A good number of people planning to hike Mount Whitney look at the map and notice a few nearby peaks and think, "Yeah, I'll tick off a few summits while I'm up there" but by the time they slog into Trail Camp the altitude and exertion catches up, and it takes all their energy just to look at the surrounding summits.
Wotan's Throne looms over Trail Camp on the Main Mount Whitney Trail. This big block has some fun routes, though it never gets the respect of it's larger and more well-known cohorts: Muir, Thor and obviously Whitney (as can be attested by the dearth of summit signatures). If you like to scramble for the sake of scrambling, this is a good use of about an hour and a half of your time (if you're sitting in Trail Camp).
If you have the time and stamina, Wotan's Throne is a nice, short diversion on a Whitney trip or a good acclimatizing dayhike that puts you smack-dab in the middle of spectacular views of the surrounding area.
The south-facing Chimney Route is moderate to easy class 4 with plenty of class 3 scree scrambling on the approach (see photos). The North Face is all class 3 to the summit, and adds another .25 miles from Trail Camp.
The trailhead and directions are the same for Mount Whitney.
From the Whitney Portal trailhead your destination is Trail Camp, which sits at the southern base (across the pond) from Wotan's. The hike is about 7 miles with a 4175' gain to the summit. Between the months of May and October (inclusive) dayhike and/or overnight permits are required as this is really a side trip on the way to Mt. Whitney.
The approach to either the South Chimney or the North Face involve "path of least resistance" boulder/rock/scree scrambling. The South Chimney has a specific route if you want to remain in class 3/4 (there are plenty of class 5 variations), while the North Face remains "best guess."
As mentioned, if you have applied for the Whitney lottery in February (and received permit reservations) then you have guaranteed access, though many dayhike and overnight permits become available during the season due to cancelations. It's best to show up at the ranger station in Lone Pine just before 11 am for same day permits.
Camping is available at Trail Camp or Outpost Camp along the main trail.
The two main gathering places for Whitney area info are the Whitney Portal Store Message Board
(which has plenty of useful info when you either use the Search button, or sift through the many newbie posts) and The Whitney Zone
. NOTE: Do not post any messages on either board along the lines of "What's the weather going to be like on such-and-such a day, next month or next year." No one knows and it makes you look extremely green. (As Doug Thompson of the Portal Store says, "If you have to ask, you shouldn't be on the mountain.") You've been warned.
That being said, weather can be tricky and change dramatically, depending on the season, so use the following links (along with what people have posted on the above sites about current conditions):
The best forecast info for the area is Dennis Mattinson's Eastern Sierra Weather Center
, which originates from Independence.
You can also use NOAA
, but it originates out of Las Vegas, NV.
Etymology, Attribution and Grammar
In the Scandinavian mythology the chief god was Odin, the Woden, Wotan, or Wuotan of the Germans. He is represented with many of the attributes of the Greek god Zeus, and is supposed by some to be identical with him. He dwelt with the twelve Æsir, or gods, upon Asgard, the Norse Olympus, which arose out of Midgard, a land half-way between the regions of frost and fire. The Scandinavian Olympus was probably Atlantis. Odin is represented as a grave-looking elderly man with a long beard, carrying in his hand a spear, and accompanied by two dogs and two ravens. He was the father of poetry, and the inventor of Runic writing.
Wednesday (*Wēdnes dæg, "Woden's day") is named for him, his link with the dead making him the appropriate match to the Roman Mercury. (Compare with the French mercredi or Italian mercoledì for Wednesday.)
"The name was suggested by Chester Versteeg in 1936. It is not known whether he was borrowing from the peak of the same name in the Grand Canyon National Park."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada
Given the singular of Wotan (there was only one Teutonic god), it appears the title Wotans Throne as listed on USGS maps is in error gramatically. However, a quick look on most maps will expose a number of awkwardly named locations throughout the states (Gregorys Monument, Devils Postpile, Scottys Castle, Pikes Peak). In 1891, the newly-formed US Board on Geographic Names recommended against the use of apostrophes in names, so officially the name of the peak does not include an apostrophe.