Summit Mount Whitney via the Mountaineers Route

Mt. Whitney Trail - Search Nearby - Added by Dylan Catherina

Summit the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states via the same route John Muir took in 1873.

With over 6,600 feet of elevation gain and class 4 climbing, this is not for the casual hiker, but can provide an excellent challenge to a budding mountaineer.

Park your car at Whitney Portal, 12 miles west of the town of Lone Pine, and start up the main Whitney Trail. After 1 mile you will encounter the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. Take the well trodden trail up and to the right through steep terrain and switchbacks. The climbers trail will cross the creek two times, and after the second crossing you will encounter the Ebersbacher Ledges. Find the obvious weaknesses in the 3rd class wall, crisscrossing back and forth across the ledges and regain the trail at the top. Continue along the trail to the outlet of Lower Boy Scout Lake, passing the lake to your right. Here you will get your first glimpse of the mountain since Whitney Portal where it towers overhead, still a few thousand vertical feet above Lower Boy Scout.

Here you must negotiate a talus and boulder field on the western slopes above Lower Boy Scout, eventually leading to giant slabs that can be tricky to cross when wet or icy. Above those slabs is your first option to camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake. UBS is lower in elevation and slightly more sheltered from the wind than Iceberg Lake, so it is a better option to camp here in the winter or late fall/early spring.

From Upper Boy Scout Lake negotiate your way south around the ridgeline to the west. Once you get over the ridge you will be met with dramatic views of the East Face of Mount Whitney, Keeler Needle and Day Needle. You will then need to access Iceberg Lake over the cliffs to your right, but don't be temped with the first option over the cliff band, there is an easier series of switchbacks further along and closer to Whitney itself. Take your time and find the best way up and over to Iceberg Lake. This is your last source of water and should be treated before drinking. Camp here if attempting in the summer.

The Mountaineers gully is a wide chute to the north of the peak and depending on the time of year, crampons and an ice axe are necessary. Make your way up the long, steep slope eventually reaching a notch in the ridgeline. From here is the crux of the route, a 400 ft stretch of class 4 climbing to reach the summit. This is definitely a no-fall zone but if you focus and take your time it is very manageable. Pull over onto the summit plateau and relish in the fact that you are at the top of the tallest mountain in the contiguous US! Take a moment to rest in the summit hut or bask in the glorious views of the Sierra Nevada but remember you are only halfway. Take the same route down to your camp at Iceberg or Upper Boy Scout, and eventually out to Whitney Portal. Don't forget about the massive pancakes and burgers at the Whitney Portal Store after the summit!

Distance

5 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

6600 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Rock Climbing, Backpacking, Hiking

Scenic

Nearby Lodging

From $100/night

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

What a hike!

Took us two attempts to summit via the Mountaineers Route but man was it worth it. The trail is more technical than the Mt Whitney Trail but what you save in distance is incredible. Mountaineers is 5 miles compared to Mt Whitney’s 11. The Chute was covered in snow but made for a fun climb and the Final 400 was a blast! Overall it’s an excellent route for those looking for a bit more of a technical challenge.

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