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Difficulty descriptions are by nature very subjective. The categories below represent generalized distinctions in terrain, level of commitment, time spent at elevation and overall trip duration. Level of commitment refers to the ability to opt out of activities such as peak ascents from a base camp. A committing trip requires a daily mileage to be completed each day.

These trips typically travel on groomed trails at a leisurely pace. You can expect maintained trails, gentle grades and more flexibility in terms of your destination for the day. Hikers will carry mainly the essentials in a light daypack and travel anywhere from 3 to 8 miles depending on the trip or preference.

Moderate- Basecamps
These include hiking, backpacking, or stock-supported trips that take place mostly on maintained trails to get to camp. These trips hike into a set basecamp and then offer optional destinations with varying degrees of challenge. You can expect modest climbs on uneven terrain. Total distances are often 4-7 miles of hiking per day over 3-4 days of hiking.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking or stock-supported trips. The trails can consist of uneven terrain with modest to difficult climbs and some steep passes (gains of 1000-2000’). These trips are typically 3-5 days in duration but can be longer. For backpacking trips, they can include carrying a fully weighted pack (30-42lbs) and travel 6-10 miles per day.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking, backpacking or stock-supported trips with uneven terrain and steep grades and passes. These trips are more physically and mentally challenging and usually 7-8 days in duration. For backpacking trips, pack weight will consist of (30-40lbs). Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment is high. Trips in this category spend significant time at higher elevations and often cover 8-12+ miles per day with average gains/losses of 1,500-3,000’ per day. The most successful people on these trips have some prior overnight backcountry experience.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking on uneven terrain with steep grades. These trips travel 10-12+ miles per day and can vary from 8-21 days in length. Given the mileage and duration, there is an increased amount of physical and mental challenge throughout the trip. Pack weights will consist of 35-45lbs depending on the resupply schedule. Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment to reach your destination is high. The most successful people on these trips have extensive overnight backcountry experience.

Mt Whitney with Horsepack Support

About the trip

Climb Mt Whitney! This stock-supported trip takes you through the pristine backcountry of Sequoia National Park along the PCT and JMT routes. Foxtail Pines, sprawling meadows, and alpine lakes define this remote region of the Sierra and standing atop the highest peak in the contiguous US is (14,500') is an exhilarating experience like few others. 

Accomodations: We provide your first night’s accommodation at the Best Western in Lone Pine (pricing based on double room occupancy) Five nights tent camping.

Equipment: We supply all group camping gear (stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.). We can also supply personal camping equipment (backpacks, sleeping bags, ground pads, trekking poles, and tents) upon request with no additional fee. You are welcome to bring your own personal camping equipment if you prefer. A detailed gear list will be sent to you upon registration.

Meals: We provide meals starting with breakfast on day two through lunch and trail snacks the last day. Our "Backcountry Gourmet" meals have been acclaimed in Sunset Magazine. We take pride in providing excellent meals even in remote surroundings.

Your Cost Includes: Meals (as noted above), group camping gear (as noted above), personal camping equipment (as listed above), accommodations (as noted above), applicable permits, pack stock support throughout trip, professional mountain guide(s), pre-trip planning packet, and trip support from our friendly office staff.

Not Included: Personal clothing and footwear, personal gear not listed under “Equipment” above, meals while in the front country, tips for guides (10-20% of trip cost is customary), transportation, and optional trip cancellation insurance.

Preparation:Training is paramount to the enjoyment and success of your trip. We recommend exercising in the months prior to your trip to bolster sustained cardiovascular/aerobic activities as well as core and leg strength. Day hikes with a full backpack, preferably on hilly, off road terrain, is the best way to train for our trips. Activities such as cycling and step-master type machines are also excellent and preferable to a routine comprised solely of running.

About the Packstock: Mules will be carrying all of our equipment and your personal gear each day. We won't be hiking with the mules and perhaps not even camping with them. You will need to pack your personal belongings efficiently into one mid-sized compression sack or duffel as outlined in our pre-trip materials. You are welcome to pack anything extra in your daypack.

