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#48622 - 10/23/16 04:15 PM Spending night on Whitney summit
BenSC Offline


Registered: 10/23/16
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
I hiked Whitney during a 3 day trip this past July. I am wondering if anybody here has camped on the summit either in the hut or in a tent. I know during storms this isn't advisable but weather-permitting I would love to camp on the summit and if anybody could post their experiences that would help a lot.

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#48623 - 10/23/16 10:48 PM Re: Spending night on Whitney summit [Re: BenSC]
Vavylon Offline


Registered: 10/07/16
Posts: 9
Loc: San Diego
I have heard of a few people staying over on the summit out of choice but I don't recall anyone ever wanting to do it again.

This is just my 2 cents though I havent myself camped at the summit but I think you would be hard pressed to even find a flat area big enough to comfortable bivvy let alone set up a tent. The entire top is large rocks that people have to climb over to summit, as you well know. I also didn't think it is considered good form to use the summit hut for casual overnighting. Perhaps someone can chime in on this?

Also I have always read the above 12k ft you aren't supposed to ascend more than 1k ft/day for acclimatization sake. That is probably just heresay anyhow and isn't much a push past considering Whitney is only 14.5k. Probably a better rule for expeditions doing much taller peaks.

It would be a cool idea just if you wanted the experience of being much colder and less comfortable but I don't envision any trip plan that calls for an overnight up there out of necessity.

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#48624 - 10/24/16 12:20 AM Re: Spending night on Whitney summit [Re: Vavylon]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7526
Loc: Fresno, CA
I've camped there 4 times. Once in June after a late storm. So cold all our water froze. Couldn't eat anything on the top due to altitude, so we got up and bailed fast. Second time at the end of a 4-day hike starting at Onion Valley. Altitude issue wasn't as bad that time.

Another a few years ago with Bob Rockwell, commemorating Norman Clyde's Highest-to-lowest in one day. We camped at the summit, then descended and drove to Badwater that afternoon, with dinner at Furnace Creek. I acclimated for that trip by spending two nights at 10K (Horseshoe Meadows) before climbing Whitney.

Last time was at the end of a Mineral King to Whitney Portal trip. No altitude problems, since I'd been out so many days.

It is perfectly ok to camp on the summit. There are a few flat spots around, one even protected by the surrounding slabs. You will likely be joined by JMT hikers coming up to catch the sunrise at the end of their JMT hike.

The best part of the overnight stay is watching the sunset AND the sunrise. I've slept outside the hut several of those times -- twice without a tent. ...only one of those, a breeze came up and was rattling my trash bag ground cover so bad that I got up and moved into the hut.

To sleep on the summit, you need to start up with at least 3 liters of water -- one for the climb, one for the evening, and one for the trip down. It's probably easiest to eat your biggest meal at the last water location, then just snack at the top. Less food and water required at the top that way.

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#48625 - 10/24/16 08:00 AM Re: Spending night on Whitney summit [Re: BenSC]
spitzer Offline


Registered: 03/14/16
Posts: 5
Loc: USA
I've only done it twice. The first time was unplanned and we had no tent or sleeping bags. We stayed in the hut and slept on our climbing ropes. It was miserable, mostly due to the lack of a sleeping pad and limited water to drink. It wasn't terribly cold.

The other time was closer to Trail Crest and it was in the middle of winter. It was a very warm night, in the low 20s. Nobody else was camping there but plenty of people marched past.

I think camping on the summit and near Trail Crest happens a lot these days. As long as you're prepared for the temperature and altitude and are willing to haul your water up and your poop down it's no big deal.

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#48628 - 10/24/16 03:55 PM Re: Spending night on Whitney summit [Re: BenSC]
illyav Offline


Registered: 08/24/16
Posts: 17
Loc: California
I stayed on the summit in a bivy in late May of 2010. It was cooold, but I expected it since it was still late spring (had to use the snow chute that goes straight up to Trail Crest cause the 99 switchbacks were still covered in snow). Clouds came in after nightfall too, which made conditions a whiteout and it got very wet, very misty, and the wind whipped throughout the night. I was lying in a natural rock ring near the summit edge, but the wind chill made me crawl between a crevice, which helped me sleep a little better.

This past summer (early August) I slept in the chute between the Mt. Whitney summit and Iceberg Lake on the mountaineer's route, and it was surprisingly warm with a light breeze. I would recommend trying it at least once; as mentioned, the sunsets, sunrises, and overall experience is thrilling.


Edited by illyav (10/24/16 03:58 PM)
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#48630 - 10/24/16 07:21 PM Re: Spending night on Whitney summit [Re: illyav]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7526
Loc: Fresno, CA
illyav, where in the world did you find a spot in the chute to sleep?? crazy
Up at the Notch might be ok, but otherwise, there is hardly any place at all level enough to lie down.

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#48637 - 10/25/16 01:35 PM Re: Spending night on Whitney summit [Re: Steve C]
illyav Offline


Registered: 08/24/16
Posts: 17
Loc: California
Steve, I found a spot about a little less than 2/3 of the way down from the Notch. It wasn't level, but turned out to not be as uncomfortable as it looked. At this point in a video I point it out, the spot below the protruding granite casting a shadow in the lower middle frame of the video. I used clothes as a buffer under the bottom half of my air mattress and layed the top half against the inclined granite and slept there.

It wasn't planned, I had to wait out a storm in the hut and when I descended, I couldn't find the Easy Walk-Off so I went down at an angle assuming I'd run into it eventually. By the time I was in the chute it was getting dark so I decided to bivouac. It was a cool experience... I also chose that spot cause it looked like it would shield me from rock falls, thankfully I didn't hear any! Lol.
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