Mt Whitney Portal Store: A Hikers Paradise

Last weekend we had the opportunity to travel up to Lone Pine and hike Mt. Whitney. While preparing for that epic hike we spent a couple of nights camping to let our bodies acclimate. One of those nights was spent at the Whitney Portal where the awesome Mt Whitney Portal Store resides. This post is simply to show my appreciation for how awesome the food, people and products are at the Whitney Portal Store, while letting others know what they have in store for them before they get there.

Breakfast (Pancakes Bigger Then You Have Ever Seen)

On the day of our hike we decided to get a nice carb filled meal before we set out on the mountain. Having heard stories of how big their pancakes were, my group of three decided to split the meal that included one pancake, 3 eggs and 5 pieces of bacon, all for $8.95. Now even with three people we were not able to finish this entire meal. The pancake itself had to be brought out on two plates and you can see the size based on my friend Zac’s hand below. It was the largest pancake I have ever seen.

Not only was the pancake big, but it was also really good. The chef told me that he has to make the batter individually for each pancake since they use so much. Also, he said he puts in vanilla and cinnamon in it, and the cinnamon was a great addition that you could really taste. We were all huge fans of this meal and couldn’t believe how much food we got for $8.95.

Dinner (Burgers and Beer)

Not to be outdone by the amazing breakfast, the Portal Store also has six different burgers ranging from chicken and beef to veggie burgers and BLT’s. Their selection of beer is what initially caught my eye though. They stock three different kinds of beer from Stone Brewing Company, one of my personal favorites in Southern California. When I finished summiting Mt Whitney my next checkpoint was making it down to the Portal Store so I could have a burger and a beer.

I, of course, got the burger and it was great. Zac decided on the chicken sandwich, that he also enjoyed; while Amie had the veggie burger that she liked as well. Dinner was a lot more expensive then breakfast with a burger and fries running around $9 and the beer around $4, but to have this kind of meal 50 feet from the Mt Whitney trail exit, it is priceless.

The Store

After all this talk of food you may think that the store doesn’t have much to offer, but that is false as well. The store is a great resource for the hiker with everything you could have forgotten, all at non exorbitant prices.

Their products range from micro spikes to deodorant and everything in between. I was surprised by how well everything was priced also. Normally places like this try to rip you off, but this was not the case here. They have a great section of rentals as well if you forget your bear box or back pack.

Lastly, when you come down from completing your Mt Whitney summit, they have a wide range of souvenirs you can take home. Amie gravitated to a “I climbed Mt Whitney” shirt, Zac to a magnet and a map and I myself picked up a couple pins of the survey marker for my backpack. They also have the traditional stuff like picture frames and stickers.

All in all the Whitney Portal Store is a diamond in the rough. It is one of those places that has good food, cheap souvenirs, hiking supplies and friendly workers… wait, do places like that exist? I guess at least one does. Anyways, I love this store and it is a great stop on your trip up Mt Whitney. Check out the rest of the photos and leave me a comment below.

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  • Lorraine

    What are the hours of the Whitney portal store? We will be hiking the mountain in one day so it will be very early when we start and probably very late when we return. Thanks!

