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Mount Whitney: The Complete Trailhead-To-Summit Hiking Guide Paperback – April, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


If you're up for the challenge you'll want to get a copy of [this book]. -- Tail Winds

From the Author

Based on many years of backpacking and ski mountaineering experience in the Mount Whitney environs, I have carefully-crafted this guidebook to include thirteen hiking routes to Whitney's lofty summit for outdoor enthusiasts of all abilities. Eight routes follow established trails over their entire course while five others traverse seldom-trodden trail-less terrain linking one trail with another before reaching the highest point in the 48-contiguous states. This coveted peak has much to offer those willing to leave civilization behind and explore the vast wildernesses surrounding this magnificent mountain.

The book is an important resource for all outdoor enthusiasts regardless of experience and skill level. The first several chapters focus on safe and enjoyable wilderness travel. The later chapters contain detailed descriptions of single-day and multi-day ascents of the peak.

Several of the cross-country routes are difficult: probably more difficult than you might imagine. Those attempting these excursions should have extensive route-finding experience and be in excellent physical condition. Not only have I hiked each route depicted in the guide on foot but I have traversed the region on mountaineering skis several times. Based on these many experiences, I was careful to describe the potential difficulties one might encounter on the cross-country ventures. However, it is easy to get off-route where further complications can occur. A well-conditioned and experienced hiker may be required to tackle these unanticipated difficulties.

I hope you benefit from the guidebook, but more importantly, that you have many opportunities to safely climb to the top of Whitney. I would be happy to answer any of your questions. I can be reached at prichins@jps.net or my website the Backcountry Resource Center.

Happy Hiking, Paul Richins, Jr.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Mountaineers Books (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898867665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898867664
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #935,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the standard book in assisting novice Whitney hikers to the summit. If you have never hiked the main trail to Whitney, or if you want to try the alternate routes, then this is a a well-written guide, with insight from an experienced hiker and climber. There is ample information on how to secure a permit for the main trail, when to contact the Ranger Station and additional info on the annual May lottery.
However, there are some problems with the author's descriptions of various other trails and this is imperative to point out. For example, the Meysan Lakes chapter claims that anyone can summit Mt. Whitney via the Meysan Lakes trailhead. This is problematic at best, and a falsehood at its worse. There is a trail to Meysan Lakes, but there is *no trail* afterwards until you hook up with the main Whitney Trail. The author fails to mention that an any hiker attempting the middle sections of this trail must have developed route-finding skills and this section would be a class 3 hike. This is omited from the book and consequently, could cause hikers somes serious problems.
I also quibble with the author's assessment of what is difficult and what is not. I've summited Whitney many times and regard a time of 11 hours (when not trail running) as pretty swift. However, the author says that "standard" or average time in hiking Whitney is 10 hours for a day hike. This is a little elitist and only well-conditioned hikers make it in that time. This also presents novices with faulty information. When they struggle to get done in 16 hours, they might rely on this book's information and regard that time as pathetic.
So be careful with this guide and the information contained within. I still recommend it, and the elevation maps for each trail are interesting. I respect the author, who has summited Whitney via the various routes described and who has even done Everest. But check around with others before attempting any trail aside from the main one and best of luck.
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Format: Paperback
This past summer, my boyfriend and I climbed Mount Whitney (via Route 9) following the detailed narrative descriptions and maps included in this popular guidebook. The author's attention to detail sets it apart from all other books on Whitney. This comprehensive tone has everything one needs to know for a first-time hike to the summit of Whitney or for exploring a more remote, less traveled route to the top of this coveted peak. Along the way, we used the author's meticulous route descriptions to explore off-trail and visit Sky-Blue Lake, one of the most beautiful spots in the entire Sierra Nevada.
I was concerned about altitude sickness before leaving for the trek. Although I experienced the affects of the high altitude for a day, I followed the advice contained in the guidebook and was able to successfully climb the peak with no further complications. We used the bear-proof food boxes noted in the guidebook but at several camps, where bear boxes were not available, we hung our food to protect against bears. If you use the correct method when hanging your food even the most-savvy street-smart bears cannot get your grub.
I highly recommend this guidebook, as it not only details the popular Whitney Trail, but 12 other treks that get you away from the crowds and lead you through spectacular mountain terrain you will long remember. I plan to return to Whitney again this summer to capture the alpenglow on Whitney's east face. I will have this guidebook in my backpack.
/s/ A Hiking Enthusiast from Northern California
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By A Customer on February 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have been looking at Whitney books a lot and I have been mostly disappointed. This book is very easy to use to compare different routes. I am really impressed with the comparisons of the different routes.
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Format: Paperback
Take this book with a grain of salt. I used it last October to plan a climb of Whitney via the Meysan Lake route and found the route descriptions to be woefully inadequate in conveying the difficulty of the terrain and route. I learned later that others have had the same problem with this book. We completed our hike, but are veteran backcountry travellers in good physical condition. And even we were seriously taxed by this "moderate" route. Later we saw some on-line correspondence which indicated we weren't the first ones to be suckered in by this particular route description in this particular book. Some other guide books I've since checked out describe this author's "moderate" route as "gruelling." Those writers must have actually hiked the Meysan Lake route - I suspect this author has not.
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Format: Paperback
I actually purchased this book after I summitted Mt. Whitney. I wished I had found it ahead of time. Lots of great information. I had no idea how many trail heads there are. We backpacked on our trip and used the Main Mt. Whitney Trail, but I would really like to try out some of the other trails Paul suggests. Even if you don't plan to go all the way to the top of Whitney, many of the trails described in this book would be wonderful day or backpacking adventures. I found the Appendix information very useful, too, particularly the food and gear suggestions. The facts and figures section made me fully appreciate the accomplishment of reaching the summit, especially when I discovered that only 1/3 of all hikers reach the top. My only disappointments with the book are that I wish there were color photographs and more information about Mt. Whitney itself (such as history and factoids). Otherwise, this is an extremely practical guide for preparing and planning a trip to the tallest peak in the continental U. S.
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