Mount Whitney – Mountaineer’s Route

Climb the highest mountain in the lower 48 states. The Mountaineer’s Route is the original ascent route via the beautiful North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. Much more adventurous than the Mt. Whitney Trail, this route features some real alpine rock climbing up to Class 4.

Access to Mount Whitney is closely regulated and as a result we have limited first-come first-serve availability for mid-summer climbs. We recommend booking early.

The dates we have scheduled here have a minimum of 2 to run and a maximum guiding ratio of 2:1.

Due to COVID-19, this trip is only offered as a Custom Private Trip. Click HERE to arrange climbs on Mt. Whitney on a custom private basis, subject to permit availability. Before July 4th, there is often still snow in the gully which makes the best alpine climbing conditions. After Labor day is also recommended for fewer other groups on the mountain.


Mount Whitney - Mountaineer's Route


Mount Whitney (14,505′)

Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 United States at 14,505 feet above sea level. The survey marker at the summit still says 14, 494 feet, but the latest surveys show it is higher than that. It is still not totally agreed upon what the mountain’s altitude is and much depends on what exactly is considered the “sea level” that will be used as the baseline. The consensus among surveyors seems to be that the elevation of Mt. Whitney will only be corrected upwards if at all in the years to come, and the mountain is in fact growing along with the rest of the range on a geologic time scale. We certainly hope though that we will see it rise enough in our lifetime that Sierra peaks like Mt. Barnard and Mt. Humphreys are raised to 14’er status. We just think that would be infinitely amusing (but did you really need another reason to go climb those amazing peaks?).

Almost named “Fisherman’s Peak” Mt. Whitney was first climbed in 1873 by the “fishermen”; John Lucas, Charles Begole and Albert H. Johnson.  The local Paiute Indians, named Mt. Whitney, Too-man-go-yah- (the very old man) and as legend has it a Great Spirit lives inside the mountain and watches over the people from his high perch.  People of all ability levels flock to stand on its broad summit.  The overwhelming majorities stumble to the top via the Mount Whitney Trail.  In the summer months it is not uncommon to have several hundred bleary-eyed people talking on cell phones and making movies on the summit. From the east the peak is much quieter and looks much more impressive guarded by its sheer granite walls. We offer trips on several different east side routes including the Mountaineer’s Route, the East Face, and the East Buttress. The latter two are some of the best 5.7 alpine climbs in the range for rock quality and aesthetics of position.


The Mountaineers Route:

The Mountaineer’s Route is a challenging undertaking and requires excellent fitness and a spirit of mountaineering adventure that harkens back to the first ascent of the mountain. By comparison, consider that the Whitney Trail route starts and finishes at the same place but is almost twice as far in mileage! Enjoy the steep and direct aesthetics, and greater solitude getting to the highest summit. Prepare to climb a snow or rock filled gully for about 1000′ and then enjoy technical scrambling, safely protected by the guide for the last few hundred feet. This route may require crampons and/or ice axes depending on the time of year. No matter when you go, bring your camera!

TRIP ITINERARY: Mt. Whitney - Mountaineer's Route
DAY 1 Meet for a gear check and hike up the adventurous North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. This day is strenuous and passes over the famed Ebersbacher Ledges before ascending to Lower Boy Scout Lake. From there, we continue up past Upper Boy Scout Lake and on to high camp. We usually like to camp in a special location away from the more populated high camp Iceberg Lake.
DAY 2 Climb Mt. Whitney!
DAY 3 Descend to the Whitney Portal. If you are feeling energetic. we can get up with the sunrise to take some photos of the Mt. Whitney group bathed in alpenglow then hike down.


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