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#49563 - 04/10/17 09:30 PM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: BFR]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 370
Loc: Wildomar
If you're going to go all out, charter a plane................................DUG

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#49567 - 04/11/17 01:30 AM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: BFR]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7584
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: BFR
Reading this post made me wonder - would be a real challenge to hike Whitney AND do R2R in the same day. (Would also mention that in the summer, Arizona is on the same time as California). Looks like the distance betweeen Whitney Portal and the Grand Canyon is 490 miles for the North Rim and 520 miles for the South Rim. Seems like this drive could be completed in ~7.5 hours (per Google maps). Super fast hiking times for Whitney Portal and R2R are both around ~8 hours.

So conceivably, a day could look like this:

12am-8am: Whitney Hike
8am-3:30pm: Whitney to GC North Rim
3:30pm-12am: R2R

Would be a fun challenge - wonder if it's ever been attempted.

Like DUG wrote: chartering a plane would make the trip a lot more reasonable.

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#53018 - 05/03/18 08:16 AM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: BFR]
VertC Offline


Registered: 04/08/16
Posts: 4
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: BFR
Reading this post made me wonder - would be a real challenge to hike Whitney AND do R2R in the same day. (Would also mention that in the summer, Arizona is on the same time as California). Looks like the distance betweeen Whitney Portal and the Grand Canyon is 490 miles for the North Rim and 520 miles for the South Rim. Seems like this drive could be completed in ~7.5 hours (per Google maps). Super fast hiking times for Whitney Portal and R2R are both around ~8 hours.

So conceivably, a day could look like this:

12am-8am: Whitney Hike
8am-3:30pm: Whitney to GC North Rim
3:30pm-12am: R2R

Would be a fun challenge - wonder if it's ever been attempted.


My brother and I are trying the Whitney/Canyon duo this year. 1st north rim to south rim June 1&2, staying at Phantom Ranch. Staying in Barstow on June 2, then have an overnight Whitney permit for June 3rd. Not quite 1 day, probably 3.5 days from start to finish. We started with just the Grand Canyon plans and got lucky on the whitney lottery. Gear packing for both is a challenge in itself.

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#53023 - 05/04/18 08:41 AM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: VertC]
sierrarun Offline


Registered: 05/03/18
Posts: 4
Loc: CA
For a detailed comparison of Whitney and R2R, go here.

Scroll down about 3/4 of the way until you see reply #73.

http://m.rimtorim.org/site/hike-it/

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#53024 - 05/04/18 09:20 AM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: sierrarun]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7584
Loc: Fresno, CA
Thanks, Sierrarun. That is an excellent comparison. It's really hard to find the text, so copying it here.

Here's a link to it: Mt. Whitney Day Hike vs. Grand Canyon R2R


Bob Young says:
October 22, 2015 at 2:34 am

Mt. Whitney Day Hike vs. Grand Canyon R2R

First up: Who am I? A nobody in the hiking world. However, I was fortunate enough to find time to day-hike the Mt. Whitney Main Trail in June 2015 and the Grand Canyon R2R (North Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel Trail) in September 2015. As such, I thought I’d weigh in on the always-interesting discussion of which hike is harder. To keep things as fair as possible, I made sure to wear the same shoes, carry the same pack and use the same hiking poles. Hope you enjoy!

PERMIT ****************************************

It’s usually tough to get a permit for the MWMT for a given date, even if your plans call for a one-day trip. However, if you apply early enough — or are flexible with respect to dates — it can be done. Day-hiking the R2R doesn’t require a permit.

Harder: MWMT

DISTANCE **************************************

The MWMT is listed as 22 miles round trip, while the R2R I did is listed as 23.9 miles one way. Add in the .5-mile walk from the North Rim campground, which is where I started, to the North Kaibab trailhead, and it comes to 24.4 miles.

Harder: R2R

TIME *******************************************

The MWMT took me 11.5 hours to complete, which included about 30 minutes on the summit. The R2R took me about the same and included about 30 minutes at Phantom Ranch.

Harder: tie

TEMPERATURE *********************************

The MWMT can get mighty cold, but in the busy season, it’s fairly comfy. Conversely, the R2R can get mighty hot, but it’s decent before and after that time of the year. Of course, the R2R can be done in winter, when it’s reportedly quite nippy, but you won’t be able to shuttle it.

Because there is so much variability, I’ll address only my trip times. My MWMT hike began in the 60s (3 a.m.), then cooled to about 45 degrees by the time I arrived at the summit. Then it heated up considerably as I descended to the Portal. My R2R started at about 55 degrees (4 a.m.), then warmed to about 90 degrees at Phantom Ranch. By the time I got to the South Rim, it had cooled to 75 degrees. Note that my early departure time enabled me to avoid the horror stories associated with passing through The Box — even though it was in early September.

