A superb, classic ridge climb. If you have never done a multi-day route with an en-route bivouac this is an ideal start. The ridge is only rated 5.6 in difficulty, but carrying a pack makes all the difference. This ridge involves continuously interesting climbing on impeccable Sierra granite with exhilarating exposure and fantastic views of the Whitney region. It can be done with a low bivvy or a high, en-route one. The en-route bivouac is worth the trip in itself: from the sleeping bag at night one can gaze the length of Highway 395, all the way past Bishop, 60 miles to the north.
The Low Bivvy Option – Here we camp in the Meysan drainage and do the ridge in a day, pick up camp and hike to the roadhead. This is a very long day, but involves less pack carrying over technical ground.
The High Bivvy Option – This splits the climb over two days and gives one the opportunity for an incredible high bivvy. But then you have to carry that pack!
Both options are great and we will talk with you to decide which one will be your best option
The best guidebook is Peter Croft’s “The Good, The Great, and the Awesome”.
Get it from Maximus Press.
You can also get our very detailed unpublished SMC Guide to Lone Pine Peak here.
We highly recommend that you spend at least one night at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000′) just prior to the trip. Sites can be reserved at the Whitney Portal Campground (8,400′) through the National Forest Reservation System (800) 280 2267. Nearby Cottonwood Lakes offers a walk-in campground at almost 10,000′. Reservations are not necessary here. Ideally, two days would be spent in the Cottonwood Lakes area immediately prior to starting your climb. It is a 45-minute drive from Cottonwood to the Portal. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more info.
Bears are also a major problem at the Portal Trailhead. Do not leave any food, scented items (deodorant, soap etc.) in your vehicle. Clean up all trash and put extra food in a locker at the trailhead. Failure to take precautions can cause the vehicle to be ripped apart by a bear and the added insult of a fine from the Forest Service.