Mount Whitney Summit Mountaineering Expedition Planning Page

Mount Whitney Summit Expedition Planning

This will serve as our centralized planning doc for our forthcoming Mount Whitney Summit Expedition, which we are aiming to complete in the Feb/Mar/Apr 2024 window. This is a mountaineering expedition, with technical segments — not a hike.

Mission Objective   Mount Whitney Summit
Route   Mountaineers Route > AllTrails
Difficulty Rating   Technical, Moderate
Summit Elevation   14,500 ft / 4,420 m
Trailhead   8,370 ft
Vertical Gain   6,100 ft
Distance   8.8 miles round trip
Trip Window   Feb 22-Apr 15, 2024
Weather Forecast > Mountain Forecast / Whitney



Days on Mountain: 3-4

Campsites: Upper Boy Scout Lake (minimum), Iceberg Lake (preferred)

Alpine Start: from UBSL, 0300 (3am) start. From Iceberg, 0500.

Alternate Routing: Whitney Zone Circuit, up via Mountaineers Route (4.4 miles, +6100 ft vertical), down via Whitney Hiking Trail (10.6 miles, many switchbacks, possible glissade shortcuts). Note that with this option, we would either need to carry full packs to summit (bad idea, imho), or hike back up to base camp from trailhead at conclusion, to retrieve gear (preferred).

Nearest Food / Lodging: Lone Pine, CA

Water: some streams at lower altitude, melt snow above 9k feet.

Permits: unlimited (no cap), online. $21 per person.


Mount Whitney Summit Pre-Viz

topo of final summit segment:
(the couloir is steep: ~40-55° slope, rock, snow & ice):



3D route plan of final summit segments. this is a 3d satellite view, looking northwards, showing the entire day 2 route of Upper Boy Scout Lake, to Iceberg Lake, up the couloir, to the summit (final bouldering / rock climbing 400′ vertical route is obscured behind peak) :



Frontal 3D sat view, as seen from the east looking west. This is *approximately* what you see from the valley approaching Iceberg Lake (well, prolly from ~3k feet above deck). From here, you can see the steepness of the couloir, which is roughly an 1,100 foot elevation gain at 50° slope.



Aerial Photos of Couloir / Notch / Final Climb Ascent:



Three options for final push to Mount Whitney Summit: (bouldering / steep scramble / technical climbing). IMPORTANT NOTE: The “easy” switchback traverse (blue route on pic) is often completely impassable in winter, due to total coverage in snow/ice. Plan accordingly.



Aerial photo of final rock climbing to summit plateau (green route). Note that there are infinite paths available up this rock face, ranging anywhere from class IV to 5.11 (my own guesses at ratings, consult your own guidebook / climber’s intuition). Choose your own adventure.



See you on the Mountain!

(or better yet, at our expedition pre-planning meeting)


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