The Highpointers Foundation
Dedicated to education, support and conservation
of the highest point in each of the 50 United States.
State Highpoints – California - 14,494-foot Mount Whitney

California’s highest peak and the highest peak in 49 states, Mount Whitney, is a majestic mountain, especially when you view it from the Owens Valley to the east. Whitney has a vertiginous east face that is flanked by the equally impressive Keeler Needles, each with their own sheer drops. However, there is a Class 1 trail to Whitney’s lofty summit. The standard trail hike starts at the Whitney Portal Trailhead at 8,317 feet, that is reached by road from the Owens Valley. The round trip hike from Whitney Portal to the summit and back is roughly 22 miles with 6,200 feet of gain. Most people choose to backpack and break this journey into two or three days. However, you need a permit to camp in the meadows near 12,000 feet, and Whitney is so popular that you must enter a lottery to get a permit. Only about one lottery entrant in three is granted a permit, so many aspirants are left looking for other options. There are other trailheads that you can use, but they all make your hike much longer. In recent years fit hikers have taken to doing the summit hike in one day, but you also need a permit for that, however your odds of getting this permit are better. Many one day hikers start at one minute after midnight, and pour it on all day long. Fit hikers can finish in the afternoon. Another option is to do the Mountaineer’s Route that ascends a snow-filled couloir northeast of the summit, then finihes with a 600-foot climb up north facing rocks to the summit. The apporach to this route goes up a different valley, but you still need a permit, and you must carefully consider the route’s condition. There are many technical routes on Whitney’s magnificent East Face. However you choose to reach Whitney’s summit, it is sure to provide a thrill.

Highpointers Foundation Projects – Mount Whitney
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2012 - Amount of financial assistance: roughly $900
The Highpointers Foundation provided two benches near Mount Whitney.
One is at Whitney Portal, where hikers can tie their boots before setting off.
Another is in Lone Pine near the hostel and store.

Doug Thompson and HPF director Stony Burk
on the bench near the Whitney Portal Trailhead

HPF director Stony Burk on the bench
in the Lone Pine store.

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