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Mt. Whitney Trail Length

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby mts4602 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:13 pm

I know the Mt Whitney Trail is 11 miles one way and I don't doubt that, but I can't figure out how it adds up to 11. I am looking at a national geographic map of the area and at least according to what I see from whitney portal to the summit is 8.8 miles. I could see if you hiked from Lone pine that adds. At least another 2.3, but I don't think that's it. What am I missing???

Matt

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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby mts4602 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:17 pm

...lone pine campground, not the town

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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby leftyslugger » Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:26 pm

I did the HST from the west in Sequoia National Park to the Whitney Summit and out to the portal. Our last day was from Guitar Lake to summit and all the way to the portal. I assure you it is every bit 11 miles from the summit to the portal. The NATGEO maps are wrong with their mileage markers. In fact, they've just released a new version of that topo with different mileage on it. I still think the new map is wrong.

The signs on the trail didn't match the maps at all and the trail seemed to go on forever. It is a very long day from the portal to summit and back. I wouldn't want to do it, but I saw many who did it. Good luck to you!

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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby RJansen77 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:12 pm

I did this route as a day-hike six years ago and will agree, it is a LOOOONG day. I don't remember the mileage splits entirely because it was so long ago, but the 22 miles RT and ~6,134' of gain are accurate. I believe it is divided up something like this:

Whitney Portal (Trailhead) to Outpost Camp: 3.5 miles
Outpost Camp to Trail Camp: 6.2 miles
Trail Camp to Trail Crest: 8.8 miles
Trail Crest to Whitney Summit: 11 miles

These are just distances I remember, in reality I'm sure they're off by a few tenths of a mile at least, but this is definitely a 22 mile RT with lots of gain. For an experienced 14er climber though, especially one that is acclimated, it shouldn't be too big of a deal.
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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby climbing_rob » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:36 pm

Yep, very very close to 11 miles, at least my GPS said that.

Don't be too intimidated by the stats; it is a very good trail the entire way, and though a big day, just start early and eat/drink plenty and take your time. The nice thing about the Sierra's is the weather, generally much drier and less chance for T-storms. My wife at the time (now Ex), though reasonably fit, had very little hiking/climbing experience and did it no sweat; the only problem she had was blistered feet.

And don't pass up Mt. Muir along the way, if you're comfortable with a single class 4 move. (yeah, they call it "class 3", but sure looks like a solid 4 to me).

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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby 14erFred » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:38 pm

Here's a shot of the West Face of Mt. Muir that shows the entire pitch to the summit, taken during a solo climb I made in August 2007. The entire pitch takes only 5-10 minutes to surmount. The drop-off from the summit to the east (to the opposite side) is roughly 2000 vertical feet. (Note the two climbers on the lower left-hand side of the photo to get a sense of the scale.)
Mt.MuirWestFace(8-4-07).jpg
Mt.MuirWestFace(8-4-07).jpg (94.42 KiB) Viewed 1260 times
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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby jf32 » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:56 pm

Here's another shot of Muir with the route marked:
http://images.summitpost.org/original/13802.jpg

My take on the class 3 vs 4 of the summit block pitch is that it is definitely class 3 in California but class 3 in California includes a lot of what gets classified as class 4 in Colorado. Either way - the rock is solid and fun - I'd recommend going for it.

My take on the distance is that the trail was made 11 miles to keep the trail at class 1(lots of switchbacks). It seems that considerable distance could have been eliminated if the trail makers included a few class 2 or low 3 moves. At the end of the day the trail is great for what it is - a class 1 trek to the highest point in the lower 48.

I have a day trip report here:
http://14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=9143&parmuser=jf32&cpgm=tripuser
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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby Tory Wells » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:53 am

The extra 2+ miles comes in the form of 8 billion switchbacks....and no, I'm not exaggerating. :mrgreen:

That is the most switchbacked trail I've ever been on. Pikes Peak doesn't even come close in that regard; otherwise the hikes are very comparable.
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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby bonehead » Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:32 am

Like most of the trails we enjoy and consider hiking trails,
the Mt. Whitney trail was constructed for pack animal travel.
Designed for mule stock and definitely Class 1.
It was completed in 1904, long before backpacking fools like us came along.
Many say that the longest distance between two points is the PCT.
The Mt Whitney trail is much the same.
The summit hut was built in 1909 as a Mars Observatory.
That did not work out so well.
There is, or used to be an open rock walled outhouse near the summit.
A helicopter used to fly up and haul out the honey bucket every day in the summer.
A lot of fighter jocks like to buzz the summit , very, very low.
A screaming F4, coming from the other side of the mountain,
suddenly just 100 feet over your head, gets your blood pressure going pretty fast.
And Muir is an easy one hour side trip, with a small rocky summit. Don't miss it.

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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby PatsSox09 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:22 pm

Agree that I've noticed a big difference btw California and Colorado Class 3-4's. It seems like CO uses climbing difficulty in separting between the two, whereas California uses a criteria of will you do if you fall (if yes, 4, if not, 3). Muir I would definitely say is class 4, but worth doing if you can figure out the summit blocks (my route, stick right at first, then traverse left around a jutting block, then to the top.) It has a great view of both Whitney and the switchbacks coming out of trail camp.

As for the Whitney Trail itself, as long as you have no problems with altitude it really is the easiest, well groomed, gradual, nice to your feet class 1 trail in the world. Just watch out for the bears.

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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby peter303 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:51 pm

Tory Wells wrote:The extra 2+ miles comes in the form of 8 billion switchbacks....and no, I'm not exaggerating. :mrgreen:.

This map shows 97:
http://lwp.smugmug.com/Other/Mount-Whitney-Maps/SwitchbacksChart/71585664_qBXWf-O.jpg
I've done them six times, but didnt count.

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Re: Mt. Whitney Trail Length

Postby climbing_rob » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:57 pm

peter303 wrote:
Tory Wells wrote:The extra 2+ miles comes in the form of 8 billion switchbacks....and no, I'm not exaggerating. :mrgreen:.

This map shows 97:
http://lwp.smugmug.com/Other/Mount-Whitney-Maps/SwitchbacksChart/71585664_qBXWf-O.jpg
I've done them six times, but didnt count.
Sorry, the map must be in error. Eight billion is closer to the correct number.

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