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#35988 - 04/23/14 12:53 PM 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney
Danielle Offline


Registered: 04/23/14
Posts: 8
Loc: CA
So.. I failed the lottery cry . I'm keeping my eye out for exit permits so I can enter from another location and exit the portal, but so far the days I have available are booked solid. I am wondering if there is another alternative route that does not involve the Portal. I have only six days off work, but I figure the first day will be driving, picking up permits, and sleeping at a trailhead. So, really only five days of hiking with maybe a very short hike on the day we drive up.

I am wondering about a loop from Horseshoe Meadow, going up Whitney from Cottonwood Lakes and back down through Cottonwood Pass. Is this possible to do in 5 days? If so, how would you break this up? Also, is the cross country portion difficult to navigate?

Some stats on us:
- we comfortably hike 8 miles a day if there is a good amount of elevation gain, and probably ~12miles on flat-ish, down hill, or without a pack.
-We do have the option of a car shuttle between trailheads.
-We have some cross country Sierra hiking experience, but not terribly advanced.
-We are going in late July/ early Aug.

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#35998 - 04/23/14 05:54 PM Re: 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney [Re: Danielle]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1559
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
The one way, with a hitch or shuttle from the Portal back to HM, is more doable in 5 days: I don't know about an out and back; depends on your capability. But don't give up on walk-in/cancellation permits, especially if you can start on a Sunday through Wednesday. ANd definitely GO: even if you can't get Whitney, there is a lot of great country accessible from Horseshoe, Anvil Camp and Onion Valley that a lot of people find an even better wilderness experience.
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#36004 - 04/24/14 12:07 AM Re: 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney [Re: Danielle]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7595
Loc: Fresno, CA
Danielle, two words: Unused Permits If you have several days available to hike, I would bet you would get walk-in permits the first day you tried.

If you don't get them the first day by 11 AM, head up to Horseshoe Meadows and hike to Trail Peak or Cottonwood lakes. Then head down to the Visitor Center and try for permits again the next morning. You CAN get permits.

Also, check online on May 1. There will be a few released "at random times". They are the lottery-won slots that people neither confirmed nor declined.

Finally, start checking recreation.gov two weeks before your planned trip. A few good people will login and drop their slots that way, too.

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#36013 - 04/24/14 09:47 AM Re: 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney [Re: Danielle]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
5 Days looping, ok.

I have done the HM to WP point to point in 3 days while in good but not great shape. However, I was very familiar with the area, which allowed me to cut some distance off the trip.

Here's how I'd do it...

Day One...New Army Pass Trailhead to somewhere on Rock Creek. You will have to push. This will be at least a 10 to 12 mile day but it sets up the rest of the trip. The trip down for the pass is all downhill.

Day Two...to Guitar Lake or the Tarns above it.

Day Three...to Mt. Whitney and back to Lower Crabtree Meadow

Day Four...to Lower Soldier Lake.

Day Five...Over Army Pass and out...I hate Cottonwood Pass and only go over it when Army and New Army Passes are not an option. This is another long day and going through Cottonwood Lakes area back to the car is not all downhill. It is sandy and rock n' rolling.

Army Pass should be open by late July or early August.

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#36018 - 04/24/14 11:58 AM Re: 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney [Re: wbtravis]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7595
Loc: Fresno, CA
I should add: If you head in from Horseshoe Meadows or Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass, you CAN exit on the Whitney trail, if you also get a Trailcrest Exit permit. The quota for those is 25 per day, with 60% (15) reservable 6 months in advance, and the other 10 available to walk-in requests (when you go in and pick up the permit to enter whichever point you start). The rangers may give you a little wiggle room if you can't exit on the exact date on the exit permit if you are faster or slower than planned.

So going that route, you don't NEED to return to the same trail you entered. But then you have to get back to your car at the trailhead via hitch hiking or other means.

