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What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
#57210 06/10/20 11:34 AM
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Hi,

I just set up an account specifically to ask this question in hope that some of the greybeards here who are in tune with all things Whitney may know.

What on earth is going on with permit pickup?

Inyo FS page (https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5144746) has the following instructions:
Quote
Check-in by phone 1 to 14 days in advance to have the permit emailed.

Reserve your permit online
Watch Leave No Trace Principles (video below)
Call the visitor center nearest your trail head or the wilderness permit office to check in by phone
Print and sign the permit to carry on the trail and you can go straight to your trailhead.
NOTE: Reservation will be canceled unless you call before no show deadline.

Ok. Fine. Clear enough. I called Mt Whitney ranger station and got through the busy signal -- no one is picking up. I called another time and go through -- same. Called yesterday, called today, called every number on this page, including the public services officer: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/about-forest/offices. Nothing. Same voice message about reserving on recreation.gov, then busy signal, then phone ringing and no answer. Has everyone been furloughed? What's going on?

Those of you who've done Whitney or anything in Inyo backcountry in the past week, how did you actually "pick up" your permit?

Thank you kindly for the info.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57211 06/10/20 11:50 AM
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I share your frustration. Please see my post on lack of leadership by Inyo National Forest officials. We can all debate what effective leadership means but when your main constituency is the general public you do not close all your offices, let calls just rollover over to voicemail and don’t provide daily or weekly updates. The last update was posted almost 3 weeks ago?.. Inyo National Forest is well behind the curve in their communication and transparency.

This week I can go to Yosemite, the gym, get a haircut, go to a restaurant, see a movie and even go bowling here in a major metropolitan area of Calif but I can’t camp in Inyo National Forest developed campgrounds and/or get any reliable information on my day hike in a few weeks. The level of service and communication we are receiving is appalling.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57212 06/10/20 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by 55inthefastlane
Those of you who've done Whitney or anything in Inyo backcountry in the past week, how did you actually "pick up" your permit?


Hi 55! As I understand it, nobody has done Whitney at all since the permit season started. They outright cancelled all permits for May, and rolled out a one-week advance notice system starting in June. So, for example, if you have a permit for a date next week it would show as cancelled by now. If you have a date two weeks from now, you'll need to wait until next week to see if they cancel it, and so on. The best (only?) way to find out if your hike permit has been cancelled is by logging into Recreation.gov and checking on the "My Reservations" page. This is a really short window of time, especially for those who have to make travel plans, but they would rather cancel in small chunks than block out entire months at once. That way, if conditions improve, they can open ASAP. Hope this helps!

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
BDBs #57214 06/10/20 06:55 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. I did actually manage to get through to the Inyo NF Wilderness Permit office at (760) 873-2483. They were very nice. Yes, the situation is a mess. Everyone is flooding them with calls for virtual "permit pickups", info requests, and alike. And it doesn't help that the ranger stations don't have anyone manning phones. So the flood of calls is hitting a single line.

The 4 hours I spent dialing did finally produce results. I now have my NFLPC (JM34) permit for Jun 12 that's been issued to me via email.

Additionally I was able to find out several things.
1) The process for actually obtaining wilderness permits is indeed the same as described on this page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5144746 (book on recreationg.gov then call the permitting office or ranger stations until you get through and get issued the actual permit via email)
2) Reservations for permits that are not "picked up" in this way will go into the "walk-up" pool for that day and will appear on recreation.gov 24hrs before jump date.
3) Whitney Portal gate is apparently still closed as of Jun 8 but should open any day now, maybe as soon as Jun 12.
4) Snow line is at ~9500ft, apparently. Although I am skeptical of this, b/c it was at 10500ft on Dana 2 weeks ago.

I should add that this information does not pertain to the Whitney Tourist Route permit lottery. I have no idea what's going on with that. This is just for generic Inyo wilderness permits.

Hope this helps whoever. Will try to post a report on conditions when I get back.

Last edited by 55inthefastlane; 06/10/20 07:00 PM.
Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57217 06/10/20 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by 55inthefastlane
3) Whitney Portal gate is apparently still closed as of Jun 8 but should open any day now, maybe as soon as Jun 12.
4) Snow line is at ~9500ft, apparently. Although I am skeptical of this, b/c it was at 10500ft on Dana 2 weeks ago.

I should add that this information does not pertain to the Whitney Tourist Route permit lottery. I have no idea what's going on with that.
Thanks for the info. Regarding #3, if the gate does open on June 12, does that imply that you can legally summit Whitney from the portal on or after that date if you already have a permit? Here's what one person posted a few hours ago on the Inyo NF Facebook page:

"I have a day permit to hike Whitney next Wednesday, 6/17. Just Got a confirmation email this morning for the reservation. Have NOT received a cancellation notice. Does that mean we are good to hike Whitney next week?!"

