Trans-Sierra Xtreme Challenge

4.97 out of 5 based on 36 customer ratings
(36 customer reviews)


An Inspirational Trek to Mt. Whitney (14,505 ft.) and Beyond

FROM $1,799


Join a trek


#1: July 13 – 21
#2: July 27 – Aug 4
#3: Aug 10 – 18
#4: Aug 20 – 28
#5: Aug 31 – Sept 8

Prices increase May 1st.


Product Description

No matter your age, backpacking the Sierra can be a life changing experience. The Trans-Sierra Xtreme (TSX) Challenge is an annual series of guided 75 mile backpacking treks across Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The inspirational journey traverses some of the most remote, least-traveled regions of the Sierra before culminating with an ascent on Mt. Whitney (elevation 14,505 feet), the highest point in the lower 48 states. This week-long hike is open to fit and motivated individuals of all ages and experience levels. You’ll cover 75 miles in one week, with over 20,000 feet in cumulative elevation gain and 18,000 feet in cumulative elevation loss. You won’t find it spelled out in any guide book or map, save one.

We coordinate round-trip transportation from Southern California (REI Northridge), the Bay Area (Sports Basement) and Central California (REI Fresno). Limit 13 participants per trek.

What’s included

  • Guided 8 night, 75 mile trans-Sierra hike to Mt. Whitney
  • Transportation from Bay Area, L.A. and Fresno to our trailhead
  • Return transportation
  • Personalized pack check prior to departure
  • All meals and snacks in the back-country
  • Group gear and equipment
  • Backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad if needed
  • Post-hike closing meal and opportunity to shower

What’s not included

  • Meals in the front-country, including while in transit
  • Personal items
Trans-Sierra Hike to Mt. Whitney

Dates and pricing

All treks depart at 11AM | 1st night at trailhead | Group size limit 13 | $450 deposit/person | Balance due 60 days prior to trek

Week of challenge Early registration
Sign up by April 30th
Open registration
Regular price
Join a trek
July 13 – 21, 2018 $1,374 $1,799 Sign Up
July 27 – August 4, 2018 $1,374 $1,799 Sign Up
August 10 – 18, 2018 $1,374 $1,799 Sign Up
August 20 – 28, 2018 $1,374 $1,799 Sign Up
August 31 – September 8, 2018 $1,374 $1,799 Sign Up

Looking for 2017 treks? We are organizing 5 trips this summer, and may have a limited number of spots available due to cancellation. Please contact us to inquire about 2017 trek dates and availability. Already a 2017 participant? Click here for summer details.



Pack-check and 10AM departure

A few days before your trek (or day of for out-of-town guests), we’ll host a pack check at Bay Area Sports Basement, REI Fresno or REI Northridge stores. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a pack we’ll provide one for you. You’ll have a few days to make adjustments before reconvening at 10AM the day of departure, when we’ll leave for camp at our trailhead in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park (about a 5 hour drive from the Bay Area, 2 hours from Fresno).

meadow near Sugarloaf

Day 1 – Horse Corral to Sugarloaf (moderate)

After breaking camp at the trailhead, our trail begins near Big Meadow at 7,800′ and heads uphill to around 9,300′, then down to camp at 7,200′ near Sugarloaf. While the grade is moderate, expect this day to be among the toughest.

Trail: Begins at 7,800′, climbs to 9,300′ then descends to stream crossings and camp

big wet meadow

Day 2 – Sugarloaf to Big Wet Meadow (moderate)

Today the trail undulates upward, with multiple crossings of prestine high sierra creeks, and one Roaring River, as we climb to near 8,500′ for our camp below granite cliffs and spires. At camp #2 we almost always have curious deer wander through. Keep your ears open for the occasional bear. Grrrrr…

Trail: Multiple stream crossings, trail climbs back to 8,500’

colby lake

Day 3 – Big Wet Meadow to Colby Lake (intense uphill)

A stiff climb will bring us to one of the prettiest campsites in the Sierra, Colby Lake at 10,600′. A mid-afternoon swim, the chance to catch fresh trout, and the most amazing display of stars anywhere makes this camp special.

