Talk:Mount Whitney

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Geographical and Geological Information[edit]

... missing. This should be item #1 in an encyclopedian article.


the class of this article is not yet B since it lacks sufficient breadth, eg ecology and history.

Several issues:

  1. The elevation of Mount Whitney differs between sources. A possibly out-of- date USGS map is not necessarily the best, although I'm sticking with this elevation for now, until we have more data. The canonical data source for elevations of benchmarks is the National Geodetic Survey .. The benchmark on top of Mount Whitney has ID GT1811. I tried to look it up in the database, but it was down. The Sierra Club peak baggers captured the 1999 data for that benchmark, and it said 14,505' (!!) .. I think we should use whatever the NGS says is the latest value.
  2. Owens Valley, being a non-point geographic feature, does not have one elevation. Therefore, giving a precise (down to the foot) elevation difference is extremely misleading.
  3. I'm not sure of the licensing of topozone .. I removed the link, but we can put it back if someone checks to see if they don't mind deep linking.
  4. Let's keep discussion on this page, rather than mucking up the article.

--hike395 07:38, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Searching the USGS data on the USGS Geographic Names Information System, I found the following record:

Feature ID Number (FID) 269051
State Alpha Code CA
Feature Name Whitney, Mount
Feature Type summit
County Name Tulare
State Number Code (FIPS Code) 6
County Number Code (FIPS Code) 107
Primary Latitude (DMS) 363442N
Primary Longitude (DMS) 1181733W
Primary Latitude (decimal degrees) 36.57833
Primary Longitude (decimal degrees) -118.2925
Source Latitude (DMS)  
Source Longitude (DMS)  
Source Latitude (decimal degrees)  
Source Longitude (decimal degrees)  
Elevation 14494
Estimated Population  
Federal Status BGN 1891
Cell Name Mount Whitney

So I think it's time to go with the number that the majority of sources quote: 14,494 feet, and 4418 meters. I won't go willy nilly editing the page, though, respecting the comments, above. Additional discussion about the height of this mountain can be found at Talk:California.
--GraemeMcRae 16:01, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

Further discussion at Talk:California. -- hike395 06:12, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for addig the summary, hike395. -Willmcw 20:53, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
A better paragraph I have never read. Thank you, hike395. --GraemeMcRae 02:06, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Monsoon season?[edit]

"Common advice is to be off of the peak by noon during the summer monsoon season." does california really have a monsoon season? Dandube 13:20, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Yes, though folks who aren't climbing tall peaks may not notice it. -Will Beback 16:25, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Badwater Ultramarathon[edit]

Does this really need to be in the summary? As it's really not important to the article, I think it should be moved lower, maybe into the Popular Culture heading as an anecdote. toki 06:47, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Removed links[edit]

I removed the following links from the External links section, per WP:EL. I invite opinions about whether to put any of them back in. My main reasons: there were a lot of links for what is still a short article, and most of these are personal trip reports or commercial pages. The TierraWiki link is a link to a new, unstable wiki, which is deprecated by WP:EL, although I could see going against that guideline. Comments? -- Spireguy 05:00, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

I'd argue that the Portal Store is virtually an "official" link and should be retained. Tierrawiki may be a useful site as well. The rest seem to be trip reports and photos, about which I'm indifferent. -Will Beback · · 21:14, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
PS: I just noticed that Tierrawiki put the marker for the summit in the wrong location. Maybe it's not as relialbe as it should be. -Will Beback · · 21:17, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
Oops, they do miss the summit a bit. Yes, leave 'em out, one official website for Whitney Portal should be fine, leaving in or out Will Beback's desired links, doesn't matter. Thanks for the clean-up. KP Botany 21:40, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

I removed this external link because it is strictly commercial although the picture is great. Read it and see what you think. --DRoll (talk) 07:32, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

Hiking section getting long[edit]

The hiking section is getting long, with some stuff that seems less than encyclopedic. I changed the way it was written, but maybe we should actually remove some of the Wikitravel-type details. Any comments?

I moved most of it to its own article: Mount Whitney trail, because it really has more to do with the trail than the mountain itself. We can edit it over there, if you like. I also tried to add more about geology, based on the complaint of the anon editor. hike395 06:19, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

Distance to Badwater Basin[edit]

Maps show nearer to 84.5 miles, going by the lat/long given in these articles. ?? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:37, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Parent peak?[edit]

There was a question asked about the parent peak for Mount Whitney and the status of The editor removed the text before I could reply. The question was:

Why is Pico de Orizaba listed as the parent peak? Aren't there higher peaks in Canada & Alaska that would qualify? The reference for this is (which came up as a dead link). While dedicated to getting to the top of peaks, are the proponents of peakbagger a WP:RS?

