Mt Whitney in Seven Days

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Aug 7, 2008
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer
Photo trip report of my 6-night hike from Onion Valley to Horseshoe Meadow via Mount Whitney.

Day 1: Kearsage Pass and Vidette Meadow

We were dropped off at Onion Valley by Mt Whitney Shuttle the night before, with our car left at Horseshoe Meadow, and started hiking at 8 am on Aug 4. Progress was slow at first because of my knees, but we managed to travel 9.5 beautiful miles to Vidette Meadow. I fell asleep that night altitude-sick, to my great surprise given the low elevation (9000'ish) and concerned my knees would not be able to handle the rest of the trip.
Bullfrog Lake area from Kearsarge Pass

Kearsarge Lakes and Pinnacles

Meadow in Kearsarge Lakes area

Ferns near Vidette Meadow

Day 2: Forester Pass and Tyndall Creek

We awoke early and I felt much better. We started hiking at 7:30 am in the hopes of making it over Forester Pass before the thunderstorms began. We made it over the pass, but not before the lightning began!

The afternoon held some of the most scenic moments of the trip. The weather was exciting, and the campsite we ended up at was the best one of the trip, with by far the most solitude, and with scenic beauty approaching that of the Whitney area.
East Vidette Peak in the morning

Bubbs Creek and Junction Peak

Pretty John Muir Trail

Mt Stanford and the East Spur

Mt Stanford from the JMT

Mt Tyndall on a stormy afternoon

a peak near Caltech Peak

scene near our second camp

Blue sky emerges near Mt Tyndall

Point 12,320 in alpenglow, seen from our second camp

Point 12,320 above Tyndall Creek in alpenglow

Day 3: Tyndall Creek to Guitar Lake

Another 12 mile day, which is a lot when you're favoring your knees. Some sections were drier and less scenic than what we had gotten used to on the previous days, but no one kind of scenery persisted long enough for us to get bored. Everywhere we'd been on the John Muir Trail so far was completely unique. What a great hiking route! Our objective for Day 3 was to position ourselves for an early summit push the next morning. It turned out that we ended up at Guitar Lake, which is beautiful, but very crowded.
The JMT below Tawny Point

Mt Whitney above Timberline Lake

Two tall trees

Mt Russell and Whitney Creek

Mt Whitney from Guitar Lake

The sun s finishing touch on Mt Whitney

Day 4: Mt Whitney

On Day 4 we didn't move camp; we just day-hiked to Mt Whitney with a very early start, and relaxed all afternoon and evening. We had a total of 22 hours contiguous rest before departing the next day! Despite the hordes, Mt Whitney was the highlight of the trip; the views from the upper mountain at sunrise are incredible, and the accomplishment was very satisfying.
Hitchcock Lakes at dawn

Mt Hitchcock at sunrise

Mt Hitchcock and Hitchcock Lakes from high on Whitney

summit marmot

alpenglow on Whitney at the Guitar Lake outlet

Evening on Whitney at Guitar Lake

Guitar Lake glow

sunset at the Guitar Lake outlet

Day 5: Crabtree and Rock Creek

With a 10 am start, we headed back to Crabtree, and then left the John Muir Trail to go towards Horseshoe Meadow. Past Crabtree, the landscape is dry and less varied; this was the first time I found the word 'slog' trying to escape from my mouth. Rock Creek, with its shade and nice stream, was a refreshing way to end the day.
Guyot Creek

Rock Creek

Rock Creek

Rock Creek

Days 6 and 7: Chicken Spring Lake and Cottonwood Pass

Day 6 was one we were mostly just trying to get over with. Long monotonous dry sandy sections, which seemed unnecessary given Siberian Outpost as an obvious alternative through which the trail could have been constructed. We traveled nearly 8 miles between water sources. For a while in the morning, my knees were the best they'd been all week, but I burned out from enjoying that too much, and hobbled my way to Chicken Spring Lake. The lake was a nice place to camp; it was worth stopping there even though we were close enough to the trailhead to finish that night.
Siberian Outpost

Day 7: 3.7 miles, mostly downhill, had us back at the car before 11 am.


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Alex Wood

Alex Wood - Sep 25, 2008 10:44 pm - Voted 10/10


Nice pictures!


cp0915 - Sep 26, 2008 2:34 pm - Voted 10/10


Thanks for sharing your excellent pictures.

hike - Feb 13, 2009 3:52 pm - Hasn't voted


Great photos. Would have liked to see ya on the summit. Brings back great memories of my hike to the Mt Whitney summit in August of 2004. Hope to get to Crabtree Meadows in the near future. How is the hike up from Guitar Lake to the summit?


seanpeckham - Feb 14, 2009 5:59 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Awesome!

Thanks for all the nice comments. The hike from Guitar Lake to the summit was a highlight from my trip, especially since we started so early, we experienced dawn from high up on the trail.

Viewing: 1-4 of 4