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:
Chance of snow on Sunday night and Monday, then mostly clear but cold for the rest of next week on Mt Whitney. The Whitney Portal
is now closed four miles down from the trailhead so you will have that extra mileage for any attempt on climbing to the top of Mt Whitney. The quota for hiking/climbing Mt Whitney no longer in force until May 1st (so permits are available just for the asking)
Latest Trail Conditions as of January 20th
The Whitney Portal Road is closed four miles from the Trailhead
. The Mt Whitney Trail
has heavy snow and ice from start to finish and it gets very heavy from outpost camp to Trail Camp
. After that you will find deep snow pack most of the way so the trail is completely buried all the way to Trail Crest
. From Trail Crest to the summit also has very heavy snow. All this makes it extremely time consuming and difficult to reach the Summit
. Crampons and ice ax are a must for any attempt on the summit along with expert winter mountaineering experience.