My reply was:

I don't think the page is cited as the source for the parent peak. It is true that the server is currently down. See this archived page. I have used the site as a reference hundreds of times and have frequently checked it's data against other sources and I have always found it to be very reliable. I'm hoping that the current condition is temporary. I'm not a big fan of parent peak. The term can be ambiguous. The site says the line parent is Nevado de Toluca-Mexico[1]. The idea of parentage is related to prominence which follows the highest ridge leading away from a given peak. This is more widely studied on the British Isles.

droll [chat] 00:05, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

A glance at a globe shows that Mount Whitney is closer to the high volcanoes of central Mexico than it is to the only two North American peaks taller than Pico de Orizaba, namely Denali in Alaska and Mount Logan in the Yukon. Accordingly, a Mexican peak must be Whitney's parent peak. There are five peaks in Mexico taller than Mount Whitney, and I think that Nevado de Toluca is probably the best candidate among them, since it is significantly west of Pico de Orizaba, and therefore closer to Mount Whitney. Calculating the exact distances would be original research, but I think the source Droll provided above appears solid. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 01:48, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

I'm the original poster of the question, which I withdrew simply because I did not think it was poised in an intelligent fashion. But let me have another stab at this. Part of the problem (if there is a problem) is in defining parent peak. Yes, I see the material -- but it is a bit abstruse. Cullen's remark makes it more difficult for me to understand because I understand the parent peak concept as dealing strictly with elevations within a continental area and not lat/long. The fact that is not available complicates matters. Does it give us a listing of parent peaks (and the children)? Is there another secondary source that explains or lists parent peaks, etc? --S. Rich (talk) 04:00, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

I thought it was good question. Peakbagger is back up. The Peakbagger page does not mention a parent peak. Indeed, the subject is abstruse. Parentage can have a number of meanings. Try reading this, and especially this, at The site claims that Mount Whitney's prominence parent is Pico de Orizaba, in Mexico. Pico de Orizaba's prominence parent is Mount Logan, in Canada. Prominence parentage is not the same a line parentage and distance in irrelevant. See this. Other terms used are encirclement parentage, topographic parentage; and source parentage, some of which are synonymous. Also, most of this is totally irrelevant to the overwhelming majority of readers. This is, according to the webmaster of the science of Orometry, which is such an obscure science that it is not defined on Wiktionary. –droll [chat] 05:08, 5 August 2011 (UTC)


I removed the following markup:

Water that falls to the west of the crest flows into the [[Pacific Ocean]],{{Citation needed|reason=[[Great Basin]] wikiarticle substantiates Mount Whitney drains west to Buena Vista Lake Bed, not the Pacific Ocean|date=January 2009}} while that to the east flows into the [[Great Basin]].<ref name="nps"> {{cite web | url = | title = The Great Basin|work=Great Basin National Park | publisher = [[National Park Service|US National Park Service]] | accessdate = 2008-04-09 }}</ref> }}

The western slopes drain in to the Kern River and "since the late 19th century the Kern has been almost entirely diverted for irrigation", according to the Kern River article. The eastern slopes historically drained into the Owens River which emptied into the endorheic Owens Lake. Indeed, the Owens Valley is on the western edge of the Great Basin. Currently, most of this water is captured by the Los Angeles Aqueduct and might end up in the Pacific Ocean. –droll [chat]

You are correct. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 03:57, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Elevation measurement[edit]

With elavation measurement of Whitney being changed from 14,494 to 14,505 (+11 ft), have any of the other nearby mountains been recaluculated? I'm thinking, in particular, of Mt Barnard which used to be listed as a 14,000'er but was later revised to 13,990+ making it the highest 13,000'er in California. I have seen an elevation for Mt. Barnard given as 13,996 so a gain of a few feet would relist Barnard as 14,000+.

Yes, I was a peakbagger many years ago, but I never was on top of Mt. Baranrd so I have no personal gain in this. Seki1949 (talk) 03:19, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

There is no NGS data sheet for Barnard. Given a NGVD29 height of 4,264 metres (13,990 ft), the VERTCON calculator produces a height of 4,265.85 metres (13,996 ft), so poor Barnard is still a thirteener. —hike395 (talk) 04:24, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Separately, I think there were more elevation estimate changes than the article currently lists. For example, High_Sierra_(film) states the height at 14,501 feet, a number which isn't mentioned in the article. I can't tell whether that was the standard height estimate in 1941, or based on some apocryphal estimate at the time, or just chosen because it sounds good. --Thomas Btalk 03:15, 18 November 2014 (UTC)


On August 18, an IP editor added the information that the Native American name for Mount Whitney is "Tumanguya", which was later cited to an online women's magazine called Bustle, I do not think that this magazine is a reliable source for Native American names of mountains. I have climbed Mount Whitney and read about it extensively, and have never heard that name. I have checked three books in my own library, and none mentions "Tumanguya".

