View Full Version : Mt. Washington Vs. Mt. Whitney.

08-04-2008, 09:30 PM
I am planning a trip up the Mountaineer's route on Mt. Whitney next summer. I did the Huntington Ravine Trail this summer and figured the Mountaineer's route would be similar. I was wondering if the climbing on the Mountaineer's route is much harder than Huntington's. Is Huntington's an easy class 3 scramble as far as class 3 trails go?

KD Talbot
08-04-2008, 09:39 PM
Bill, have you climbed Whitney? Might have to put this out on another forum and get back to you.


Arthur Dent
08-04-2008, 11:14 PM
I had climbed Whitney several years ago but it was from Yosemite Valley.

Bill O
08-05-2008, 07:53 AM
I'm not that familiar with Mount Whitney. I just know its a big vertical rise from the base and you need a permit/reservations because there are so many people.

As far as Huntington's....its a VERY easy class 3 scramble. Since I don't know the mountaineers route on Whitney I can't compare, but I've done many class 3 routes in the Rockies (on 14'ers) and they are longer, higher and more exposed than Huntington.

How did you feel in Huntington? Was it fun and exciting or challenging and terrifying? If its the former you should be okay, otherwise do some more research.

08-05-2008, 08:05 AM
I was looking at going to Whitney too, but like Bill said, you need a permit. Apparently, though, it's a non-technical twenty mile slog. Can even be done as a day hike by the intrepid.

Well, that's the main trail, at least. I see you're talking about something else, so all I can say is have fun - I wish I could go. :)

Arthur Dent
08-05-2008, 10:49 AM
Day hikers drive up from the east (I-395/Death Valley) side at about sea level to Whitney Portal(~8400'), 13 miles west of Lone Pine. From there the hike is about 11.5 miles to the summit of Whitney(14,496').

The rangers refer to Whitney as 'headache city' because the day hikers there haven't acclimated to the altitude and some that I saw on the summit looked almost drunk because of the lack of oxygen. With the sheer drop to the east and the loose slabs on the summit I'm surprised there aren't more accidents there. Hiking from Yosemite Valley on the JMT gave me about 19 days to get used to the altitude so when I got there I didn't have those problems, although I was going slower.

Bill O
08-05-2008, 12:15 PM
6,000 vertical foot dayhike....that's a lot. I've done 5,000+ in the Wasatch, but we peaked out at 11,500 not 14,000.

KD Talbot
08-05-2008, 03:29 PM
"Not having done this, but knowing the objective differences

I would say the two routes are very different.

The mountaineers route has much more scree involved and less stable talus. Altitude is also a key factor. Hopefully you will have sufficient time (several days) to acclimate.

Snow is a possibility, depending on the year. Usually into June... there have been several deaths on this route.

Its steep. I would compare it to the steepness of the steepest slab in huntingtons ravine, a couple hundred feet up after you leave the talus.

I looked into doing this route planning a trip as well... if you do this you dont need a trail permit, but you have to descend the same way.... be careful, esp with snow (axes/crampons are useful in june usually) snow tends to freeze back up (this has been the cause of the fatalities on the route).

We came off class three in CO this summer and were all like "That was class three!!!" thinking the exposure and commiting nature of the route was a bit much for three.

I would say the technical difficulty of the routes are the same, there is probably a lot more of it though on whitney and the altitude and possibility of ice make this route much more serious in my opinion (depending on the time of year).

Remember though, I have not climbed it, but have thoroughly explored guides, pics, etc. I am obsessed with the high sierra...."

"The MR on Whitney is definitely more difficult that Huntingtons, both in terms of physical difficulty, and when considering that some of the most difficult occurs near the summit, so one has the effects of altitude to deal with as well.

Lots of good info here. Checkout the extensive FAQ's."


Kevin Rooney

"Most save the MR route for winter. It's kind of a pain in the summer...certainly doable, but less fun...unless you really enjoy steep, loose scree.

Route-finding is also more of an issue on the MR."


"You can also direct them here if they haven't heard of or seen summitpost:"




Bill O
08-06-2008, 08:01 AM
Its not ideal but dayhikes to 14,000 often do not involve several days of acclimating. As long as you plan on descending to your base altitude that day and you are prepared for a monster headache. The long, 1,000 feet per day, process is for climbers who are planning on sleeping at increasing altitudes.

For example: People from Denver living at 5,280 ft climb 14er's in the morning and drive back to Denver that night. A splitting headache is to be expected. People from Seattle living at sea level will drive to 5,000 feet and hike to 9,000 on day one then leave for 14,000 later that night then descend all the way back to sea level on day two.

There is a time component to altitude sickness and most healthy people can survive a day trip to 14,000 feet without getting sick. I think pilots are allowed to go to 12,000 for several hours before required to use oxygen.

KD Talbot
08-06-2008, 07:44 PM
"One other point, which will give some insight to difficulty - descents of the MR are unusual, even in winter. Most take the Whitney trail down."
Kevin Rooney

"I guess that I will take the contrarian view here and state based on my own experiences on the two routes that the exposure is greater on the Huntington Ravine headwall. I am assuming that you are going to attempt the Mountaineers Route late enough in the season for snow and ice not to be an issue, just as you are not comparing the Mountaineers route to a winter climb of Yale Gully in Huntington's. Obviously, the altitude difference is a huge factor, but I do not consider that to be part of your question. I cannot remember a worse headache than the one I had beginning about 12,500 ft on the Mountaineers Route, which did not go away until many hours after I returned to Whitney Portal via the Stanard Route with its "hundreds" of switchbacks, which at the time made me wish that I had also descended the Mountaineers Route. My one-day ascent/descent is probably not recommended, given how poorly acclimatized I was (from sea level to a drive across Toulome for a few hours attempted sleep at Whitney Portal just does not cut it). Moreover, if you can get a camping permit, a sunrise beneath the great East Face of Whitney would be memorable."

Dr. Dasypodidae

"The key with this route as is most Mountaineering will be current conditions at the time of your climb. This time of year parties get into trouble because they usually under estimate the potential for snow and ice high on the route combined with getting to that point late in the day when they are tired, at altitude, and the snow and ice is set up. Although if it is a very dry and hot year the route can be free of snow or ice or very limited therefore making it a pretty straight forward scramble. IMO as already mentioned the best time to do this route is in later Winter or early Spring when the potential for consistent snow and ice provides a more even treadway. Huntingtons I would still describe as a "HIKE". The Mountaineers Route is just that...it's namesake...a "Mountaineering Route"


"One distinction I tend to make between routes whatever routes they may be is how much and what could potentially go wrong. Big mountain routes out west, ie. mountaineers route on whitney,require much more as I like to say "risk management". You must have good route finding skills, good weather reading skills and the ability to back off and retreat from any point on the route. Thats not to say Hunningtons doesnt share some of these principles, but imo to a much lesser degree, I mean from any point on Hunningtons you can be down and safe in a half hour or so.
There are many peaks in CA that would be suitible for tune up climbs and thats the route Ive always taken before, working my way up to harder climbs as I went, unless your with someone with alot of experience ( and you trust them) you should be very confident you can overcome all potential problems that exist.

p.s. if you want to gain experience safely and do it on the mountaineers route, you can always hire a guide in Bishop, that way you can climb the route and learn at the same time. I tell you, one day with a guide can save you a couple of years learning on your own."