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Shepherds Pass to Whitney?
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christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Shepherds Pass to Whitney? on 03/03/2014 16:05:37 MST Print View

Hey guys,
I'm looking into a 4 night trip ending at Whitney in late July.

Here's an idea i had so far...I'm still in the beginning stages of planning so forgive any ignorance.

day 1: Stay at shepherds pass trailhead to acclimate?
day 2: camp just east of Shepherds pass...anvil camp?
day 3: Over shepherds, camp near tyndall/jmt junction
day 4: south on JMT to Guitar lake.
day 5: Summit Whitney, then out via whitney portal.

I tend to be a little altitude sensitive, hence day 1. (I'll be on diamox too)
My goal is to have an awesome trip and do Whitney...all within 4 nights. So if there's a better route please let me know. And yes...I'm concerned about permits at guitar lake/Whitney...any insight you can share on that would be nice as well.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Shepherds Pass to Whitney? on 03/03/2014 16:39:32 MST Print View

Search here on bpl for the info on Shepards Pass, or call the FS

Massive washouts, lots of missing trail, 20' headwalls to be negotiated...

No known repair date.


Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Shepherds Pass to Whitney? on 03/03/2014 17:27:12 MST Print View

Chris, a few things on Shepherds Pass. First the trailhead is at 5000 feet or so. You are better off sleeping at the campgrounds at the Onion Valley trailhead which is much higher. It is only like a 30 minute drive to the Shepherds Pass trailhead from there. Gives you a better chance to acclimate. Start EARLY....this is a steep and long hike that is quite warm. Anvil Camp is a nice place. I had lunch there but I did not camp there. Lots of trees and water (hopefully!) is right there. I don't think you need a permit for Whitney if you are entering from a different tailhead like the one that you are doing. Pretty sure on to check.

To make you trip easier may I suggest going in over Kearsarge and hiking to the base of Forester Pass, then the next day go over Forester to Tyndall and continue on? Same days and I think the mileage is just a tad more. Kearsarge is a great East entry pass and Forester Pass is pretty darn cool and I think you would really enjoy it. Shepherds is a slog....and it is a long long hike to the summit...just saying

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Damage on 03/03/2014 17:32:10 MST Print View

I am sure it is passable....I don't know how well versed you are on scree and talus travel. But the last 500 feet or so is just that. When we descended the pass we had switchbacks but from what I have read, some have washed away. You can climb the pass but it will take some time slipping and regaining footing. If there is snow, then it is easier as I understand it is a straight shoot to the top. Are you going solo on this?


on the link I posted, scroll down, there are pictures that give you an idea of what you will encounter

Edited by kennyhel77 on 03/03/2014 17:35:16 MST.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Shepherds Pass to Whitney? on 03/03/2014 19:54:38 MST Print View

Kearsarge pass is a much easier and more beautiful pass van Shepherd pass. However you may have problems with the altitude at Forrester pass. In any event, no matter which way you go, you will need a special permit to go over Trail Crest. A lot of these go 6 months in advance though the Forest Service may save some for for same-day show up . contact Indio National Forest regarding the permits. They have a website. And the phone number. And you can also look at reservations on

Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
Re: Shepherds Pass to Whitney? on 03/03/2014 20:36:05 MST Print View

How about approaching Whitney from the south? The Cottonwood Lakes/Cottonwood Pass trailheads start off at ~10,000ft saving you the long hard slog you would face starting at Shepard Pass trailhead (~6,000ft). Just jump on the PCT at the top of Cottonwood Pass and follow it to the junction with the John Muir Trails near Crabtree Meadow. Not sure I could do it 4 days but I'm old and slow.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Shepherds Pass to Whitney? on 03/03/2014 21:17:30 MST Print View

No, it is not Indio National Forest. It is Inyo National Forest on the east side.

You do not have to get a Mount Whitney Trail permit (entry), which is hard to get, but you still have to have a Mount Whitney Trail permit (exit), which is easier to get, but you still have to have it.

Everybody and his dog will be hiking southbound on the JMT, wanting to go up Mount Whitney, and then they will have to exit on the Mount Whitney Trail. So, don't expect this to be a wilderness experience. Well, actually no dogs, although I have a photo of a service dog on the Mount Whitney Switchbacks one time.


christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Shepherds pass to whitney on 03/03/2014 22:53:45 MST Print View

Thanks so much everyone.
My original thought was Kearsarge to Whitney but I thought Shepherds would be quicker. Apparently it's not! So I'll probably go the Kearsarge route.
Would be nice to see Forester again. I named my son after that pass! Well his middle name actually.

Will also check out the Cottonwood route.

Robert Perkins

Locale: The Sierras
Shepherds Pass to Whitney? on 03/04/2014 09:14:34 MST Print View

Christopher, I guess I'll put out a positive vote for Shepherds Pass, with the caveat that I haven't been there since the washout and don't know how hard it is to navigate through. If you like challenging passes and a little solitude when hiking, you'll like Shepherds Pass. It is tougher than Kearsarge, but pretty rewarding when you get up it! As others have mentioned, get an early start and stay at Anvil Camp for acclimation. The section through the talus is sloppy trail normally anyways, so if there is damage there, you probably won't even know the difference. The washout below Anvil Camp looks pretty nasty, and I would assume there are some use-trails showing you the way through it by now?

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Shepherds Pass to Whitney? on 03/04/2014 09:51:10 MST Print View

Yes..... Inyo. Thanks for catching the typo Bob. That was the voice to text translator.