Badwater to Mt. Whitney UltraHurt Course Page
I probably get asked more questions about the Badwater to Mt. Whitney bike/run UltraHurt event than any subject- other than climbing K2. Carrying the distinction of the highest mountain in the contiguous USA, it seems to me that climbing Mt. Whitney by starting at the lowest point on the continent just makes perfect sense. Kinda.
However, traveling 142 miles through the desert and climbing to more than 14,500ft in one day is not exactly a straightforward challenge. On any given fall day the temperatures on various parts of the course can well exceed 100F and at other points below freezing. Chances are, you will cook in the Death Valley heat only to freeze your ass off riding over Townes Pass- only to get cooked again riding up the Portal switchbacks. Headwinds are also a huge factor- especially over Townes Pass and coming into the Owens Valley. With the wrong timing, the weather can quickly take the normally brutal ride and transform it into something downright hellish.
There are many other things to consider: hydration, nutrition, timing devices, battery life, night lights, rattlesnakes (no, really), blowing sand, pot holes, steep grades, extra tubes, extra parts, extra legs, permits, and chase cars…and the list goes on. But rather than addressing the many factors of this challenge, I think it’s more helpful to have an open discussion in the comment section below (just commissioned Sept 2016), so feel free to join the conversation.
The Course Details
Below is the full bike/run Strava Segment and Leaderboard from Badwater to the Summit of Mt. Whitney. IMPORTANT NOTE: The run/hike beginning at the Portal follows the little-known switchback trail at the very end of the Whitney Portal parking lot behind the massive boulder, then continues up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek and Mountaineers Route. IF YOU WANT YOUR TIME TO BE RECORDED ON THIS STRAVA SEGMENT, YOU MUST FOLLOW THIS ROUTE AND THE SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS BELOW. I cannot stress this point enough. If you wish to take the main trail to the summit, that’s fine of course, but it will not post on this Strava Leaderboard- but the time still counts if you can verify your results.
Course Details and Instructions
- The course segment begins at the Badwater Sign as seen here on Google Earth, and ends at the USGS marker on the highest summit block of Mt. Whitney.
- I recommend starting your GPS timing device well before reaching the start point and leaving it on well after reaching the summit. Once you pass over the complete length of the course, Strava will automatically calculate and post your time against the segment. Two timing devices per person are recommended.
- For your time to post against the Strava Segment Leaderboard above, you must upload a BIKE activity file from your device and you must follow all roads and trails closely, as marked on the segment map. Some deviations on the trail are usually ok, but try not to get too far away from the segment course as mapped on Strava or your effort may not post. If you upload a RUN activity file instead of a BIKE activity file on Strava it will not post your effort on this segment page. Until Strava allows multi-sport features, uploading a single BIKE file is the only way to keep continuous timing against this Strava segment.
- Most bike computers (or phones) using GPS do not have battery life to last more than 6-9 hours. Use a a Garmin 920Xt watch and use a Garmin Edge 510/520 or 820 on the bike (then carry it to the summit).
- Be sure to follow the bike route exactly the same as the Strava Segment and Leaderboard. Login to Strava first (it’s free) and you can view the full bike route here and download cue sheets, TCX, or GPX files.
- A permit is required for day trips and overnight trips on Mt. Whitney. Yes, they check and will issue a fine and will turn you around, If you want some suggestions regarding permits ask in the comments section below.
- Keep at least one timer with GPS running, non-stop, without pausing, throughout the entire bike ride, rests, transitions, and the run/hike.
- Please be clear in your Strava Activity ride title if you rode with a partner, group, or drafted for any amount of time on the bike portion. Both solo and group efforts are excellent challenges to attempt- but be honest and compete fairly.