I did the Onion Valley trip with this schedule:
night 1 at Onion Valley parking lot.
night 2 at Center Basin junction (just before Forrester Pass)
night 3 at Wallace Creek (had pretty bad AMS)
night 4 on Whitney summit. (AMS gone)
So it was 3 1/2 days of hiking. We had four hikers on that trip.

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#36021 - 04/24/14 12:39 PM Re: 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney [Re: Steve C]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Oklahoma
Steve, I think the complication with the walk-in exit permits is they're available for a given exit date whenever you receive your entry permit. So if you have a permit for, the Onion Valley trailhead for a 5-day trip, the Trail Crest exit permits for your exit date could have been gobbled up by groups on 6-day or 7-day trips. But you're right that they are flexible and they (at least used to) have some discretion with moving dates around a little bit.

Here's a related question: I was under the impression that the Trail Crest exit permits are only required for trips originating from eastside trailheads. Is that true? If so, an exit permit would not be required for a trip originating from Roads End, Zumwalt Meadow, around 54 trail miles to WP including the Whitney summit.

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#36024 - 04/24/14 12:57 PM Re: 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney [Re: Glenn]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7595
Loc: Fresno, CA
Glenn, good points on the Trail Crest Exit walk-in permits.

On the "related question": Yes, true. They are only required with permits starting in the Inyo National Forest jurisdiction -- anywhere on the east side between Devils Postpile and Horseshoe Meadows. Trips starting in Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks (example: JMT hikers starting in Yosemite), AND hikers starting on National Forest trails on the west side are NOT required to have Trail Crest Exit permits.

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#36027 - 04/24/14 02:12 PM Re: 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney [Re: Steve C]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Oklahoma
All-in-all I suppose for this case the surest way to go is in scoring unused released or walk-in Main Trail permits as in your post above.

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#36050 - 04/25/14 09:04 AM Re: 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney [Re: Glenn]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Glen,

The last time I walked in with the purpose of getting a MMWT backpacking permit was in late July a few years ago. We walked in at the open, got the permit and were on the trail before 10 AM.

It is a little more complicated for day hike permits in that you have to be there the day before you enter for obvious reasons.

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#36061 - 04/25/14 02:58 PM Re: 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney [Re: Steve C]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1559
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Glenn, good points on the Trail Crest Exit walk-in permits.

On the "related question": Yes, true. They are only required with permits starting in the Inyo National Forest jurisdiction -- anywhere on the east side between Devils Postpile and Horseshoe Meadows. Trips starting in Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks (example: JMT hikers starting in Yosemite), AND hikers starting on National Forest trails on the west side are NOT required to have Trail Crest Exit permits.


Mmmmm, not exactly so. You have to have the Whitney/TC exit endorsemnent on your permit even from a non-Inyo entry trailhead such as Yos or SEKI, Sierra NF, etc, , but it is free, unlimited, and not subject to the Inyo quota. Do NOT forget to specify the Whitney exit when you pick up your permit.


Edited by saltydog (04/25/14 03:00 PM)
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#36160 - 04/29/14 06:01 PM Re: 5 days visiting Mnt Whitney [Re: saltydog]
John E Offline


Registered: 01/20/14
Posts: 12
Loc: June Lake, CA
Danielle,
Another beautiful route is to go in Cottonwood Pass(out New or Old Army Pass) and into Miter Basin. Camping high in Miter Basin makes Whitney an easily accessible day hike over Crabtree Pass and up the south facing side of the canyon to the crest which is followed to Trail Crest, then on to the summit.
This route has some off trail hiking but much of the route is via user trails and is not technically difficult.
A short day one over Cottonwood Pass camping at Chicken Spring Lake or shortly thereafter. On day two make your camp at Sky Blue Lake or higher in Miter Basin. Day 3 do Whitney. Day 4 hike part way out, going over one of the Army Passes, with enough time to climb Langley, then camping at one of the Cottonwood Lakes. Day 5 out.
Whichever route you choose have a great trip.
John

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