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No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
#54890 04/06/19 07:50 AM
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No Walk Up Permits
All the space for Mt Whitney Day Use and Mt Whitney Trail Overnight permits is now reserved on Recreation.gov. Walk up permits will not be issued for these Mt Whitney permits for the 2019 season.

Instead of standing in line at the visitor center, reserve the space from last minute cancelations or group size reductions on the web. Reserved permits can utilize Will Call and Night Box Service.

Inyo Statement on NO Walk Up Permits

This is a major screw up. Let the whining begin.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
SierraNevada #54893 04/06/19 08:10 PM
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Wow. That's crazy. Programming error or policy change?

Do spots open up on recreation.gov at random? I feel like I'm checking a few times a day for openings.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
climb415 #54894 04/06/19 11:53 PM
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I first thought this was an April 1 post! I'll try to get more info ASAP.

Maybe it is this...
If the group-size reductions (when people show up to pick up their permits, but don't need all reserved slots) are handled online by the permit issuers, IF those reductions show up online, then people with the quickest fingers can reserve those slots online.

So... you could be at home in front of your computer many hours drive away from Lone Pine, and grab a last minute slot. Once you have that, call the Visitor Center, ask for a night-box pickup, and then drive up and pick up your permit that night, start hiking next morning as early as you like.

If the above is true, then the no-shows might show up online after the pickup deadline. Who knows???

This is all "It may be this..." conjecture. I'll call to get the full story, and post it here.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54896 04/08/19 06:21 AM
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Peeling back a few layers here, this recent policy change could be a indirect way to lower the traffic on the mountain.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54897 04/08/19 09:16 AM
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Ok!! I got a lot more of the story...

First, the text from the Inyo N.F. Recreation Passes & Permits page:


Here's the scoop:

No-shows will show up ON-LINE soon after the no-show deadline. When they show up is set at a random time so that one party can't cancel and another coordinate and pick up the available slots. But no-shows WILL be made available online in time for people to get a reservation, and then possibly call for a night box pickup, drive to Lone Pine with the assurance that they have a permit waiting.

This online reservation of no-shows even extends to same-day entry for overnight trips. Inyo is still working with software developers on the details of how soon the no-shows appear on the web. It would need to be within a several hour window, since the permit pickup affects the time to get started on the hike!

The Will-Call & Night Box service: THIS is intended to eliminate the long waits in line at the Visitor Center. If you call in advance and go over all the trip specifications by phone, you can then quickly show up and pick up your permit in a Will-Call line (or possibly at that kiosk by the road, not sure). No more waiting behind someone at the counter who is trying to figure out where they will be camping each night.
... And getting that reservation pre-set-up means that your unused slots will be made available online, instead of at the last minute when you pick up your hard-copy permit.

This Will-Call & Night Box service is even extended to those traveling into the National Parks. (Before, they required you to meet face-to-face at the Visitor Center.)

Now a notice: This is all subject to change. As long as everyone follows the regulations, and does NOT abuse the new system, it should help everyone get permits and waste less time standing in lines. So this requires everyone to help out. Thanks!

Inyo hopes to extend the no-walk-in process to all trails in the future, so let's hope all the kinks get worked out this year.

Last edited by Steve C; 04/08/19 12:09 PM.
Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54898 04/08/19 09:54 AM
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A guide told me that Whitney permits will no longer be able to be cancelled online and you have to call???? Is this true? (If true, it will probably really cut down on permit cancellations).

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
jaym #54899 04/08/19 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted By: jaym
A guide told me that Whitney permits will no longer be able to be cancelled online and you have to call???? Is this true? (If true, it will probably really cut down on permit cancellations).

I doubt that is true. The goal is for people to do as much in advance as possible, both online and via phone-in setup for will-call permits. It was mentioned that the confirmation up to 2 weeks in advance may be (or has been) shortened to 1 week in advance of permit pickup.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54900 04/08/19 11:31 AM
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Your right. I just called reservations and confirmed you can cancel online (otherwise it would have been really crazy) Maybe the guide was talking about/confused by the no walk-up changes.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
pcieluch #54902 04/08/19 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted By: pcieluch
Peeling back a few layers here, this recent policy change could be a indirect way to lower the traffic on the mountain.

I donít think thatís it. Issuing lots of walk-up permits is probably pretty time consuming. But I think the real reason is that walk up permits are free, while reserved permits cost money. And Trump just proposed to cut the USDA budget, and the USFS has to get their money somewhere.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
jaym #54903 04/08/19 12:14 PM
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Looking at the current No Show deadlines:
Scenarios:

Day use: 12 Noon before Entry Date:

Grab permit 1PM-2PM. Call to setup up the Permit Kiosk. Drive up from sea level. Start hiking at 12 midnight. Start puking from altitude sickness probably around Lone Pine Lake make hasty retreat back to car....

