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#56433 - 10/09/19 02:08 PM Question about Whitney Overnight Permits
Anithe1997 Offline


Registered: 09/30/19
Posts: 5
Loc: Illinois
Hi all,

Hope everyone here is doing great. Luckily, my friend and I, after hours of repeatedly refreshing the website, got overnight permits for Whitney. While we will be bringing camping gear, and plan on setting up our tents, we definitely want to gauge the difficulty of the hike and there is certainly a chance we might try to make the hike a day-hike. Would I be allowed to do that with my overnight permit? Am i mandated to spend a night somewhere on the mountain?

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you so much!

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#56435 - 10/09/19 06:31 PM Re: Question about Whitney Overnight Permits [Re: Anithe1997]
soop Offline


Registered: 08/06/19
Posts: 13
Loc: SF
I had an overnight permit, and did a day hike last week. It's not prohibited in the rules, wasn't mentioned when I picked it up, and there were no rangers there on-site. So it was all fine.

Only thing is you might want to leave your camping stuff at trail camp -- but read all the other posts on this board about marmot and rain/wind protection, etc., if you do that.

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#56436 - 10/09/19 07:18 PM Re: Question about Whitney Overnight Permits [Re: Anithe1997]
Trail Lotus Offline


Registered: 09/22/19
Posts: 7
Loc: CA
I see the permit as either ALLOWING you to be on the mountain for one day, or for multiple days. A permit that allows for multiple days does not prohibit you from being on the trail for fewer than multiple days.

Imagine you started hiking the first day permitted on your permit and you got back NEAR the trailhead 5 minutes before midnight. A ranger happens to stop you and sees you have an overnight permit. I highly doubt he would make you pitch a tent and sleep for 10 minutes before continuing to exit the trailhead the "next day".

More importantly, I think you just need to decide whether you will dayhike it or not dayhike it. The decision alters your start time, your pace, and where you set up camp. It doesn't make sense to carry your full gear 'just in case' you get too tired and decide to sleep a night.

To me a 2-day hike is just as strenuous as a dayhike of Whitney since you have to carry so much weight for so far/high. If you carry your gear AND dayhike, then it will more strenuous than either option alone, which reduces your likelihood of a successful and or enjoyable hike.

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#56437 - 10/10/19 01:17 AM Re: Question about Whitney Overnight Permits [Re: Trail Lotus]
Jonathan C Offline


Registered: 03/03/19
Posts: 45
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Originally Posted By: Trail Lotus
I see the permit as ...

Your personal interpretation won't make a difference if the rangers, well within their rights, choose to enforce proper permit usage.

Originally Posted By: Trail Lotus
Imagine you started hiking the first day permitted on your permit and you got back NEAR the trailhead 5 minutes before midnight. A ranger happens to stop you and sees you have an overnight permit. I highly doubt he would make you pitch a tent and sleep for 10 minutes before continuing to exit the trailhead the "next day".

That's not a useful hypothetical scenario. The likely scenario is if you get permit checked during the day and your permit or tags show an overnight permit, but you are not carrying overnight gear. The lack of overnight gear would reveal that you are not overnighting. The ranger could then choose to fine you and escort you out. Whether or not they do that for misusing overnight permits, I don't know.

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#56438 - 10/10/19 06:13 AM Re: Question about Whitney Overnight Permits [Re: soop]
Anithe1997 Offline


Registered: 09/30/19
Posts: 5
Loc: Illinois
Hey Soop,

Thank you so much for your perspective. Just had a quick question for you on your point. Are you saying that you didn't see any rangers checking permits on the mountain when you day hiked on your overnight permit? Only asking because our group is definitely worried about getting fined/kicked off mountain for day hiking on the permit.

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#56439 - 10/10/19 09:45 AM Re: Question about Whitney Overnight Permits [Re: Anithe1997]
bobpickering Online


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 458
Loc: Reno, Nevada
When you apply for a Whitney permit, you specify ďDay UseĒ or ďOvernightĒ. Both permits allow you to enter the Whitney Zone on a specific date. You can enter at any time on that date.

The Day Use permit is intended for people who donít camp or otherwise ďspend the nightĒ in the Whitney Zone. You should be out by midnight, but nobody is going to write you a ticket for staggering out a few hours late if your trip took longer than planned.

As the name suggests, an Overnight permit is intended for people who spend at least one complete night in the wilderness (Whitney Zone or otherwise). In other words, itís intended for people who are camping. You can spend multiple nights, and you donít have to spend the exact number of nights you specified on your application.

