Young Ascender of Mt Whitney

6 Oct 2001 - by George Sinclair

Last weekend my nine-year old son and I hiked up the Mt. Whitney Trail. We did this as a day hike since we were unable to get an over-night permit. We started before dawn, and got to the top about noon. The weather was great, and we had - as would be expected - plenty of company on the trail. We passed a ranger at Trail Camp who was checking everyone for proper permits. The rangers are very serious about their permits, and I wonder if he is there all season long checking for them. I doubt that my son is the youngest to hike up Whitney, but does anyone have any information on who the youngest is? How about the oldest?

Alan Ritter replies: I have been in touch with some folks who are planning on taking their 8-year-old up Whitney this weekend. They're backpacking, not day-hiking. I have read reports from other folks who had kids as young as 9 up to the summit this summer.

My son (12) was the youngest to sign the register when we were on the summit on July 3. However, a German family had their one-year-old in a backpack baby carrier... not that this would count as "hiking it", obviously. (We did a 3-day itinerary... Portal to Trail Camp, overnight, summit and back to Trail Camp, overnight, out the third day. Very comfortable for both of us.)

Having been backpacking with Nathan since he was 5-1/2, I would say that it's likely that a well-prepared and well-coached 5-to-6-year-old could make it, especially as a 4 or 5 day trip, camping at Outpost Camp and Trail Camp on the way up, spending the night after the summit at Trail Camp and hiking out the next day. (Nathan's long trek when he was 5-1/2 was Agnew Meadows to Ediza Lake, with a 25%-body-weight pack. That's about 8 miles and 2,000 gross vertical, since you go down 400' or so to cross the river and then back up 1,500' or a bit more to get to Ediza. Various and sundry Mt. Ritter and state highpoint reports off my WWW site, URL below.) Doing Whitney as a day hike would be a stretch for kids that young...I think it's great that your 9-year-old could do 21 miles and 12,000 gross vertical in one day!!

Eric Benning replies (2011): You list a 9 year old as the youngest to climb Mt Whitney, can you please change it to 6 yerar old (myself) winter of 71. I made it to the top. Day one to base camp, day 2 to summit and back, day 3 back to trail head. I have pictures to prove this.


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