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As they climbed the mountain during a fishing trip to nearby Kern Canyon, they called the mountain Fisherman's Peak. Whitney "Too-man-i-goo-yah," which means "the very old man." They believe that the Great Spirit who presides over the destiny of their people once had his home in that mountain." The spelling Too-man-i-goo-yah is a transliteration from the indigenous Paiute Mono language.Other variations are Too-man-go-yah In 1891, the United States Geological Survey's Board on Geographic Names decided to recognize the earlier name Mount Whitney.An older plaque on the summit (sheet metal with black lettering on white enamel) reads "elevation 14,496.811 feet" but this was estimated using the older vertical datum (NGVD29) from 1929.Since then the shape of the Earth (the geoid) has been estimated more accurately.Despite losing out on their preferred name, residents of Lone Pine financed the first trail to the summit, engineered by Gustave Marsh, and completed on July 22, 1904. Bureau of Fisheries employee Byrd Surby was struck and killed by lightning while eating lunch on the exposed summit.
Waterways on the west side of the peak flow into Whitney Creek, which flows into the Kern River. During very wet years, water overflows from the Tulare Basin into the San Joaquin River which flows to the Pacific Ocean.From the east, water from Mount Whitney flows to Lone Pine Creek, which joins the Owens River, which in turn terminates at Owens Lake, an endorheic lake of the Great Basin.The estimated elevation of the summit of Mount Whitney has changed over the years.This is considered an "extreme" day hike, which normally involves leaving Whitney Portal before sunrise and 12 to 18 hours of strenuous hiking, while struggling with altitude sickness, cold air, and occasionally treacherous surface conditions (because snow and/or ice are normally present on parts of the trail, except for a short period from early July to late September).Longer approaches to Whitney arrive at its west side, connecting to the Mount Whitney Trail near the summit by way of the John Muir Trail.