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#52573 - 01/31/18 12:56 PM Mt Whitney Lottery 2018
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7443
Loc: Fresno, CA
Mt Whitney Lottery 2018                    


May update:   Quite a few slots opened up today, May 1. They show up at random times throughout the day over the first 24 hours. Then they disappear as people find them and reserve them. After May 1, anything showing up will be in the days just before the entry date, as the good people among us log in and release the slots they don't need.

April update:   Between now and May 1, people who won slots in the lottery are required to pay for the slots they won. As people pay for the slots, they may reduce the number of hikers in their group, or they may completely cancel their reservations. When that occurs, recreation.gov releases the slots back to the web page at a random time over the next 24 hours. Others can then book and pay for a permit for those slots. So during April, people will see a few spots open up occasionally.

On May 1, every permit that was not paid for will be released back to the web page at random times over the next 24 hours.

Here are links to the permit reservation pages on Recreation.gov:

      DAY USE of Mt. Whitney Zone             Mt. Whitney Trail Overnight Permit


April 1:  The "mini-on-sale", 7:00 AM, April 1.  Any slots not assigned in the lottery (usually mid-week May and October dates).  Better dates will go quickly to those with the fastest fingers.
Also, throughout the day:  Slots that were declined by lottery winners are released at random times -- over the next 24 hours. After April 1, if any winner declines their won slots, those will show up at a random time in the next 24 hours (but most people who can't use their slots simply don't pay, and those become available on May 1 (at that random time.)

March 15:  The lottery application period ended. The lottery results will be available approximately March 24.
NOTE:  When the available slots show up after the lottery is run, there are sometimes dates showing openings, while someone who applied for that date went unfulfilled by the lottery. These are slots that were released by Inyo (or Rec.gov) staff, AFTER the lottery process was run. The slots are released when a person telephones and requests that their lottery application and slots be removed.

Lottery Applications were accepted for day hike and overnight hikes starting Feb 1, ending March 15.  To apply, click here.  Lottery entry deadline is Thu Mar 15, 2018, 11:59 PM EDT (that's 8:59 PM Pacific time!)

Updates and information will be posted here.

The best source of information and the best first place to start is the Inyo National Forest web page, Mount Whitney Lottery - Permit Reservations

Progress update: Weekly Lottery Progress Report (data: Noon March 1, 2018 )
from the "Permit Reservations" web page above:

10 Most Popular First Choice Dates
Number of people requesting a date is much larger when all alternate choices are considered.
    The data below is from the first choice only.

Mt. Whitney Trail Overnight |  DAY USE of Mt. Whitney Zone
Quota: 60 people per day | 100 people per day
# # | # #
Entry Date Apps People | Entry Date Apps People
---------- ---- --- | ---------- --- ---
Sat Aug 4 196 947 | Sat Aug 4 127 592
Fri Jul 27 152 804 | Sat Jul 21 111 543
Fri Aug 3 167 779 | Sat Aug 18 99 527
Sat Sep 1 171 778 | Sat Jul 28 110 490
Sat Jul 14 148 687 | Sat Jul 14 103 480
Sat Aug 25 137 632 | Sat Aug 25 94 465
Sat Aug 11 126 618 | Sun Sep 2 89 464
Sat Jul 28 122 598 | Sat Aug 11 79 426
Fri Aug 24 123 577 | Sat Jul 7 72 373
Sat Jul 21 117 564 | Sat Sep 1 72 363




Link to:   Mt Whitney Lottery 2017


Edited by Steve C (05/01/18 10:34 PM)
Edit Reason: May 1 update

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#52574 - 01/31/18 01:00 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Reno, NV
Is there an advantage if you apply early rather than later?

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#52575 - 01/31/18 01:03 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: RenoFrank]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7443
Loc: Fresno, CA
No advantage for applying early.

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#52598 - 02/11/18 11:27 AM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
BCVisin Offline


Registered: 02/11/18
Posts: 2
Loc: CA, US
I read through the 2017 Lottery Information thread, but I didn't see an answer to this question.

How does the selection system for the lottery work? Does it take all of your alternate dates into account and give you one "entry" for each of those dates
OR does it select an applicant first, and then go through all the alternates to find an available opening?