Trail: Stiff climb to high-Sierra lake at 10,600’, get to camp just after lunch, rest

kern kaweah river drainage

Day 4 – Colby Lake to Junction Meadow (intense uphill, long intense downhill)

An early start and 1,400′ ascent will get us to Colby Pass where we can view the Kern Canyon and the Mt. Whitney group. A long and sometimes steep descent will get us to the Kern River for a crossing just before camp. This is the most challenging, and most breathtaking day.

Trail: Climb to pass at 12,000’, then long intense downhill to 8,000’, most difficult day

mt whitney

Day 5 – Junction Meadow to Crabtree (moderate uphill)

A long and gradual climb on very good trail will get us to the John Muir Trail followed by undulating trail to camp near Crabtree Meadows at 10,800′. Our goal is to camp at the postcard-perfect campsite with an awesome view of the backside of Whitney.

Trail: Gradual climb to intersection with storied John Muir Trail and over 10,000′

hitchcock peaks

Day 6 – Crabtree to Mt. Whitney and back (intense up and downhill)

Our early, before sun-up start will get us to the top of Mt. Whitney at 14,507 feet by lunch (weather permitting). The adrenaline will be flowing as we move past Guitar Lake, up the switchbacks, and parallel the Hitchcock peaks. After signing the book and taking pictures (you can also call home from the top) we’ll hike back to camp for dinner.

Trail: Summit Mt. Whitney with hike to 14,505 elevation

deer near Rock Creek

Day 7 – Crabtree to High Desert Camp (moderate to moderate-intense)

We will leave our base camp and start our final segment to cars and civilization. We will hike a moderate trail for about 9 miles to our camp near Rock Creek.

Trail: Morning climb to near 11,000′, mid-afternoon descent, and then climb back to 11,000

chicken spring lake

Day 8 – High Desert Camp to Horseshoe Meadows (moderate)

An early start will get us to Chicken Spring Lake before lunch. We will cross over Cottonwood Pass and then descend the eastside of the Sierra. After a cool drink and dinner we’ll load the vehicles and head back to the Bay Area, and home to brag. Family and friends are welcome to meet us on the backside of the Sierra as we exit the trail near Lone Pine.

Itinerary: Relatively flat, then 500′ climb, before dropping to trail exit

What you’ll need

Joining a TSX experience is easy. Don’t own a backpack, tent or sleeping bag? Not a problem, we provide backpacks, tents and sleeping bags for those who need them, at no additional charge. We also take care of all group items like pots, stoves, food, food storage, water filters, first aid etc. Your guides will do the cooking and dishes. Just show up with your boots and personal items, ready to hike!

Watch our Backpacking Checklist Video to see how easy we make it.

Preliminary checklist:

  • Hiking boots (broken-in)
  • Lightweight camp shoes (also used for water crossings)
  • Hiking socks (2-3 pairs)
  • Underwear(2-3 pairs)
  • Long underwear bottom
  • Long underwear or long sleeve top
  • Shorts and lightweight rain/wind pants, or convertible pants/shorts
  • Shirts (1-2 short or long sleeve)
  • Insulating jacket (puffy synthetic/down)
  • Poncho
  • Sun hat
  • Warm hat (beanie/toque)
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap; women should bring extra tampons)
  • Personal medications, if any
  • Lightweight flashlight
  • Water containers (2; minimum 1 liter capacity)
  • Lightweight spoon
  • Lightweight cup/mug and bowl
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Bandanna (handkerchief)
  • Mole skin (for blisters)
  • Lightweight gloves
  • Optional items (camera, pocket knife, notebook, etc.)

After registering for a TSX Challenge outing, you’ll be provided an official backpacking gear checklist with recommended items for your trek. On the day of departure, each participant will get a snack pack and a small amount of group food or group fuel that will be used over the course of the trek.


Departure and pickup locations: On the day of your departure, TSX will coordinate transportation from the Bay Area, Central California, and Southern California designated pickup locations.

  • Bay Area: Sports Basement Sunnyvale, Sunnyvale, CA – 10:00am*
  • Central California: Clovis Cole Best Western, Clovis, CA – 2:00pm*
  • Southern California: REI Northridge, Northridge CA – 10:00am*

*Exact time and regional pick-up locations will be confirmed on a trek by trek basis.

Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your confirmed pick up time. We suggest you coordinate with family, friends or taxi for the drop off, since we can’t guarantee the safety of your vehicle if left in the parking lot for the week.

Meals are not provided when in transit, however, we will stop for food and to refuel before reaching the trailhead. Our goal is to make it to the trailhead just before dusk. A light snack will be provided that evening at the trailhead.

Pre and post-trip accommodations: For guest traveling in from out of state, we suggest flying into Fresno, CA the evening before departure and staying at the Best Western Clovis Cole, in historic downtown Clovis (View on Map / +1.559.299.1547). Its about a 10 minute cab/Uber ride from the airport. We can pick you up at the hotel on the day of departure. If you plan on staying somewhere else, please let us know where you end up, and we’ll do our best to accommodate.

At the trailhead: Bring your personal items and gear, and a positive attitude! All group gear and food will be provided on the trail. Any major personal gear you’ve indicated you’d like us to provide (sleeping bag, tents etc.) will be waiting for you at the trailhead.

Please also bring a small bag with a clean set of clothes. Before we leave, we’ll give that bag to our return transportation so we will have something clean to change into after exiting the trail.

Returning home: It’s difficult to predict exactly when your group will exit the trail near Lone Pine, Ca. Our itinerary has some buffer built in to account for unknowns such as group speed, trail conditions, weather etc.

We will generally have a good sense of timing by the time we reach the summit of Mt. Whitney (day 6 or 7). One of your guides will check-in with return transportation from the summit. If you’d like to have friends or family meet you as you exit the trail, let us know and we can pass on the ETA and directions.

Our return transportation will meet us as we exit the trail on the eastern side of the Sierra. We will descend to Lone Pine to shower and share our last group meal. Finally, we’ll head back to your pickup location. This is a five-hour+ car ride. Bring some pocket money for meals on the drive back.

36 reviews for Trans-Sierra Xtreme Challenge

  1. 5 out of 5


    For years I had dreamed crossing the Sierra on foot, but the logistics were always so challenging. Hiking from west to east across the range could leave one 150-200 road miles from the car. Then what?
    When I heard about the Trans-Sierra Xtreme Challenge at a local REI, I jumped at the opportunity to have Chris and Austin handle the pesky details (like food and transportation). All I had to do was get in shape and get to Concord.
    Yes, it was extreme at times. It was always challenging. But it was all worth it, because the wilderness of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks is so spectacularly beautiful and because the strangers I met on the Day 1 had become my good friends by Day 2. We worked hard, sweat a lot, smiled and laughed even more. It was one of the great adventures of my lifetime – one that will never be forgotten.

  2. 5 out of 5


    It took me a month to truly realize I accomplished this incredible adventure; I think it was the fact that I finally got all of the oxygen back into my system! Our groups tour guides, Chris & Austin, were superb! Obvious professionals from ensuring everyone had enough food to providing first aid for the ubiquitous blisters and allowing each of us to experience the hiking in our own way; i.e. I took loads of pictures while plodding along. The fact that a wildfire shut-down our original exit point did not faze Chris. Plan B allowed our group to actually camp on the western side of Mt Whitney above Guitar Lake and see the sunset that evening, then get up at odarkthirty the next morning to hike the last 2 miles to the summit in time to witness a sunrise while atop of Mt Whitney and then exit via Mt Whitney’s portal to civilization. There were no hiccups on our end because of that particular wildfire which I think speaks volume to the knowledge of this tour group. Paraphrasing Robert Frost when he wrote, “And I, I took the road less traveled and that has made all of the difference.” Robert Frost so got “it” and so does this tour company! Thanks to my fellow hikers as well as Chris & Austin for an incredible adventure!

  3. 5 out of 5


    I have spent time hiking and backpacking on 6 continents and this route was an absolute gem. If you have tried to plan out a trans sierra trip, you no doubt know that the logistics get complicated quickly. Chris has refined this experience to an extreme level. All you need to do is show up and immerse yourself in the experience. These operators know how to manage all degrees of experience, so long as you show up in shape, they will put you on the path to an immensely enjoyable, and empowering trek. Believe all the 5 reviews, they are well earned, if you are considering a Trans Sierra Hike, you have found your absolute best option. Thanks Chris and Austin.