Also, #4 is generally false except for very limited areas like the north slopes of some peaks. I've been up Horseshoe Meadows road over 2 weeks ago (~10,000 ft), and there was no snow in sight at that elevation. Judging by this: https://www.fs.fed.us/r5/webmaps/SierraSnowDepth/ and the reports of people going up White Mountain, I'd guess that the snow level is around 12,000 ft now.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Big Pine #57223 06/11/20 10:22 AM
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The frustration everyone is experiencing trying to contact Inyo National Forest to make important decisions about their trips could largely be avoided. All INF needs to do is post a more detailed statement on their webpage with an update to their last post dated May 22.

If you have followed INF they have deferred many decisions to the guidance by Injo County health representatives. Now that those representatives have cleared the way for June 12 opening you would think INF would have put out a more detailed and complete statement on the portal campground, Whitney day and overnight permits and a host of other issues.

Again, it comes back to leadership or the lack thereof.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57224 06/11/20 10:34 AM
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I have permits for 6/18. This morning, I got a confirmation (NOT cancellation) email from recreation.gov. Super excited, I followed the process and called in to get my permits. The woman I spoke to was very nice. She said that the trail is still closed and that it’s not up to Inyo National Forest, but up to the Inyo County sheriffs office. She said to keep calling back every day because they suspect that they’ll open up “any day now.” So I guess my permits are still in limbo less than one week to go. Not cancelled but not granted either. My group isn’t local, so I guess we’ll just travel in and hike around the area, and hope that they issue our permits.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Bmorelicks #57225 06/11/20 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Bmorelicks
I have permits for 6/18. This morning, I got a confirmation (NOT cancellation) email from recreation.gov. Super excited, I followed the process and called in to get my permits. The woman I spoke to was very nice. She said that the trail is still closed and that it’s not up to Inyo National Forest, but up to the Inyo County sheriffs office.
Interesting. The Forest can't open up the trail because it's up to the County, but the County won't open the road until the Forest issues the trail permits.

From:
http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbth...ortal-closed-through-june-30th#Post57041

"The county will keep the lower road closed until the National Forest decides to issue wilderness passes. Until then the county see no reason to re-open the road."

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Big Pine #57229 06/11/20 06:48 PM
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Just letting everyone know, my overnight Whitney permit for June 21-22 (4 ppl) was cancelled and refunded this afternoon. Fortunately I was able to snag a June 24 overnight permit for Middle Palisade a couple weeks ago as a back-up. Any inkling as to whether the Main Chute will be clear of snow above the glacier at that time given the light snow year?

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
crazydave #57231 06/11/20 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Bmorelicks
I have permits for 6/18. This morning, I got a confirmation (NOT cancellation) email from recreation.gov.
Originally Posted by crazydave
Just letting everyone know, my overnight Whitney permit for June 21-22 (4 ppl) was cancelled and refunded this afternoon. Fortunately I was able to snag a June 24 overnight permit for Middle Palisade a couple weeks ago as a back-up.
I got an email this afternoon saying that my day use Whitney permit for 6/19 was cancelled and refunded. Oh well, I guess I'll climb some other peak that time and go up Whitney in July.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Big Pine #57233 06/11/20 08:22 PM
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Hmm, I have day pass for Jun 23. It has not been cancelled yet.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Bmorelicks #57235 06/12/20 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Bmorelicks
I have permits for 6/18. This morning, I got a confirmation (NOT cancellation) email from recreation.gov.

Was this for Whitney or different trail?

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
retrofan #57236 06/12/20 12:27 PM
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Hi folks. My permit for the Whitney main trail for June 3 was cancelled. A buddy and I drove up from SoCal (4 hrs) to Lone Pine on Tuesday June 9. We went to the gear shop Elevation in town for a quick visit to check on the local haps. The guy in the shop said business was picking up and nobody that he knew of had summited Whitney yet. He did say that someone had left early that morning from the lower locked gate with the intent of day hiking the main trail. I do not know the result of that hike but I suggest calling the shop to see what anyone knows.
We decided to climb Baxter Pass, just to the north of Lone Pine, as a day hike on Wednesday June 10. This is the last of the four "nasty passes" I wanted to climb, see http://cholla.mmto.org/hiking/sierras/trips/nasty.html We camped at the trail head at about 6k and it actually got chilly there during the night. We left the trail head at 6 am and summited the pass around 5 hrs later. The last section is very steep climbing 1000' in about .7 miles!! We only encountered snow right at the top at about 12,290'. There are also a couple of gnarly stream/creek crossing that you have to negotiate in the first 3 miles so beware.
We saw only one other person that day, I don't think this trail gets much use at all. Here's my Strava link for a GPX file if anyone is so inclined to hike this pass as there are some areas where the trail is very indistinct: https://www.strava.com/activities/3595219602
Lone Pine is very quiet but there are restaurants open for dining-in or take out. 395 is also very quiet with driving made very easy...maybe it will be getting busier in the future with more businesses opening up.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
PeteK. #57239 06/13/20 10:29 AM
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Interesting. Thanks for the update. And congrats on conquering the last nasty!

