by Gwilym Owen
September 4, 2006
At 14,495feet, (4417m) Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states of the USA and because of this and the relative ease in which to reach it, it is the most frequently climbed peak in the Sierra Nevada, if not in the US.
The National Park Service and the US Forest Service, who manage the Whitney Portal Trailhead, have implemented a permit system to minimise the impact of day-hikers on the Mt. Whitney backcountry. All hikers entering the Mt. Whitney zone, including day-hikers, are required to obtain a permit.
Mt. Whitney can be most directly reached by a 10.7 mile (17.1 km) trail from Whitney Portal, 13 miles (21 km) west of the town of Lone Pine on the east side of the Sierra. Ice axes and crampons are needed in spring and early summer, but technical climbing equipment is not usually necessary between mid-July and early October. The elevation at the trailhead is 8360' (2550m). Permits for this trailhead must be obtained through the Inyo National Forest. Please read the reservation information provided by the Forest Service if you are interested in going to Mt. Whitney from Whitney Portal. Contact the Mt. Whitney Ranger District, PO Box 8, Lone Pine, CA 93545, for additional information about this trailhead.
There are other routes besides Whitney Portal from which to reach Mt. Whitney. These leave from less heavily-used trailheads, but require a longer hike to reach the summit. The High Sierra Trail leaves from Giant Forest on the west side of Sequoia National Park, and takes a minimum of 6-10 days to complete.
From journal Lone Pine - Land of the Western