  4. 5 out of 5


    This has been my THIRD trip with TSX, The Trans Sierra challenge from the Southwest Mineral King trail head, the Grand Canyon Challenge and the just completed Trans Sierra Challenge from the Northwest Horse Corral trail head. All trips have been fantastic. The descriptions in the reviews certainly show similar emotions of the various team members. I fully endorse them.
    The bonding among our team # 3 was exceptional and very emotional for very specific reasons. Five of the team members were 28 or younger. They volunteered for many tasks such as pumping water, making campfires, assisting in meal preparation and carrying extra weight and water to the higher camps. This was a god-send and enabled me, as a 73 year old, to focus on the physical and mental challenges of the trip.
    As mentioned in the other reviews it is easy to underestimate what it takes to participate in this trip. It is your responisibilty to show up in excellent shape. Put as much extra fuel in the reserve tank as you can. You will be happy you did.
    Signing off with my Trail Name,
    El Tanko Supreme ( Jan Gazenbeek).

  5. 5 out of 5


    This backpacking trip across the Sierras and up Mt. Whitney was terrific. I am 56 years old, and this was a near-perfect first backpacking experience. The trek is well-described by other reviewers’ adjectives: spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime, challenging, beautiful, rewarding. Chris and Austin were great guides — experienced, knowledgeable, accommodating, patient, and very upbeat (and not in an annoying “rah-rah!” way). I enjoyed being away from cell phones (except for the call home from the top of Mt. Whitney) and Internet for eight days. The less-traveled route that TSX uses (until it joins the John Muir and High Sierra Trails the day prior to summiting Whitney) enhanced the solitude and wilderness experience for me. I highly recommend this trek.

  6. 5 out of 5


    To be perfectly candid, this was an amazing trip, but it was physically intensive at times. If you’re up for an edifying challenge, but also enjoy beautiful scenery and getting to know complete strangers, this trip will all but surely be a pleasurably indelible experience that you’ll remember for all the right reasons. Thank you so much Chris and Austin. You were truly terrific throughout.

  7. 5 out of 5


    One of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life! If you enjoy physical fitness, the outdoors, stunning scenery and feeling like a badass – sign up now! Over the course of 8 days I saw the most beautiful sights imaginable, strengthened my mental and physical resolve, laughed, struggled, persevered, and became family with people who had just recently been complete strangers. Chris and Austin were the best guides we could possibly have had. Not only were they knowledgeable, professional, and committed, they made every moment of every day a great time. I’ve never done anything else that made me feel this empowered and strong. TSX Challenge provides a unique and unparalleled experience of the Sierras and Mt. Whitney. Take a leap and sign up – you won’t regret it!

  8. 5 out of 5


    For over 20 years, I had nurtured the dream of climbing Mt. Whitney. It was way on top of my bucket list. And what a beautiful and rewarding way to fulfill my long-standing dream – with exceptional guidance, counsel, and assistance from Chris, the founder himself, and the Co-leader Kyle. Thank you Chris and Kyle! This truly turned into a life changing event for me. It was a joy to see Chris succeeding in motivating and helping the whole team to summit Mt. Whitney, notwithstanding minor physical challenges. One of the biggest highlights for me was to see how the stronger members of the team readily stepped in to help anyone in need so selflessly! The mastery Chris has over the terrain, the trails, and the general geography of the area helped make the hike exceptionally enjoyable. If you ever nurtured the hope of standing on top of Mt. Whitney this is the royal way to do it. Don’t wait for another day to sign up and make your dream come true!

  9. 5 out of 5


    First of all, this was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The remote location, scenery, Whitney summit, food, group camaraderie, and expert guidance are unparalleled. The trek truly exceeded my expectations, and delivers on every promise made in the promotional materials. I also met some terrific people within our group and I’ll always greatly appreciate their friendship.
    But make no mistake about it, this trek is tough. I measured it on my hiking GPS as 80+ miles with 20,800 feet of altitude gain along with 18,700 feet of altitude loss. In other words, a lot of steep uphill climbs and downhill descents. How hard is it? There’s no doubt that most people in halfway decent shape can finish it. But you’d want to be in pretty good shape leading up to it so that the hiking is mostly just a physical challenge where you are still able to enjoy what is being offered, rather than having most of your time and energy being devoted to conquering a test of endurance.
    If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience in the back country with spectacular views and expert guidance, without having to worry about any details, then this trek is simply unbeatable. I’d highly recommend it to anybody!

