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Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

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Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

Postby Localdan » Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:40 pm

Hi guys! I'm planning a trip in about a year. Inviting a bunch of my (active) friends to cross the Sierra. I'm guessing the group will be 10ish people. Haven't really started planning it. We probably can't swing a weeklong trip - more like 4 days, 3 nights. What are my choices? I need the EASIEST way across, not necessarily the shortest, but interested in options. I live in Visalia, and want to summit Whitney. Ideas for shuttles back to the West side would be helpful as well as food drop options, though I know there are separate forums for that stuff.

Thanks in advance!



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Re: Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Aug 11, 2016 7:19 pm

That would probably be the High Sierra Trail. Everything else starts too low (Middle Fork is HOOOOTTTTTT) or climbs 5000 feet the first day (Mineral King) or requires longer hikes with potential cross country (any trailhead north of the HST).
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Re: Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

Postby maverick » Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:13 am

HST in 4 days would require you to hike 18 miles a day, that is quite a bit of miles for most folks, is everyone in your group physically capable of doing that kind of mileage daily?

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Re: Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

Postby davepctjmt » Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:41 am

What about Roads End to Whitney Portal? 53 miles on my calculation.

Roads end to Vidette Meadow 13 miles
Vidette to Tyndall frog ponds 13 miles
Tyndall to Guitar Lake (or camp at JMT/Whitney junction at 13k ft) 11/14 miles
Summit and out 16/13 miles

Edited to add - and shuttle back from Bob Ennis of mt whitney shuttle who has a full size minibus that I think could take 10 of you. Won't be cheap, but split 10 ways it should be <$100 each.
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Re: Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:15 am

davepctjmt wrote:What about Roads End to Whitney Portal? 53 miles on my calculation.

Roads end to Vidette Meadow 13 miles
Vidette to Tyndall frog ponds 13 miles
Tyndall to Guitar Lake (or camp at JMT/Whitney junction at 13k ft) 11/14 miles
Summit and out 16/13 miles

Edited to add - and shuttle back from Bob Ennis of mt whitney shuttle who has a full size minibus that I think could take 10 of you. Won't be cheap, but split 10 ways it should be <$100 each.


They said easiest, not shortest. Just getting to Junction Meadow requires 5000 feet of elevation gain on an exposed, hot trail.

An easier plan with shorter miles would be staring on the east side. Horseshoe would be perfect, if not for the fire. Shuttling would be cheaper. Drop the car at the Portal, get the shuttle to take you to Horseshoe to start.
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Re: Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

Postby maverick » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:33 am

Horseshoe would be perfect, if not for the fire.


OP indicated that this trip is planned for next year.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:50 am

Hopefully it will not burn up the entire area to the point that it is unpleasant. Personally, I find hiking on ash covered trails is gritty and unpleasant.
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Re: Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

Postby davepctjmt » Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:41 am

AlmostThere wrote:
davepctjmt wrote:What about Roads End to Whitney Portal? 53 miles on my calculation.

Roads end to Vidette Meadow 13 miles
Vidette to Tyndall frog ponds 13 miles
Tyndall to Guitar Lake (or camp at JMT/Whitney junction at 13k ft) 11/14 miles
Summit and out 16/13 miles

Edited to add - and shuttle back from Bob Ennis of mt whitney shuttle who has a full size minibus that I think could take 10 of you. Won't be cheap, but split 10 ways it should be <$100 each.


They said easiest, not shortest. Just getting to Junction Meadow requires 5000 feet of elevation gain on an exposed, hot trail.

An easier plan with shorter miles would be staring on the east side. Horseshoe would be perfect, if not for the fire. Shuttling would be cheaper. Drop the car at the Portal, get the shuttle to take you to Horseshoe to start.


5000ft is +3hrs on hike time for me. +20 miles is +6hrs. Easiest is subjective, but I think the roads end route is easier (although the hands up, I've not done the initial HST section and its years since I hiked out of roads end, but I don't remember the heat being a problem) However, if the OP wants options, I've provided an alternative.
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Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:09 pm

I'm channeling the part where the OP seems to not plan a lot of trips, which generally means not going on a lot of trips. Which means that the group is probably a bunch of folks who backpack, once a year, which I've hiked with folks like that quite a lot, and found that while I can do 5000+ feet of gain over 6-7 miles without being drop-dead exhausted, it k-i-l-l-s people who don't hike as often as I do...

The HST is more gradually approaching the steeper climbs (Kaweah Gap, Whitney, etc) and gives the gradual acclimation to boot. More days would be ideal, however.
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Re: Shortest/easiest West to East via Whitney.

Postby sparky » Fri Aug 12, 2016 4:42 pm

Just my friendly suggestion. Just summit Mt Whitney this trip via cottonwood pass as AT suggested or Onion Valley, and then do a west east crossing next trip. It is certainly doable from a number of locations. If you have any first timers in the group, or people with heavy gear, I wouldn't suggest this hike at all. If everyone is experienced with light kits I say go for it. If you guys are experienced, look at the mileage, elevation profiles, and obvious hot spots and you tell us which is easier!

Hell, even if you are experienced and able to do the HST or roads end->whitney, cottonwood pass->crabtree pass->crabtree meadow->whitney is some of the best scenery in the sierra. This is the way to summit whitney on a 4 day trip. The shuttle is a snap too.
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