Prior backpacking experience helpful, but not necessary. The days are long with up to 14 miles a day. Good physical condition is required and while you are not carrying a big pack do not underestimate the length of the days.
Inclusions Price includes guiding,packstock support, permits, group climbing gear, tents, kitchen gear, breakfasts, lunches and dinners (you bring hot/cold drinks and snack items). Scheduled dates include USFS trail fees. Private programs do not.
Private programs can be undertaken with either pack support of self contained. Local accommodation is not included.
At 14,495 feet Mount Whitney is the high point of the lower forty-eight states and the goal of many. If you didn’t get your permit application for the main trail in by February, or don’t want to attempt a more technical ascent up the Mountaineers Route, this on-trail option may be for you.
The route from Cottonwood crosses over the Sierra Crest at Cottonwood Pass, eventually drops west to the Kern River and then loops east to Guitar Lake below the western slopes of the peak. We like this route for a number of reasons:
It is beautiful with high alpine lakes and expansive views.
There are far fewer people than on the regular Whitney Trail.
This route offers a fine hike in its own right and the summit as a bonus.
The scheduled dates utilize the services of Cottonwood Pack Station to carry equipment while we hike with a day-pack making for a truly relaxing trip. This also enables us to take along a few extra luxuries and make a complete vacation
Yes, it does take a little longer to climb this way, but then we believe that it is the journey that is important rather than the goal and this offers a very fine journey indeed.
We have changed the itinerary some for 2012 to break up the first day and to give more acclimatization time. Yes, this does take longer and cost more - but it makes the trip a lot easier and with a far great chance of getting to the top. Isn't that worth it?
We meet at the Cottonwood Packstation at 11.00am. We’ll do a pack check, a group orientation and make lunch before hitting the trail. The Packstation is some 45 minutes from Lone Pine so you need to have checked and double-checked your gear since there will be no opportunity for “last minute” shopping for forgotten items.
We hike up and over Cottonwood Pass and descend a little distance and about a half mile to Chicken Springs Lake, our first nights camp. This day is about 4 miles long with about 1300 feet of elevation gain and makes for a great break-in day.
We leave camp and then make a long contour entering Sequoia Kings National Park, and continuing to the headwaters of Rock Creek. This is about a 9 mile day.
We drop down Rock Creek before climbing up onto the wide open spaces of Guyot Flat. Staying above treeline we climb and contour around into Crabtree Meadows. We now turn towards Mt. Whitney and climbing steadily we get to camp at Guitar Lake (11,460’). This is a 9-10 mile trip. The pack stock leave us here and return back down to Crabtree Meadows to overnight the mules and wait for us to climb.
We are not too far from the summit but we allow all day for the ascent to the summit and the return. There are numerous switchbacks up to Trailcrest (13,550’) where we meet others coming up from the other side. The summit seems within grasp but the thin air limits our ability to move speedily, though with slow but steadily progress before long we will be on top and enjoying the highest point outside of Alaska. After summit photos and relaxing on top we retrace our steps to camp and a celebratory dinner.
The packstock return and pick up our gear and we retrace our steps back to Rock Creek.
We retrace our steps back to the road head. This is a long day so be prepared for an early start and a late afternoon return to the roadhead.
We highly recommend that you spend at even more time at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000') just prior to the trip. Spending a night at Whitney Portal or the Cottonwood Campground would do the trick. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more info.
We just returned home from our trip to Whitney via Cottonwood and I wanted to express my sincere thank you for putting together such a fantastic trip. Honestly, it will be one to remember forever. Above all, Marie and Luke were outstanding. Their expertise, encouraging words, ability to pace us and sure friendship was the ticket for success!! They both did a wonderful job supporting my 14 year old son through the peaks, teaching him about the backcountry and making the entire trip fun. We are putting together pictures and will be sure to add SMC to the email.
SIERRA MOUNTAIN CENTER | 200 South Main Street |
Bishop, CA 93514 |
tel. (760) 873-8526 |
fax. (760) 873-4800