  • Kirk Anderson

    I actually worked at the Whitney Portal Store back in 1978 and 1979. I decided to get out of Los Angeles. A friend of mine told me about Lone Pine. I came up here and visited the store. I had a little money saved up so I just kicked back and relaxed for the entire summer. That was when Jerry Kisker and his girlfriend, Jan (Gabby) owned the place. I met them, became friends with them and they asked if I wanted to help around the place.
    I loved it! In exchange for working the counter and cleaning up, etc. I got free room and board. I climbed Mt. Whitney, signed the guest book, etc. Wow, 1978! 38 years ago. I was 29 years old at the time. Seems like a couple of lifetimes ago. Jerry and Jan sold the place a few years later and went to Vegas. They started their own business – they took care of large parties, from the food to the tables, to everything. Lost touch with them. They were really nice to me.
    I really miss those days. So carefree. No worries at the time. Just had so much fun! The store looks completely different. I almost don’t recognize it! There was a flat piece of ground in back of the store. I pitched a big tent and that’s where I stayed. I loved it. You could look up at night and swear you could just pluck a star right out of the sky.
    Funny story about reaching the top of Mt. Whitney. Someone had a $20 walkie-Talkie (a cheapie). He turned it on and started calling out to anyone who could hear him. Some guy from Texas answered. Texas! On a cheap walkie-talkie. The guy from Texas (a truck driver) couldn’t believe where we were calling from. He thought we were pulling his leg. LOL. He also managed to get hold of someone in, if I remember correctly, somewhere like Kansas, or some silly place like that. Because we were do high up, there was no interference – the radio wave just traveled and traveled and traveled!
    Rebecca Lyn M., if you read this, I sincerely hope you are safe and healthy and happy! Bless you.
    Kirk 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Kirk, that is a really fun story to share. I always love hearing about people’s personal histories with these unique places!

    • Heather Frauenhofer

      Kirk what a small world. My name is Heather Kisker and Jerry Kisker is my dad. I spent my summers up at the store with my two older brothers. My parents divorced around 1975/1976. My dad ended up marrying Jan but divorcing her around 1999/2000. Unfortunately my dad passed away last Saturday night. He was 82.

      • kirk anderson

        Oh no! Jerry passed away last Saturday?! I am really sorry to hear that, Heather. I tried to find Jerry and Jan a couple of times but with no luck. I really wanted to see them again. They were so much fun. Your dad had a really infectious laugh and a huge smile! On the off season, when they closed for the winter, we went back to Santa Monica and rented a house on Ocean Park Blvd. He would then go back to doing what he used to do – he got a job as the sound guy for a Wink Martindale commercial. We spent a couple of days on the commercial. He was advertising refrigerators. I remember he kept getting frustrated because the props kept breaking, or tipping over. He would walk off the set to compose himself. Meanwhile, me and Jerry were laughing – under our breath of course. LOL.

        Jan was a strange one. I just couldn’t picture those two together. Jan always looked like she would have been perfectly comfortable herding cattle from Lone Pine to Texas. The way she dressed. Her boots. Her short hair. Her colorful vocabulary. She looked and acted like she belonged on a horse. They made a strange pair, but they were happy with each other. They got along really well.
        I went back a few years later. It was then that I found out they had sold the place and moved go Vegas. He had talked about it quite a big when I was there. He would say ‘someday.’ He wanted to start a food service company. He and Jan would do the entire setup of a huge dining hall; food, decorations, everything.
        I was really depressed when I found out they were gone. I went inside the store and introduced myself to the new owners. They let me walk around inside the place. Back to the living room area, etc. I wanted to see them again so bad. I went to the area behind the place where I used to have my tent. And of course the shower at the back of the building. A shower! And I didn’t have to pay for it. LOL. Oh how I loved having that shower up there. I went across the pond and sat on one of those huge rocks. I just sat there. I couldn’t believe how depressed I was. I missed the time I was there and with them. When I went there, I had no place to stay. I had just got there from Los Angeles. I knew no one. They must have picked up on that, so Jerry asked if I wanted to help them out. I also went in to town with him and got supplies, etc. Room and board provided. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.
        I remember that CB radio. Half the time he couldn’t get through to someone. Or it would break up and he’d keep saying ‘say again!’ LOL. I forget what his handle was. It’s right on the tip of my tongue.
        I knew he had children, but I had never met you and your brothers. I must have showed up a couple of years after you were there.
        I just can’t believe Jerry is gone. 82 is too young! Can you tell me what happened? I’m 67. Wow, this is soooo sad. My eyes are tearing up. I hope Jan is doing ok. She was really nice to me, too. Her and Jerry were always trying to set me up with the ladies up there. LOL.
        I remember one lady came up there and I waited on her. She was really nice looking and single. I must have been brain dead or really naïve! Jerry and Jan were standing nearby, watching everything. After I talked for a bit with the woman, she bought some stuff and left. After she left, Jerry and Jan came storming into the front store part. Jerry just about yelled at me “what are you doing?!’ I said “what?” Jan just stood there and shook her head. I didn’t know what they were talking about. Your dad says “She was coming on to you, you idiot! She did everything but tackle you!” Like an idiot I said “really?” Jerry and Jan started laughing and shaking their head.
        Jan said something like “You’re a little rusty, I see.” I turned beat red. I completely missed her intentions. I don’t know what I was thinking. Jerry and Jan didn’t let me forget that one very easy.
        Oh, Heather, my sincere condolences on you passing on your dad! This is heartbreaking. I wanted to much to see him again. To thank him and Jan for being my friends.
        Thank you soooo much for responding to my post. I can’t remember if Jerry or Jan took pictures. I think they did. I wonder if I’m in any of those pictures? If you have any of his pictures, you should take a look someday, see if he took a picture of this guy who worked there in 1978 and 1979. I’m 5′ 10″, I HAD dark brown hair (LOL, HAD), weighed about 200 lbs or so.
        Again, thanks so much, Heather! Wow, Jerry Kisker’s daughter! You’re right – it’s a small world, and sometimes it can be pretty cool! 🙂
        Kirk Anderson
        Glendale, CA

      • kirk anderson

        I left a comment a few days ago but I don’t see it. Anyway, I am really sad that Jerry passed away! I really wanted to see him again, and Jan. I remember Jerry talking about his daughter, Heather! Wow, and here you are. Did he move to Las Vegas and get into the food preparation/planning business? I know he and Jan talked about. Where is Jan? Does she still go by Kisker, or by her maiden name, Gabrovich? (Gabby). I believe that’s the correct spelling.

        God, when I think about it, Jerry was only 44 years old when I met him! I just love that Portal store. I think it was 8,400 feet above sea level.

        Wow, I’m really bummed out about Jerry’s passing. He was such a gregarious personality. After my first year there, when they ‘folded up’ the store for the winter, we went back to Los Angeles (Santa Monica) and rented a house. Jerry had a gig as the sound engineer for a Wink Martindale commercial. He invited me along to watch. It was really fun. I remember Wink was having a bad day. He kept making mistakes with his lines. He finally had enough and said he was taking a 15 minute break. Jerry and myself were having hard time not laughing out loud. Jerry had his head down, looking at the sound machine. I looked over and I could see a big grin. I almost lost it. Those were the days!

        What year did he and Jan actually sell the store? He was actually taking offers before I left. There were a couple of ‘flat landers’ who were interested. Not sure if either of them bought the store.

        When I went back years later and realized that Jerry and Jan really weren’t there (I knew they weren’t, but it really hit me), I was really depressed. I went through the store, told the new owners who I was. Everything was so familiar. I went to the pond, climbed one of those big rocks and just sat there and sulked and remembered. I couldn’t believe how alone I felt.

        Knowing that Jerry is no longer with us, I don’t think I can ever go back to the Portal store. It would be too overwhelming for me.

        Thank you sooooo much, Heather, for posting here. You really made my day. My entire year! God’s speed in whatever you are doing. Here is a link to a song by a group called “The Calling.” This was the group’s first song. He was just a kid when he wrote and sang it. The kid with the golden baritone voice. I have included the video with the lyrics. He wrote this because of the death of someone he knew, and how it would be nice if this person could find a way to speak to his wife in the after life and offer her comfort and let her know that he would always be there for her, and that it’s okay to love again. I get teary eyed every time I listen to this song.

        It was named the number 1 song of the decade of 2000’s on the Adult Pop Charts by Billboard magazine. He was only 16 when he wrote the song, and 19 when he performed it. I love this song. Never gets old:

        Take care of yourself, Heather!
        Kirk Anderson 🙂