Mt. Whitney

It's not K2 or Kanchenjunga. It's not McKinley or even Kilimanjaro. It's mighty Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in America's Lower 48 states and reputedly the highest walk-up summit on the planet open to just about any local bucket-lister with a healthy pulse, reliable footwear, the right attitude and enough foresight to apply in February for a summer climbing permit.

Perched atop its boulder-strewn crest on a cloudless Saturday afternoon in July or August, gaping over a glorious granite sea of southern Sierra Nevada peaks, is a crowd of high-fivers about as select-looking as a line at the DMV.

-- Jordan Rane

Read more: Mt. Whitney in their sights

Planning your trip: Take a look at the Forest Service's Mt. Whitney page, where you can learn about leave-no-trace camping, bear safety and other precautions to take while on the mountain.

Jordan Rane