Mount Whitney

  • Mount Whitney
  • 4417 m
  • Primary factor 3071 m
  • West of Lone Pine, California
  • Highest in lower 48 states
  • Climbed August 1978.


How to get there: We drove from San Francisco across Yosemite and down south to Lone Pine. The road to the trailhead from Lone Pine is well marked.
Route description: Day 1, after parking we used the late afternoon to hike up to the basin below the mountain and camped there. A wilderness permit is required!
Day 2, the trail climbs out of the basin to a saddle well south of the summit. From there the trail continues on the west side of the water divide and the base of several distinct pinnacles before ascending onto the bulky summit. The trail is an easy walk all the way. After enjoying the summit we returned to the trailhead and the drive back home.
Comments: Mt. Whitney can be somewhat more difficult. The year before, in 1977, I arrived at base camp in October with Frøystein Gjesdal and a friend of his. During the night we had a very substantial (3 feet) snowfall. The third man in our party got AMS and returned down in the morning. Frøystein and I struggled in deep snow to the saddle where he decided to turn around. I agreed with Frøystein before we split on a latest time to be back by the tent, where he had promised to have a bowl of warm soup ready. As I (solo) continued towards the summit, time (and strength) was running short. The deep snow and the high elevation teamed up to make progress much slower than I had anticipated. A scramble brought me to the top of the last (and tallest) of the pinnacles before Whitney itself. This (subsidiary) summit is called Keeler Needle, elevation 4350 meter and having a primary factor of 60 meter to its bigger neighbor. There I enjoyed a spectacular scenery and conceded defeat to the big bulk so near, but still beyond reach. I could look straight down at our camp and the promised hot soup. With a pair of skis it would have been so easy!