International Mountain Guides Climbing and Mountaineering Expeditions

Mt. Whitney Climb

California  •  14,495'  •  4418m

Mt. Whitney Climb Summit Climb via the Mountaineers Route

Mt. Whitney Climb Frequently Asked Questions

This information should answer many of your initial questions and also guide you through the next stages of preparing for the expedition. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need javascript enabled to view it

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.

Drive to highway 395 on the east side of the Sierras and the small town of Lone Pine, about 59 miles south of Bishop. In the town of Lone Pine, drive west on the Whitney Portal Road to the marked end of the road. If the road is free of snow (unlikely) it is 13 miles to Whitney Portal from Lone Pine. If you would like to carpool to Lone Pine, I will send out a team roster with names and addresses approximately 30 days prior to the start of the program. Feel free to contact other members of the team regarding sharing rides. The simplest strategy is to book your flight through IMG's travel agent, CTT Destinations (800/909-6647 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need javascript enabled to view it ). They are happy to coordinate flight times for you. In general, if you book your flight in to Las Vegas or Mammoth Lakes arriving by mid-afternoon the day prior to the start of the climb, you will have the best chance of teaming up with others. Your return time would be best planned for mid-afternoon of the day after the end of the climb.

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 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.

If the idea of the hostel just doesn't appeal to you, try the Dow Villa Motel just to the south, 310 Main St., phone: (800) 824-9317   This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need javascript enabled to view it . Rent a room in the new side of the motel, not the historic section which has showers down the hall. The Dow is a nice comfortable place.

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.

IMG Mt Whitney Summit Climb
The climb was great. The guides were informative, very competent and very friendly. I really enjoyed their company... (the guides) made me feel comfortable and were very encouraging throughout the climb. They pushed me through some tough mental sections, and I am very grateful. I found the climb to be comparable to the Emmons Rainier climb at the physical level with Rainier being a little longer with more elevation gain... The climbing was more technical on the upper section of the Whitney climb which I found very enjoyable...
~David R.
Mt. Whitney provided a few new tastes of technical climbing, a reasonably tough challenge and one more opportunity to experience a mountain in the stellar company of IMG. Specifically, George Dunn (IMG) and Doug Nidever of SMI. This is my fourth climb with IMG and hopefully not my last. Every company in America, in any industry, should go to school at IMG for their tremendous service, relentless attention to detail and maximum level of great mojo (more companies desperately need IMG mojo)...
~Jeff M.
Everytime I go on one of George Dunn's expeditions, I come back saying, 'that was the best adventure I've ever been on'!! From climbing Denali's West Buttress route, to his ice climbing seminar in Ouray, Colorado, to the Everest trek and Island Peak climb. I had the time of my life on each trip...
~Bruce G.
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