OverviewWhen white settlers started moving into the Owens Valley in the mid-1800's a solitary pine tree was found growing at the confluence of what would be named Tuttle and Lone Pine Creeks. The name of the neighboring town and nearby geographical features took their name from this tree. Although the tree blew down in a storm in 1876 the name "Lone Pine" remains.
This massive peak dominates the skyline west of Lone Pine. It appears larger and taller than Mts. Whitney, Russell and Langley, partly due to its bulk, and partly due to its location several miles east of the other other, much higher peaks. Though its summit does not quite reach 13,000 feet, it is nevertheless a very impressive mountain. Three spectacular ridges sweep up nearly 7,000 feet from the desert floor to the summit; the East Ridge, Northeast Ridge and North Ridge. The mile-wide South Face is the highest wall (3,000 feet) in the Sierra outside of Yosemite Valley. The scale is such that the 2,000 foot-high Bastille Buttress almost disappears as a minor rib on the vast North Ridge. There are many spectacular and unclimbed lines to be found on Lone Pine Peak.
The ubiquitous Norman Clyde is credited with the first ascent in 1925 via the southeast slopes, although this does not preclude the possibility that a Native American might have wandered up centuries, if not millennia, earlier.
The summit offers magnificent views of the entire Mt. Whitney region, and is accessible to the average hiker willing to toil up a couple thousand feet of scree on the west side. Due to its proximity to Whiney Portal and the network of dirt roads along the desert's edge, Lone Pine Peak offers many opportunities to do a day climb at almost any level of difficulty one might desire. Those who are interested in a more relaxed pace will find plenty of campsites near lovely lakes and meadows in the Meysan Creek basin.
Getting ThereIf you are coming from outside the US, out of state, or are simply unfamiliar with the Eastern Sierra, I encourage you to check out Matt Holliman's Eastern Sierra Logistics page.
All sensible approaches to the peak begin in the town of Lone Pine on US 395. Hikers will access the mountain via the Meysan Lakes trail, which leaves from the Whitney Portal area. Climbers angling for one of the South Face routes, or hankering for a trip from the desert floor via one of the long ridges will use a slightly different approach. I will leave the description of those approaches to the maintainers of individual routes.
To reach the Meysan Lakes trail take Whitney Portal Road west from town about 11 miles to the signed parking area on the south side of the road. In the unlikely event that there is no roadside parking, ample overnight parking can be found at the end of the road where the main Whitney trail begins. Of course, parking there means you will add about a mile to your hike in and out.
From the signed parking area, walk down a short gated road into the campground. Take the first left upon entering the campground, cross a small bridge over Lone Pine Creek, and head left again at a "T" interesection. Follow the narrow road east a few hundred yards as it slowly climbs into an area of small cabins. The road eventually terminates in a loop. Take either branch. The trail starts at the top of the loop, just a few yards east of a hairpin turn at the west end of the loop. It's about a ten minute walk from Whitney Portal Road to the trail.
|South Face Routes|
|Czech Pillar IV, 5.9||June 1998, Miguel Carmona and Alois Smrz|
|Direct South Face V, 5.7 A0, or 5.9||May 1970, Fred Beckey and Eric Bjornstadt; FWA March 1993, Alois Smrz and Peter Green|
|Land Of Little Rain V, 5.10c||June 1996, Alois Smrz, Miguel Carmona and Jim Matthews|
|Pathways Through to Space V, 5.10 A1||August 2004, Stephen Quale and Scotty Nelson|
|Summer Solstice III, 5.9||June 2005, Joe LeMay and Miguel Carmona|
|The Streets of the Mountains IV, 5.10 A0||September 2004, Miguel Carmona and Joe LeMay|
|Windhorse V, 5.10 A3||August 1999, Bruce Bindner and Em Holland|
|Winter Chimney III, 5.8||June 11 2005, Miguel Carmona and Joe LeMay|
|Winter Route IV, 5.7||March 1970, Chris Jones and Galen Rowell||A great introduction to long Sierra alpine rock climbs. May be done in summer or winter.|
|Zig Zag Dihedral IV, 5.9||July 1995, Bruce Bindner and Pat Brennan|
