Mount Whitney 14,505 ft — It’s the tallest mountain in the contiguous US and I’ve been fortunate to
2023 Permits: click to apply for the lotto from 2/1 until 3/1 – learn how to get a Mt Whitney permit here.
Quick background on when I've hiked Mt. Whitney: August 24-25, 2015 [1st time at Whitney] - backpacked one night, slept at Trail camp August 25, 2016 [2nd time at Whitney] - day hike (click to read on page 2) August 24, 2017 [3rd time at Whitney] - day hike April 24, 2021 - climbed Mountaineers Route August 14-15, 2021 - backpacked one night at Consultation Lake
That really depends on your level and training. Neither is better but having done both, if it’s your first time hiking Mt. Whitney, I’d strongly recommend doing it as an overnight hike because you get to enjoy the trail and views as well as acclimate better. Keep reading for more details.
Only if you train for it! I wasn’t much of a hiker until I got my Whitney permits the first time and trained for it. Then my first ascent was a piece of cake. I’ve run into completely novice hikers on the Whitney trail a few times and although some made it… they had a miserable time. Please consider you’re hiking partner too and what you may be putting them through
Yes, you need a permit for both day hikes and overnight hikes! The pre-season lotto ends on March 1
Backpacking Mount Whitney in One Night
If you didn't already read my backpacking trail write up, you can read it here. Click for Mt Whitney Overnight Hike Video from my first trip, 2015
If you’ve been following my journey from the beginning, you’ll know I got very into hiking when I decided to do Mt. Whitney – a mountain I’d never even heard of before. I trained with the Six Pack of Peaks, doing one peak per month leading up to Whitney, so I honestly didn’t think Whitney was any harder than a previous training hike. I suffered through my training as I threw myself into strenuous hikes right off the bat, but when it came time to tackle this beast, my body was well-prepared, and breaking up the trail into two days helped a lot for my first summit.
⛰ You get to enjoy the views going up! If you day hike Whitney, it will be dark for the first half, and you’ll be on a mission to
⛰ You’ll be well-rested and better acclimated to summit day 2 and going up the 99 switchbacks in the dark is a really unique experience – seeing all the headlamps move higher makes it look like stars! Plus catching the sunrise from Trail Crest is simply breathtaking
⛰ Lone Pine Lake – you really get to enjoy spending time here on the trek up!
⛰ On your way down after summiting, you can rest/ take a nap back at camp before heading down
⛰ You can start day 1 at 10 am…. or even noon, instead of 12-2 am.
⛰ Lighter summit pack
⛰ When you wake up on summit day, you’re halfway done with the whole uphill already
⛰ Overnight pack + Bear canister + wag bag💩… However, if you’re ultralight hiking, it’s a very pleasant experience! Need tips on how to drop your weight? Check out my ultralight backpacking gear guide.
Day Hiking Mt. Whitney
I had two very different experiences day hiking Mount Whitney. I never wrote about either one but have put together a quick trail report on the next page. The first was definitely more memorable and pleasant and the second was more miserable – I almost decided not to summit. These experiences have led me to believe that mind over matter is a powerful mindset/tool and your stress level and current circumstances in life can affect you on the trails.
22 miles total, 6200+ ft elevation gain in 11 miles topping out at 14500 ft can take a toll on your body.
⛰ Finish the hike in one long day = probably take less time off away from work
⛰ No overnight pack and camping gear weight
⛰ Time expectancy: 12-14 hours. Most hikers start at 12 – 2 am but plan to summit by late morning to avoid any afternoon thunderstorms which are common in the Sierra in summer. Personally, I cannot hike with little to no sleep.
⛰ Trailhead is at 8300 ft… some people need time to acclimate to that
⛰ Summit is at 14500 ft… your body may not adjust well to 6200 ft elevation gain in one day so plan for that
⛰Your entire pack with all your layers and food goes all 22 miles with you… don’t overpack
Remember, it’s ok to not
Also, don’t forget – LEAVE NO TRACE. They provide you with a poop bag – it’s not pleasant to carry it down the mountain but they do the best to shield off the odor so don’t hide it and leave it in the mountains!!! Do your part to keep the wilderness pristine so we can all return and enjoy it, please 🙂