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#49191 - 02/07/17 07:38 AM Whitney Portal Road Damage
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 780
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
This morning the local newspaper, the Register, reported that a "solid closure gate" has been installed downhill from the rock slide. Visitors are being warned by the Inyo Sheriff's Dept. to stay out of the area.

The slide is about 100 feet long 40 feet wide, and 30 feet high. The County is developing a plan to clear the slide and hope to be able to do an assessment in about four to six weeks as weather and circumstances allow. Clearing the rocks and rebuilding the road surface will require permits for blasting. This will be a "substantial undertaking."

This morning,Inyo Board of Supervisors will consider passing a resolution to ratify an emergency declaration as mandated by State law. This would help the County get State and Federal funding for the necessary repair work, which is currently estimated at about $500,000.

The slow way government moves, it might be quite some time before the road is reopened. Plans for climbing Whitney might need to be reconsidered.

More information to follow as it become available.




Picture below from 2-23-17:


Edited by Steve C (02/23/17 01:51 PM)

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#49192 - 02/07/17 07:53 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Bob West]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA

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#49193 - 02/07/17 08:17 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Bob West]
josee menard Offline


Registered: 12/20/16
Posts: 3
Loc: canada
Hi Bob, I'm from Canada and I'm planning an ascent of Whitney via the MR first week of april. I have 2 questions: Is this rockslide below the usual winter closure? Will it be possible/allowed to walk past the rockslide to get to Portal?
Thanks in advance, Josee

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#49194 - 02/07/17 08:32 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: josee menard]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 414
Loc: Reno, NV
On a related topic - can we expect no parking restrictions at the Portal this year?

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#49195 - 02/07/17 09:42 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: josee menard]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 780
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
The rock slide is at about the 7,800 elevation. I don't know the elevation of the usual winter closure. Apparently, it is possible to walk around the slide and go on up to the portal, but parking on the road downhill from the slide will probably not be possible except at a few locations. Even then overnight cars in some locations end up being cited by the S.O. or CHP.

The way this winter is going, there will still be considerable snow in April, according to DWP and SCE. Snow surveys have begun and will provide more accurate data when they have been completed.

Try for June or July.

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#49196 - 02/07/17 09:43 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: RenoFrank]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 780
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
This depends on how soon the road can be repaired. Stay tuned.

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#49197 - 02/07/17 11:36 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: josee menard]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: josee menard
Hi Bob, I'm from Canada and I'm planning an ascent of Whitney via the MR first week of april. I have 2 questions: Is this rockslide below the usual winter closure? Will it be possible/allowed to walk past the rockslide to get to Portal?
Thanks in advance, Josee
Josee, Inyo County Road dept has locked the gate at the winter closure point. The slide is well above that point. As for being allowed to walk past: There won't be anyone posted there to stop you, but as always, if you do proceed, you do so at your own risk.

Originally Posted By: RenoFrank
On a related topic - can we expect no parking restrictions at the Portal this year?
Frank, I emailed and asked. It sounds like there will be no restrictions for parking.

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#49199 - 02/07/17 07:13 PM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Steve C]
Vavylon Offline


Registered: 10/07/16
Posts: 9
Loc: San Diego
500,000?! I bet I know some military folk who would love to practice doing demolition training for cheap. There may not be a road at all after, but there sure won't be any boulders smile

Does anyone have a map that shows where the winter season road closure gate generally is for reference? I understand not parking on the road and leaving enough room for emergency vehicles to pass etc, but if going past the gate is at your own risk anyway what is the purpose in citing people who go past it? I don't know quite where the slide is, but the large switchback

3636'19.4"N 11812'57.7"W
36.605403, -118.216037
Or most northern part of Whitney Portal Road

seemed to have a large enough flat area for parking if one had a deep-snow capable vehicle or snowmachine/snowmobile. During the construction it was a staging area for medium and heavy equipment. Just gotta hope another slide doesn't come down and take your vehicle with it.

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#49200 - 02/07/17 09:35 PM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Vavylon]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Vavylon, here's a Gmap4 map with pointers (link)

The four markers (heading down, west-to-east)
1. ~7,800'
2. My best guess location based on pictures and terrain
3. Your switchback location
4. The winter-closure gate (elev. 6600') You can zoom in with the satellite view and actually see the gates beside the roadway.

   

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#49201 - 02/07/17 09:50 PM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Steve C]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 414
Loc: Reno, NV
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Frank, I emailed and asked. It sounds like there will be no restrictions for parking.


Here's from another forum: "Road and parking , Road repair when weather permits. Parking would be nice if keep the same as last year , but increase the limit to 5 days not 3. This would allow the local hikes to start or end at the Portal ,HST, Horseshoe, Onion Valley and still enough parking for the Whitney day /overnight hikers. One parking space per permit seems like a fair request."

Thoughts?

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#49202 - 02/08/17 12:44 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: RenoFrank]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: RenoFrank
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Frank, I emailed and asked. It sounds like there will be no restrictions for parking.


