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#55122 - 05/10/19 02:59 PM Whitney from west
chicagoan Offline


Registered: 02/02/17
Posts: 16
Loc: IL
I am planning to hike Whitney with my teen daughter in late July or early August, but unfortunately, we did not win lottery. While I am planning to get walk-up permits, I am also looking into going up from west, most likely horseshoe meadows, or kearsarge. Which path from west is the easiest? Does anyone have GPS map track (e.g., caltopo) I can consult? I summited Whitney in '17 though chute but have no plan to push hard this time.

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#55123 - 05/10/19 03:14 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: chicagoan]
WanderingJim Online


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 250
Loc: California
Horseshoe Meadows would be the easiest. 3-4 days I think is what I hear (never managed to do it from this direction yet).
If you're really a masochist, you can do Langley on the way as well.

From Onion valley it's 5-7 days. Forester Pass is a long slog up (day 2 usually), but after that only the Whitney climb is going to kill you. smile


Edit: Messed up the passes. Forester is the 13k slog (your results may vary).


Edited by WanderingJim (05/10/19 06:15 PM)
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#55124 - 05/10/19 04:11 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: WanderingJim]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
I was in the same predicament in 1996 when my 14 yo son and I did not get a Whitney permit from the east. The ranger suggested Onion Valley start. Wonderful. Have repeated it several times. Being properly acclimatized, Kearsarge is not a big deal. Neither is Forester on the way to Whitney. Just be well acclimatized first. This is important. I have done the route in as little 3 nights (not typical) but most times 4 or 5 , and either as solo or with groups as big as 10. OV to WP is about 50 miles.

The route starting at Cottonwood is another great option. Either way you will face the significant hurdle of getting not only an entry permit to start your trip from the west side, but you will also need an exit permit going east over Trailcrest and down to Whitney Portal

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#55125 - 05/10/19 07:30 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: chicagoan]
Anton Offline


Registered: 08/02/17
Posts: 24
Loc: San Diego
Here is the map

https://caltopo.com/m/2C1A

From Onion Valley over Kearsarge and Forester passes the distance to the Whitney summit is ~37 miles.
Form Horseshoe meadows via New Army pass is ~ 22 miles.

Both options are excellent and walk in permits are easy to get (you can also look for cancellations online to book in advance). The only problem is that you also need to get an exit permit if you want to descent from Whitney via main trail. If time permits (5-7 days), I would leave the car at Onion Valley or Horseshoe meadows, shuttle to the opposite trailhead and do the whole stretch. You will love it.

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#55126 - 05/10/19 10:51 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: chicagoan]
Jonathan C Offline


Registered: 03/03/19
Posts: 19
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
A Whitney exit permit is not easy to get at that time. The reservations are long gone and there are only 10 walk-ups for any given exit day, which may have all been given out to people who left earlier further up north.

The shortest way to summit without an exit permit is in and out from Horseshoe Meadows, never going down the east side of Whitney. No quota if you do it that way. About 30 miles from trailhead to summit.

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#55127 - 05/10/19 10:56 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: Anton]
Jonathan C Offline


Registered: 03/03/19
Posts: 19
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Quote:
From Onion Valley over Kearsarge and Forester passes the distance to the Whitney summit is ~37 miles.
Form Horseshoe meadows via New Army pass is ~ 22 miles.


Onion Valley to summit is more like 39.

Horseshoe to summit is 30 (over New Army). Not sure where you got 22 from?

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#55128 - 05/11/19 06:26 AM Re: Whitney from west [Re: Jonathan C]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Not sure why two replies listed mileage from OV to Whitney Summit. That is not the end of the trip. Whitney Portal is the end if going out the east side. Add 11 miles to the 37 or 39 and you get the full mileage.

Mileage is only one crude estimate of the trip. State of acclimatization, altitude, terrain and weather all factor in. An “average” backpacker group takes 5 nights.