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
PeteK. #57240 06/13/20 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteK.
A buddy and I drove up from SoCal (4 hrs) to Lone Pine on Tuesday June 9. We went to the gear shop Elevation in town for a quick visit to check on the local haps. The guy in the shop said business was picking up and nobody that he knew of had summited Whitney yet. He did say that someone had left early that morning from the lower locked gate with the intent of day hiking the main trail. I do not know the result of that hike but I suggest calling the shop to see what anyone knows.
This guy went up in mid-May, took a picture before Trail Camp, and made it up to at least Trail Crest (he mentions glissading down the chute and losing ~2k elevation in ~4 minutes):
https://www.reddit.com/r/socalhikin...y_alpine_start_pulling_up_to_trail_camp/

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Big Pine #57241 06/13/20 05:50 PM
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Just go climb it without a pass, sheesh. Be American.

Admin Edit: This site does not encourage illegal activities. Please get a permit and go when it is authorized.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
123Zero #57245 06/14/20 09:41 PM
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OP here. Back from the trip. Here is the situation as of Jun 12-13.

1) Gate is closed. It's 3.7mi / +2000ft from the gate to the trailhead. It took my party about 90min on the way up.
2) AFAIK, no one is allowed on the tourist route. On MR we encountered 3 parties, including a guided group. All on the way down.
3) Snow line is at ~12400ft, no need for crampons until Iceberg Lake.
4) Chute above Iceberg has about 80% snow coverage. Gets super-slushy by noon.
5) Final 400 is iced-over snow and black ice on rock. Definitely want dual ice axes or tools for this. It's possible to bail onto 3rd class rock after roughly 100ft.
6) Easy Walk-off Traverse is good quality snow. A little icy in the morning, but gets sticky by ~1300.
7) Curiously, poop-drop/biohazard bins are open. So someone must be clearing them out.

Good luck with everyone's summit bids. Hope this info helps.

Last edited by 55inthefastlane; 06/14/20 09:42 PM.
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Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57247 06/15/20 06:28 AM
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Excellent intel. Thank you!

Originally Posted by 55inthefastlane
2) AFAIK, no one is allowed on the tourist route. On MR we encountered 3 parties, including a guided group. All on the way down.

When you say no one is allowed, do you mean that you were issued a permit for the mountain route and that permits are not being issued for the tourist route? Or is there some physical barrier preventing people from hiking on the tourist route?

Again, many thanks for the information!

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
LikeToHike #57255 06/15/20 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by LikeToHike
When you say no one is allowed, do you mean that you were issued a permit for the mountain route and that permits are not being issued for the tourist route? Or is there some physical barrier preventing people from hiking on the tourist route?

The first one. I was issued a permit for the MR, i.e. North Fork of Lone Pine Creek (JM34). Permits for the tourist side are suspended, as far as I know. But there is not physical barrier in place (beyond locked gate at the bottom of Portal) and no one is around to check the permits. So if you want to get after it, there isn't anything to stop you. In fact, I did meet several groups that were intending on doing the Tourist Route on the sly.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57256 06/15/20 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by 55inthefastlane
Originally Posted by LikeToHike
When you say no one is allowed, do you mean that you were issued a permit for the mountain route and that permits are not being issued for the tourist route? Or is there some physical barrier preventing people from hiking on the tourist route?

The first one. I was issued a permit for the MR, i.e. North Fork of Lone Pine Creek (JM34). Permits for the tourist side are suspended, as far as I know. But there is not physical barrier in place (beyond locked gate at the bottom of Portal) and no one is around to check the permits. So if you want to get after it, there isn't anything to stop you. In fact, I did meet several groups that were intending on doing the Tourist Route on the sly.

So did you call the Inyo Permit Office to get the permit? I called them around June 2 with a June 6 reservation but did not get a permit.
So it seems that Whitney is now open via the Mountaineering route...

