Mt. Whitney from Shepherd Pass

21-25 Jun 2013 - by George Sinclair

Although hiking up Mt. Whitney is not unique, approaching it from Shepherd Pass is a little unusual. There are at least three advantages to doing Whitney from Shepherd Pass. The first advantage is that you avoid the hassles of the Whitney Lottery. This may be a little known secret, but getting a permit to hike up Whitney from the west side is significantly easier than trying to get one for going up the trail from Whitney Portal. Another advantage is that you avoid the crowds of the Whitney Trail and enjoy more of a real wilderness experience. The third advantage is that the Shepherd Pass approach does give you time to adjust to the altitude, which can be a real issue if you just came from Sea Level. So, for someone who wants to get up Whitney, but missed the window for the lottery, I would recommend the Shepherd Pass approach.

There are several services that will do a car shuttle in the Lone Pine area. I can recommend Dave Sheldon. He was easy to work with, and his rates were reasonable. Dave met us in Lone Pine and followed us up to Whitney Portal where we left our car. He then drove us to the Shepherd Pass Trailhead. After five days of great hiking we made it back to Whitney Portal. Although we took five days, going from Shepherd Pass to Whitney Portal can easily be done in four days, and for a strong group three days is not too fantastic. Of course getting up Shepherd Pass is tough, but the remainder of the hike is not bad at all. We (my daughter and I) camped at the following locations: Anvil Camp, Wallace Creek and JMT, Guitar Lake, and Outpost Camp. To make this a shorter trip, I could certainly see someone changing this to Anvil Camp, Crabtree, and Outpost Camp (or out). Surprisingly, the day we went up Whitney we were the only ones on the trail from Guitar Lake until we hit the Whitney Trail junction. Our wilderness experience quickly ended at that junction!

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