Harder: MWMT (only because I had to carry warmer clothes in case of weird weather in the Sierra)

WATER *****************************************

It’s available in numerous places along the MWMT, but you’ll want to treat it. Safe drinking water can be found at several stops on the R2R — just top off your CamelBak and continue. If you need to acquire H2O from the stream that parallels much of the trail to Phantom Ranch, you’ll want to treat it.

Harder: tie (You can go light on either trip.)

CARGO *****************************************

Those who know the Sierra will always carry emergency gear, including things that will keep you warm and dry, things that will enable you to spend the night and often things that will enable you to travel on snow. The MWMT is no exception to this. On the other hand, the R2R, where the primary environmental danger is the heat and the occasional downpour, doesn’t demand as much emergency gear. A light rain jacket and a space blanket to serve as a makeshift shelter from the sun are about the best you can do.

Perceptive readers will note that I mentioned camping at the North Rim before hiking to the South Rim. Didn’t that require me to carry my camping gear across the canyon? Nope. I purposefully hauled all my old, worn-out gear to the North Rim with the intention of throwing it away afterward. Junky old sleeping pad, leaking bivvy sack, tattered T-shirt, etc. I didn’t take any cooking gear because I bought ready-to-eat food at the store in the campground.

Harder: MWMT

ALTITUDE **************************************

The MWMT hike starts at 8,360 feet and tops out at 14,495 feet before returning to 8,360. That’s 6,135 feet up and then 6,135 feet down, all of which takes place at an elevation that’s higher than all of the R2R. Some Whitney hikers experience altitude problems because of this.

The R2R I did starts at 8,240 feet at the North Rim and drops to 2,480 feet at the river before ascending to 6,860 feet at the South Rim. That’s 5,760 feet down and then 4,380 feet up. For most hikers, altitude sickness isn’t even a concern.

Harder: MWMT

RESCUE ****************************************

Almost every time I hike the MWMT, I run into a ranger who usually asks for my permit. That’s about it. There are no ranger stations, no resthouses, no ranches, no phones.

The R2R has all of the above, which can be taken advantage of by hikers in need. It has emergency phone service at various locations.

Harder: MWMT

RECOVERY ************************************

The MWMT takes a toll on the feet and legs (at least, it does on me) because the descent occurs when you’re tired, and that leads to “sloppy” walking that entails letting your feet slap the ground as gravity pulls you down the trail. The result (again, for me) is DOMS that can last a week.

The R2R descent occurs when you’re fresh, which means you’re more in control. The second half — which is when you’re spent — is just a low-impact plod up the trail. It’s not easy by any means, but it doesn’t beat you up as much.

Harder: MWMT

PEER PRESSURE ********************************

Some hikers won’t be affected by this, but others will. Here’s the scoop: Most of the people you see on the MWMT are there for the same reason — to summit. That means there’s a good chance they’ll be in the same physical condition as you at any given location on the route and moving at comparable speeds. In other words, everyone is slow near the top, and everyone is tired near the bottom.

In contrast, on the R2R, when you’re at your weakest — ascending the upper portion of the Bright Angel Trail, you’ll see tons of tourists who decided to stroll down into the canyon for a bit and then turn around and climb out. They may outweigh you by 100 pounds and have 20 years on you, but often they’ll be motoring along at twice your speed. Normally, you wouldn’t care, but if you’re in a carb-depleted “bonk” condition — which often leads to negative thought patterns — you may start cussing under your breath, asking yourself why you’re doing this. (If you’ve never bonked, you won’t know what this is like. Believe me — it can be insidious.)

Harder: R2R (depending on your fitness level)

VERDICT ***************************************

It’s tough to say which hike is harder overall, which is why I broke them down into these components. If I was forced to pick one, however, it would be the MWMT. The note I’d like to end on is this: Both hikes are wickedly challenging, but both are very doable. (Hell, I did them!) As such, they’re highly recommended for any bucket list.

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#53026 - 05/04/18 02:30 PM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: Steve C]
sierrarun Offline


Registered: 05/03/18
Posts: 4
Loc: CA
Glad you liked my write-up, Steve C.

Originally Posted By: Steve C
Thanks, Sierrarun. That is an excellent comparison. It's really hard to find the text, so copying it here.