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57257 06/15/20 03:50 PM
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To clarify a few points from above:

Overnight use of the Mount Whitney Trail is still shut down. This includes camping at Lone Pine Lake, Outpost Camp, Consultation Lake, and Trail Camp. The Mount Whitney Trail is the typical route up the mountain, and the easiest way to summit.

Day use summit permits are still being cancelled. These are for if you are hiking Whitney without camping. You need a day permit even if you are doing the Mountaineers Route up the NF Lone Pine Creek.

It appears the only legal way to summit now is to a) get an overnight permit to the NF Lone Pine Creek and do the Mountaineers Route (requires technical skills) or b) approach from Sequoia Kings Canyon NP.

My two cents: We are a nation of laws. Just because we might not like how a law impacts a vacation doesn't mean a law shouldn't be followed. Poaching summits puts you at risk of fines, and perhaps worse, diminished SAR response should you get hurt. Waiting to open permits until the 99 switchbacks melt out will make Whitney a safer summit for hikers, and reduce exposure to volunteer first responders due to fewer snow-related calls.

Last edited by Ian B; 06/15/20 03:53 PM.
Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
jaym #57258 06/15/20 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by jaym
So did you call the Inyo Permit Office to get the permit? I called them around June 2 with a June 6 reservation but did not get a permit.
So it seems that Whitney is now open via the Mountaineering route...

Yes. It took me 4hrs of dialing to finally get through on Jun 10 with a reservation for Jun 12. Whitney is indeed open on MR.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Ian B #57259 06/15/20 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Ian B
To clarify a few points from above:

Overnight use of the Mount Whitney Trail is still shut down. This includes camping at Lone Pine Lake, Outpost Camp, Consultation Lake, and Trail Camp. The Mount Whitney Trail is the typical route up the mountain, and the easiest way to summit.

Day use summit permits are still being cancelled. These are for if you are hiking Whitney without camping. You need a day permit even if you are doing the Mountaineers Route up the NF Lone Pine Creek.

It appears the only legal way to summit now is to a) get an overnight permit to the NF Lone Pine Creek and do the Mountaineers Route (requires technical skills) or b) approach from Sequoia Kings Canyon NP.

My two cents: We are a nation of laws. Just because we might not like how a law impacts a vacation doesn't mean a law shouldn't be followed. Poaching summits puts you at risk of fines, and perhaps worse, diminished SAR response should you get hurt. Waiting to open permits until the 99 switchbacks melt out will make Whitney a safer summit for hikers, and reduce exposure to volunteer first responders due to fewer snow-related calls.
The laws don't seem to make sense. You can legally go up the Mountaineers Route overnight, but aren't allowed to do it in a day? What if you were to get the overnight permit but finish the whole thing in a day? Would that be technically illegal?

More importantly, why is the riskier Mountaineers Route open, while the less risky Main Trail is shut down? Wouldn't that closure encourage people to take the more dangerous option and result in more rescues? Someone who can handle the Main Trail just fine may not have the skills to do the Mountaineers Route and could end up lost, injured, or dead.

Finally, is it legal to day hike to Lone Pine Lake at this time? I think the answer is "yes", but it'll be nice to confirm.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Big Pine #57261 06/15/20 05:35 PM
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Quote
[W]hy is the riskier Mountaineers Route open, while the less risky Main Trail is shut down?

The answer is that the MR attracts far fewer people who are attempting something that is either beyond their skills and abilities or without someone like a guide who possesses the requisite skills and abilities. The majority of the rescues on Mt. Whitney are on the main trail or the chute, so at a time when social distancing is important and staffing levels are difficult to achieve or maintain, it actually makes sense from a risk management perspective. By waiting until the cables and chute are clear, they are probably eliminating a fairly high number of SAR calls.

Another factor is very likely the call volume. Remember, all of these permits require a phone conversation now.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Goose #57262 06/15/20 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Goose
Quote
[W]hy is the riskier Mountaineers Route open, while the less risky Main Trail is shut down?

The answer is that the MR attracts far fewer people who are attempting something that is either beyond their skills and abilities or without someone like a guide who possesses the requisite skills and abilities. The majority of the rescues on Mt. Whitney are on the main trail or the chute, so at a time when social distancing is important and staffing levels are difficult to achieve or maintain, it actually makes sense from a risk management perspective. By waiting until the cables and chute are clear, they are probably eliminating a fairly high number of SAR calls.

Another factor is very likely the call volume. Remember, all of these permits require a phone conversation now.
Yes, the call volume may be a factor. But that will only get worse as more campgrounds open, more places start loosening restrictions, and more people start travelling to the area.

