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 sunny and clear until the weekend where we have a chance of showers/snow showers on Mt Whitney. The Whitney Portal
is now open and the quota for hiking/climbing Mt Whitney is now in force.
Latest Trail Conditions as of 5/11:
The Whitney Portal Road is open so you now have direct access to the Trailhead
. Once on the Main Mt Whitney Trail
you will find patchy snow up to 9,200 feet, but after that the trail is pretty much covered in snow all the way up to Trail Camp. From that point on up to Trail Crest, you encounter a worn chute of snow about 3 1/2 feet deep (all the switchbacks are under snow). Once at Trail Crest
, the snow and ice is compacted from the winds on the backside of Mt Whitney all the way to the Summit
. Needless to say, you will need Crampons and Ice Ax once you get into the snow and ice above 9,200 feet. Some folks are using snow shoes once the snow begins to soften later in the day to avoid sinking in. Packing in is the order of the day right now, because the going is slow due to the snow conditions, and getting to the top in a day would be very difficult. As always, be prepared for fast changing weather conditions.