Gear for Mt. Whitney

I checked a few websites and found great information on the Timberline Trails website.  To save you some time I will list what I found.  We may want to add or delete items from the list depending on the weather. or our own preferences.  However we should plan to have all of this and leave what we won’t need in our car the weekend of the hike. Some items we will be able to share for the overnight camping.


Hiking boots and a well fitted full size backpack. 



  • Synthetic or wool socks
  • Fleece pants or some other equal for protecting your legs in the cold.
  • At least one fleece (or equal) jacket (2 layers if you are subject to getting cold)
  • Hat that can add warmth to the head area (and also provide sun protection).
  • @Gortex or other breathable water resistant/proof Jacket and pants this combination can also act as a wind barrier. (Very important)
  • Lightweight synthetic or wool long underwear.
  • Gloves
  • Pillow case. (Great for stuffing your jacket and clothing into. Makes for an outstanding pillow with hardly any extra weight)

Note: Consider the above a minimum. Storms can come up at any time and if you are not prepared, they could become life threatening. For winter conditions more gear would have to be added. Absolutely no cotton clothing. Cotton will have no insulating value if it gets wet, and it will quickly wick warmth away from your body. You can substitute “Down” for fleece, but make sure that your water proof layer is in tact if you choose this option. Like cotton, down is useless when wet.

Water filter: (Filtering your water supply is a must on a heavily populated mountain such as Whitney.

Headlamp: (make sure you have spare batteries). If you are caught out in the dark by underestimating your assent and decent time. The headlamp can be a lifesaver if this should happen.

Drinking Water: At least three Liter (approx. 3 quarts) capacity water bladder with a drinking tube. I would highly recommend the @Camelback. It makes for a fantastic lightweight daypack on summit day and fits nicely into your main pack. For most of my wilderness backpacking and climbing trips, place the @Camelback into main pack and use it for your water supply. On summit day, rather than taking the heavy main pack to the summit, simply remove the little lightweight day pack out of the main pack and head for the summit. It has all the water you need plus enough storage room for lunch and other essential items. You could certainly use water bottles, but I find a drinking device such as a @Camelback to be superior because getting your water bottles out can be a hassle and you then become less likely to drink. For more on this subject check out our page on Water/Dehydration


Bear Canister: for safely storing your food. (A requirement on Mt Whitney) Not only does it keep the bears out, but equally important, it keeps the pesky marmots from ripping up your gear and eating you out of house and home. These critters are everywhere on Mt Whitney. Especially at Trail Camp where the pickings are good.C95B

Food: See this Link HERE for suggestions. Try and go as light as possible but have a sufficient amount for your trip. (Obviously) Also add a lightweight stove and fuel to the list if you plan on cooking. Don’t forget matches or some other way to ignite the fuel.

Human Waste Sacks: provided at the Ranger Station (All solid human waste must be packed out). This is now a requirement on Mount Whitney.

Assorted Items: Sun Screen, Bug repellent, and other toiletries, along with sun glasses, prescriptions, First Aid Kit, and Pocket Knife.

Sleeping bag: (Down or synthetic). Along with the bag, you should carry a lightweight insulating pad and place it between the ground and your sleeping bag to eliminate the cold from coming up from the ground and into you!

Tent or Bivy Bag: to protect you and your gear in case of rain night or day. (Again storms can come out of no where. A couple of guys nearly lost their lives due to this oversight. Wet gear is deadly. Also, the tent or bivy bag protects you from the wind.

Map and compass: (even though it is unlikely that you will get lost. Lots of people on the trail throughout the quota period).

Large Trash Sack: to cover your pack if it should rain in the night.

Camera: You won’t want to miss the opportunities to document your trip.

Well, that’s about it. The above may seem like an overkill, but I assure you it is not. Whitney is a serious mountain and even though it has a trail to the top people have and will, unfortunately, lose their lives by taking the mountain too lightly. So be prepared. The above is just a guideline. Be sure to double check other sources and make sure that you have all the items you need for your trip.

Each of us is responsible for our own safety in the wilderness. So check out other sources before setting out on an adventure. Double check and make sure you have everything you need for the trip. Forgetting important items can make the difference between a great trip, and an exercise in misery (or even worse).

Also check out the following page: Whitney High Camp It contains other points of information and safety tips. Please take careful note of them. Also take some time out to check the general climbing safety notes located at the following link: Climbing Safety Basics.



PCT – My go to hike when I don’t have a lot of time

Today 3 of us hiked the PCT for a short 5+ mile hike in a couple of hours.  This hike is close to home and is a pretty easy hike.

2013-11-02 11.08.10

We spent some time talking about the Mt. Whitney hike next summer. Marilyn and Brigit hiked with me today.  Marilyn is an avid hiker and has hiked part of Mt. Whitney.  Her husband and son have hiked Mt. Whitney up and back in a day.  

Marilyn's husband Bill, their son and a friend.

Marilyn’s husband Bill, their son and a friend.

Marilyn and her husband have done some backpacking as well and shared with us some ideas on what we need to pack and that our backpacks will slow us down some.  From my experience in Spain, I know that carrying 20 pounds makes a difference.  I imagine we will each need to carry around 30 pounds. 

I was told that the Mt. Whitney Portal Store website has lots of information. Check it out.