This will determine how I select alternate dates for my application.

Thanks,
Blake

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#52602 - 02/11/18 08:03 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: BCVisin]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7443
Loc: Fresno, CA
Of the thousands of entries, when your number comes up, it then steps through all your choices, checking each one in order. If the first choice date is already full, it checks your second choice, and so on. As soon as it finds a date with enough open slots for your request, then that is assigned to you.

Of course, if it finds no day with enough open slots for any of your choices, your entry is rejected, and then it goes on to process the next person's entry.

Entries are processed in a completely random order.

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#52603 - 02/12/18 11:49 AM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
BCVisin Offline


Registered: 02/11/18
Posts: 2
Loc: CA, US
Awesome, thank you very much for the response! Much appreciated on the clarification.

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#52622 - 02/15/18 10:23 AM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2017 [Re: Carry on]
Avi Offline


Registered: 02/15/18
Posts: 4
Loc: CA, USA
Originally Posted By: Carry on

I know Inyo NF asks groups to submit just one application per group, but I cannot imagine how they can enforce it. For example, if Ernie and Bert want to hike Mt. Whitney and both apply for a 2-person permit without identifying the other as an alternate group leader, how would Inyo NF possibly know the two applications were for the same group? I suppose if Ernie and Bert had the exact same 15 alternate dates and applied on the same day, that might be a hint. But Ernie and Bert can mix up there date choices a bit and apply a week apart from each other. I just cannot see how Inyo NF could possibly know they are the same group. Same holds true for larger groups as long as no name is used twice as applicant or alternate leader. Right? What am I missing?

Maybe a couple might get caught if they use the same mailing address or phone number.

And if Ernie and Bert got caught submitting 2 applications, it's not clear to me what the consequence is. Are both applications deleted, or just one?


The only loop-hole I can see with this approach is the Group leader on Application 1 gets eliminated. The scenario I have in mind is as follows:

1. Person 1 submits application for a total of 7 hikers.
2. Person 2 submits a second application also for a total of 7 hikers. The second application includes Person 1, although he isn't explicitly named in the application.
3. Inyo processes both the requests (doesn't eliminate any).
4. Application 2 gets lucky and accepted and Application 1 doesn't make it.
5. At this point, I am assuming all the names have to be provided to Inyo NF and now Inyo might notice that Person 1 appears on 2 applications.

So Person 1 is at risk here and I am not sure how Inyo NF will react to such a situation.

Any experiences here? My guess is the Inyo Folks won't have the bandwidth to dig so deep, but I have no idea what the outcome might be here.

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#52623 - 02/15/18 12:59 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Avi]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7443
Loc: Fresno, CA
Welcome, Avi. I moved your post to the 2018 lottery thread.

your #5: "At this point, I am assuming all the names have to be provided"
That doesn't occur. All names aren't provided until the permit is picked up at the Visitor Center the day before the hike.

I think Inyo checks the lottery applications for same leader and alternate leader names. ...and leaders/alternates can't be changed after the lottery. Only the leader or alternate can pick up the permit.

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#52627 - 02/15/18 04:00 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
Avi Offline


Registered: 02/15/18
Posts: 4
Loc: CA, USA
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Welcome, Avi. I moved your post to the 2018 lottery thread.

your #5: "At this point, I am assuming all the names have to be provided"
That doesn't occur. All names aren't provided until the permit is picked up at the Visitor Center the day before the hike.

I think Inyo checks the lottery applications for same leader and alternate leader names. ...and leaders/alternates can't be changed after the lottery. Only the leader or alternate can pick up the permit.


Thanks Steve! Hoping to land one of the permits this year. Really excited.

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#52628 - 02/15/18 04:01 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
Barbara Offline


Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 40
Loc: LA, CA
On other Inyo permits (not the Whitney lottery - haven't tried with that) I've been able to add an alternate leader's name after I got the permit.Is that not so for Whitney entries?

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#52629 - 02/15/18 09:52 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Barbara]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7443
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Barbara
On other Inyo permits (not the Whitney lottery - haven't tried with that) I've been able to add an alternate leader's name after I got the permit. Is that not so for Whitney entries?


