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JMT exit advice: Kearsarge vs Whitney
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Sam Sockwell
(sockwellsam) - MLife
JMT exit advice: Kearsarge vs Whitney on 02/23/2012 06:44:13 MST Print View

Hi all- we will hike south from Tuolomne, but would have to change airline tickets to give us time to exit at Whitney vs Kearsarge/Onion Valley, the current plan. Is that scenery toward the end among the best? The crowning glory of the hike, or more fabulous stuff? Thanks, Sam.

a b
Whitney on 02/23/2012 07:00:58 MST Print View

This is just my opinion: DO NOT MISS MT WHITNEY!
Absolutely yes, the terrain from Kearsarge south to the summit of Mt Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states, is stunning.
Here is a taste of what you would miss:
.Forrester Pass
If all that is at stake is chaning a plane ticket, I would definitely do so.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
maybe on 02/24/2012 09:42:27 MST Print View

Alternate perspective here:

My favorite part of the JMT is the section between Evolution Valley and the Bullfrog Lake/Kearsarge Pass area. (In other words, the entirety of Kings Canyon National Park.) I do not think the section from Kearsarge to Whitney is quite as drop-dead gorgeous by comparison. The miles through the Tyndall Creek area are even a bit tedious.

Try to do Whitney, of course. But if you have to cut it short at Kearsarge - a very pretty and well-graded pass to exit, by the way - IMO you will still have seen the best of the JMT. On your exit, try to camp at Kearsarge Lakes (rather than Charlotte Lake), and take the more southern trail to Kearsarge Lakes that passes through Bullfrog Lake. Outstanding views and gorgeous camping.

If you miss Whitney, it's easy enough to come back. A jaunt through Sequoia NP (along the High Sierra Trail, or maybe from Mineral King or Roads End), ending at Whitney, could make a very nice week-long trip in the future.

- Elizabeth

Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
Kearsarge vs Whitney on 02/25/2012 15:22:21 MST Print View

Hi Sam,

I did the JMT sobo last summer and wouldn't skip the last part from Kearsarge to Whitney. After about 12 days on the trail it was easy going over the big passes (fully acclimatized and with only a few days of food weight). I felt totally immersed in the Sierra's and was able to enjoy the trail without a single thought of the real world. In my opinion if you are already out there what better way to really enjoy the some of the good stuff? I'm partial to the Evolution area, but I really like Forester Pass, Diamond Mesa, Bighorn Plateau, watching the alpenglow on the east side Whitney and finishing at the top of Whitney. 'Nuff said.


View facing north on the way up Forester Pass.

forester south

The trail heading south from the top of Forester Pass.

oh jeez

View facing south from Forester.

bighorn plat

Bighorn Plateau.


Bighorn Plateau.

camp below whitney

Camping on the west side of Whitney.

alpenglow on whitney

Watching the alpenglow on the west side of Whitney (from my bivy).

whitney trail

Sunrise on the way up Whitney.

whitney view

West facing view from the Whitney trail.

If you're interested here's a short video taken from the top of Forester Pass:

Forester Pass Video

(edited to add video link and correct east/west direction)

Edited by bluewater on 02/25/2012 16:57:45 MST.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
JMT exit advice: Kearsarge vs Whitney on 02/25/2012 15:38:56 MST Print View

no video link embedded

Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
JMT exit advice: Kearsarge vs Whitney - Forester Pass Video Link on 02/25/2012 15:45:42 MST Print View

I'm not sure if I added the embedded link to the Forester Video correctly. If not, here's the url:

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: JMT exit advice: Kearsarge vs Whitney - Forester Pass Video Link on 02/25/2012 16:25:46 MST Print View

Are there some easts and wests turned around?

Edit: Now it makes perfect sense.

Your shot of sunrise a mile before the summit is good. I have several like it, only slightly earlier in the morning so that the shadows are even darker. One of my favorite places.


Edited by --B.G.-- on 02/25/2012 17:01:38 MST.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Andy's pictures on 02/25/2012 17:08:34 MST Print View

Andy, those pictures are great. What kind of camera did you use?

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
JMT exit advice: Kearsarge vs Whitney - Forester Pass Video Link on 02/25/2012 19:11:47 MST Print View

Don't miss either one. The view west from atop Kearsarge Pass is (IMO) the best of those from any of the 9 high passes on the PCT. (Neither Kearsarge Pass nor Mt Whitney are on the PCT).

view west from Kearsarge Pass

and looking slightly more left of the sign, you can see the 2 small Upper Kearsarge Lakes, the much larger Kearsarge Lake below them, and Lower Kearsarge Lake below that. Bullfrog Lake is the most distant one on the right.

Kearsarge Lakes

Edited by wandering_bob on 02/25/2012 19:19:22 MST.

Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
JMT exit advice: Kearsarge vs Whitney - Forester Pass on 02/26/2012 01:09:15 MST Print View

Thanks Sam & Bob. The trail toward the top of Whitney is surreal, the High Sierra awaits.

I just use a point and shoot Canon PowerShot Elph300HS. It's small/lightweight (4.8 ozs), 12 megapixels and has the same sensor as the P90 (but less than half the $). The quality is inconsistent and I usually end up doing some finishing in photoshop.