Here's a link to it: Mt. Whitney Day Hike vs. Grand Canyon R2R


Bob Young says:
October 22, 2015 at 2:34 am

Mt. Whitney Day Hike vs. Grand Canyon R2R


...<snip>

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#53027 - 05/04/18 02:31 PM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: Steve C]
TahoeKine Offline


Registered: 10/06/15
Posts: 7
Loc: So Cal
I did R2R2R (two days), and MWMR last year and I believe MW is definitely harder. R2R2R took 10 hours N-S and about the same going back. MWMR took 11 hours and the Main Trail has historically taken me 11-12. The last post touched on such an important aspect, and that's the torture of the downhill. In the dozen times I've done Whitney, every single time I come down my ankles/calves/shins/knees are screaming at me. R2R finishes both ways with an uphill grind; easier in my book than the 6500' pounding descent over granite (most of the trails in the GC are soft, dusty redrock; very easy on the knees).

A telling sign is the amount of trail runners on R2R vs the amount on Whitney. Granted, people come from all over the world to run the Canyon, but it's uncommen to see anyone running on Whitney.

Both these hikes are no joke, but if you take the tram down, both are more difficult than C2C.

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#53029 - 05/05/18 10:45 AM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: TahoeKine]
sierrarun Offline


Registered: 05/03/18
Posts: 4
Loc: CA
TahoeKine,

Thanks for adding your experiences to the thread.

I just did the C2C again a few days ago. You are so right regarding the tram. It sure lets you avoid the usual “punishment of the descent.”


Originally Posted By: TahoeKine
I did R2R2R (two days), and MWMR last year and I believe MW is definitely harder. R2R2R took 10 hours N-S and about the same going back. MWMR took 11 hours and the Main Trail has historically taken me 11-12. The last post touched on such an important aspect, and that's the torture of the downhill. In the dozen times I've done Whitney, every single time I come down my ankles/calves/shins/knees are screaming at me. R2R finishes both ways with an uphill grind; easier in my book than the 6500' pounding descent over granite (most of the trails in the GC are soft, dusty redrock; very easy on the knees).

A telling sign is the amount of trail runners on R2R vs the amount on Whitney. Granted, people come from all over the world to run the Canyon, but it's uncommen to see anyone running on Whitney.

Both these hikes are no joke, but if you take the tram down, both are more difficult than C2C.

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#53031 - 05/05/18 06:48 PM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: sierrarun]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 93
Loc: Novato, CA
I've done all three hikes, and comparing them as a round trip day hike, R2R2R is the hardest just by virtue of the greater distance (around 45 miles) C2C2C has almost the same total elevation gain and water is in shorter supply, but still it's only 31 miles. Whitney main trail's difficulty is the altitude and if you're not ready for it, then it can be just as hard. But assuming you're at least somewhat prepared for the altitude then it's easier just because it's shorter and less climbing.

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#53093 - 05/12/18 09:33 AM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: Steve Chamberlin]
over1812 Offline


Registered: 07/24/16
Posts: 40
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
So R2R is only considered to be North Rim to South Rim or vice versa? Or does that also include up and down on the same side, say Bright Angel from the South Rim down to the river and back up? Does that have a different name?

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#53096 - 05/12/18 11:12 AM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: over1812]
sierrarun Offline


Registered: 05/03/18
Posts: 4
Loc: CA
I often see that referred to as a Rim to River hike.

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#53105 - 05/12/18 11:07 PM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: sierrarun]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7584
Loc: Fresno, CA
Rim-to-rim is special because it covers both north and south sides of the Grand Canyon. It also requires special arrangements for transportation.

A Rim-to-River (and back) hike from the north would be more extreme than R2R, due to the additional elevation and distance compared to the R2R. Rim to River on the south is done by a lot more people, and it can be done on two trails, so you don't need to return on the same trail.

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#53133 - 05/14/18 08:42 PM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: Steve C]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 93
Loc: Novato, CA
Comparing just South to North rim to Whitney day hike from Portal I think Whitney is much harder. The RTRTR I mentioned earlier is really only feasible as a single push if you run a good portion of it.

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#53228 - 05/23/18 01:26 PM Re: Compare Whitney day hike vs Grand Canyon rim-to-rim [Re: bruce]
Erling Offline


Registered: 03/29/18
Posts: 9
Loc: Norway
I am going for Mount Whitney mid october and I insisted on doing it as a 2-day trek. I think one day on Whitney will bring me to my limits; always good to have som energy left for the end of the day. Before the end of may I am also going to apply for a permit for camping at Bright Angel campground at the bottom of Grand Canyon in the beginning of october. We plan to go down South Kaibab, and up Bright Angel. If we do not get a permit, I think we are perfectly able to do that hike in a day. This is probably also a time of year which is perfect for Grand Canyon, and not so ideal when it comes to cold weather, the chances of snow and ice on Mount Whitney and less daylight. I have never seen Mount Whitney, but been on South Rim a couple of times, so this is just my impression of the two treks from reading about them.

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