Kevin, Bill, Tom, Bob, Ernie - thanks guys! A lot of good suggestions to think about and research. We're still about 10 weeks out from leaving, but I wanted to get a sense of what others thought might be accessible and do-able for my girls. I like plans. Plans are good. Back-up plans are even better. It's just the way I roll.
Just to be clear, this is a worst-case scenario Plan B. I'll be calling the Bishop NFS office twice daily beginning about two weeks out from our departure looking to snag 4 Whitney overnight cancellations (both times I've been up Whitney, it was with either a walk-in permit or cancellation pick-ups). I'm betting I'll pick up at least 2 overnight permits that way. That's how I got the permits for Joe and I last year - about 48 hours out. If I haven't secured all 4 before 7/20, then I'll roll the dice on walking in the morning of the 20th for the remainder. My mid-day what-do-we-do-now scenario was based on being skunked in both the 8 am and 11 am opportunities at the IA center day-of. Statistically, Wednesday was the best day last year to secure walk-in permits - ergo, we're shooting for Wednesday! I feel pretty confident we'll get the permits and be heading up the MMWT that day, but I gotta have a Plan B.
The other piece is that this Whitney backpack actually wraps up a 13-day Sierra trip for us. We'll be spending several nights in Mammoth Lakes prior to moving south to the Portal, and are eyeing several hikes in the Yosemite area. We did the same thing last year and got in Little Lakes Valley, Mono Pass, the Ancient Bristlecone Methuselah Walk, and a couple of other nice hikes before heading for Whitney. Bob - Dana and Agassiz are high on the list for this year. We'll probably attempt to tag at least one of them before you and I hit Cathedral on the 18th. They're coming along that day to hike to the base of Cathedral - and then watch the show.
My daughter is an exceptionally strong hiker for her tender years, and my wife is actually pushing me pretty damn hard on the trails right now. She's been training for a 28-mile dayhike in the Blue Ridge mountains for about 3 months - "The Ultimate Hike for the Cure" next weekend - and is really in great hiking shape, while I've been laid up healing this broken big toe for most of a month. I hiked with her last weekend, my first real trail time since taking my fall 4 weeks earlier. My most common refrain that day: "Barb! Slow down, dammit!"
They've both matured greatly as hikers the past couple of years, and are ready and eager to tackle some of the harder stuff (Jeez, am I a lucky guy or what?!). They both want to get up something in the Sierra higher than their previous best of about 11,500 feet but, other than having their hearts set on Whitney, aren't hung up with specifically getting a Fourteener under their belts. A good Thirteener will do if Whitney is a no-go. Like you said, Ernie: success is a confidence-builder that's good for the psyche. Neither has done any class 3 before, so I do need to be careful with that, along with watching them closely for AMS. I think my daughter will acclimate well, since she's been to 14K' several times in Colorado with no issues, but my wife had a disasterous episode of AMS on Pikes Peak a few years back. Completely incapacitated within 30 minutes. Diamox has been in her backpack ever since.