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Mt. Whitney

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Cardiovascular Seizure T 
East Buttress T 
East Face T 
Happy Cowboy (Whitney edge traverse) T 
Mountaineer's Route, The 
North Face T 

Mt. Whitney Rock Climbing 


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 14,496'
Location: 36.5784, -118.293 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 65,171
Administrators: Chris Owen, M.Morley, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Adam Stackhouse, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Nick Wilder on Jan 23, 2006
Forecast:
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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Access limited from May to October every year MORE INFO >>>

Description 

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 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.


Rock Climbing Photo: Lower part of Trail
Lower part of Trail


(Mid slabby section of trail not shown)

Rock Climbing Photo: Upper part of trail.
Upper part of trail.

Climbing Season



Weather station 16.1 miles from here

6 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',4],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',2],['5.7',2],['5.8',1],['5.9',0],['5.10',1],['5.11',0],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Mt. Whitney

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Mt. Whitney:
The Mountaineer's Route   3rd 1- 1 I 1 M 1a     Alpine, 1500'   
East Buttress   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Alpine, 11 pitches, 1000'   
East Face   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1000'   
Cardiovascular Seizure   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 700'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Mt. Whitney

Featured Route For Mt. Whitney
Rock Climbing Photo: Tower Traverse

East Face 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b  CA : High Sierra : ... : Mt. Whitney
From Iceberg Lake, scramble up to the notch just above the First Tower. Gear up. Make the Tower Traverse across the south face of the Second Tower, and climb a short chimney (5.4-5.5) to the first belay.Scramble or simul climb up three pitches of 4th - easy 5th to the top of the Washboard. Climb left up and over a tower/chimney (5.2-5.5) to a large ledge, and traverse to the base of the Fresh Air Traverse. The Fresh Air Traverse pitch (5.5) climbs easy ground up then left to three fixed piton...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Mt. Whitney Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Whitney from the Russell-Carillon saddle - lat...
Mt. Whitney from the Russell-Carillon saddle - lat...
Rock Climbing Photo: Whitney and Keeler from the drive to Whitney Porta...
Whitney and Keeler from the drive to Whitney Porta...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Whitney and Keeler in the alpine glow. August ...
Mt. Whitney and Keeler in the alpine glow. August ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sun setting behind Mt. Whitney from the approach t...
Sun setting behind Mt. Whitney from the approach t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Early rays of light on Whitney
Early rays of light on Whitney
Rock Climbing Photo: Whitney massif
Whitney massif
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt Whitney Backcountry
Mt Whitney Backcountry
Rock Climbing Photo: Jodi Levine and Arin Trook descend from Iceberg La...
Jodi Levine and Arin Trook descend from Iceberg La...
Rock Climbing Photo: coming down the mountaineer's route
coming down the mountaineer's route
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Whitney at sunrise.  Mountaineer's route goes ...
Mt. Whitney at sunrise. Mountaineer's route goes ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Duke on the approach nearing Iceberg Lake with Kee...
Duke on the approach nearing Iceberg Lake with Kee...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt Whitney area
Mt Whitney area
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Whitney area
Mt. Whitney area
Rock Climbing Photo: On the upper snowfield near the summit.  January 2...
On the upper snowfield near the summit. January 2...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Whitney area
Mt. Whitney area
Rock Climbing Photo: The Whitney crest in the clouds
The Whitney crest in the clouds
Rock Climbing Photo: The view up the N. Fork of Lone Pine Creek to Mt. ...
The view up the N. Fork of Lone Pine Creek to Mt. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Another shot of morning light on the Whitney Crest
Another shot of morning light on the Whitney Crest
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Whitney View from Mt. Irvine
Mt. Whitney View from Mt. Irvine
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt. Whitney area
Mt. Whitney area
Rock Climbing Photo: Approaching Mt Whitney
Approaching Mt Whitney
Rock Climbing Photo: The notch at the top of the Mountaineer's Route gu...
BETA PHOTO: The notch at the top of the Mountaineer's Route gu...
Rock Climbing Photo: Camp at Iceberg Lake.  Moutaineers route is up the...
BETA PHOTO: Camp at Iceberg Lake. Moutaineers route is up the...
Rock Climbing Photo: Whitney Massif
Whitney Massif

Show All 65 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Mt. Whitney Add Comment
Show which comments
By ClimbandMine
Jan 30, 2006
You can easily (well, maybe not easily) do the East Face, East Butt, or Mountaineer's Route in a day. IF (big if) you know the approach to Iceberg Lake. You'll be doing it in the dark. Early season the creek is high and you'll be crossing it. The trail may be running with water. You will get wet. You may get soaked.

Like the man said, buy the Supertaco. The directions are excellent. Scope the approach in daylight if you've never done it.
By Christopher Jones
From: Denver, Colorado
Mar 19, 2006
Don't take the mountaineer's route too lightly. I climbed the route on the first day of summer last year thinking I could do it pretty fast but found snow most of the way above treeline. Post holing sucked a lot of energy out of me on the descent but still managed to finish the route in 11.5 hours. It is a good idea to find out what current conditions are before climbing. Crampons and axe are necessary early in the season.
By Chris Owen
Administrator
From: Big Bear Lake
Nov 19, 2007
If you're going to do it in a day (perhaps because you couldn't get a permit) then yes, intimate knowledge of the North Fork approach and the selected route is mandatory - altitude conditioning is also mandatory. Don't forget to pack out your puke.
By Scott Rice
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Aug 25, 2012
East Face to the top of the washboards. Direct East Face to the top of the PeeWee. East Buttress to the summit. 7 hr 20 min car to car. Direct makes for a TERRIFYING solo!!