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Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route

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  • Looking at Mount Russell (14,094'), right before "The Notch."- Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
  • Looking down the chute at the Mountaineers Route.- Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
  • Mount Whitney's infamous "99 Switchbacks."- Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
  • Summit view from Mount Whitney.- Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
  • Sunrise above Upper Boy Scout Lake.- Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
  • Looking up at the Mountaineers Route.- Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
  • The begining of the section known as "The Notch."- Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
  • The summit of Mount Whitney (14,505').- Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
  • The view from Iceberg Lake.- Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
  • The Needles at sunrise.- Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
  • - Mount Whitney: Mountaineers Route
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Majestic views. Solitude. Great route. Beautiful lakes.
Cons: 
Technical. Trail isn't as well maintained as the main trail.
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Region:
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Recommended Equipment:
Ice axe / crampons, Harness / rope / anchors
Alpine climbing NCCS rating: 
Grade V
Net Elevation Gain: 
6,100.00 ft (1,859.28 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
15.80 mi (25.43 km)
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,593.00 ft (2,314.35 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Shorter than the popular Whitney Portal route, hiking Mount Whitney's Mountaineers Route is a great choice for those looking for a more technical and less crowded climb to Mount Whitney’s summit. This second most popular climb involves some third- and fourth-class scrambles, and there is the possibility of ice in the 400 feet just before the summit. The route is much less established than Whitney Portal, so wayfinding skills are absolutely essential if you are going to summit Mount Whitney via the Mountaineers Route.

After starting on the main trail, the Mountaineers Route splits off toward the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. The trail spends some time in the drainage among the willows before a chute to the Ebersbacher Ledges opens up. Proceed through this series of ledges to find another trail that switchbacks up to Lower Boy Scout Lake. Continue to Upper Boy Scout Lake by moving below the boulders to the right. Upper Boy Scout Lake is a good option for an overnight stay, though many choose nearby Iceberg Lake, which is reached by scrambling up from Upper Boy Scout Lake. Regardless, keep in mind that Iceberg Lake is the last water source on the way to the summit.

The climbing becomes much more interesting beyond this point, and focus and caution are essential to negotiate the third- and fourth-class rock that fills the chute. Look for a flat area approximately halfway up the chute; this is a great spot to stop and enjoy the views of the Sierra, including nearby Mount Russell to the north. Continue to a section known as “The Notch,” where the route leads between walls of granite and opens to tremendous views. From here you’ll have only 400 feet to the summit, but ice and exposure make this segment a serious and potentially fatal undertaking.

Exit northwest to find the shelter at the summit of Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet, and celebrate the end of the long ascent. Enjoy unparalleled views of California's Sierra Nevada Mountains from the highest peak in the contiguous U.S., and congratulate yourself for hiking Mount Whitney's Mountaineers Route, no easy climb. If you are looking for more of a challenge on this peak, consider climbing Mount Whitney in the winter.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(15 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(48 within a 30 mile radius)

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