Mt. Whitney Climb Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get there?
Mt. Whitney is located in a fairly isolated part of the Sierras. There is no direct crossing of the Sierras from the west side to Whitney in the winter/spring months. Your best bet is to fly into whatever major airport is most convenient for you: Mammoth Lakes (1¾ hrs), Las Vegas (4 hrs.), Reno (4½ hrs.), LA (3½ hrs.), or Bakersfield, among others, and then plan to rent a vehicle for the up-to half day drive to Mt. Whitney.
Several airlines have recently started service into Mammoth Lakes out of LAX and San Jose amongst other locations. You might want to consider this option if you want to get as close as possible by air. From Mammoth Lakes you'll need to rent a car and drive to the town of Lone Pine, about a 95 mile journey taking approximately one hour and 45 minutes driving time. Best is to plan to arrive the afternoon prior to the starting date, allowing time to drive to Lone Pine (or Bishop first if you are attending the optional training day), arrive at your lodging, get set for the meeting the following morning and enjoy a good night's sleep. However, please note that this flight can often be delayed or cancelled in the event of stormy weather! The airport is small and sits at high elevation. My normal preference is Las Vegas because of the cheap airfares and efficient airport. Also, there is no major pass to drive over in case of snow. The downside is the drive is a longer one.
Where do I stay?
You are on your own for lodging the night prior to the start of the trip. There are several small motels in the town of Lone Pine, and many more an hour north in Bishop. Just opened in 2009 is the Whitney Hostel. Rooms sleep up to 4 in two sets of bunks and runs around $20 a person plus tax. There are showers in each room and the place is nice. The address is 238 S Main in Lone Pine. Phone is (760) 876-0030 for reservations. Tell them you are climbing with SMI/IMG. For pictures of the hostel, go to www.whitneyportalstore.com and click on the message board to find pictures and info. It really is pleasant! You can spend the extra money on a nice dinner before the trip. We'll do our gear check and briefing after breakfast in the main downstairs room at the hostel.
The group will hope to be down by noon (earliest) on the last day. It is a long drive back to Las Vegas if you are flying out that way. The team usually enjoys getting together for lunch and final good-byes in Lone Pine at the end of the climb. If you are spending the night in Lone Pine, don't forget to make a reservation for the last night of the program as well.
What kind of gear will I need?
Please see the Mt. Whitney Gear List. Some items, including snowshoes, avalanche transceiver, crampons, boots, climbing harness, ascender, ice axe, helmet, pack, sleeping bag and Thermarest pad are available for rent directly from Sierra Mountaineering International. Contact IMG for a copy of the rental form. Please fill out the form and return it with payment directly to Sierra Mountaineering. Your guide will bring your gear to the meeting place and issue it to you on the first day of the trip.
Please note that plastic double boots are not available for rent, except in limited supply in the town of Bishop at Wilson's Eastside Sports. SMI does have single insulated boots for rental, the Montrail "Verglas", but supplies are limited, and these are marginal for a cold weather climb of Whitney. Best of all, invest in a good pair of plastic double boots. You won't be sorry!
What's included in the climb fee?
Costs Included in Trip Fee are: guides, dinners and breakfasts during the climb, group equipment including tents, stoves, climbing ropes and hardware, and permits.
Costs Not Included in Trip Fee are: transportation to the trailhead, lodging the evening prior to the start of the climb or the last night of the trip, or meals other than breakfasts and dinners on the trip. REQUIRED Insurance: IMG requires that all* trip participants purchase Travel Insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation, repatriation and medical expenses for the duration of their IMG program. Trip Cancellation Insurance is strongly recommended. Trekking and mountaineering programs are true "adventure travel."
*The insurance requirement does not apply to IMG customers on programs within the continental USA, but is strongly encouraged.