  10. 5 out of 5


    The hikes were long and the trails tough. The mountains, streams, high-country meadows and star-filled nights were incredibly beautiful. The guides, Chris and Kyle, couldn’t have been better. They knew the country and the trails thoroughly and lead the trip flawlessly. They were personable, friendly and they kept things running smoothly. The trek was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. It was also one of the greatest and most satisfying adventures of my life. I highly recommend this trip!

  11. 5 out of 5


    This is a tough hike. Make no mistake. My GPS said it was over 85 miles over eight days, up and down some of the most remote parts of the Sierra. Climbing up to Colby Lake, then over Colby Pass. Climbing up Mt Whitney and then back to camp. Every day consisted of many miles carrying a relatively heavy pack. But it was all worth it!! Each of the campsites were fantastic, and the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners were exceptional. Best of all, Chris’s knowledge of the terrain, distances and altitude changes of each day’s hike made the hikes much easier than they would have been without it. If you are looking for a challenge, and at the same time want to see some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the U.S., then sign up for this trip. You will not regret it!

  12. 5 out of 5


    This was hands down the best trek of my life. It was one of the toughest, both mentally and physically, which made it even more enjoyable. What made it so amazing was 1: the expert personal guides – Chris and Kyle, 2: the scenery, 3: the spectacular campsites, 4: the food all along the way:, 5, the comprehensive package with guides, food, water, transportation, post hike showers and food etc, 6: the remoteness and 7: summiting Mount Whitney.
    Whether you’ve done all the great hikes across the globe or if you’re used to doing short weekend hikes – this one will change your life. THE BEST!! SIGN UP TODAY!!!!!!

  13. 5 out of 5


    Thanks to TSX for guiding me through this hike a few months ago. In hindsight I never would have believed I could do it, but I did, thanks to Alex and Zack. It’s a memory I’ll cherish always!

  14. 5 out of 5


    The scenery was awesome. The trails were challenging and went through very varied terrain. I loved the views and the Ponderosa forests. The rest stops and camping sites were well chosen with appropriate daily distances. The camaraderie of the entire team was wonderful. Everybody was supportive of each other. The roses and spines remarks were a very nice touch. I was amazed how well the food preparation was done. Thank you Chris and Alex.

  15. 5 out of 5


    An adventure in numbers. 82 miles. 7.5 days. 22,000 feet up. 13,000 feet down. Two dozen magic tricks, jokes, and riddles. 14 snickers bars. 2 lbs. of Yerba Mate. 1 bottle of Sriracha Sauce. 4 younger male athletes. 1 not so young, very determined me. Too many shooting stars to count. 1 magical night atop Mt. Whitney. Thanks for an amazing trip guys!

  16. 5 out of 5


    This challenge is physical, duh, but there is nothing I’ve done in my life more inspirational than this. This was my 2nd trek with this company and even though I left bruised, blistered, exhausted and pained, there are no words that can describe the accomplishment. Thank you TSX for memories I will cherish the rest if my life.

  17. 5 out of 5


    Fantastic Trip, Thank You! Great guides (especially huge thanks for Alex for such a great time!), delicious food, amazing views, easy camp tasks. Probably best backpacking trip you’ll ever go on!

  18. 5 out of 5


    Had I known what I was getting into, I would not have gone. That said, I’m SO GLAD I did it!!!!! Had cancer last year, and it took more out of me than I had realized. This trip allowed me to recapture some of the things I need for a good, solid life. I was happily pushed beyond my limit…..and lived to tell the story!

  19. 5 out of 5


    You’re here reading these comments to justify if you should do this challenge or not. Read no more and just sign up. These guys at TSX take care of you from start to finish. All you have to do is to take in the experience of a lifetime.