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#55129 - 05/11/19 07:07 AM Re: Whitney from west [Re: Jonathan C]
Anton Offline


Registered: 08/02/17
Posts: 24
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Jonathan C
Quote:
From Onion Valley over Kearsarge and Forester passes the distance to the Whitney summit is ~37 miles.
Form Horseshoe meadows via New Army pass is ~ 22 miles.


Onion Valley to summit is more like 39.

Horseshoe to summit is 30 (over New Army). Not sure where you got 22 from?


My bad, I have been planning a lap from HM via more direct line (Rock Creek, Miter Basin, Crabtree pass ect) and automatically posted the milage from that route ...

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#55130 - 05/11/19 07:32 AM Re: Whitney from west [Re: Anton]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 106
Loc: Novato, CA
You won't need an exit permit hiking from a trailhead from the West side. I've done a couple of trips from Road's End in King's Canyon NP via Forester pass, another of the same via Colby pass (this one is more scenic and remote), and one from the Mineral King trailhead in Sequoia NP. The Whitney route from Cedar Grove (Road's End) via Forester is the shortest of any possible route from western trailheads, about 60 miles or so from "car to car". The only disadvantage of course is the logistics since it is about a 6 hour drive between trailheads.


Edited by bruce (05/11/19 07:38 AM)

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#55131 - 05/11/19 08:26 AM Re: Whitney from west [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Jonathan C Offline


Registered: 03/03/19
Posts: 19
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
Not sure why two replies listed mileage from OV to Whitney Summit.

To make it easier for the OP to do their own math accounting for possibly not having an exit permit. So either add 11 w/ exit permit, double either one for in/out, or add the two numbers for through-hike.

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#55132 - 05/11/19 09:28 AM Re: Whitney from west [Re: bruce]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: bruce
You won't need an exit permit hiking from a trailhead from the West side. I've done a couple of trips from Road's End in King's Canyon NP via Forester pass, another of the same via Colby pass


Some slight clarification. It depends on the definition of west side. If you approach Whitney Summit from the west on the JMT but having accessed the JMT from the east side in Inyo ( like Onion Valley or Horseshoe Meadows) you will need a Trailcrest exit permit to descend on the east side to Whitney Portal . I did. Other option is tag the summit and head back on the west side to any of those start points and no Trailcrest exit permit needed, as stated.

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#55138 - 05/11/19 03:20 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: Anton]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1565
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
I get 29+ for CalTopo mileage from HM by New Army Pass to Whitney summit,
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#55139 - 05/11/19 06:42 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: Harvey Lankford]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 106
Loc: Novato, CA
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
Originally Posted By: bruce
You won't need an exit permit hiking from a trailhead from the West side. I've done a couple of trips from Road's End in King's Canyon NP via Forester pass, another of the same via Colby pass


Some slight clarification. It depends on the definition of west side. If you approach Whitney Summit from the west on the JMT but having accessed the JMT from the east side in Inyo ( like Onion Valley or Horseshoe Meadows) you will need a Trailcrest exit permit to descend on the east side to Whitney Portal . I did. Other option is tag the summit and head back on the west side to any of those start points and no Trailcrest exit permit needed, as stated.


Yes of course. I meant starting the trip from a west side trailhead. Any trailhead accessible from hwy 395 would be excluded. I consider all those (Onion Valley, Horseshoe, etc) East side trailheads.

I was confused because the thread title says "Whitney from west", but now I realize west means summitting from the West side, rather than starting the trip from a trailhead on the west side of the Sierras.

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#55143 - 05/12/19 06:56 AM Re: Whitney from west [Re: bruce]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 106
Loc: Novato, CA
I checked the distance from Road's End trailhead near Cedar Grove and it's only 39 miles to the summit via Forester pass. So 50 miles total to the Whitney Portal. The drive I also checked and it's indeed 6 hours (sure is a lot to get from two points that are only 24 miles apart as the crow flys, lol).

What we've done is have my brother's wife drop us off at Roads End and then pick us up at the Portal, so we don't have to go back to Roads End. I live in the Bay Area so I dropped my car off in a parking lot in Bakersfield where they picked me up coming from SoCal.


