Mt Whitney, Sierra Nevada Range
"Top of the United States! (sort of)"
Perhaps its overstated, but any way up Mt Whitney is a quintessential, Rite of Passage as a Californian outdoorsman. Yes, it can be crowded. Yes, everybody knows about it. Its still California's most sought after mountain. However, the Forest Service does a great job of keeping it wild. While this may make permits difficult to obtain on say, a July weekend, outdoorsman can be thankful that such rigid controls have kept the mountain wild. (More on how to beat the lottery system later) While the 22 mile trail may be the "easiest" way up, it is often overrun. Therefore, the real California adventure is the Mountaineer's Route. "MR", as its called, is a true mountain climb, necessitating the use of climbing equipment. Fortunately it is possible to climb it with only basic training. The sense of accomplishment at the 14,496ft summit is surreal. Every Californian must, at some point, climb this mountain.
|Sierra view from the top of Mt. Whitney
Getting to mt Whitney is somewhat of a drive, but it is a very interesting one. From southern California, take I-15 towards Las Vegas. After you cross the pass into the desert, take highway 395 North. This highway will take you through the desert and parallel the southern Sierras until you reach Lone Pine, which is the small town gateway to Mt Whitney. The Whitney Portal road will take you all the way to nearly 8,000 ft where there is an amazing burger joint. They make THE largest burgers I have ever eaten. Most trails/routes to the top start here.
|The much less traveled west side approach to Mt Whitney from Sequoia National Park