Weather on Mt Whitney
varies greatly during the year and can certainly be unpredictable at times. Temperatures at the lower elevations are generally warm. At higher elevations in the night, even in the summer months temperatures can fall below freezing. Typical winter temperatures above 9,500 feet range from -14 degrees F to 12 degrees at night and from 15 - 50 degrees F during the day.
Ninety five percent of total precipitation (which includes both rain and snow) falls between the months of October and May, with more than half falling in January, February, and March. The frequency of summer showers increase at higher elevations and correspondingly there are more cloudy days. But even though these thundershowers are of short duration they are still a danger to the hiker/climber on the summit or high ridges on Mt Whitney and other Sierra Peaks. That being said, if you detect a thunderstorm developing, vacate the summit and high ridges at once. The
first recorded fatality on Mt Whitney was due to lightning.
Snow is one of the most spectacular features in the Sierra Nevada
(the second snowiest mountain range on the continent) but due to the fact that Mt Whitney resides in the southern portion of the Sierra Nevada, it does not get nearly the amount of snow pack that the Palisade
or Mammoth Lakes region do.
Quick summary of Mt Whitney weather and road access for the next 7 days:
Mostly sunny and clear to partly cloudy with cold temperatures durng the day and well below freezing at night for the rest of this week and into next on Mt Whitney. The Whitney Portal
Road is now open all the way to the trailhead
Latest Trail Conditions as of 3/14:
The Whitney Trail
has a fair amount of snow on it and I would recommend snow shoes to avoid postholing. In some areas along the trail, you will find yourself up to your waist if you are not wearing snow shoes. Past Trail Camp
you will definetely need crampons and ice ax. All this adds up to a lot of hard work and added mountaineering skills if you want to reach the summit at this point in time.
The quota period has ended so permits are available for the asking until May 1st.
I took the below photo taken on May 22 to give you a bit of an idea of the snow conditons on Mt Whitney. Even though we are having a low snow year, there is still enough snow at this point in time to really slow you down. It has been fairly cold so not much snow is melting out as of yet. The image shows mosly the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek which is the Mountaineer's Approach
to Whitney, but the snow pack is not a whole lot different on the trail side. There will be deep snow in the canyon flat areas as shown in the southern portion of the upper boyscout lake area and less in the windswept areas like you would encounter on the backside of Mt Whitney.