Mt. Whitney via Main Trail


WeMoveQuoteThe plan is to leave, as early as possible, on Thursday, June xxth from Wardance Training Center and camp somewhere outside of Lone Pine, CA (perhaps Horseshoe Meadow or the Whitney Portal). On Friday, we will relax, acclimatize and prepare for an early start on Saturday. Friday night we will camp at the portal and start early Saturday to establish Trail Camp (6.3 miles, 12,040 ft.). Our summit attempt will be made either that afternoon or Sunday morning with lighter packs (4.7 miles each way from Trail Camp). On Sunday, we will break camp and descend. Sunday’s dinner will be had in town, and we will return home either late that evening.

Getting There

Where are we going?
  • The closest town is Lone Pine, CA.
  • Population: approx. 2000 – Elevation: approx. 3700 ft.
  • There are some amenities (sporting goods, groceries, restaurants, fuel), but depending on when we arrive they may not be open.
Where is Lone Pine?
  • From Wardance: 237 Mi (4+ Hr drive) – 91E towards Riverside, then 15N towards Barstow, then 395N (link to map)
  • Lone Pine is quite isolated. It’s between Kings Canyon, Death Valley & Sequoia National Parks. This is important because cell phone service will be spotty, making communication and impromptu group coordination more difficult.
Car Pooling
  • We have two vehicles available to transport everyone and their gear.
  • Either both vehicles will caravan together or separate departure/arrivals will be scheduled depending on availability of the individuals in each carpool. Please note, the train will leave on time.
  • The individual carpools and departure times will be arranged at a future logistics meeting

Base Camp

Mt. Whitney Portal

  • The trailhead is located 13 miles west of Lone Pine at an elevation of approximately 8300 ft.
  • There are several small walk-in campsites which tend to be very busy.
  • Campfires are not allowed.
  • There is a small general store with a grill (pictured).
  • There are pit toilets, trash receptacles and fresh water at the trailhead, but no showers.
  • The portal is known for bear activity so bear boxes must be used. Also, vehicles must be emptied of all evidence of food (empty water bottles and the like included). Otherwise, we could end up on the Portal Store’s wall of shame – a bulletin board displaying impressive effect bears can have on parked cars.


What is Acclimatization?
  • Acclimatization is the body’s internal adjustments to external conditions, in this case lower air pressure, in an attempt to reach homeostasis.
  • For example, the body develops more red blood cells (greater hemoglobin to plasma ratio) to compensate for lower levels of Oxygen.
What is the Effect of Poor Acclimatization?
  • Altitude affects people differently. The science regarding individual physiology at altitude is a less understood, but developing area.
  • AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness – AMS is defined as any symptoms without explanation: headache, fatigue, stomach ache, dizziness, sleep disturbance, lack of appetite/thirst, pins & needles, peripheral swelling & general malaise. Generally speaking, people compare it to feeling like you’ve got a Hangover, the flu, or have carbon-monoxide poisoning.
  • Note that often symptoms believed to be AMS are actually related to dehydration, which occurs more rapidly due to the dryer atmosphere at higher altitudes.
  • At Extreme Altitudes and in rare instances, HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) or HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) can occur. Since HACE & HAPE can be fatal, it is necessary to descend immediately if symptoms are severe or debilitating.
What are the factors that determine whether or not you get AMS?
  1. Level of Activity
  2. Rate of Ascent
  3. Altitude
  4. Individual Susceptibility
When trying to avoid AMS, note the importance of TIME.

Time and distance dictate Pace. Pace dictates Level of Activity. Level of Activity dictates Rate of Ascent. Rate of Ascent increases Altitude. We cannot change the distance, but we can manage our time. A slow and steady pace will maximize the chances of a successful summit bid. Also, Individual Susceptibility is decreased by longer periods of acclimatization – this is why it’s important to leave as early as possible on Thursday.


Each person should have and carry their own “Personal Gear”, whereas the “Group Gear” will be shared, but distributed amongst group members for carrying.

Personal Gear:
  • Boots & GOOD Socks (+ Extra Pair)
  • Pack
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Headlamp/Flashlight
  • Small Knife, Matches, Small First Aid, TP
  • Sunglasses, Sunscreen & Lipbalm with SPF
  • Small Mess Kit (spoon/bowl/cup)
  • Map/Compass/GPS
  • Hiking Poles?
  • Camera? Watch? MP3?
  • A plastic bag or two? useful
  • Bandana? useful
  • Earplugs? For sleeping.
  • Extras (laces, batteries, contacts, etc…)

Group Gear:
  • Tent
  • Water Filter
  • Stove
  • Bear Canister
  • Water Purifier
  • Food (see Menu item below)

During the climb: USE LAYERS!!
  1. Base Layer: Your base layer should be made of merino wool (popularized by brands such as SmartWool, Ibex and Icebreaker), synthetic fabrics (such as REI MTS, Capilene, PowerDry and CoolMax polyester). Rather than absorbing moisture, these fabrics transport (or “wick”) perspiration away from your skin, dispersing it on the outer surface where it can evaporate. The result: You stay drier even when you sweat, and your shirt dries faster afterwards.
  2. Insulation Layer: The insulating layer helps you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Polyester fleece, merino wool and goose down are excellent insulators. Polartec 100, 200 or Thermal Pro polyester and other synthetic insulations such as Thinsulate provide warmth for a variety of conditions. These are popular insulators because they’re lightweight, breathable and insulate even when wet. They also dry faster and have a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than even wool. Classic fleece’s main drawbacks are wind permeability and bulk (it’s less compressible than other fabrics).
  3. Shell Layer: The shell or outer layer protects you from wind, rain or snow. An outer shell is an important piece in bad weather, because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to your inner layers, you begin to cool off. Furthermore, without proper ventilation, perspiration can’t evaporate but instead condenses on the inside of your shell. Obviously, your shell layer should be roomy enough to fit easily over other layers and not restrict your movement.

