Mount Whitney: East Face

John Moynier & Claude Fiddler

"Mt. Whitney has the distinction of being the highest peak in the contiguous U.S. With typical audacity, the peak was named by Clarence King in honor of Josiah Dwight Whitney, professor of geology at Harvard from 1865 to 1896 and the State Geologist of California from 1860 to 1874. The first ascent of the east face of the peak was made during Dr. Robert Underhill's historic visit to the High Sierra in the summer of 1931. Underhill was an experienced climber who had made a number of ascents in the Tetons and Canadian Rockies. Upon arriving at the camp in the Ritter Range, he began instructing the Sierra Club climbers in the use of roped belays. “The route we followed was exactly that which we had mapped out originally. The rock work was not really difficult; there is, I should say, less than a thousand feet of it from the roping up to the unroping place. The beauty of the climb in general lies chiefly in its unexpected possibility, up the apparent precipice, and in the intimate contact it affords with the features that lend Mt. Whitney its real impressiveness.” A key feature on the climb is the very exposed “Fresh Air Traverse.” Clyde recounted the crux moves. “The traverse proved to be one requiring considerable steadiness, as the ledges were narrow and there was a thousand feet of fresh air below."


From the Guidebook: Climbing California's High Sierra

Rock Climbing