Full Itinerary

Day 1:

Today we’ll meet for a stay at the pleasant Best Western Inn Lone Pine, Ca, with views of Mt Whitney to the west. Meet your guide and group for an orientation at 6pm. Dinner is then on your own in town, though typically we’ll all choose a place together.

Day 2:  

Meet your guide and group for an included breakfast at 7am in the lobby. There, you can go over any last minute questions. You’ll then follow your guide to the trailhead, roughly 45 minute drive away. From there, we’ll lace up our boots and start our hike up and over Cottonwood Pass. Our first night's camp is at Chicken Springs Lake, appx 4 miles. Though a short day, it’s a full one in getting on the trail and climbing 1300ft over the pass.

Day 3:

Today we'll follow the famous Pacific Crest Trail through majestic Foxtail Pine forests, and on to the lower reaches of Rock Creek. 9 miles

Day 4:

Leaving camp, we’ll travel over the tame Guyot Pass to Crabtree Meadows. From there we’ll set our sights on our high camp at Guitar Lake in preparation for Mt Whitney. 10 miles

Day 5:

With an alpine start we’ll hit the trail early for an attempt of the summit of Mt. Whitney. After enjoying the panoramic views from the highest point in the US outside of Alaska, we’ll head back back down to Guitar Lake for lunch and a siesta. Our pack train will return to take our gear and we’ll head down to the forested lower country of Crabtree Meadows in the afternoon. In camp, we’ll enjoy a memorable sunset over Mt Russell and the Kaweah Crest. (14.5 miles total).

Day 6:

Waking with a sense of accomplishment, we’ll begin our hike back southward through Sequoia National Park. An alternate route than how we arrived will see us to the headwaters of Rock Creek near Soldier Meadow. 11miles.

Day 7:

Packing up camp one last time, we’ll exit the High Sierra back via Cottonwood Pass, which will get us back to our vehicles at the trailhead by 2pm. (10.2 miles)

Please call the SYMG office with any questions - 800/231-4575


*Similar trips include: John Muir Trail: Agnew-Tuolumne, Yosemite Grand Traverse Horsepack

Trip Details

7 Days/ 6 Nights

Group size
4-12 participants with 1 -2 mountain guides

Difficulty Rating

$3,995 per person

price based on shared room occupancy
Single Lodging Supplement (when available): Requested Single $150; Forced Single $75

2020 Trip Dates
August 2-8, 2020
Custom dates & pricing available!


SYMG's guides, Fred Ackerman and Nick Robinson. Two excellent young men who surpassed all possible expectations. Smart, sociable, informed, courteous, considerate hosts who greeted requests for information and assistance with a sincerity that never failed. They succeeded in making each day's hike and each camp an event unto itself. Their enthusiasm for their work is matched by a desire to assure each hiker had the best possible experience. Anectdotal observations and banter shared while hiking, setting up camp or preparing fabulous meals kept everyone connected and mutually engaged in an evolving experience. Above all that, there is no doubt in my mind but that every member of the group would say both are enjoyable gentlemen worthy of trust. Many thanks to SYMG and especially to Fred and Nick.

-Rod A- Mt Whitney Pack Trip July, 2015

Thank you for yet another fantastic trip. I speak for my whole group in saying that you guys run a first rate operation. As a second time SYMG client who organized this trip, I felt very happy when the first timers in my group raved about how everything was even better than expected. We could not have asked for better guides than Graham and Kelsey. They were fun to hang out with, clearly expert in our backpacking/camping activities, knowledgeable of our geological and geographical surroundings, and chefs extraordinaire. Most importantly, Graham and Kelsey did a terrific job in challenging us to reach new levels of accomplishment, while also making us feel well taken care of. During the entire trip, I had the utmost confidence in our guides. Needless to say, SYMG continues to be my first choice in outdoor adventure tours. It was a pleasure organizing this trip with you. Thanks again for everything!

-- Vivian Kuo Center