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#55302 - 06/04/19 01:19 PM Any new insights on next-day permits?
sumptimwong Offline


Registered: 03/15/19
Posts: 35
Loc: Bay Area, CA
So we're now about a month into the permit period, but I think only a few of those days so far have been completed booked. Has anyone attempted to reserve a permit yet for a hike the following day? The initial information that Steve C collected over the phone was intentionally vague, which I believe was intended to thwart any attempts for reservation holders to scalp their spots. A good read for those not familiar with the new "walk-in" system for this year:

http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/54890/No_Walk-Up_Permits_for_2019#Post54890

What I'm wondering now is if any new details have surfaced about the timing of when the next-day spots will be released online. It obviously needs to occur after the no-show deadline (11am?), but before the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center closes for the day (5pm). This is important information for our group because it'll dictate the time window when we want to be sure we are at a spot with good cell phone coverage. We'll be in the Horseshoe Meadows area starting two nights before our hopeful Whitney summit date, so that means we'll probably need to drive out to at least Walt's Point (the hang glider launch area on Horseshoe Meadows Rd) for a few hours while we hover over our devices. Thanks in advance!

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#55303 - 06/04/19 02:25 PM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: sumptimwong]
futbol Offline


Registered: 06/27/17
Posts: 77
Loc: San Diego, CA
You may have to drive a little further down Horseshoe Meadow road to get a signal. I couldn't get a data connection at Walt's Point with Verizon, but have heard that AT&T *might* work there.

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#55304 - 06/04/19 03:04 PM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: sumptimwong]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7926
Loc: Fresno, CA
Looks like next day permits are showing up. As I write this at 3 PM, there are 7 Day Use and 8 Overnight permits for tomorrow available online. I think those are the no-shows and group size reductions from permits picked up today.

The process seems to be working.

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#55313 - 06/05/19 07:51 AM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: Steve C]
sumptimwong Offline


Registered: 03/15/19
Posts: 35
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Thanks, futbol. We're actually planning to do the short trek up to Wonoga Peak, which is about 1000 ft above and to the north of Walt's Point. Hopefully with line-of-sight to the entire Owens Valley we'll have some signal. Otherwise, it's a drive back down the switchbacks.

Thanks, Steve. I think there may have been availability today anyway, so I'm not certain the ones you saw were from no-shows/reductions. This Sat and Sun look fully booked though, so I guess on Fri/Sat I can try to take another closer look at how/when the spots open up.

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#55447 - 06/18/19 10:19 AM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: sumptimwong]
cantare Offline


Registered: 04/07/14
Posts: 20
Loc: California
After receiving some conflicting information about the new system, I called yesterday and talked to Cindy G. at the Inyo permit office. She was very informative...apparently she's the liaison for the new rec.gov software dev team, and is also the person who has supplied Steve C with the extremely useful "Unused Whitney Permits" data for 2017 and prior years.

She told me the intent behind the changes is to enable people to make full use of the permits without having to drive to LP, stand in line, and endure mini-lotteries for no-show permits without guarantee of success (as can happen on popular weekend days)

The no-show deadlines are still at fixed times for day-use and overnight (noon on the previous day and 10am on the entry day, respectively). The unclaimed permits go back into the system at random times after the cutoff (to prevent scalping and coordinated transfers). Moreover, each no-show group is a separate transaction with its own randomized release time, so there is no coordinated mass "dump" like the 2pm release for day-use under the old system.

Group-size reductions happen on a rolling basis as reserved permits are picked up, so these also appear individually at random times throughout the day, as do cancellations initiated by permit-holders.

Next-day permits must be purchased and either claimed in person by 5pm or designated for after-hours pickup by phone (4:30pm deadline, per InyoNF website).

On Monday I monitored the next-day day-use permits (ie, for Tuesday June 18th). There were 7 available in the morning. After the noon deadline, that number rose to 9, then 10, then 12 at 4pm, so no-shows are apparently being added to the system.

However, those 12 remained bookable until well after midnight. I don't see how that's useful, since if you bought a day permit after 5pm you'd have to wait until 8AM the morning of your ascent to pick it up. As we know, 9-10 AM is awfully late to be starting a Whitney dayhike.

At least after 8 AM, the current day shows only as "W" (walk-up) for both permit types, implying that you have to go in person. Yet the new rules (and the VC staffer I talked to) clearly state that no walk-ups will be issued for Whitney. So it's unclear how you'd ever claim a same-day overnight permit released after the 10am no-show deadline.

Putting it all together, you have a non-zero chance of scoring a newly released next-day permit at any time after the VC opens at 8am, thanks to late cancellations and group-size reductions. Your chances then increase after the no-show cutoff. By 5pm closing, you need to be at the VC or have arranged for night-box pickup before the phone line closes at 4:30.

ISTM that the site may need some tweaking to lock out unworkable last-minute scenarios that have people buying permits they can't use. Cindy G. said the new software has had some technical problems as well (like freezing up) and also that they lack certain essential tools they once had that let them identify "in limbo" permits & manually free them up for latecomers. Devs are currently at work on resolving these limitations.