The "waiting until the cables and chute are clear" rationale made a lot of sense previously but does not make sense now. Permits on June 20th are still being cancelled, even though the switchbacks were open by that time on every year during the past decade except 2011, 2017, and 2019 (all of which were heavy snow years, and this year's snowpack is considerably below average):
http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/53085/when-will-mt-whitney-switchbacks-open
https://weather.com/safety/news/2020-05-02-northern-california-drought-may

You're right that the MR attracted far fewer unprepared people, but that's mainly because those people had the easier option of going on the main trail. If you take away that option, a significant fraction of them will try their luck on the MR.

Anyway, what happens if you ascend the MR but don't feel confident in going back the same way? Can you legally take the Main Trail down?

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Big Pine #57263 06/15/20 07:08 PM
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Thanks for confirming the MR is open. I hear both the rationale of whether the decision to close the main trail and open the MR is valid (good points made). But regardless of what this decision incentivizes, the MR still needs a permit right? And most those permits have been allocated to advanced reservations, right? What is the process for picking up a permit - is it calling Easter Sierra Visitor Center?

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
whodunnit27 #57265 06/15/20 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by whodunnit27
Thanks for confirming the MR is open. I hear both the rationale of whether the decision to close the main trail and open the MR is valid (good points made). But regardless of what this decision incentivizes, the MR still needs a permit right? And most those permits have been allocated to advanced reservations, right? What is the process for picking up a permit - is it calling Easter Sierra Visitor Center?

I see available North Fork Whitney Permits at recreation.gov:

June 17:2, 21:2, 23:4, 24:4, 25:4, 26:4

Reserve a spot online and then call the Inyo Permit Office (760) 873-2483 like a fanatic until they answer.

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Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
jaym #57268 06/16/20 06:14 AM
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Thousands of people are being frustrated in their plans as the Inyo National Forest officials have gone into their bunker and stopped providing any real time communication. The last communication on Whitney/Portal was May 22.

I suspect the Inyo County Sheriff’s department might have some involvement in the road closure at both the Portal and Horseshoe Meadows. Who actually controls these two gates? That is who we need to bring pressure on.

The public has been flexible and patient but that is wearing thin. Now there are reports of groups planning to take matters into their own hands on hiking.

The lack of communication is probably the worst thing these agencies can do. Just a lack of accountability. I suspect these public areas are not being managed for the public use but for the ease and convenience of the civil servants who manage these areas.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
penny #57286 06/17/20 06:02 PM
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It would be really nice if they let us carry over our awarded date to next year if they cancel on us. Seems unfair to have gone through the lottery process and have permits cancelled due to an "act of god" like this. Meaning, this is way different than, say, winning a spot and getting a tough break because bad weather or something. This is *everybody* not being able to hike. They could even keep the reservation fee if I got to keep my spot. It's not like the mountain is going anywhere. Wishful thinking perhaps, but I don't see how hard it would be to do something like that.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
penny #57293 06/17/20 07:55 PM
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"Now there are reports of groups planning to take matters into their own hands on hiking"

Wouldn't it be "take matters into their own feet (on hiking) ?


Depression is just anger without the enthusiasm
Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
jaym #57379 06/22/20 09:36 AM
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jaym, thanks for the permit office number. I tried the one supplied by recreation.gov for my permit (Horseshoe Meadows to Whitney) and never got anywhere. The (760) 873-2483 number got through after a few tries. After some computer delays and a quiz I was issued my permit by email. I was told no wag bags available at night drop I have to buy my own.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
BDBs #57388 06/22/20 08:30 PM
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This is exactly what occurred with Havasupai reservations in AZ. A pretty tough lottery system that sells out for year in under an hour, first day. We were supposed to be there tomorrow for our 3 night/4 day trip. They have been running a two week out - letting you know your reservation is cancelled and is automatically rescheduled for 2021 season. We had option for exact dates or entry 1 day earlier (22nd 2021 vs 23rd 2020). All money had been paid out and da Tribe does not refund your money for any reason - even acts of God, as it may be. So a bad news, good news situation of not having to go through lottery next year and lots of time to re-plan.

Obtained Yosemite back country permits entry 4th of July for several nights. Had been trying the walk-in lottery system, every day since Havasupai cancellation several weeks ago. Something is not right with this system though, several times received all choices not available for your party size email, only to see available spaces on same date within 1/2 hour of receiving notice (and most recent system update - they time stamp them). Can't really call anyone, they are not geared for Q&A and email response is non-existent to not helpful.

