Climb Mt Whitney and discover the spectacular Sierra Nevada on this active adventure

Warning - this is a new trip for us!
While we have thoroughly researched this area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is a relatively new trip for us. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but the warning is sincere. If it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year until we get any bugs ironed out.
Craggy ridges, granite cliffs, snow-topped peaks…when people picture California, they don’t always think of the Sierra Nevada. On the border between the state’s Inyo and Tulare counties sits Mt Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States. But when you travel with us, high doesn’t have to mean impossible. Join us on this one-off active expedition as we attempt a summit of the mountain. With the support of expert guides and pack mules to carry your stuff, we’ll kick off at Cottonwood Lakes, following quiet, scenic trails through Sequoia National Park and along part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Hike beside rivers, camp by spectacular lakes and watch the sunrise over Death Valley from the peak of Mt Whitney. Get ready for some serious outdoor adventuring.
Please note this trip is run in conjunction with Rock Creek Pack Station operating as Mt. Whitney Pack Trains. They are the holders of the permits for the Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Park.

Start
Los Angeles, United States
Finish
Los Angeles, United States
Countries
United States
Themes
Expedition, Walking & Trekking
Code
SSXW
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 4 Max 13
Carbon offset
0kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Hike lesser-used trails to the summit of the highest mountain in the lower 48 states. Avoid crowds, take time to acclimatise, walk through the forests of Sequoia National Park, camp in quiet spots and enjoy a better chance of a successful summit by starting from Cottonwood Lakes trailhead
  • Take the longer way round to enjoy time hiking through forests and past high alpine lakes – a beautiful hike that’s more than worth the effort itself even if a summit should prove unsuccessful
  • Enjoy support from mules – who’ll carry luggage and camping equipment and leave you with just a daypack – and from experienced guides who’ll manage the trek to give you the best chance of summiting
  • This trip means no concerns over applying for a trekking permit through the lottery, everything’s taken care of
  • Experience a magnificent sunrise over the Inyo Forest and Death Valley after rising early to summit Mt Whitney
  • Trek up part of the famed Pacific Crest Trail, used by Cheryl Strayed (and then Reese Witherspoon) in 'Wild', with the same beauty and reward, but without the risks and challenges she experienced solo

Itinerary

Welcome to the USA! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting today at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Special Information
Notes: As this trip spends little time in Los Angeles, we recommend you arrive a few days early to see the sights. The 'City of Angels' is world-renowned for the glamorous districts of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, not to mention the shopping on Rodeo Drive. From Venice Beach to Disneyland, it's a veritable smorgasbord for the senses. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). You might consider doing our one-day Urban Adventure sightseeing tour of Los Angeles (see urbanadventures.com).
Today is a long travel day. Start early with a drive (approximately 5-6 hours) out of Los Angeles and to the trailhead at Cottonwood Lakes. Here you'll meet your mules and have a briefing before starting the trek. It is about 6.5 kilometres (4 miles) to your first night's camp at Chicken Spring Lake. The elevation gain for today is about 400 metres (1,300 feet).
Today you'll walk along the Pacific Crest Trail, and around the southside of Cirque Peak. The terrain is sandy and uneven through this section with lots of up and downs, but you can expect amazing views of the Golden Trout Wilderness. Then enter Sequoia National Park, where you start a gradual descent through forest, with great views of Miter Basin. Tonight you'll camp at Lower Rock Creek, where it crosses the Pacific Crest Trail. Today's walk is about 12 kilometre (7-8 miles) with an elevation gain of approximately 200 metres (620 feet).
Start today with a short descent down Rock Creek before ascending the switchbacks to the meadows of Guyot Pass (3,316 metres/10,880 feet). You are now above the treeline, and will stay there as you continue about another 6 miles to Crabtree Meadows. Turning towards Mt Whitney, climb steadily to your camp at Guitar Lake (3,500 metres/11,460 feet). Here the mules leave you and return to Crabtree Meadows to wait. Today's walk is 16 kilometres (10 miles) with an elevation gain of 900 metres (2,985 feet).
Start very early in the morning for the 6.5 kilometre (4 mile) climb to the summit of Mt Whitney. The summit is at 4,130 metres (13,550 feet), however it is a relatively gentle climb to the top due to a large number of switchbacks, although the thin air still makes it tough going. After a rest, some photos and a chance to take in the views from the summit, retrace your steps down the mountain and back to Crabtree Meadow, where you'll camp the night and will be reunited with the mules. Today's walk is around 23 kilometres (14.5 miles) with an elevation gain of 1,040 metres (3,400 feet). While you climb to the summit, the packers will pack up the camp and move it down to Crabtree Meadow.
The mules return to pick up your gear, and you'll retrace your steps back to Rock Creek Crossing, and then leave the Pacific Crest Trail and climb up alongside Rock Creek to a camp at the base of Miter Basin. This is a beautiful walk next to the water, accompanied by marmots, and with granite cliffs rising alongside lakes. Today's walking is approximately 18 kilometres (11 miles).
This is a very long day as you rise early for a 7 hour hike back to the road, followed by the 5-6 hour drive back to Los Angeles. Expect to arrive back in Los Angeles in the evening, where a hot shower and dinner await. Today's walk is about 18 km (11 miles) from Rock Creek back to the trailhead.
Your adventure comes to an end this morning. There are no activities planned and you can depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
n/a
Transport
Private vehicle
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (5 nights), Hotel (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Mt Whitney Trail Permit
  • Sequoia National Park

Dates

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Important notes

1. A Passenger Self Assessment Form is required for this trip.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes