Mount Whitney – Mountaineer’s Route

I once tried standing up on my toes to see far out in the distance, but I found that I could see much farther by climbing to a high place.
~Xun Zi

Climbing Mountaineer's Route

is how I will remember last weekend’s trip up Mount Whitney’s Mountaineer’s Route. With low Sierra snow levels, a perfect weather report, and permits available on-line, this trip was put together in a matter of a couple of days. The Mountaineer’s Route is a very challenging route that often requires gear (ice axe, helmet, and crampons) depending on the conditions and the time of year. Mount Whitney is popular and there is a plethora of fantastic information on-line. I have listed below the resources I used to plan and hike this adventure.

Enjoy the 3 minute video of the trip that features the highlights. Be sure to not miss the comment made during my very sketch traverse/descent. Shenanigans.

Trip Details:

May 18-19, 2013
Hikers often reward themselves at the end of a climb of Mount Whitney with a burger and fries from the Mount Whitney Portal Store. In contrast, this group started the trip with a burger and fries from the Whitney Portal Store. Brave…yes.

Our very fun and fit team left well fed from the Whitney Portal Trail Head on Saturday at 1:30 PM. We followed the North Fork Lone Pine use trail and ascended Clyde’s Traverse.

Clyde's Traverse
Clyde’s Traverse

The route then passes by Lower Boy Scout Lake that looks more like a pond due to low snow run off. We reached our camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake in the early evening. The stunning lake is surrounded by rock spires and is a popular base camp for climbers.

Camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake
Camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake

After a very frozen, cold night, we started climbing at 5:30 AM.

Early Morning Start
Early Morning Start

The use trail climbs steeply south through slabs and talus. Eventually the trail turns west through a series of ledges. Our group decided to add a bit of challenge and choose a class 3 route up the cliffs.

Mount Whitney from Ledges below Iceberg Lake
Mount Whitney from Ledges below Iceberg Lake

At Iceberg Lake we geared up with ice axes and crampons to ascend the very steep and icy chute that leads to the notch.

Climbing Chute on the Mountaineer's Route - Iceberg Lake Below
Climbing Chute on the Mountaineer’s Route – Iceberg Lake Below
Looking back at the Notch from the Traverse
Looking back at the Notch from the Traverse

After reaching the notch we traversed west over windy, steep, exposed, icy snow and then ascended up class 3 boulders to reach the Mount Whitney Summit.

Traverse to the North Face of Mount Whitney
Traverse to the North Face of Mount Whitney
Mount Whitney Summit
Mount Whitney Summit

Surprisingly, we had the frigid, windy top all to ourselves with no hikers in sight. We left the summit at 11:15 AM and descended the same route back arriving at Whitney Portal at 5:45 PM ready for pizza in Lone Pine.

This climb is super fun and challenging requiring courage and fitness. I highly recommend this route over the traditional Mount Whitney main trail.

Mount Whitney - Mountaineer's Route
Mount Whitney – Mountaineer’s Route

View all photos on Flickr

Helpful Resources:
Summit Post – Mountaineer’s
California’s Fourteeners by Stephen Porcella-Cameron Burns
Online Wilderness Permits


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  4. Wow – I love the video!
    Me and part of my family hope to do the route in August. Hearing your icy adventure makes me even more excited!

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  6. That North Face traverse looked scary. Love the colorful photo of you all at the summit.

  7. Wow looks amazing, really cool that you made it up to Mt. Whitney. I am envious of the weather you guys have over there, we only have good spells for a few hours and then rainy and cloudy days for the rest of the time…

  8. Good You Tube video if she falls ???

  9. Amazing hike and photos.

  10. Amazing trails and views. Very cool, literally! Glad you all made it up and down safely.

  11. Congratulations. I never did that route but I did climb the east face in summer many many years ago when I was a climber. It’s a great area.

    How’d the camera work out for you? Frankly I find the controls a bit tough when hands are cold although I tend to use mitten liners with it and they work well. The pictures look great.

    • East face? Love to do that!

      As for the Sony RX100 camera, I learned a lot. I do know that the 3 memory settings will be my friends and I need to read the manual. It was super cold and I was expending a whole lot of energy. This combination does not go readily with changing settings. All pics were taken in Intelligent Auto jpegs with no adjustments, except the first shot of the ice ax I used Aperture priority.
      Things I loved:
      -easy to blur background
      -self-timer has lots of options that will be fun with action shots
      -love an automatic lens cap
      -love the fill flash mode while tilting the flash upward
      -I didn’t miss the 24 mm wide angle on my Panasonic LX5
      -panorama mode is amazing
      -loved the high contrast black and white
      -amazing in low light
      Things I had trouble with:
      -moving dial is difficult, I kept accidentally pressing the record button
      -the shutter button is not raised I sometimes would accidentally turn the camera off
      -changing settings is not easy and hard to figure out
      -the camera feels like it needs a grip of some type

      Love your input. BIG thanks!

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