Rangers tend to be reasonable people, and they wonít write you a ticket for aborting your legitimate Overnight trip because of illness, injury, major equipment failure, or other emergency. On the other hand, if you have an Overnight permit, and you leave your tent and sleeping bag in the car, and you enter the Whitney Zone planning to do a dayhike, you are abusing the system. Please donít do that.

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#56440 - 10/10/19 12:54 PM Re: Question about Whitney Overnight Permits [Re: bobpickering]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 130
Loc: Novato, CA
I don't think it is abusing the system if a permitted overnight hike goes so well that it becomes a day hike, as long as you pack the required overnight gear. One can plan to be conservative and safe (overnight) and hope for the best (day hike).

As for overnight gear slowing the pace, two people can share a bear canister and a tent (I don't think a tent is required if you want to bring bivvy's instead), and a sleeping bag for each. Maybe add 4 pounds to your pack if you get the lightest weight gear. Don't think that's going to slow your pace down much. Good luck!

BTW, I've done several long two day hikes where I brought a sleeping bag and bivvy (and bear cannister of course) and just crashed for 3-4 hours at night before continuing on (like at 3am).


Edited by bruce (10/10/19 12:59 PM)

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#56441 - 10/10/19 03:43 PM Re: Question about Whitney Overnight Permits [Re: Anithe1997]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 555
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Originally Posted By: Anithe1997
Hi all,

Hope everyone here is doing great. Luckily, my friend and I, after hours of repeatedly refreshing the website, got overnight permits for Whitney. While we will be bringing camping gear, and plan on setting up our tents, we definitely want to gauge the difficulty of the hike and there is certainly a chance we might try to make the hike a day-hike. Would I be allowed to do that with my overnight permit? Am i mandated to spend a night somewhere on the mountain?

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you so much!


Anithe, What is your hiking/mountaineering experience. And when do you expect to hike? While much has been said about the permitting options, little has been said as to your best strategy to summit. You are well into the "shoulder season" when snow and ice may well effect the outcome of your adventure. Knowing virtually nothing about your qualifications, and physical abilities, I suspect you may find this to be much more difficult that you expect. I happen to be of the school "I'd rather do it in one day than haul the camping gear", but I believe you are more likely to summit if you do camp. 22+miles with over 7K' of climbing (this includes the "ups and downs" along the way) is not for the faint of heart. This is particularly true when you start at 8K + above sea level (ASL), and climb to over 14.5K' ASL. Also, this time of the year permits can be had for either option, so why not decide what you want to try, and use that permit, rather than getting an overnight permit, and them gaming the system if you decide not to camp?


Edited by John Sims (10/10/19 03:44 PM)

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#56442 - 10/10/19 09:25 PM Re: Question about Whitney Overnight Permits [Re: Anithe1997]
soop Offline


Registered: 08/06/19
Posts: 13
Loc: SF
Yes that's correct. Didn't see any rangers.

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#56448 - 10/14/19 12:59 PM Re: Question about Whitney Overnight Permits [Re: soop]
StorminMatt Offline


Registered: 06/20/19
Posts: 46
Loc: Norcal
Originally Posted By: soop
Yes that's correct. Didn't see any rangers.


Iíve climbed Whitney FOUR TIMES, and Iíve NEVER seen a ranger (let alone had my permit checked). Then again, Iíve never gotten an alpine start, and Iíve never done it on a weekend. So maybe that has something to do with it. Iím guessing that rangers are probably going to be out there more during popular climbing times.

Originally Posted By: John Sims
I happen to be of the school "I'd rather do it in one day than haul the camping gear", but I believe you are more likely to summit if you do camp.


This depends. There is more that makes backpacking difficult than just the heavy pack. There are also training issues, sleep issues, food issues, and bathroom issues (among other things) to consider. Problems with any of these things can ruin your day and send you packing back to the Portal. And they are more likely to happen if Whitney is your first backpack. Backpacking clearly works better if you are an experienced backpacker. But the average person who hikes Whitney probably isnít. Many have likely never carried a heavy pack on their back. And many people train for Whitney by doing other long dayhikes (think San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek, White Mountain Peak, or Red Slate Mountain vis McGee Creek). People who train like this are basically set up for doing a dayhike (and not a backpack). This doubly so if the person in question has never backpacked a day in their life.


Edited by StorminMatt (10/14/19 01:10 PM)

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