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Mt. Whitney winter ascent via the Mountaineer’s Route, 4 days

Mt. Whitney Winter Ascent
Mt. Whitney Winter Ascent
Mt. Whitney Winter Ascent
Mt. Whitney Winter Ascent

This 4-day winter ascent of Mt. Whitney via the Mountaineer’s Route is a thrilling, challenging and rewarding adventure, and the certified guides from SWS Mountain Guides will lead you through the snow, ice and cold to reach the summit, where glorious views out over the Sierra Nevada await.


Sierra Nevada (California)

4 Days

Jan - Apr




* Climb Mt. Whitney - the highest mountain in the lower 48 states of the USA!

* Improve your winter mountaineering skills and techniques in avalanche conditions

* Take in the truly epic views out over the Sierra Nevada and California


Climbing Mt. Whitney in the winter is a challenging yet rewarding journey, and I will guide you as we traipse and travail for 4 days around the highest mountain in the lower 48 states of the USA, testing ourselves and learning more about the best skills and techniques needed to navigate the conditions, with the pay-off being some truly special and spectacular views out over California from the summit.

Mount Whitney (4421m) is the highest mountain in the lower 48 states of the USA, and the highest in the world famous Sierra Nevada mountain range. It contains mostly rocky terrain, with little vegetation able to grow, and is an immensely popular and well-known locale to indulge in mountain climbing.

We meet in the nearby town of Mt. Whitney, where we will run through all relevant safety gear and information, and from there we then hit the trail.

One of the main advantages of the winter ascent is it exposes you to similar conditions and skills needed to climb different mountains around the world, enabling you to transfer what you learn here to different mountains and countries.

Over the 4 days we will teach you these skills, techniques and confidence, and the presence of potential avalanche conditions makes this all the more challenging.

Once we reach the summit there will be ample time to admire the absolutely awesome views we will encounter, with the East Face and East Buttress standing in all their glory in front of us, and the vast, epic and snow-filled valleys of the Californian alpine countryside below.

We then descend back to Lone Pine, where our trip ends, hopefully having increased your winter mountain climbing confidence and made you fall even more in love with this tranquil part of California.

Climbing Mt. Whitney is the winter is a great way to improve your mountaineering – book now to give it a go!

Price includes

- Accommodation included

- Guiding fee

- Breakfast

- Dinner

- Permit and entrance fees

- Rope

- Harness

- Helmet

- Ice axe

- Camping equipment tents

Price details

Includes: Professional instruction/guide, freeze dried dinners, breakfast items & hot drinks, helmets, harness, group climbing equipment including ropes and safety equipment, group camping equipment including tents and stoves, permits, and permit fees including Mt. Whitney permit reservations fees. Mountain boots, crampons, avalanche equipment available for rent from SWS Mountain Guides.


Day 1: Meet

Meet in Lone Pine, head to Whitney Portal, snowshoe to base camp at Lower Boy Scout Lake.

Day 2: Climb

Head to camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake, work on various mountaineering skills.

Day 3: Summit

Head to summit.

Day 4: Descent and Finish

Descend back to trailhead, finish.



What experience and how fit do I need to be to climb this mountain? Is this program suitable for children or older people?

Climbing Mt Whitney is not easy by any stretch of the imagination even tougher in the winter time. It requires both physical and mental toughness. Listed below are the minimum physical requirements we would expect for all of our clients before they show up to climb Mt Whitney via the mountaineer’s route:

  1. Be able to maintain 185 to 215 meters per hr (600-700 feet per hr) climbing pace AND be

able to maintain this pace for 1-hour increments in the snow.

  1. Carry a 18-24 kilogram (45-50 pound) pack

3.Be able to move efficiently off of maintained trails on, snow, scree and rock. Using large step ups and

step-downs, and some movements requiring the whole body while carrying a pack.

