Elevation: 14,473 ft
GPS: 36.578, -118.292 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 220,586 total · 1,177/month
Shared By: Nick Wilder on Jan 23, 2006
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurker -, Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Vicki Schwantes, Justin Johnsen
Access Issue: Certain Peaks: Access limited from May to October every year Details


Want to climb the highest peak in the lower 48? You're not alone. While the permit process is a major hassle, the crowds are thin (until you summit), and the granite is as fine as it gets.

Most climbs are about 1000 feet tall on the east face that gets shady by afternoon. Storms can brew over on the west side and give you quite a surprise.

There are two non-technical ways to the summit: the Whitney trail, a long slog up an easy walking trail, and the Mountaineers Route, a steep gully filled with loose rock, which is the usual descent route for climbers.

There's a decent campground at the end of the road, near the trailhead. You must have a permit to camp anywhere beyond that, and they're not easy to get. Call 760-873-2483 or go to the forest service's website. Unless you're doing the Whitney Trail, you want a permit for the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek.

Getting There

Drive up the Whitney portal at about 8,300 feet. Lots of parking and bear boxes, where you need to leave anything with an odor that you're not bringing, including toiletries.

Most people spend the night at either Upper Boy Scout Lake (11,300 feet) or Iceberg Lake (12,600 feet). Iceberg is the way to go if you have the time. Incredible views of the mountain (and most routes), clear water right in front of you, and the climbing starts just a little ways up the scree slope from your campsite.

Getting there is tough and it's quite easy to get off route. I recommend buying the supertopo and follow the excellent instructions there.

The hike can get really hot. Start early (dawn) and you'll get to a campsite by lunch, have time to rest up and scope the route.

North Fork Permit Beta
Visit here for permit application: https://www.recreation.gov/permits/233260

2019 SEASON NOTE: No walk-up day use permits for the Whitney Zone including the North Fork.
All day use permits for the Whitney Zone are now only reservable online, at the URL listed above. As of May 30 2019 - be aware that there are open spaces up until about June 14th, then there are no open spaces available until October 22nd.

North Fork Trail Beta
Trail begins off the main Whitney Trail, and is signed, follow the north side of the creek until you finally cross to the south past some very large boulders looming on the south side. The trail will pass rightwards beneath a large slab as it heads to a creek crossing to once again get to the north side and very soon afterwards the Ebersbacher Ledges, which follow a ramp eastwards, over an exposed step then back west to a treed terrace, from there the trail stays north of the creek up to Lower Boy Scout Lake. Cross the outlet and follow switchbacks up a large scree field through some very large boulders, and brush up to the sweeping slabs coming down from Upper Boy Scout Lake, which you don't need to reach because above the slabs there's a rough slope which leads you into the valley below the needles Day and Keeler (one of the most spectacular spots in the Lower 48). Traverse the north slope upwards until a loose and wet weakness/wide gully deposits you at the boulder field of Iceberg Lake.

Lower part of Trail

(Mid slabby section of trail not shown)

Upper part of trail.

11 Total Climbs

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