No, because that would enable scalpers to obtain a permit through the lottery, then offer it to the highest bidder.

Yosemite Valley camp sites were being scalped that way a few years ago. Some one created a fast computer program to scoop up lots of spots before others could, and then marketed them through CraigsList.

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#52635 - 02/18/18 06:08 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
Barbara Offline


Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 40
Loc: LA, CA
Thanks Steve.

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#52664 - 02/27/18 06:46 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
dkarlan Offline


Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 2
Loc: IL
A really basic question: we know the date we want to start a hike at Mt Whitney, and we want to then continue north via the John Muir. But we do not know what our pace will be. Do we just need a permit to get onto Mt Whitney trail, or do we need a permit to continue north too? if we need it to continue, do we really need to know what campsite we will stay in each and every night for two weeks?

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#52665 - 02/27/18 10:09 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: dkarlan]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7443
Loc: Fresno, CA
First, keep your lottery entry simple. Pick Onion Valley as your exit point, and then put down Wallace Creek and maybe Vidette Meadow, two nights stay after Trail Camp. You can change all that info, and add more nights later on. Winning a slot in the lottery is the first thing you need. I am 99% sure that, IF you win in the lottery, you can then modify your trip -- your exit point and date, as well as where you will stay. Then use the "Other/Don't Know" selection after the first few nights.

Heck, you could even put Whitney Portal as your exit, and then change the entire itinerary once you found that you won. It is ONLY the trailhead entry location and date that matter for the lottery. (...only exception is that, if you start on a different trailhead within Inyo N.F. and want to exit via Whitney Portal, then you need the Trail Crest Exit permit, hard to get.)

Now, for a word of caution. Heading up and over Trail Crest from Whitney Portal on your start of a long journey has got to be tough, since you will be carrying many days of food, so your packs will be heavy. Very few people do that. Most will start from Horseshoe Meadows, since it avoids about 5,000 vertical feet in the first two days. It does add about 30 miles, but getting that permit is a lot easier than the lottery. And you can day hike Whitney from the west side, without needing a lottery win.

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#52667 - 02/28/18 04:35 AM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
dkarlan Offline


Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 2
Loc: IL
thank you this is super helpful! so glad i found this forum. much appreciated.

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#52669 - 02/28/18 07:17 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
che Offline


Registered: 02/28/18
Posts: 4
Loc: ca
Does the exit date matter for the overnight lottery?

I see that the limit is 60 people per day... is that 60 people entering each day? Or 60 people total on the trail?

If the exit date matters, what happens if it takes us an extra day to complete the trip?
thanks!

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#52670 - 02/28/18 10:27 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: che]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7443
Loc: Fresno, CA
Exit date does NOT matter at all! Most people exit after one night, some after two. But even if you change your mind while out on the trail and do something different than is on your permit, the rangers do not care at ALL.

Trip itineraries, camping locations, and exit dates are written down only to use if you fail to return home, and someone reports you missing. Then they have a clue where to start looking.

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#52673 - 03/01/18 12:03 AM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
al_novice Offline


Registered: 02/28/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Alabama
Ok, so I didn't fully understand the application process, specifically the alternate dates. I entered the lottery twice for a group of two, both with me as the leader and my wife as the alternate, but with two different dates. After gathering an understanding of the lottery, I then went back and entered under my wife's profile with all the dates we have available, 13 total. These were with her as the leader and me as the alternate.

Do I need to contact the park and withdraw my original two applications?

I would like as many chances to win as possible, but do not want to get kicked out before I start.


Edited by al_novice (03/01/18 12:08 AM)

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#52674 - 03/01/18 08:12 AM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: al_novice]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7443
Loc: Fresno, CA
They look for duplicate applications and delete them, so if you want to keep the one with all the dates, I would call the wilderness permit number 760-873-2483, and ask what you should do. I doubt you will get the $10 fee back for the ones you don't want.

Good luck.

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#52676 - 03/01/18 09:01 PM Re: Mt Whitney Lottery 2018 [Re: Steve C]
al_novice Offline


Registered: 02/28/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Alabama
Yeah, I pretty much wrote that $20 off. Oh, well...

Thanks!

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