Every year hundreds of climbers flock to the Whitney area to bag the highest peak in the contiguous United States and are pleasantly surprised by the quality of the alpine granite. The most popular routes on Whitney are the East Face, the East Buttress and the Mountaineers Route.
While Mt. Whitney is the main attraction to climbers in this area, the Peaks surrounding Whitney: Mt. Russell and the Keeler Needle offer superb routes (though more difficult) and shouldn’t be overlooked by technically skilled mountaineers. The neighboring summits including Mt. Langley and Lone Pine Peak are also worthy of ascent.
Permits are required for all overnight trips and for all day trips into the Mt. Whitney Zone. Due to the high use of this area user quotas have to be set. Climbers and hikers caught in the backcountry without a permit will be fined. Fines range from $100 – $200.
Permit Information Call the Mt. Whitney Ranger Station if you have further questions. 760-876-6200.
The Mountaineers Route (North Fork of Lone Pine Creek)
To access the mountaineering routes on Mts. Whitney and Russell et al. climbers take the Mountaineers Route to Iceberg Lake, an unmaintained and technical climbers trial which leaves the main Mt. Whitney Trail at the “North Fork of Lone Pine Creek” sign. Please stay on the trail to avoid erosion damage. This hike is only suitable for those in good physical condition and with route-finding and mountaineering skills.
Human waste disposal is a resource problem in this drainage which could potentially lead to restricted access in the future. To avoid this happening climbers and hikers are being asked to participate in the “Pack-out-your-poop program”, and strictly adhere to other wilderness considerations.
The Mountaineers Route on Mt. Whitney
First climbed in 1873 by John Muir, this deep couloir which separates the northeast ridge from the east buttress of Mt. Whitney can often be climbed during the summer and fall months without any technical equipment. Winter, spring and sometimes early summer ascents require the use of crampons and an ice-axe as the couloir contains hard frozen snow or ice, even in the late afternoon. A fall in the couloir or the wide chute near the top of Mt. Whitney would be serious if not fatal.
Those who don’t have strong mountaineering skills and would like to climb Mt. Whitney or one of the many fine peaks in the Mt. Whitney region are encouraged to hire the services of AMGA certified guides.