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#55448 - 06/18/19 11:47 AM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: cantare]
sumptimwong Offline


Registered: 03/15/19
Posts: 35
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Wow, thanks for the great info! Hopefully they work out the remaining bugs. The intent behind the online system makes sense, although I'm not sure if it's worse to be subject to a brief mini-lottery in person, or a multi-hour game of refresh-the-window the day before a planned hike wink

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#55450 - 06/18/19 12:14 PM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: cantare]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7926
Loc: Fresno, CA
Cantare, It's really great that you took the time to call and talk with Cindy regarding the current system. And thanks for such an informative report!

One thing I'd counter:
> However, those 12 remained bookable until well after midnight. I don't see how that's useful, since if you bought a day permit after 5pm you'd have to wait until 8AM the morning of your ascent to pick it up. As we know, 9-10 AM is awfully late to be starting a Whitney dayhike.

There ARE hikers who might like to snag a day-use permit just to hike up to Trail Camp and back on the Main Trail, or Upper Boy Scout Lake and back on the Mountaineers Route. So those later-start Day Use permits should remain available even into the next day!

The same goes for Overnight permits -- People should be able to pick one up even after noon on the entry date, because it is entirely workable to get an evening start, hike to Lone Pine Lake and camp overnight, and then continue on in the morning.

So: I certainly hope those same-day permits start showing up online, too! (I think it's still one of those software glitches that needs work.)

As for calling the Wilderness Permit number: 760-873-2483 people should know that if they are busy, it will disconnect after ringing about 1 minute. At that point they need to redial and repeat the wait. There is no wait-queue on that phone line.

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#55451 - 06/18/19 12:28 PM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: Steve C]
cantare Offline


Registered: 04/07/14
Posts: 20
Loc: California
Thanks. Not as helpful as shoveling out the switchbacks, but easier to do from 7 hours away! I hope I got my analysis and assumptions right. I've e-mailed Cindy some followup q's based on this.

Agree that my "not useful" for same-day day permits is over-broad. Perhaps "dangerous" and "not in line with expectations" would be more accurate. If late purchasers fully intend to go no farther than trail camp, then all is well. But I can envision others excitedly grabbing a permit at 6pm without thinking things thru, then being disappointed that they can't summit and are out the money (another big change: these last-minute permits are no longer free!). Or, far worse, making a foolhardy late summit attempt because they've already invested money and/or travel.

Practically, if it's too late for "summiteers" to get a next-day, then it's too late, unless Inyo wanted to extend or automate the night-box window. Probably they just need a very prominent warning that the store is closed, first permit pickup is 8am tomorrow, and that late summit starts are inherently hazardous.


Edited by cantare (06/18/19 12:30 PM)

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#55452 - 06/18/19 05:00 PM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: Steve C]
AndyC Offline


Registered: 01/22/14
Posts: 19
Loc: Tehachapi, CA
"There ARE hikers who might like to snag a day-use permit just to hike up to Trail Camp and back on the Main Trail, or Upper Boy Scout Lake and back on the Mountaineers Route. So those later-start Day Use permits should remain available even into the next day!"

Steve is spot on here. There are a lot of us who live within easy driving distance and like to snag a same day permit for non summit adventures. Examples include Thor Peak, Wotans Throne, slabs above Mirror Lake, and exploring above UBSL, all of which can be done before the end of the day.


Edited by AndyC (06/18/19 05:02 PM)

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#55453 - 06/18/19 05:17 PM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: AndyC]
cantare Offline


Registered: 04/07/14
Posts: 20
Loc: California
One of my follow-ups was to ask if the new rules cover the MR as well...I've seen conflicting posts about that. As for the rest, I heartily agree, just think there should be some kind of additional caution given re: summiting when buying a same-day-pickup day-use permit.

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#55556 - 06/27/19 06:50 AM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: sumptimwong]
Beau Offline


Registered: 03/19/18
Posts: 2
Loc: New Jersey
Thank you for the detailed insight into the new permitting process. I was wondering, however, if I look at overnight availability starting tomorrow 6/28 it shows 1 out of 49 available. Is that because the other 11 haven't released yet and will do so randomly over the next several hours? The reason I ask, is I am looking to get a mid-week overnight in late August or early September. Last year, using the old system was really easy but coming from the EC I am a little worried about navigating the new rec.gov set up.


Edited by Beau (06/27/19 08:06 AM)

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#55557 - 06/27/19 08:28 AM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: Beau]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7926
Loc: Fresno, CA
Beau, I see the same thing. I've been wondering about that, too, so I called the Wilderness Permit office number. Word from the main person there is "we don't know". frown

They are still working out the glitches in the system, so I hope we can eventually get an answer. But not today.

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#55559 - 06/27/19 10:18 AM Re: Any new insights on next-day permits? [Re: sumptimwong]
Beau Offline


Registered: 03/19/18
Posts: 2
Loc: New Jersey
Steve, thank you! I will keep checking back hopefully we will know something soon!

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