Mt. Whitney Conditioning

At 14,494 feet (4418 meters) Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, most climbed  peak in the Sierra Nevada, many would argue the U.S. Mt. Whitney is a good mountain for climbers and hikers of varied experience. 

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. With an elevation gain of over 6000 ft from trail-head Mt. Whitney is no easy climb for most.

The Mountaineer's Route,  on the north side of the east face first submitted by John Muir, is a scramble.

The eastern side is steep with a variety of climbing problems to solve. The East Face route, first climbed in 1931, is a classic route in the Sierra Nevada and involves class 5.7 climbing. Other routes range from 4.1 up to Class 5.10.

Backpackers and hikers undertaking the challenging hike on the western side of Mt. Whitney can expect to view great sunrises, giant granite peaks and even encounter strange little animals called marmots. The main trail can be hiked in 1 day, but most people complete it in 2-3 days.  We recommend leaving for the summit while it’s still dark to experience lots of shooting stars, great Milky Way views, and beautiful sunrises.  Mt. Whitney has had fatalities in last few years mostly due to falls and weather.

To train for Mt. Whitney:

  • Prepare by hiking 8-10 miles per week with 5000-6000 feet of elevation gain.
  • Run 10-14 miles per week.  
  • Focus on building leg strength.
  • Be able to carry a 40 lb pack for a two day climb.

Beginners should give themselves 12 weeks to get in condition, we recommend the FitClimb 12 week Mountaineering Plan.

If your heading to Mt. Whitney we recommend you download the Cairn app which FitClimb members have used to map cell coverage for AT&T and Verizon.  



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