Want to hike a part of the JMT, climb Whitney along the way and not have to retrace your steps back the way you started? If so, then this is the hike for you.

For many years we have climbed Mount Whitney via Cottonwood but we added this program to give the option of a trip the same length, a point to point rather than a loop and self supported, not using pack stock.

We do up the pace of the trip later in the trip but by then the packs are light and most of the distance is downhill.

Special Notes

For maps look at the Mt. Whitney, Mt. Langley and Cirque Peak 7.5 minute maps.

We highly recommend that you spend at least one night at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000’) just prior to the trip. 80% of our unsuccessful attempts fail due to problems with altitude. (And the balance due to weather). We suggest camping at the Cottonwood campground the night before the trip. This is at nearly 10,000 feet of elevation and definitely gives you an edge on acclimatization and in letting the body adapt to the elevation. Cottonwood Lakes offers a walk-in campground (100’ from your car) and reservations are not necessary here.

Bears are a problem at the Cottonwood Trailhead. Do not leave food, scented items (deodorant, soap etc.) in your vehicle. There is limited food locker storage so do not bring extra items with you to the trailhead. Clean up all trash prior to your trip. Failure to take precautions can cause the vehicle to be ripped apart by a bear and the added insult of a fine from the Forest Service. If possible, please car pool up to the trailhead, leaving unnecessary vehicles at the Forest Service Offices in Lone Pine.


Day Out Destination Mileage Elevation Gain Hiking Time
Day 1 Chicken Springs Lake 5.3 miles 1405 4 hours
Day 2 Rock Creek Crossing 10.5 miles 620 7 hours
Day 3 Guitar Lake 10.3 miles 2985 8 hours
Day 4 Mount Whitney then back to Guitar Lake 8.8 miles 3278 8
Day 5 Tyndall Creek 10.08 miles 1906 7 hours
Day 6 To Shepherd Trailhead 12.25 miles 2035 8 hours