Mount Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous United States. It rises from the Owens Valley on the eastern border of the Sequoia National Park, where the majesty one would expect from a mountain of its standing is significantly abated by its position in a crowd of steeper, more formidable high peaks. Still, Whitney is a popular ascent, and its superior height becomes much more apparent from its summit. Interestingly, the highest point in the lower 48 states is only 85 miles from the lowest, Badwater Basin (-279 ft.), located in Death Valley. The distance is somewhat longer by scenic highway, but still requires little more than two hours of travel time. A trail leads to the summit of Mount Whitney, and a toilet has been installed to accommodate its crowds. Registration is required to climb the mountain, and daily restrictions have now been placed on the number of climbers allowed. There is a very popular 8.5 mile trail to the summit via the Pacific Crest Trail. There are also technical rock routes of moderate up the 2000 foot East Face. If technical climbing from the "climber's approach" then you descend via the Mountaineer's Gulley, North then East down a major couloir (can be icy) back down to "iceberg lake."
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