Running Mt Whitney

Mt Whitney has been on my bucket list for 2 years now, ever since I got really into trail running. With a summit of 14505 feet (4421 meters) it’s highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada. On June 17, 2015 Paul Sinclair and I made this epic trip happen. Here are the Strava details and below is a little recap of our adventure:

We wanted to run as much as possible so we decided to take the main Mt Whitney Trail, instead of the steeper Mountaineer Route or East Face Routes. The main trail is an 11 mile path to the summit. It starts at 8,360 ft and ends at 14,505 ft. The total elevation gain is 6,137 ft which is not that much, the hardest part for us would be running at high altitude and dealing with melting water and ice above 11k ft.

we had a blast running the mt whitney trailrunning the mt whitney trailhiking mt whitney trailamazing view from mt whitney summitrunning to the top of mt whitneysnow and ice on mt whitney top

We wanted to enjoy the day and not kill ourself, so we decided to keep our heart rate below 150 bpm. The first 4 miles were pretty runnable with about 500 ft climbs per mile at a pace of 14 – 17 min / mile. Then a lot of melting water covered the trail, followed by ice and less oxygen in the air so we had to slow down. We made it to the top in about 4 hours, chilled and ate some lunch for 40 minutes, then ran down in about 3 1/2 hours.

at the top of mt whitney is a little houseFloris Gierman and Paul Sinclair Mt Whitneymt whitney summit viewview from the top of mount whitneygarmin 310xt at high altitudeFloris Gierman and Paul Sinclair Runningjumping rocks in water mt whitneymt whitney got hot, cooling off with cold water

I highly recommend anyone in the area to plan your own trip to Mt Whitney. To plan your own trip, the most detailed info about Mt Whitney can be found on the Timberline Trails website. Make sure you buy a $15 permit a few months in advance or get lucky the day prior at the Visitor Center in Lone Pine. 

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Related Posts:
How I trained for my first 50 mile run on Catalina Island
• My first 100 mile attempt from Long Beach to San Diego


4 Comments

  1. Oleg July 3, 2015

    Incredible, guys!

    Reply
  2. floris September 8, 2015

    Cheers Oleg, it was a fun one for sure. Can’t wait to do it again!

    Reply
  3. Rex Vokey June 13, 2016

    Hey there! I’m thinking about doing this later this year. How much water did you bring? Did you have to refill along the way somehow?

    Reply
    • floris October 2, 2016

      You should definitely add this to your bucket list, such a fun one. We brought a 1.5 liter water pack with a handheld bottle. On the way back down around 12k we ran out of water, so we filled up our pack + empty bottle with snow / ice and drank that. Next time I’ll plan the water situation better. I recommend bringing a water filter to you can fill up from the Lake or Streams higher up. Don’t under-estimate the elevation gain, good to keep drinking to reduce altitude headaches. Have fun up there!!

      Reply

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