|Autumn Ledges III, 5.8||October 1997, Jon stark, Craig Morris and Larry Cote||See Secor|
|Club Alpin Francais Route IV, 5.9 A1||July 1973, Henri Agresti and Tim Birtley||See Secor|
|Dynamo-Hum IV, 5.10+||November 1978, Dick Swindon and Jack ROberts||See Secor|
|Summer Ridge Route V, 5.9||September 1994, Bruce Bindner and Patrick Brennan||See Secor||Classic Ridge Routes|
|North Ridge III, 5.5||September 1952, Art Lembeck and Ray Van Aken||A classic route. You can make it as easy or hard as you please.|
|Northeast Ridge IV, 5.7||July 1982, Phil Warrender and Gary Valle, FWA March 1994, Alois Smrz and Rich Henke|
|East Ridge ??||Early 1980's, Dave Kreuger||See Secor||Other Climbing Routes|
|Bastille Buttress V, 5.8 A3||April 1969, Fred Beckey, Joe Brown and Chuck Haas|
|Northeast Face Class 4, A0 (1 rappel)||July 1952, Warren Harding||See Secor|
|Three Arrows III, 5.9, A2||April 1976, Randy Grandstaff, Hooman Aprin and Fred Beckey||See Secor|
|Red Baron Tower III, 5.10||1972 Fred Beckey and Barry Hagen, FFA 1996 Pat Brennan and Bruce Bindner|
|Milktoast Chimney III, 5.8||1997, Craig Harris and Bruce Bindner||Hiking Routes|
|Northwest Slope Class 2||July 1947 Murray Bruch and Fred Johnson||A long scree slog up the chute|
|Southeast Slopes Class 2||1925 Norman CLyde||See Secor|
|Southeast Slopes, Descent Route Class 2||N/A||See Secor|
Red TapeLone Pine Peak lies in the John Muir Wilderness within the Inyo National Forest. Wilderness permits are required for overnight camping from May1 through November 1, but not for day hikes. Don't worry, this isn't Whitney. The Meysan Lakes trail is subject to quotas, though. In 2005 the limit was 10 entries per day, with 6 being reservable and the remaining 4 available for walk-in. No set-aside for commercial outfitters. Due to the small number of permits, it does fill up sometimes. You can check permit availability on the web. The info is usually at least close to up-to-date. Tuttle Creek has a reservable quota of 5 entries per day, with 3 available for walk-in.I'll bet you never see a ranger back there, though.
Permit reservations may be obtained by calling (760) 873-2483, by FAX (call the previous # for the FAX number), or by writing to:
Inyo National Forest
351 Pacu Lane
Bishop, CA 93514
Permits can be picked up in Lone Pine at the Mt. Whitney Ranger Station at:
640 S. Main Street (US 395)
P.O. Box 8
Lone Pine, CA 93545
When To ClimbThe mountain can and is climbed at all times of the year. Late spring and early summer snow can make the hike up the scree gully on the western side far more enjoyable.
While there is nothing to match the solitude, quiet, and incomparable beauty of the winter, avalanches are a reality. The Whitney Portal Road is technically closed following the first winter storms, but all this means in practice is that a "Closed" sign is placed in the middle of the road. Back country users routinely drive around it and go as far as conditions allow, which may be only a few yards, or possibly all the way to Whitney Portal. Just be aware that you may not be able to get a tow truck up there if you need one. Large avalanches sweep the road every winter, burying it in deep snow, busted tree trunks, and enormous boulders. Exercise caution in choosing a parking space.
There are many resources available to find out current conditions in the area:
Staff at the Mt. Whitney Ranger Station can provide current conditions during the summer months (though they may be a bit on the conservative side if asked about the need for foul weather gear, crampons, etc.) Information on current conditions can also be found on the web:
You might also want to check the message boards at:
CampingCamping at the Mt. Whitney Portal is limited; don't count on a site during the summer weekends. Camping is also avaliable down lower on the desert floor at several local campgrounds. The Eastern Sierra Logistics page contains information and links for local camping.
- Land of Little Rain
Miguel on the crux 3rd pitch.
- A failed attempt on the North Ridge - June 11, 2004
- Wingding's Lone Pine Peak Pics
- Lone Pine/LeConte/Corcoran Traverse - Aug 10, 2004
- Unsuccessful attempt on the North Ridge
- Panorama from Lone Pine Peak
Interactive panorama from Lone Pine Peak
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