Peak(s):  Mt Muir - 14,018 feet
Mt Whitney  - 14,505 feet
Date Posted:  09/15/2010
Date Climbed:   09/13/2010
Author:  jf32

 Whitney and Muir  

I moved to California this summer and between not having climbing friends here, the difficulty of these mountains, the distance to the mountains, and no to get partners/carpool I didn't think I'd accomplish my not too ambitious goal of climbing 1 CA 14er this season. Fortunately this site came to the rescue with headkaes asking conditions and volunteering her extra permit spots for access to Whitney. Thanks again headkaes - I truly appreciate it.

The drive to and from Lone Pine was long but the scenery was top notch. I was taken aback by the number of huge granite playgrounds Yosemite has to offer.
Half Dome 'from behind'

I got to Lone Pine and picked up my permit. I then went to town and grabbed some buffalo wings and a beer, Sierra Nevada, in preparation for my first foray into these mountains. The warm temps, my desire to get high, and a crystal clear night jam packed with stars (and a very uncomfy car) convinced me to leave in the late pm early am to try and summit Whitney for sunrise.

As I hiked I saw a few shooting stars and my first real meteor (with a decent tail and it lasted a few seconds) while singing random song lyrics to let any and all bears in the area know I was approaching. I was more relaxed and stress free than normal because I knew the trail was all Class 1 and lasted forever (11 miles to the summit). My plan = plod in the darkness and enjoy the hike out. I was very surprised to see people (4 different groups) hike out while I was ascending - one group had been going at it for over 22 hours and still had at least 3 miles to go before they hit the trailhead. On the approach in I could make out the silhouettes of the surrounding mountains in the starlight. I assumed they were tree covered and I was guessing tree line and using that to try and mark my progress. I did not expect to see white granite walls on the return.

One by one the checkmarks on the trail map were passed - sight unseen in the darkness. I was thankful I didn't have to see the 99 switchbacks as that would have been very demoralizing. 2 quick notes on the trail - It was very well constructed and maintained and the builders could have shaved so much distance off if they made it Class 2. If you've hiked with me you probably know my only rule and that I hate long slogs (why can't everything be class 3/4 ridges???). Anyways I failed in my effort to make the summit by sunrise - I was maybe .5/1 mile away but I did get to enjoy the view from 'windows' on the ridge. Now that the sun's up I'll use my pics instead of words to show ya what's going on.
Morning Colors and a blurry ridge

The last stretch to Whitney

At the last 'window' looking at the final push to Whitney

Summit Shack

Shadow Celebration

Summit Views

Mt Muir from Whitney

They call that guitar lake... I wonder why

A representative shot of the trail after hitting the ridge

After climbing Whitney I wanted to go for Muir. It was early and the 300 ft or so to Muir from the Whitney trail should have been a welcome relief as it would provide some scrambling after 12-14 miles of trail hiking. It took me entirely too much time to actually find Muir. As much as researching it more would have helped I didn't really mind being lost and scrambling on the ridge crest as it was early in the day and the weather was perfect and the rock solid. I climbed 2 other points on the ridge and was on some really fun/tough terrain. The final summit push to Muir is rated as California Class 3 - but I'd venture its probably closer to a Colorado 4 - this is my first time seeing the rating difference between the 2 states.

Mt Muir from a random point I climbed

The Whitney trail (soo many switchbacks) from Mt Muir

Whitney from Muir

The hike out was pretty and uneventful. I got to enjoy the lakes and scenery I missed on the way in.
Starting the hike out - and taking in the views for the first time

Some snow and rock walls

Mt Muir as seen from the descent hike

One of a few hanging valleys

Some green in the sea of white rock - and a great place to pump some water

Waterfall on the way out

Blue skies and granite walls

Now time to start planning my next trip to these mountains. After driving through Yosemite its hard not planning a return trip to explore some of the areas I passed in a bit more detail.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice report
09/15/2010 16:31
I wish we had made the sidetrip to Muir when we did Whitney in July, but it was the end of the JMT so we were ready to just head down the switchbacks. It seems like there are tons of awesome climbing and scrambling opportunities in the Sierras on rock is more solid.

Easy Rider

Looks like a fun trip
09/15/2010 16:50
I'm really hoping to get down to this zone next spring if you are interested in some snow climbs.


Too funny!
09/15/2010 19:13
I was just looking at info on getting permits for Whitney next summer when I saw your trip report...

Congrats, and thanks for the info/pics I may have to attempt Muir as well, while I'm in the area.


09/15/2010 20:16
That is a staggering number of switchbacks. And a long day out. Nice work getting out and enjoying the full day! Nice pics.


Great report and thanks...
09/15/2010 20:54
Hard to believe that so many people slog all that way to do Whitney and pass up Muir, so kudos on the combo and nicely reported. Looking to do a few CA 14ers a year from here on out and these two are next in line, so thanks for the info and pics.


Thanks Guys
09/15/2010 23:36
JakeK - I met 3 people on the trail who were finishing the JMT - none of them went up Muir - I guess the 200+ miles of trail hiking is a great motivation to just get off the mountain.
Easy Rider - definitely interested in some snow climbs next year - I'll be hiking round trip as I don't mind joining ya on the ascent.
Kaiman - This trip really worked out for me as I didn't have to be concerned about permits. Good luck next summer and I definitely recommend Muir.
JosephG - so many switchbacks - I kinda wished there was some Class 2/3 which would have shaved off miles but oh well - still a great day.
Kapelmuur - No problem - good luck on future CA 14ers - they seem to be just as addicting as the CO version.


How much time did hiking Muir add to your trip?
09/28/2010 04:56
Some friends and I are going to try to get in a fall hike of both pretty soon. Any beta on Muir, and the other points that you hiked would be greatly appreciated. Great to see that you got your hiking fix in CA!


Marvelous two-bagger, jf!
08/23/2011 20:56
Awesome job in climbing these two California giants on the same day. It's interesting reversing that final move to the summit of Muir on the descent, isn't it? And the view from the tiny top is unforgettable. One of my favorite summits of all time. Great TR!

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