  20. 5 out of 5


    I loved everything about this experience. It was the most challenging and rewarding thing that I have done. I am soooo glad that I was able to participate with my sister.

  21. 5 out of 5


    This was an ‘extreme’ trail experience! It was mentally and physically challenging for me; however, as each day’s hike ended, I was amazed at my ability to continue. My goal was to summit Mt. Whitney and I did! Thank you Chris and Alex!

  22. 5 out of 5


    So well organized, Chris and Alex are amazing leaders. This was a challenging trip but we trained for a few months prior to departure and it was so worth it. We felt great every day and couldn’t wait to see where the next trail wold bring us. At the end of every day it was so rewarding to think what we had just accomplished. The views were amazing ! Top notch company and priced so well.

  23. 5 out of 5


    There were hard portions each day but the earthly beauty more than offset all pressures each day. The personal satisfaction of successfully climbing Mt. Whitney offsets any and all challenges of this wonderful hike plus you get to see some of the most stunning backcountry in the world.

  24. 5 out of 5


    Loved the views, camaraderie and teamwork of the group!

  25. 5 out of 5


    The experience was more difficult and strenuous than I anticipated but was so enjoyable and meaningful. The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment each time we crested a peak was absolutely worth the effort and pain.

  26. 5 out of 5


    The hardest thing I have ever done, not sure if I was going to make it. However really happy I did it. big accomplishment that I will always carry with me. Thanks Chris and Zack

  27. 4 out of 5


    It was the hardest physical thing I have ever done in my life and I’m not sure I was mentally or physically prepared judging by the fact that I was one of the slowest hikers. I did not understand the reality of hiking for almost ten hours each day. I was happy that I was not sore and would regain my endurance for the next day only to have it fade away again. I am not sure everyone was honest in the “Thorns and Roses” circle or perhaps I was the only one experiencing a real challenge.

  28. 5 out of 5


    It was the hardest physical thing I’ve done in my life! But glad I did it!

  29. 5 out of 5


    I loved the experience with my son…to watch him grow ever more independent and confident with men of integrity like his father. He connected with Tim and Sky who were not too much older than him, and that made him feel special and gave me, his mom, memories that will not fade for many years. Yes, I loved being in the wilderness, visiting lakes, meadows, forests that I had only seen in paintings, but the real pleasure of the entire experience were the bonds created with those who were experiencing the same thing as I. That is why your TSX Challenge is what I will recommend to others…because of the people who are part of it.

  30. 5 out of 5


    The trail, scenery, guides and entire experience has stayed with me and brings me peace in times of stress. Thank you.

  31. 5 out of 5


    This was without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done. It stretched me in ways I simply had not anticipated. I expected spectacular scenery, and I got that in abundance. I expected that hiking with a heavy pack at high altitude would be hard, and it was harder. The element that took me most by surprise was the group dynamic. I’m sure this varies from group to group, but in our case, the strong camaraderie that developed among us was a major factor in making my personal experience as good as it was. Now, as I recount my experience to friends and family, the hardships of the trail have already begun to fade, and the joy of traveling where few others ever get to go to see and experience things that few other get to experience makes me feel privileged and exhilarated.

  32. 5 out of 5


    This hike had a huge positive impact on me. It solidified my love of the outdoors. It served as tangible proof and inspiration that I could accomplish what I put my mind to. And not least of all, the experience left me with a humble appreciation of something greater than myself. I believe the Whitney experience has a positive impact on just about everyone it touches. Thanks Mike!

  33. 5 out of 5


    The toughest roughest most rewarding challenge I’ve done ever! Sacrificed the weight of the 5DMkII Camera for some amazing pictures. The reward of ultimately getting to the Mount Whitney summit was breathtaking. Thanks to our guides Tim and Alex for taking us to the promised land up there. Thanks to all who participated in the weeklong hike as well.

  34. 5 out of 5


    Thanks Tim! You were an amazing guide, So lucky to have you with us! Brian, you were an awesome guide and cheerleader. I couldn’t of done it without you.

  35. 5 out of 5


    One of the best experiences of my life!

  36. 5 out of 5


    My husband and son went on the trip last year and still talk about the positive impact Tim had on them and how he made the experience even better. This trip changes lives.

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