  1. A guest who can do 235 meters per hr / 750 feet per hr with a loaded pack (11-14 kilos/ 25-30

lbs) on a stair stepper should have the fitness to climb Mt. Whitney.

5.Plus, Weekend hikes 12-16 kilometers (8-10 miles) with a loaded pack (11-14 kilos/ 25-30 lbs)

over the hilliest terrain a guest has access to is also an excellent training tool.

  1. Time to basecamp on Whitney is 4-8 hours and time to the summit from basecamp is 6-8 hours depending on the winter condition on Mt Whitney.

How far in advance should I start training and what kind of training do you suggest?

We recommend 3-4 months before the climb if you have not been climbing or hiking extensively prior to your climb date.

Will I need to bring any technical equipment of my own? Is it possible to rent equipment, and if so, what would be the approximate cost of that?

You will need to bring your own sleeping bag, internal frame backpack, and mountaineering boots, and crampons, avalanche equipment - beacon, probe, shovel. All are available for rent: Sleeping bags & Pad ($42.00 for 2-3 days), Backpacks ($42.00 for 2-3 days) and Boots ($45.00 for 2-3 days) Crampons ($25.00 for 2-3 days) We also have Gaitors, Down Jackets, Hard Shell Jackets, & trekking poles, avalanche equipment for rent

Will there be porters to help to carry group and personal equipment?


How will accommodation and meals be handled on the mountain?

Our guides will be providing hot water for hot drinks, instant cereal, freeze-dried dinners, and for filling water bottles for drinking. SWS Mountain Guides provides Tents while on Mount Whitney.

What happens in the event of bad weather?

We reserve the right to reschedule seminars and courses due to severe weather conditions or other uncontrollable events that could make the climb unsafe to continue. For tours during or within 24 hrs of the course start dates, if severe weather conditions or other uncontrollable circumstances make the course or climb unsafe to continue, you will receive Weather Credit or Weather Partial Credit. Our decision will be at the discretion of the leader and the Director(s) of SWS.

Are there any other special requirements such as permits/insurance/vaccines that we need to consider before the tour?

Yes, we recommend trip cancellation insurance available through our website.

What is the guide-to-client ratio to climb this mountain?

1:3 guide to client ratio

What is the best time of the year to climb this mountain?

Best time for a Winter Ascent of Mt Whitney is late February to April.

Can I join a group?

Yes, you may join a group; please see the regular schedule departure listed. You may also request a custom winter climb of Mt Whitney with your departure date with 3 to 6 climbers. The price is the same as our group rate. For less than three climbers, the cost for a private / custom climb is two climbers: $575.00 per person per day / 1 climber $700 per day plus Explore-Share fees.

About the guide

Guide profile image




Mountain Guide

Since 1981, we have been California's leader in guided mountaineering. From the Eastern Sierra to Mt. Shasta, we guide all of California 14ners and internationally.





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What people are saying about this trip



Had an amazing experience climbing Mt. Whitney with Richard & Tim. They were excellent guides and safely got us to the summit and back.



Neil from SWS was amazing. We climbed the Mountaineering Route up to Mt. Whitney. It was an amazing experience. The guide was knowledgeable and friendly. I leaned a lot. I would absolutely use these guys again.



My guides name was Matt and we were lucky enough to summit Mt. Whitney during the winter. This was one of the most rewarding and fun experiences I have done and SWS did a great job throughout the process. Matt was such a great guide who took the time to educate us. He was polite, understanding and very helpful throughout the climb, I felt comfortable with him right from the start and look forward to more climbs with both Matt and the SWS team. Would recommend them to anyone!



I climbed Mt whitney with sws mountain guides in may 2015 ,what a fantastic experience me and two friends from the uk where led by john brown (jb) who was highly professional,knowledgeable and really good company.



Matt and I were lucky enough to summit Mt. Whitney during the winter. This was one of the most rewarding and fun experiences I have done and SWS did a great job throughout the process I would recommend the SWS Team to anyone

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