MultiDay (overnight): 10 AM day of Permit:

Grab permit 11AM-12PM. Call to setup the Kiosk. Drive up from Sea level. Sleep at increasing elevation campsites (Lone Pine Lake, Outpost, Trail Camp, etc.) Success!

Can you sleep at Whitney Portal and sneak in the next day? E.g. permit for Thursday-Monday (Monday just in case you still feel sick at Trail Camp and need another day of acclimatization) but sleep Thursday night at the Portal and have breakfast at the Portal Resturaunt.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
jaym #54905 04/08/19 12:36 PM
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Adding to bobpickering's post: It is also an attempt to shorten the lines and wait times at the Visitor Center.

jaym wrote: "Start puking from altitude sickness probably around Lone Pine Lake make hasty retreat back to car...."
Yep. It enables day hikers to enjoy the AMS to the fullest. grin

also: "Can you sleep at Whitney Portal and sneak in the next day?"
Nope. But people could use head lamps and hike up and camp at Lone Pine Lake the first night. I've done similar things in Yosemite: start hiking after a big burger, hiking into the night, set up camp after a few hours. Wake up next morning and carry on.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54910 04/09/19 10:39 AM
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Thanks for the detailed follow up, Steve. Reading this, it seems to me that in the scenario Iíve had in the past where we showed up to check on walk up permits, we could now just hang out nearby in Lone Pine checking the website after the appointed times and see what comes available. That is different, but maybe not as different as I originally feared. Or am I missing an important point?

One other question. Does this only apply to Whitney main trail? What about the Whitney exit walk up quota?

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Jammer #54911 04/09/19 11:23 AM
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Jammer, I think that is Inyo's intent -- that you can hang out and keep checking for slots to show up, using "your own device". They intend for no-shows to appear on the web, too, but are still hashing out the timeframe... they don't want a flood of slots to all appear at once, instead they want them to show up at random times. The time window is still being worked out.

This applies to both Day Use and Overnight use on the Main Trail, (and Day Use on the Mountaineers non-trail Route, since it requires the same Day Use permit).

They want to extend this process in the future to the walk-in and no-show permits for all the other trails. I just don't know how it could extend to the Trail Crest Exit Permit, since that permit requires that you first get an entry permit on another trail. And also, those walk-in exit permits are given to people picking up their trailhead entry permit when they pick up that entry permit.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54914 04/10/19 07:12 AM
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Locals probably aren't too happy about it. Now anyone in the greater LA/SD area is local enough to make the 3/4 drive AFTER securing the "walk up" permits online. It's probably going to make the mountain more crowded too because they'll likely all get scooped up, considering the competition for them will greatly increase.

So by having these pop up at random times during a certain time window, that means people hovering over their devices upwards of 2 hours, waiting for them to show up?

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
bruce #54915 04/10/19 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted By: bruce
So by having these pop up at random times during a certain time window, that means people hovering over their devices upwards of 2 hours, waiting for them to show up?

smile Yeah, something like that.  I wasn't given a number, so we don't know how long a time window those random times will come out.  The old published numbers were always "at a random time in the next 24 hours".  But here, we're dealing with a much shorter time window before the permits are worthless.

The reason they don't want permits to appear immediately is that one party holding the permits could coordinate their cancellation/release time with another party who could then scoop them up.  The possibility of that could lead to scalpers making $$ from the transaction.

The staff I spoke to indicated the exact details aren't set in stone yet, so we will have to wait and see.  I would think a one-hour time window would eliminate the scalper threat, and enable everyone to have a fair chance at grabbing the permits.  Especially for no-shows on overnight hikes, with a 10 AM pickup deadline, those permits would need to be made available over the next hour, so anyone else ready to start a backpack trip could get a permit and change which trailhead they start on.

...Of course that means whatever permit they already had should then be made available online.  This could get interesting...

And that leads to a final question:  At the deadline after which no more Will Call permits can be made available, will there be a point in time when the Unused Permits number will show up online?  Thinking about it, Bruce makes a good point that those last unused permits may very well get scooped up by people ready to drive the distance and pick up their permit in the Night Box.  The Unused Permits numbers will definitely decline.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54916 04/10/19 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted By: Steve C
The last unused permits may very well get scooped up by people ready to drive the distance and pick up their permit in the Night Box.  The Unused Permits numbers will definitely decline.


