Golden Gate Photo - Trip to Mount Whitney
Fine Art Photography along the Trail to the Peak of Mount Whitney in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, California.


Mount Whitney, at an elevation of 14,494 feet (4,418 meters) is the highest point in the contiguous 48 states. Mount Whitney caps the steepest terrain of the Sierra Nevada Geomorphic Province. The jagged east-facing peaks are the product of Pleistocene-age glaciation, which has carved away at the Whitney Granodiorite (composed of Cretaceous-age granodiorite and granite).

This page follows the Mount Whitney Trail from Whitney Portal at an elevation of 8,365 feet (2,550 meters) to the summit of Mount Whitney, ascending 6,129 feet (1,868 meters) over approximately 11 miles (17 Km). This trip, taken in August of 2002, coincided with the McNally Fire in Sequoia National Park. The hike began in the dark at about 4:00 AM, and ended in the dark at about 8:30 PM. The images below are shown in chronological order.

Lone Pine Lake

Lone Pine Lake

Approximately 2.8 miles (4.5 Km) from the trailhead, Lone Pine Lake is one of the first views in the early dawn light. Looking east from an elevation of 9,420 feet (2,871 meters), the haze of the McNally Fire is apparent in the distant Owens Valley.

Print No. A02-31-11

Whitney Massif Sunrise

Whitney Massif Sunrise

The first sunlight hits the steep granitic face of the Whitney Massif upon the approach of the meadow at Bighorn Sheep Park just before Outpost Camp. Mount Whitney is hidden behind Pinnacle Ridge on the right. Wotans Throne is the blocky mountain bathed in the morning sun just left of center.

Print No. A02-31-12

Trailside Meadow

Trailside Meadow

At a distance of approximately 5.3 miles (8.5 Km) from the trailhead, Trailside Meadow (also known as Ram Horn Park) is a popular watering hole for hikers.

Print No. A02-32-2

Whitney Massif

Whitney Massif

This was taken from an unnamed lake at Trail Camp at an elevation of 12,039 feet (3,669.5 meters), and approximately 6.3 miles (10.1 Km) from the trailhead. Mount Whitney, the highest point in the Sierra Nevada and the rest of the contiguous 48 states, is first seen from just beyond this lake. In this image, Mount Whitney is to the right, just out of sight, along the distant ridgeline. This is an important watering hole for hikers making the ascent to the top. It is also inhabited by rather aggressive marmots.

Print No. A02-32-4

Trail Crest and the Needles

Trail Crest and the Needles

After ascending 97 switchbacks over 2.2 miles (3.5 Km) and gaining 1,738 feet (530 meters) in elevation from Trail Camp, the trail reaches a notch in the crest of the Whitney Massif. Looking north from this spot, Mount Whitney is hidden behind the Needles and Mount Muir (on the right).

Print No. A02-32-6

Trail Crest View

Trail Crest View

Also taken from Trail Crest, this is the view towards the west, looking into Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. Hitchcock and Guitar Lakes lie at the base of the western slope of Mount Whitney. The impressive massif in the upper left corner is Mount Hitchcock. In the distance is the north-south oriented Kern Canyon.

Print No. A02-32-8

Summit View

Summit View

This is the view looking southeast from the 14,494-foot (4,418-meter) peak of Mount Whitney. The prevalent blocky weathering of the Whitney Granodiorite is a product of exfoliation. The smoke from the McNally Fire obscured the distant view, but provided some additional depth perspective. In the shadows are the Needles and Pinnacle Ridge. The "small hill" behind the largest lake in this view is Wotans Throne!

Print No. A02-33-3

97 Switchbacks

97 Switchbacks

Beginning the descent from Trail Crest down the 97 switchbacks section of the Mount Whitney Trail, this is the view looking northeast from the 9th switchback from the top. The unnamed lake at Trail Camp is seen in the right-center of the image. Here is a closer look at the switchbacks in this image.

Print No. A02-33-11

Whitney Massif from the 97 Switchbacks

Whitney Massif from the 97 Switchbacks

Just beyond the 68th switchback from the top of the 97 switchbacks section of the Mount Whitney Trail, this is looking back to the north at the Whitney Massif. Mount Whitney is the broader peak with a flat top in the background.

Print No. A02-33-12

Consultation Lake

Consultation Lake

Just southwest of Trail Camp is Consultation Lake. Looking south across the lake is Mount McAdie at an elevation of 13,537 feet (4,207 meters) on the right and the saddle to Mount Irvine left of the image.

Print No. A02-34-2

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