This is the classic route up the highest peak in the lower forty eight states. The 2000 foot-high face was first ascended by the powerful team of Robert Underhill, Norman Clyde, Jules Eichorn and Glen Dawson on August 16, 1931. These were the finest climbers of the time; their ascent time of three and a quarter hours is rarely equalled by modern climbers with their tight rock shoes and the latest in climbing hardware. Dawson returned to make the second ascent of the route and in 1934 Eichorn pioneered the airy Tower Traverse that all current day climbers utilize. Clyde became legendary in the Sierra for both his unequaled number of Sierra first ascents and the size of the packs he carried. Underhill later remarked that on the approach to the East Face Clyde’s pack was “an especially picturesque enormity of skyscraper architecture.”

Times have changed but the East Face remains a great climb. While only rated 5.6 do not underestimate it! You will be at over 14,000 feet carrying a small pack with the essentials for the day, and ascending about 12 pitches of continuous climbing.


high-sierra-climbing-super-topo good-great-awesomeThe best guidebooks are Supertopo’s “High Sierra Climbing” by Chris McNamara and Peter Croft’s “The Good, The Great, and the Awesome”.

Get them from Maximus Press.

You can also get our unpublished SMC Guide to Whitney here.

We highly recommend that you spend at least one night 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.