Which leads me to Whitney, apologise if fully covered on this forum, will look as well. But how or what is walk-up system for overnight/Whitney at this time. Have viewed recreation.gov site several times, with clearly no availability. This would be just down the road post Yosemite relative to us driving from Bay Area to get here. Did solo summit 2017 and would like to make the trek again with family - or as much as they are willing to do.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57469 06/26/20 12:44 PM
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Found this thread extremely useful for trying to 'pick up' my permit so wanted to provide an update as of Jun 26 (e.g. post earthquake).

I spent a lot of time trying the 760-873-2483 number, probably about 3-4 hours in total over three days. I also tried the *-2400 number. Both had zero luck.

I then tried calling the "Lone Pine Area – Mt. Whitney Ranger District" number (per this link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5144746) - the number is 760-876-6200 ... got through within an hour of trying.

The lady with whom I spoke to on the end of the line told me that as of yesterday, all Whitney permits are being cancelled, however she indicated that I should call back daily leading up to my permit date (July 4th) to check the latest status. She also added that in her personal opinion, based on the damage she has seen, it would be unlikely to open in that time frame (7 days away as of this post).

I'm lucky in that I live in the Bay so only a half day's drive away so can make my go / no go decision <24 hours before my hike. Will be calling back Mon-Thurs next week to get the latest & will update here.

2020 ... what a year!

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
chrism202 #57488 06/27/20 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by chrism202
Found this thread extremely useful for trying to 'pick up' my permit so wanted to provide an update as of Jun 26 (e.g. post earthquake).

I spent a lot of time trying the 760-873-2483 number, probably about 3-4 hours in total over three days. I also tried the *-2400 number. Both had zero luck.

I then tried calling the "Lone Pine Area – Mt. Whitney Ranger District" number (per this link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5144746) - the number is 760-876-6200 ... got through within an hour of trying.

The lady with whom I spoke to on the end of the line told me that as of yesterday, all Whitney permits are being cancelled, however she indicated that I should call back daily leading up to my permit date (July 4th) to check the latest status. She also added that in her personal opinion, based on the damage she has seen, it would be unlikely to open in that time frame (7 days away as of this post).

I'm lucky in that I live in the Bay so only a half day's drive away so can make my go / no go decision <24 hours before my hike. Will be calling back Mon-Thurs next week to get the latest & will update here.

2020 ... what a year!
Here's my experience:

June 26, 6 AM: Received a "Reservation Reminder" email from Recreation.gov for my Whitney Day use permit on July 3.

June 26 - Called the 760-873-2483 number and got through on my 17th attempt at around 4:15 PM. I didn't try any other numbers. The strategy (if there is one?) I used was to spread out my calls throughout the day. If I called at, say, 9 AM and didn't get though, I'd redial only once and would try again 30-45 minutes later instead of trying to get through for the next several hours. So I'd spend 9:00 - 9:05 on the phone, 9:05 - 9:40 doing something else, 9:40-9:45 on the phone, and so on.

June 26, 4:15 PM - Spoke with a ranger and tried to get my reserved permit for July 13 since I figured that July 3 would be a lost cause due to the earthquake. Was told to call back on or after June 29 since they couldn't process permits until 2 weeks before the reservation date. But she did process and email me both my July 3 and July 6 permits and said that I would get a refund if the trail remained closed during those dates. WAG bags would be available at the trailhead.

Unfortunately, she did not have any concrete info regarding the trail or the closure length beyond what was mentioned on the Inyo County Sheriff's Facebook page. I don't think there was much damage to the trail since they're allowing hikers to exit at Whitney Portal if they started at Onion Valley, Cottonwood Lakes, or somewhere other than Whitney Portal. And there were no reports that the cars parked at the Portal the day of the quake had any difficulty in getting out, so the road couldn't have been damaged that badly. But that is only my guess.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Big Pine #57526 06/30/20 07:25 AM
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I received the Reservation reminder and tips email.

I tried calling to secure my Whitney Portal Trail hike day use permit for July 7th. I got through to lady at (760) 876-6200. I was told that they are not issuing permits for the Whitney Mountain trail at this time. They know that the trail will be closed until at least July 2. They have (or are having) geologists look at the trail at this time. I was told to call back Friday. :-(

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
LikeToHike #57528 06/30/20 10:36 AM
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I called the Inyo NF number, got thru on my 19th try today. They issued me my permit for July 9th via email. Still a chance...

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
BoColorado #57529 06/30/20 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by BoColorado
I called the Inyo NF number, got thru on my 19th try today. They issued me my permit for July 9th via email. Still a chance...

