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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.

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