Received a pass to complete in a day. I’m very fit however did not take a day to acclimate, which forced me to come down from 13,000’ due to altitude sickness Overall, the hike is very fun and challenging. I’d highly recommend micro spikes and an ice axe (for on the way down).

hiking
15 days ago

Did it in a day (6/2/18) - left right at midnight from the portal - summited at 8:22am - got back to the car by 2:32pm. Used crampons only on the chute. Perfect conditions - no clouds, no wind, warm. Great views. Crowded.

hiking
16 days ago

There's a little bit of everything in a spring ascent here. Camped at trail camp and made the summit on 5/30. The chute was by far the most strenuous part of the hike, but also the most rewarding. Trail crest is among the better views, and on the way back after the sun had softened the snow, 1000+ ft of glissade is about as fun as it gets. The summit is awesome, and worth every step. So glad I made it out here. I've posted photos and more details on my adventure on my blog.
https://www.thejugglersworkshop.com/life/2018/6/3/mt-whitney

hiking
16 days ago

Such a great hike. It tested my limits. Altitude got me pretty hard but I summited. Met some great people along the way as well. This hike inspires me to try for all the 14rs in California.

19 days ago

Not enough can be said about the beauty of this mountain. I chose to do the ascent and descent in a day which was wild but worth it. My only tip if you do it is to leave the portal by 1 am. The switchbacks are all frozen over so ensure that you get to them before the snow starts to slush over.

23 days ago

We hiked Sunday May 27.We started at 2am .The hilly trail 1 mile from the chute is already covered with snow so we just use of microspikes.We arrived at the chute around 9am.Climbing the chute was brutal.Ice axe and crampons is a must. At this time.It took us two hrs just to climb the chute coz the snow is already slushy.Highly recommending climbing the chute early around 6am-7am once the snow is still hard,it’s easier to climb.It was brutal because every step you make you have to spike your ice axe in the snow to prevent your self from falling the steep chute.Once we climbed the chute the 2 Miles to the summit is covered with snow and we have to use crampons because the trail is covered with snow.There’s also snow,gusty wind and thunderstorms when we are approaching the summit.So we weren’t able to take great pictures .Going back the the glisade was so scary but all our fellow hikers are very helpful teaching us patiently about self arrest.If you decide to hike mount Whitney in Alpine condition make sure that you practice self arrest .Fir us we also use our ice ax to control are descend in the chute and use our hiking boots to use it as traction to descend from the use.May Sure you bring layers of clothes coz the weather change in an instant.Oversll the experience is once in a lifetime❤️

24 days ago

epic hike.

hiking
24 days ago

I was here on May 19. Got all the information about trail condition as well as about recent lethal accident from MtWhitney Portal forum. And I’m so glad I did. This is where I learnt that switchbacks were still frozen and anyone who plans to make it to the summit has to use an axe and crampons. Considering I have zero self arresting skills with an axe and didn’t have time to acclimate for this high elevation, I decided to keep it safe on this solo hime and uturn on 7.5 miles into the trail. Plus it was thundering and heavily snowing. I do not regret this decision and hope to come back in summer or after I pick up some mountaineering skills.
Also I did Kearsarge Pass a day before and had a high altitude sickness. So a lesson learnt for the next time is to arrive two days earlier and acclimate camping in higher altitude. Physically its not that difficult to do an entire trail on a day hike but for people who live at the sea level like me, its necessary to acclimate.
I went off the trail by mistake around mile 7 next to the sign of Trail Meadow. Just followed some footprints in the snow and ended up on a side of the trail and had to climb up to catch the trail and cross the snow pack with a creek running under it. Extremely stupid idea.
All well that ends well, but I’m sharing this notes for others. Mt Whitney in May is both beautiful and treacherous .

