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High mountains have a charm of their own, and nothing can be better than camping and hiking on its terrains.
Are you always inclined to choose mountains over beaches while planning your vacations? If you're equipped with some experience and are ambitious enough to head for a challenging hike, then summiting Mount Whitney is going to be one of the most rewarding memories of your life.
Among all mountains, Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevada is an absolute favorite of hikers from all over the world. Also, it ranks as one of the best trails in the entire United States. The location, climate, and breathtaking scenery make Mt. Whitney the ideal retreat for mountain climbers. So, without any delay, get ready to learn about Mt. Whitney and pack your bags for one of the most exciting treks of your lifetime!
One of the main issues with climbing the tallest mountains is altitude sickness. Many people become feverish as they cannot cope with an increase in altitude and ultimately drop the idea of continuing further. Let's gather some basic details on Mt. Whitney geology to gather some awareness and get a head start in your journey.
In the contiguous US, Mt. Whitney qualifies as the highest mountain because it has an elevation of 14,505 ft (4,421 m).
It is located in the East-Central part of California, precisely on the border separating Tulare and Inyo counties.
The summit of Mt. Whitney falls on the Great Divide Basin and the Sierra Crest. It is situated very close to some of the highest peaks of Sierra Nevada.
The mountain peak rises dramatically, towering over the Owens Valley at 10,778 ft (3,285 m). The Lone Pine city falls to its east.
It has a gradual rise on the western side, reaching about 3,000 ft (914 m) with the John Muir Trail of the Guitar Lake right below.
The eastern side forms a steeper slope when contrasted with the western slope. This is due to a fault system found along the eastern base of Sierra Nevada.
Mt. Whitney is shaped like a partial dome with jagged ridges towards the edges.
The mountain experiences a highland or alpine climate. In the summertime, the temperature varies from a freezing 32 °F (0 °C) to about 80 °F (27 °C) during the highs.
In winter, the average highest temperature has been recorded at 25.7 °F (−3.5 °C) while the lowest is 4.2 °F (−15.4 °C).
If you can acclimatize yourself to the alpine tundra-type climate, Mount Whitney trail should definitely be your next hiking target!
There is scarce vegetation around Whitney's summit. For instance, you might come across low-growing plants like the cushion plant or sky pilot.
Animals or birds are not permanent inhabitants of the mountain.
You might spot a Gray-crowned rosy finch or butterflies like Phoebus Apollo on the Mount Whitney trail.
A significant section of the mountain is composed of igneous rock (primarily granite).
During the Cretaceous epoch, subduction caused molten rock masses to emerge from beneath and solidify to form the modern-day Mt. Whitney.
However, the mountain is not volcanic.
Do you love rock climbing? If you haven't already incorporated Mount Whitney in your bucket list, then quickly make amends!
Firstly, a permit from the Inyo National Forest Service or National Park Service is required to climb Mt. Whitney. Only a handful of permits are issued from May 1 to November 1.
The Mt. Whitney trail is the most preferred route to reach the mountaintop.
This trail begins at the Whitney Portal, located at 8,360 ft (2,548 m) elevation, to the west of Lone Pine.
Another longer route that leads to the Mt. Whitney trail close to its summit is the John Muir trail that lies to its west. John Muir followed the Mountaineers Route while ascending the mountain.
Other routes can also be taken up to reach the summit, like the High Sierra Trail that initiates from the Giant Forest, west of the Sequoia National Park.
The High Sierra Trail extends for 72 mi (116 km).
You can even camp at the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park and start off for Mt Whitney at dawn.
The round trip of 22 mi (35 km) following the Mt. Whitney trail is filled with danger, especially along the rugged slopes.
It takes about 12 to 14 long hours to climb Mt. Whitney and trace back the steps to Whitney Portal.
Making it to the summit of this mountain is not at all a Herculean task. All it requires is some knowledge, experience, and planning. Innumerable people have managed to conquer Mt. Whitney, including some little children and the aged.
The trio John Lucas, Charles Begole, and Albert Johnson were the first to do the historical climb to the summit of Mt. Whitney on August 18, 1873. All three of these men were residents of Lone Pine.
Tyler Armstrong qualified as one of the youngest mountain climbers in the world who conquered Mt. Whitney on July 26, 2011.
At the age of seven, Tylor made it to the mountain top in just one day.
On October 14, 2017, another young mountain climber, Fletcher Flynn, managed to climb Mount Whitney.
The young Fletcher Flynn accompanied his father Justin to summit the California Fourteeners. Did you know that he was just five years old at that time?
However, the current record for the youngest climber of Mt. Whitney has been set by the famous 'Super Hiking Twins' named Matthew and Arabella Adams.
The 'Super Hiking Twins' were aged only four years when they reached the summit.
On the other hand, the American mountaineer Hulda Hoehn Crooks holds the record for being the world's oldest woman who scaled as many as 97 peaks besides Mt. Whitney.
Popularly regarded as 'Grandma Whitney,' Hulda Crooks ascended the mountain peak 23 times within the age gap of 65 to 91.
The specialty of Mount Whitney lies in some of its unique features. So, let us take a real quick look into the mountain's characteristics that make it stand out.
Did you know that Mt. Whitney was formed some 80-180 million years ago?
Most importantly, Mt. Whitney qualifies to be the highest peak of the contiguous United States. With a height of 14,505 ft (4,421 m), it also stands as the tallest mountain.
The mountain derives its name from Josiah D. Whitney, an American geologist. The California Geological Survey rendered identification to the mountain.
In 1881, Samuel Pierpont Langley accompanied by Reverend Frederick Wales, W. A. Wright and Judge William B. Wallace stayed at the summit and made observations.
In one of Wallace's accounts, it was revealed that Mount Whitney was initially regarded as 'tumanguya' in the native tongue.
The name is pronounced as 'too-man-i-goo-yah' by the Native American tribes of Sierra Nevada.
Mt. Whitney stands tall on the eastern boundary of the Sequoia National Park that lies on the western side of the Lone Pine city.
The eastern slopes of the mountain descend into the Inyo National Forest.
The highest peak in California and the highest point of the Great Divide Basin, Mt. Whitney, offers a mesmerizing view from its apex.
On the western side, water channels make way to Whitney Creek and end up in the Kern River. You cannot miss the Whitney Falls!
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