The Geographic Names Information System is very thorough in listing variant names of mountains. For example, they list 24 variants for Mount Shasta, six variants for Mount Rainier and 48 variants for Denali. Most of these variants are Native American names. However the GNIS listing for Mount Whitney includes only two real variants, one 19th century (Fisherman's Peak) and the second 20th century (Mount Churchill), neither Native American. The lack of Native American variants for Mount Whitney is not surprising. The three other peaks mentioned stand well apart from surrounding peaks, can be seen for hundreds of miles, and are memorable sights. Mount Whitney is just the highest point along an 11 mile high mountain ridge, surrounded by many other peaks nearly as high. From the Owens Valley, it does not seem to be the highest peak at all. I am unaware that Native Americans named individual peaks of the High Sierra, but I could be wrong.

California Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary is an excellent source for such information. For example, the word "Shasta" appears 86 times in that book. The word "Tumanguya" does not appear at all. Another excellent source is Place Names of the High Sierra which also does not mention "Tumanguya". As a matter of fact, the word "Tumanguya" does not appear anywhere in Google Books, Google Scholar or JSTOR searches, and only seems to appear on the internet at all in recent weeks.

Accordingly, I am removing "Tumanguya" from the article. I will not object to adding the information back into the article if it can be cited to a better quality source.I will not object to adding the information back into the article if it can be cited to a better quality source. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 22:20, 10 September 2015 (UTC)

I added a section with documentation from one of the first parties to climb the mountain, Judge William B. Wallace of Visalia. He gives the Native American (Paiute) name as "Too-man-i-goo-yah". Judge Wallace was active in the Mt. Whitney Club which was instrumental in advocating for park protection for the Whitney area. I have not yet been able to find a copy of California Senator John Miller's Senate Bill 463 which was the first proposal put forth for park protection. [1] (Pixpixpix (talk) 01:05, 5 October 2015 (UTC))

To avoid confusion I renamed the subheading as "Native American Name". I see that for many peaks there is a distinct "Names" section near the top of the entry, an edit that might be appropriate at some time, consolidating all the name history. (Pixpixpix (talk) 19:29, 5 October 2015 (UTC))

Tumanguya variations[edit]

One of the reasons why cullen328 has found it difficult to locate the above particular spelling is because the Paiute term is transliterated in about a dozen ways. The reason why I think it is preferable to list the Tumanguya spelling is because it corresponds to the standard English writing system that typically does not insert commas and spaces in a pronouns or words. However the fact that these variations exist is evidence enough that a variant int he native american language exists. Kleinebeesjes (talk) 10:35, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

There are some problems with the recent edits.

  • "the term Tumanguya is a pronoun referring to a spirit believed to dwell within the mountain who looks over the peoples of the Owens Valley" . The reference to Francis P. Farquhar's 1926 book [2] is incorrect. There are no Native American names for Mt.Whitney mentioned in the book
  • a form of address is a proper noun not a pronoun
  • You mention a dozen transliterations for the name. What is your source? I can only find two so far, "Too-man-i-goo-yah," from the 1902 Mount Whitney Club report and "Too-man-go-yah" first mentioned in 1998 [3]
  • There is no evidence of the transliteration "Tumanguya" before August 31, 2015. It may be that the author of the Bustle article made it up. We should be careful about promulgated newly invented terms

(Pixpixpix (talk) 18:11, 5 October 2015 (UTC))

I commend Pixpixpix for finding the information about "Too-man-i-goo-yah". I share that editor's concern about "Tumanguya", and do not consider the Bustle source reliable for this information. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 19:04, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

Thanks Jim. I emailed the author of the Bustle article to ask what her sources were. (Pixpixpix (talk)) —Preceding undated comment added 19:10, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ "Challenge of the Big Trees". National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Farquhar, Francis (1926). Place Names of the High Sierra (PDF). Sierra Club. 
  3. ^ Porcella, Stephen (1998). Climbing California's Fourteeners: The Route Guide to the Fifteen Highest Peaks. Mountaineers Books.