backpacking
27 days ago

Whitney in May!! Summited May 23rd. I was 1 of 5 people to summit this day.
This was my first time doing Whitney. During my prep research I had a hard time finding info about early season conditions, so I thought I’d share a bit of what I learned.
Crampons and an ice axe are a must. We used them once before reaching trail camp, but you’re probably fine to only use them from Trail camp and beyond. This is where we camped and left for day two around 5:30. If I’d do it again, I’d leave even earlier, it’s light enough around 4:45 to set out without a headlamp. Biggest tip is reaching the summit by 11am! Both days I was on the mountain the clouds quickly rolled in after that. First off, it will obstruct your few on top of the lower 48, but also there’s risk of lightening, low visibility etc.
The notorious switchbacks your read about in every Whitney prep guide... they don’t exist this time of year. You take the snow/ice covered chute off to the right, which you go at with your crampons and ice axe. I recommend staying near the rock clusters, because avalanche risk is real this time of year (another reason you must hit the chute early).
After the chute you go around the backside of Mt. Muir and you traverse over/up to Whitney. The elevation gain isn’t much from this point and apparently it’s only 2 miles to the summit...but it’s a grueling “2 miles.” If there’s an area this time of year a life threatening accident would happen, this 2 mike stretch is it! It’s narrow and snow covered. What was sketch for us and turned 9/10 people back, is that the trail is completely snow covered so you’re trekking through thick snow, which is exhausting, but worse than that is that you don’t have a good place to stick your ice axe if you were to slip. With that said, if you’re thinking about your steps and not rushing it, anyone can do this.
Overall, great first Whitney experience. This is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Beside the cold and unpredictable weather, Whitney in May is where it’s at!! Felt like I had the mountain completely to myself during my summit push.

hiking
29 days ago

Whitney in May is totally where it's at. I climbed it on a Saturday with a group of 3 in one day and maybe 10-15 other folks made it to the top. The lack of crowds was fantastic and it was a load of fun. Be prepared for snow and ice and it's good to have crampons and an ice axe for going up (and glissading down) the chute. We left at 4am, summited at 11:30 and got back at 5pm and it was great but did make very good time. If you're somewhat less experienced, of recommend leaving an hour earlier but it's really not too bad of a hike. During be summer months, I think it's akin to San Gorgonio just shifted up a few thousand feet (which does make a big difference) and during the winter, it's a perfect place to work on beginner mountaineering skills. Overall, a fantastic mountain and the tallest in the lower 48!!!

hiking
30 days ago

Just finished this hike last Saturday. We camped at the Outpost camp Friday night and headed for the summit at 5am Saturday. We reached the summit around noon, with clouds rolling in, just in time to start heading down before the weather got bad.

Conditions were generally good, with snow cover starting around 11k feet.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this monster hike in one day (July, 2013’) instead of backpacking it in.
This is definitely for experienced hikers...if you are prepared and if you are an avid hiker this trail is for you!

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked this trail with a group of 13 people in 5th grade in 2015. Took 8 days and was the most amazing experience of my life. I do not like the views from the day trip as it is way more difficult and not as beautiful. It is a brutal way to take in the elevation. I strongly suggest doing the full long trail. I will be going back this summer. It is a mind blowing experience and if a 5th grader can do it, you can too.

backpacking
1 month ago

Mt Whitney trail is awesome in spring.

2 months ago

I hiked this trail 5 times as part of John Muir Trail and few other times just for Mount Whitney. I like it in winter or early spring. I always hike it in one day. I like the views from the Trail Crest, the Marmors and the summit. I don’t like the switchbacks when there are crowds.

2 months ago

First attempt may 5th 2017. Left at 3am for a one day climb but 3 miles in the trail disappeared. Continued climbing up another 3 miles weather started getting bad, extreme high winds and 2 ft of snow dropped that day. Decided to go back to base camp disappointed we couldn't continue. 1 guy was found dead that previous week and a couple went missing that same weekend. It can be dangerous during snow season but easy during summer. You always have to make the right calls to stay alive. I plan on going back and finish the hike.

backpacking
2 months ago

9-29-18

hiking
3 months ago

Fabulous.

3 months ago

Left the portal at 4am with a flashlight,as the batteries were dying the sun was rising! Don’t know if this is some kind of close to record time but I was back down at the Portal by a quarter to 2.
I was in my forties and super fit(USCF rider)
In any case it was a spectacular hike...recommend it to anyone who loves majestic views.Just get yourself in some kind of shape....it will be much more enjoyable.

4 months ago

Impressive

hiking
4 months ago

we did this in ice and snow in 2k17. it was an awesome challenge and we completed it in one day from the Whitney trailhead. The switchbacks were closed due to snow so we had to climb the chute, that was the best part other than the summit. I'm doing it twice this year! This place is amazing, truly.

4 months ago

Like Mr Dave I did this hike when I was 19 or 20! We went up in 1 day stayed in lone pine as well what a wonderful place! You defiantly should bring a water purifier and I would suggest stopping at the first camp to acclimate. I may have to try the lottery to see where I stand at 44 years old- cheers to all!

hiking
6 months ago

I am an old man now and have not done this in a long time, longer than I care to admit. Fees, permits, reservations were not required, you need to check into that these days.
Went up and down it numerous times in one day in my 20's I still could

backpacking
6 months ago

I recommend doing Whitney it’s worth all the hard work. I hiked Whitney from the backside while hiking the JMT

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