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:
Chance of snow showers on Saturday and next Tuesday on Mt Whitney. Well below freezing temperatures above 10,000 feet at night. The Whitney Portal
Road is still closed six miles from the trailhead and there is a locked gate that prohibits any vehicle traffic from proceeding beyond that point. There is a trail for those that want to proceed on foot, and you save a couple of miles by taking the trail vs walking up the road. If we do not get anymore significant snow storms, the road is now scheduled to open on April 25-26.
Latest Trail Conditions as of 3/7:
Lots of snow and ice from start to finish on the Mt Whitney Trail
. There is also a ton of ice and snow from Trail Camp
to Trail Crest
. The backside of Whitney before getting to the Summit
has a relative thin coat of snow due to high winds blowing off the excess snow. However, there are deeper pockets of snow here and there as you travel from Trail Crest to the Summit. For safety reasons snowshoes, crampons, and ice ax are a must (along with winter mountaineering experience) if you are going to make a bid for the summit. The Whitney Portal Road is closed past the cabins and this will make for a much longer hike because you will have to walk the road for several miles just to get to the Trailhead
. As far as permits are concerned, they are there for the asking since the quota season ended on November 2nd and will not come into play again until the end of April 30, 2014.
I had a chance to get out in my climbing partners small aircraft recently and get some aerial photos on March 7 of this year. If you scroll down to the bottom of this page you can check them out.
MT WHITNEY AERIAL VIEW
- We are proud to have the following link added to our Mt Whitney lineup. It is a mixed slide-show showing many key features of Mt Whitney and the surrounding areas from both the ground and the air. So click on the following link, turn up the music, use the biggest monitor you got in full screen video mode, and enjoy high resolution photos of Mt Whitney.
Mt Whitney Aerial Slide-show