Bo, did you call the (760) 873-2483 number?

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
LikeToHike #57530 06/30/20 10:50 AM
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Yes

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
BoColorado #57531 06/30/20 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by BoColorado
I called the Inyo NF number, got thru on my 19th try today. They issued me my permit for July 9th via email. Still a chance...
I am calling the same number (760-873-2483), select 0 and after a few tries it rings until it just hangs up... same for everyone here?
Also, I am seeing that my July 10th date was declined when I know I accepted so hopefully a glitch... anyone heard of that problem?

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Just Josh #57532 06/30/20 12:58 PM
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Yes, call, press 0. Sometimes it rings until a hang up, sometimes it just said line is busy. Took 19 tries thru the morning to get someone on the line. Asked me a few questions and emailed my permit.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
chrism202 #57533 06/30/20 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by chrism202
Found this thread extremely useful for trying to 'pick up' my permit so wanted to provide an update as of Jun 26 (e.g. post earthquake).

I spent a lot of time trying the 760-873-2483 number, probably about 3-4 hours in total over three days. I also tried the *-2400 number. Both had zero luck.

I then tried calling the "Lone Pine Area – Mt. Whitney Ranger District" number (per this link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5144746) - the number is 760-876-6200 ... got through within an hour of trying.

The lady with whom I spoke to on the end of the line told me that as of yesterday, all Whitney permits are being cancelled, however she indicated that I should call back daily leading up to my permit date (July 4th) to check the latest status. She also added that in her personal opinion, based on the damage she has seen, it would be unlikely to open in that time frame (7 days away as of this post).

I'm lucky in that I live in the Bay so only a half day's drive away so can make my go / no go decision <24 hours before my hike. Will be calling back Mon-Thurs next week to get the latest & will update here.

2020 ... what a year!

Just wanted to provide an update to this. I have been calling the 760-873-2483 number about 10-15 times every 2-3 hours since Monday morning at 8am and eventually got through at 3pm on Tuesday.

The ranger on the phone issued me my permit for 4th July and told me that the Inyo County Facebook page was the best place to see the latest information (I don't have a Facebook account but you can view the posts without one).

She also told me that the trail apparently has a lot of snow still, but they haven't had any super recent reports to know the latest. I plan to bring microspikes either way.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
chrism202 #57534 06/30/20 02:17 PM
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It's much easier to communicate via email at this time.
I followed below instructions that is included in reservation confirmation email, then received my permit in 15 minutes.

To request your permit by Email send the following information to: SM.FS.WildPmt_Inyo@usda.gov

Subject line: [Entry Date] Trail Name [Reservation Number]

In your message answer the following;

Have you viewed the Leave No Trace video?
How you will store your food?
What is your final group size?
Or call the visitor center nearest your entry trail, or the wilderness permit office:

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
laohe #57538 06/30/20 03:54 PM
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I finally succeeded in getting connected to Inyo office and got my permits printed out today.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57547 07/02/20 09:53 AM
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Got through by phone today finally. The ranger didn't issue my permit for July 15, but said I would receive an email in a few days, and the permit would be issued when I reply to it. Emailing the address listed above in the forums directly did not get a response, so it looks like we can just wait for the verification email and respond to get permits.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
chrism202 #57548 07/02/20 11:43 AM
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I have a permit for July 6th, I Also live in the bay area and I'm concerned I wont be able to pickup my permit on the 4th or 5th because it seems no one is working at the eastern sierra visitor center? Ive tried all of those numbers. All I need is a ranger to put the permit I paid for in a box for me ahead of time. Why cant I get through to anybody? At this point I might just drive up to the mountain and go if they are going to be this incompetent.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
RajDV1 #57549 07/02/20 12:04 PM
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After about an hour I too got my permit e-mailed to me. I guess because of Covid, it is too dangerous to simply place the permit in the box for overnight pickup. Weird, I guess wag bags are located at the trailhead now.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Summitseeker24 #57550 07/02/20 12:19 PM
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My permit is for the 7th. E-mailed yesterday but haven’t gotten anything yet. I’m going to assume I need to bring my own bear canister since the visitor center isn’t open.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Casey #57551 07/02/20 01:28 PM
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Yes that is correct. I have one for the 6th. the phone number ending in 6200 should give you some luck on getting your permit e-mailed to you just keep calling for an hour. I know it sucks frown

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57554 07/02/20 02:19 PM
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Calling does take forever. I think they only have 3 phone lines managed by one Ranger. I was able to get through earlier this week after about 45 minutes of calling and pressing Zero. The Ranger (Tim) asked me a few questions and emailed my permit to me later that day for my Whitney hike on July 4th. However, I did receive another email today (July 2) from another Ranger with my permit again. So it looks like they are automatically emailing out the permits a few days before your date. It did also say that wag bags will be available at the trailhead.