Edited by bruce (05/12/19 07:06 AM)

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#55147 - 05/12/19 02:34 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: bruce]
Jonathan C Offline


Registered: 03/03/19
Posts: 19
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: bruce
I checked the distance from Road's End trailhead near Cedar Grove and it's only 39 miles to the summit via Forester pass.

Interesting, never realized that you could get to the summit with such low mileage from a west-side trailhead. (I always think about the HST which is more like 60+ miles to summit.) On the other hand, the trailhead you refer to is the same one for the Rae Lakes Loop, which is extremely popular and almost as difficult to get as any kind of Whitney permit during peak season. And only 5 walk-ups per day. Still, going to make a mental note of this!

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#55149 - 05/12/19 04:08 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: Jonathan C]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 106
Loc: Novato, CA
Originally Posted By: Jonathan C
Originally Posted By: bruce
I checked the distance from Road's End trailhead near Cedar Grove and it's only 39 miles to the summit via Forester pass.

Interesting, never realized that you could get to the summit with such low mileage from a west-side trailhead. (I always think about the HST which is more like 60+ miles to summit.) On the other hand, the trailhead you refer to is the same one for the Rae Lakes Loop, which is extremely popular and almost as difficult to get as any kind of Whitney permit during peak season. And only 5 walk-ups per day. Still, going to make a mental note of this!


I think they have a different quota system for Rae Lakes, as it's only about 9 miles in where the Rae Lakes loop goes left while you go right.
I've gotten a walk-in on Labor Day weekend so it shouldn't be difficult to reserve a permit on a less popular weekend.

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#55151 - 05/12/19 08:14 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: bruce]
Jonathan C Offline


Registered: 03/03/19
Posts: 19
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: bruce
I think they have a different quota system for Rae Lakes, as it's only about 9 miles in where the Rae Lakes loop goes left while you go right.
I've gotten a walk-in on Labor Day weekend so it shouldn't be difficult to reserve a permit on a less popular weekend.

I'm nearly positive there's no distinction. The only thing that matters is the trailhead. Anyone doing Rae Lakes has two options since they can go clockwise or counterclockwise. Counterclockwise is the Bubb's Creek permit, which is the one you're referring to.

https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/upload/NoYear-Wilderness-Trip-Planner-Final-3.pdf

I'm not saying it's impossible, but again there are only 5 walkups per day. You can see on their availability page that Bubb's Creek has almost no reservation slots open between July and mid-September: https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/reservation-availability.htm

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#55154 - 05/13/19 07:19 AM Re: Whitney from west [Re: Jonathan C]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 106
Loc: Novato, CA
Originally Posted By: Jonathan C
Originally Posted By: bruce
I think they have a different quota system for Rae Lakes, as it's only about 9 miles in where the Rae Lakes loop goes left while you go right.
I've gotten a walk-in on Labor Day weekend so it shouldn't be difficult to reserve a permit on a less popular weekend.

I'm nearly positive there's no distinction. The only thing that matters is the trailhead. Anyone doing Rae Lakes has two options since they can go clockwise or counterclockwise. Counterclockwise is the Bubb's Creek permit, which is the one you're referring to.

https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/upload/NoYear-Wilderness-Trip-Planner-Final-3.pdf

I'm not saying it's impossible, but again there are only 5 walkups per day. You can see on their availability page that Bubb's Creek has almost no reservation slots open between July and mid-September: https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/reservation-availability.htm


Wow, I guess you're right. It's been quite a while since I got a permit there.

However there are plenty of spots open for the Franklin Pass traihead. I've taken that route once and I think it's more scenic and it's only about 42 miles to the summit. Franklin Pass is about 11800 and then you follow the Rattlesnake creek trail to the Kern River Canyon. Follow that up Junction Meadow, where you'll turn right to get to the PCT and then Crabtree over to Whitney.

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#55186 - 05/16/19 02:23 PM Re: Whitney from west [Re: chicagoan]
chicagoan Offline


Registered: 02/02/17
Posts: 16
Loc: IL
Thanks everyone! Time to make plans smile

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