Weather on Mt Whitney
varies greatly during the year and can certainly be unpredictable at times. Temperatures at the lower elevations are generally warm. At higher elevations in the night, even in the summer months temperatures can fall below freezing. Typical winter temperatures above 9,500 feet range from -14 degrees F to 12 degrees at night and from 15 - 50 degrees F during the day.
Ninety five percent of total precipitation (which includes both rain and snow) falls between the months of October and May, with more than half falling in January, February, and March. The frequency of summer showers increase at higher elevations and correspondingly there are more cloudy days. But even though these thundershowers are of short duration they are still a danger to the hiker/climber on the summit or high ridges on Mt Whitney and other Sierra Peaks. That being said, if you detect a thunderstorm developing, vacate the summit and high ridges at once. The
first recorded fatality on Mt Whitney was due to lightning.
Snow is one of the most spectacular features in the Sierra Nevada
(the second snowiest mountain range on the continent) but due to the fact that Mt Whitney resides in the southern portion of the Sierra Nevada, it does not get nearly the amount of snow pack that the Palisade
or Mammoth Lakes region do.
Quick summary of Mt Whitney weather and road access for the next 7 days:
Mostly clear along with very cold temperatures until Thursday night and Friday where we have a slight chance of snow on Mt Whitney. The Whitney Portal
Road is still open all the way to the trailhead
Latest Trail Conditions as of 11/23:
The Mt Whitney Trail
has about 1-2 inches of snow up to Trail Camp and people are using treking poles and mico-spikes on this section of the trail. From Trail Camp to Trail Crest, there is about 2-6 inches of snow with two foot drifts in places. Here hikers are using full crampons and using an ice ax to gain the ridge. On the backside of Mt Whitney there is about 2-4 inches of snow but there is a fair amount of ice to deal with so you will need crampons and ice ax and know how to use them to be safe. Wind and very cold temperatures are the order of the day, so winter mountaineering experience is a must if you are going to attempt to summit. However, with this new storm and cold front moving in, conditions will change rapidly during the week. The Quota Period
has now ended as of Novermber 1st, so permits are there for the asking.