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Whitney Portal Exit Permit Question
#56628 01/24/20 06:06 PM
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I was fortunate enough to secure a late July permit with entry at Onion Valley and exit via Whitney Portal. I booked all my planned camping areas and the itinerary makes sense, but there is always a chance I could make progress either faster or slower than how I've initially planned.

What are the non-negotiable rules regarding timing for a longer distance permit like this? I assume the entry date is absolutely non-negotiable. But, since a lot of variables can impact the long distance hike, is there some flexibility around the exit date? I'm only wondering about a day or so in either direction depending on how well I make progress on the direct route from Onion Valley. Not trying to scheme some scenario where I stay in the wilderness three months and then try to exit on the same exit permit. smile

Any confirmation of how that exit part works would be great.

Re: Whitney Portal Exit Permit Question
Jammer #56629 01/24/20 09:36 PM
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You can leave earlier, but if you leave after the exit date you could get in trouble if stopped by a ranger.

I did that route in 6 days. What's your permit for?

Re: Whitney Portal Exit Permit Question
Jammer #56630 01/24/20 09:39 PM
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Everything I have read is that the rangers are flexible if you exit a day early or late. I'm pretty sure you will be just fine.

I have never seen where anyone was hassled about exiting on a day that wasn't exactly the date on the permit.

Re: Whitney Portal Exit Permit Question
WanderingJim #56631 01/25/20 05:28 PM
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Thanks for the feedback...makes me feel better.

To answer the question about permit length, it actually is for 6 days. That seems about right, but Iím pretty sure I could do it in 5 at my normal pace. Also, could take longer if weather or other factors slow me down. Glad to know there is at least a bit of leeway.

Re: Whitney Portal Exit Permit Question
Jammer #56639 01/28/20 01:49 PM
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Jammer, I am hoping (permit willing) to make the same Onion Valley to Mt Whitney trip that you're doing. I have two questions. 1 - do you know what time of day the permits become available on the site? We are aiming for a mid-September trip, but will have some flexibility. I looked this morning - just out of curiosity - and saw that the exit permits are "walk-up" only from late July through August 3. So, my second question is: If they only give exit permits six months in advance, how can August 3rd already be walk-up only. Thank you for any insight that anyone can provide!

Re: Whitney Portal Exit Permit Question
LarsArz #56640 01/28/20 02:59 PM
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Just chiming in since I wrangled some permits within the last several weeks. The permits are released 6 months in advance, to the day, at 12:00 AM PST. The 6 months applies to the entry permit, and it is my understanding that they provide one additional week's worth of Whitney Portal exit quota slots since no one would be exiting the same day as they entered (you can see exit slots for 8/3 because it is 6 months and 7 days beyond today, 1/28). I was able to secure a North Fork Lone Pine creek permit entering on 7/3 by setting an alarm for 3:00 AM on 1/3 (I live on the east coast) and typing as quickly as I could, I still had to settle for exiting on 7/6, my second choice. And this was for a single permit. Good luck!

Re: Whitney Portal Exit Permit Question
Jammer #56641 01/29/20 05:57 AM
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I've been told of flexibility by a) the Lone Pine permit station, and b) rangers (including those checking permits) on the trail. Nobody has any interest in you forcing a dangerous pace/pushing through bad weather etc. and they are very pragmatic on this. Indeed, once the permit office issued me an exit permit that was knowingly a day wrong, and told me not to worry about it.

I've twice exited a day wrong (once earlier, once later), been checked, and had no issue.

Furthermore, in my experience, the Lone Pine permit office has total inconsistency/a lack of knowledge/clarity of the actual rules. I've been told that the permit date is the day you cross the crest, the day you summit, the day you leave the wilderness, the day you finish... I appreciate for some people these can be the same, but if you're hiking slowly, with kids (as I was twice), then they can be different. Camp up at the MWT/JMT junction, summit and cross crest next day, camp at Consultation Lake and exit the following day is a typical pattern for me.

Last edited by britonwhit(ney); 01/29/20 05:58 AM.
Re: Whitney Portal Exit Permit Question
Jammer #56642 01/29/20 11:04 AM
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Goose, that was very helpful. Thank you very much! Enjoy your trip.


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