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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...

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