Here's from another forum: "Road and parking , Road repair when weather permits. Parking would be nice if keep the same as last year , but increase the limit to 5 days not 3. This would allow the local hikes to start or end at the Portal ,HST, Horseshoe, Onion Valley and still enough parking for the Whitney day /overnight hikers. One parking space per permit seems like a fair request."

Thoughts?

In the past, when the hiker parking lots filled, people parked along the road. That should be the case this summer. Granted, people may park farther down the road, making it inconvenient to get their hike started. On the other hand, it makes sense that anyone parking for more than a week should park their car in Lone Pine, since it is so easy to hitch hike there.

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#49203 - 02/08/17 07:27 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Vavylon]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 780
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Walkers, skiers, snow-shoers don't get cited for going around the closed gate. On foot, you're on your own.


Edited by Bob West (02/08/17 07:30 AM)

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#49210 - 02/09/17 11:44 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Bob West]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Two months!!! This is going to impact the Whitney hiking season.

Inyo National Forest has published a news release. FB Link
Quote:
Attention Whitney hikers: please read the following information regarding the rockslide along the Whitney Portal Road. #epicwinter.

Inyo National Forest
Inyo County Sheriff's Office
Major Rockfall on Whitney Portal Road

Spring Re-opening May be Delayed
Substantial snowfall from an atmospheric river event in mid-January has led to a major rock fall on Whitney Portal Road, causing significant damage to an approximately 100-foot stretch of road. This damage may delay the re-opening of the road this spring.

Initial assessments by Inyo County, Cal Trans, and Inyo National Forest indicate that there will be approximately two months of work that include blasting and clearing the rock, and stabilizing and re-building the road bed. Road construction will not begin until after the permitting process is complete.

The road is currently gated just above Hogback Road on Whitney Portal Road to prevent vehicle entrance; however, foot traffic past the gate is not recommended due to the hazardous and potentially unstable conditions surrounding the rock fall.

For now, the area remains under snow and there is no clear estimate of when the removal operations will begin. Continued winter storms as well as the concerns for the stability of the slide area during the spring freeze/thaw cycle make it difficult to predict when this work can safely begin.

The Whitney Portal Road often opens by May 1st, conditions permitting, and that is also the beginning of the Mt. Whitney quota season(applied for by lottery) for day and overnight hikes. Every effort will be made by all parties involved to have the road open by this date.

While the road is under construction, access to Mt. Whitney is via the Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail (NRT) or from other trailheads such as Kearsarge Pass or Cottonwood Pass. The NRT will close for public safety when blasting is underway.

This winter has brought substantial snow to the Sierra Nevada. Snow should be expected along the trail through early summer and hikers will be required to have technical skill and equipment to access Mt. Whitney in the early season.


Edited by Steve C (02/09/17 11:56 AM)
Edit Reason: emphasis added

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#49211 - 02/09/17 11:48 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Steve C]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 579
Loc: Manchester, NH
"The Whitney Portal Road often opens by May 1st, conditions permitting, and that is also the beginning of the Mt. Whitney quota season(applied for by lottery) for day and overnight hikes. Every effort will be made by all parties involved to have the road open by this date."

That's good news. (Emphasis mine)

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#49212 - 02/09/17 11:55 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: KevinR]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Opening by May 1 means slide removal needs to begin March 1!!

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#49214 - 02/09/17 07:24 PM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Steve C]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 780
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Latest:

http://www.sierrawave.net/whitney-portal-road-spring-re-opening-may-delayed/

It is doubtful that any work will begin on March 1st. Weather is trending toward more snow. And then there is the permit process...



Edited by Bob West (02/09/17 07:29 PM)

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#49215 - 02/09/17 10:53 PM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Bob West]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Sierra Wave copied the news release almost word-for-word.

Here's a picture posted on Facebook.  Maybe they have cleared the road up to the slide so crews can go up and start planning what to do.


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#49227 - 02/13/17 02:20 PM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Steve C]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 448
Loc: Saugus, CA
Bishop CHP posted a drone video to their FB page showing the breadth of the rockslide. Quite prodigious.

_________________________
@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for landscape and mountain photo spamming...

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#49232 - 02/14/17 06:34 AM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Snacking Bear]
Karl Offline


Registered: 02/16/10
Posts: 4
Loc: San Diego
Yes, that video makes the slide look rather intimidating.

Does anyone know how these things are handled? Is all of the debris (once it's blasted into smaller pieces) carted away in dump trucks, or is some of it simply pushed off the side and into the gulch below? It looks like it might take hundreds of dump-truck loads to clear what is visible--and what is not visible, since, to stabilize the hillside, it may be necessary to remove more than just the current slide.

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#49236 - 02/14/17 10:41 PM Re: Whitney Portal Road Damage [Re: Karl]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
CHP - Bishop posted a few more pictures.

Here's the best one:     (click on it for a full-screen view)

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