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Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
chrism202 #57592 07/05/20 08:02 AM
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Just called Lone Pine Interagency center and got right through. Permit receive via email. Maybe Sunday morning is the light time for them?

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
HikerSean #57593 07/05/20 11:46 AM
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Me too! Got through on the second ring. Got my permit right away. Thanks for the post!

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Glacierpaa #57595 07/05/20 01:48 PM
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Read the above post and decided to give a call to secure permits for cottonwood pass with exit of Mount Whitney. Eastern Agency staff answered after three attempts, confirmed my information and reservation and conducted a short brief. 5 minutes later, I had my permits. Sounds like they have a good system down, and the attendant on the phone was extremely helpful. She also went on to state that the road to horseshoe meadows and campground were open and operational.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Big Pine #57689 07/10/20 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Pine
Here's my experience:
...
June 26, 4:15 PM - Spoke with a ranger and tried to get my reserved permit for July 13 since I figured that July 3 would be a lost cause due to the earthquake. Was told to call back on or after June 29 since they couldn't process permits until 2 weeks before the reservation date. But she did process and email me both my July 3 and July 6 permits and said that I would get a refund if the trail remained closed during those dates.
Update: I was emailed my July 13 permit this morning (7/10) seemingly automatically, with no action on my part. I didn't call or email anyone regarding that permit since June 26.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57701 07/13/20 01:09 PM
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My trip leader is unable to travel due to COVID concerns but the rest of us are still interested in going. Unfortunately we haven't had any luck getting through to the rangers to see if there's any way to note this on the permit but in the past they've never allowed you to add alternate leaders once you're registered. Anyone have advice? Anyone who has hiked this year, have you run into rangers on the trail? We'll have his permit... he just won't be there.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
55inthefastlane #57720 07/16/20 09:46 AM
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Posted by Inyo National Forest on their facebook page:

Quote
The phone system for the Inyo National Forest is being upgraded over the next week.

The telephone replacement project is necessary to upgrade the Forest Service’s outdated phone system to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture and security requirements. People should expect that there will be breaks in phone service while this upgrade is completed.

As much as possible, we encourage people to use email to continue service for the next week. If your issue isn’t time urgent, we suggest waiting a week until the phone system is upgraded.

For people requesting wilderness permits, please follow this process if you cannot get through on the phone:

To request your permit by Email up to 14 days in advance (allow at least 2 days for processing)
Subject line: [Entry Date] [Trail Name] [Reservation Number]
In your message answer the following;
• Have you viewed the Leave No Trace video?
• How you will store your food?
• What is your final group size?
Email to: SM.FS.WildPmt_Inyo@usda.gov

The forest thanks people for their patience. Our phone system has been taxed while we have shifted to a virtual and online systems this year. We acknowledge that the process has not gone as smoothly as we would want, but we are adjusting to help address the concerns.

Lastly, please understand that our visitor centers and wilderness permit office are staffed, and people are working with other customers. Please be kind to our employees when you do get through—they are all working very hard.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Steve C #57721 07/16/20 10:32 AM
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I emailed them Monday afternoon regarding a July 24 Shepherd Pass permit. Website says “allow 2 days for processing.” I haven’t heard back yet, so I pinged them this morning, just in case something went wrong. I also emailed them this morning regarding my July 30 North Fork Big Pine Creek permit. I’m going to love doing everything on recreation.gov and by email… if it all works. Try to be patient. Thank them for being there for us during COVID-19.

Edit: They emailed me the permits on July 16 and July 18.

Last edited by bobpickering; 07/19/20 08:26 PM.
Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
bobpickering #57740 07/19/20 08:12 AM
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We emailed inyo last thursday (3 days ago) per their instructions for July 23rd permits and have not heard back. Calling hasnt worked out either. I know we still have a couple days but was wondering what everyone elses' experience has been in regards to getting permits emailed to them.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
bobpickering #57743 07/19/20 10:51 AM
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I emailed them two days ago around 6 PM for my July 28 Whitney day permit, still haven't heard back.

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Cal #57745 07/19/20 03:31 PM
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Cal, I filled out an application for Trail Pass out of Horseshoe Meadows on Friday. My entry date is for July 24.

Today, Sunday, I received my permit.

Hang in there.

paul

Re: What on earth is going on with permit pickup?
Paul #57751 07/20/20 10:35 AM
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Just received my permit via email this morning

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