Maybe, maybe not. I've mentioned a few times I've never been shut-out from any TH walk-up permit, including WZ. Of course, I'm always solo and many times mid-week, but not having a reserved permit in hand has ever determined whether or not to head up from SoCal.

Perhaps I might be projecting, but how many people would decide to drive 4 hours just because a permit was available? I would think the opposite would be true ie more like my situation, where you have the means, motivation and opportunity. (Can't do the time, don't do the crime.) IOW, I have a few free days, the weather forecast looks good, and I'm feeling strong and healthy. In my experience, that's when I throw my gear in the car and head out regardless.

-----

Now, with all this discussion about permits, I noted one important aspect, which I'm really curious about: you mentioned night-drop will be available for the parks? Or just the SEKI side of WZ? Because if that's true, Katy bar the door. How many of us have driven up after work, shown up after hours, wasted night 1 sleeping in the car, got a permit the next am (ya know, first in line club), and finally hit the TH before noon? That's yet another reason why the WZ is so awesome, in that with night drop, you could compress a trip by hiking up to LP lake night 1. If this is truly a new option for the parks, yippee!

Last edited by Hobbes; 04/10/19 09:40 AM.
Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Hobbes #54917 04/10/19 12:15 PM
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Hobbes, thanks for all the input!

You asked: "you mentioned night-drop will be available for the parks?"

That is only for people getting a permit from Inyo N.F. to start their hike on an Inyo trailhead, but their trip extends across the crest into SeKi. Up until this year, SeKi required Inyo to enforce the trip leader to walk-in to receive their hard-copy permit, because they wanted everyone to get the face-to-face instructions that SeKi requires. Inyo pointed out this requires more staff time of them, so either drop the face-to-face, or help pay for Visitor Center staffing.

This is a really big change. Two years ago, it forced me to waste gas coming back down to Lone Pine from Horseshoe Meadows, and delaying the start of my hike for hours (getting to my overnight spot in the cold after sundown). I've always said SeKi could very easily put all their regs on a PDF document that hikers could download, sign, and carry as part of their permit.

Let's all hope that SeKi sees the efficiency in Inyo's process, and eventually changes their rules to add online last minute reservations, Will Call, and Night Box pickup. I have many times spent overnights hiding out somewhere in my car, or driving to the park at Oh-Dark-Thirty to get first place in those lines. It would sure be a game-change.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
Steve C #54921 04/11/19 06:50 AM
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Yosemite Valley is no longer issuing walkups for any trailhead that joins up with the JMT and goes over Donahue Pass. The only walkups issued will be for the many other trails in the park with the trip not leaving over Donahue Pass. It's the same process there as unclaimed permits will appear online for the next day.

If this new policy is extended to all the trailheads in the Sierra Parks, people may not be so willing to get into the area without a permit in hand. This would be especially true for hikers coming from the east coast or the heartland of the county.

I live in MN and have never been able to secure a permit online for the trailhead I want 6 months out, there all gone so quickly. But from information gathered on this board and other places, I just get there early in the week and have no issue getting one of the allotted walkup permits.

Half Dome permits were a lottery this year. And no longer did a Happy Isle permit come with the option to do Half Dome on the way up the valley.

Though Inyo's process may prove to be much more efficient as time goes by, there is one the question I wonder. Will this new policy, and if extended to all the parks, lessen tourism into the eastern side?

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
pcieluch #54922 04/11/19 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted By: pcieluch
I live in MN and have never been able to secure a permit online for the trailhead I want 6 months out.

There are many worthwhile trails in the Sierra. The most famous and popular trails (e.g. Whitney and Half Dome) can be a challenge, but the others are easy if you apply early. This year, I applied for five permits: two in Inyo National Forest, two in the Sierra National Forest, and one in SEKI. I got my first choice date for every one. I climbed Half Dome last year right after the quota period ended, and I usually climb Whitney outside the quota period too.

Re: No Walk-Up Permits for 2019
bobpickering #54923 04/11/19 01:55 PM
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Like most people that live close to the Sierras, I never apply for reservations. I always do a walk-in. However, with that said, I always have a backup plan, or alternative trailhead.

A little known secret are the non-quota trailheads. For example, out of Horseshoe Meadow, you have Cottonwood and New Army Passes that have quotas. However, Trail Pass is a non-quota pass. I take it every time that I head down to the Kern River. The pass is on the PCT and is accessed from the Cottonwood trailhead. Some info: Cottonwood Pass is around 4 miles from the trailhead. Trail Pass is 2 miles. The distance from Trail Pass to Cottonwood Pass is 4 miles, for a total of 6 miles. So, in effect, I hike an extra 2 miles and didn't have to worry about missing out on a permit.

Paul

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