Before & After the Climb
  • I suggest you wear a set of comfortable clothes in the car on the way there. Then, when we arrive to camp at the Portal, change into and sleep in your hiking base layer. Once we descend and are off the mountain, you can change back into your comfy clothes for the drive home.
  • I highly suggest changing into sandals, or something kind to the feet, for the ride home.
  • Bring a small backpack/separate bag to pack your base camp clothes into and leave in the car while we climb.

An Example of “Layers”:
  • Base Layer: Polypropylene Long Underwear & Under Armor Wicking T-Shirt
  • Insulation Layer: Mid-weight Fleece Pullover & Synthetic or Soft Shell Pants
  • Shell Layer: Warm Jacket/Rain Shell
  • Peripherals: Gloves, Hat, Gaiters

Climbing Mt. Whitney

The Summit:
  • Approx. 11 Miles each way.
  • Elevation: approx. 14,500 ft. (gain approx. 6200 ft.)


Main Segments of the Main Trail:
  1. Portal to Outpost Camp
    • 3.8 Miles
    • 10,640 ft. (2,340 gain)
    • Terrain: Forest & Sub-Alpine
    • First 2/3 Pretty Steep
    • Stream Crossings, Lone Pine Lake, Alpine Meadow & Waterfall


  2. Outpost Camp to Trail Camp
    • 2.5 Miles (6.3 Total)
    • 12,040 ft. (1,680 gain, 4,020 Total)
    • Terrain: Alpine & Above Tree Line
    • Becomes Rocky & Barren
    • Mirror Lake, Trailside Meadow & Consultation Lake


  3. Trail Camp to Trail Crest
    • 2.2 Miles (8.5 Total)
    • 13,777 ft. (1,738 gain, 5,758 Total)
    • “The 97 Switchbacks” – Impressive Rock Path
    • Can be icy/snow covered
    • COMMANDING views to the East


  4. Trail Crest to Summit
    • 2.5 Miles (11 Total)
    • 14,495 ft. (1,015 gain, 6,775 Total)
    • Rock Path
    • Can be windy
    • COMMANDING views to the West


Outpost Camp – April 8, 2012

Trail Camp – April 8, 2012

The terrain between Trail Crest and the Summit.

Getting Home

  • Sunday Night, depending on when we get off the trail.
  • The same way we came.
  • Food – We will need energy and stop on the way home (Subway?).
  • Fuel – Food for the car, we will likely need to fuel-up.
  • It is vital that the drivers STAYS AWAKE. Thus, it may be necessary for someone else to remain awake during the ride home as well.


The yellow line represents the Main Trail. Click on the image for full screen.


First, the menu below is tentative. There may have to be substitutions, but it will probably close to what is below. Also, we fully understand that this menu may not please EVERYONE – however we are doing our best given the budget, limited space and the dietary limitations that we know of. While we’re open to suggestions, we may not be able to accommodate individual preferences.

In addition, special attention has been given to nutrition and digestion. Given the physical exertion required and the expected effects of altitude on our bodies, it will be extremely difficult to consume and/or digest enough food to sustain our caloric expenditures. Accordingly, meals must be lightweight, calorie dense, easily digestible, and delectable enough to overcome the lack of an appetite.

Lastly, we will endeavor to provide real, natural and healthy foods (as opposed to processed, preserved or freeze-dried) whenever practical.

Thursday Dinner
  • Pizza/Pasta Dinner in Lone Pine
  • Included in the cost
Friday Morning
  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Oatmeal
  • Orange
  • Coffee
Friday Lunch
  • PB & J Bagel Sandwiches
Friday Dinner
  • Burger at the Portal Store
  • Included in the cost
Saturday Breakfast
  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Bagel
  • Banana
  • V8 Juice
Saturday Lunch/Trail Snacks
  • Cheese
  • Salami
  • Crackers
  • Cliff Bar
  • Cookies
  • Power Blocks

Saturday Dinner
  • Mashed Potatoes with Cheese & Bacon
  • Tuna
Sunday Breakfast
  • Oatmeal
  • Soup/Hot Chocolate
Sunday Snacks
  • Cliff Bar
  • Cookies
  • Power Blocks
  • Candy Bar
  • Hard Candy
  • Crackers
Sunday Dinner
  • Something quick on the way home


The total cost for this adventure is: $225.00 per person. The deadline is Friday, June 14th.

It includes:

  • Transportation to and from Wardance Training Center
  • All permits and campsite fees
  • Dinner in Lone Pine on Thursday, June 20th.
  • All meals and snacks on Friday & Saturday.
  • Breakfast, and Lunch/snacks on Sunday, June 23rd.
  • The ultimate adventure to kick off your summer!!!!

The permit allows a total of 6 people.
There are no more spots remaining!

Spots will be allotted on a first-come first-served basis. Should you need to cancel, a 50% refund will be made if your cancellation occurs prior to 2 weeks before our departure, however after Wednesday, June 12th, we will be unable to offer any refund.

To make your payment, register or log-in by CLICKING HERE!!

Please contact us, or speak with Chuck, if you have any questions or have problems arranging payment.

Important Message

On Safety:

The SAFE return of every participant is the first priority.

Entering the wilderness can be unpredictable and dangerous. Prepared and experienced individuals have become gravely injured, and even died, on Mt. Whitney and it’s surrounding area. All participants must agree to turn around at or before the required “turnaround-time”. Obtaining the summit is not guaranteed. Should someone in our party become sick or injured, it is expected that all participants will assist in facilitating our own extrication or rescue.

All participants will be required to sign a liability waiver.