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Whitney Permit Denied

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Whitney Permit Denied

Postby ironman11 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:13 am

So my g/f and I are going to CA in August. I applied for a Whitney Standard Route Permit. I Included 3 different date options and all of them were denied in the lottery. Does anyone have any suggestions on how we might still be able to get a whitney ascent in? Does anyone know of any other 14ers in or near the whitney-yosemite area that would be class 1-2? We don't mind a long approach as we are planning to make it into a backpacking trip over 2-3 days.

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Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby dpage » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:35 am

Mt Langley from Cottonwoods Lake approach is in that area. Mt Tyndall would also fit the bill. You can always show up in Lone Pine the day before you would hope to hike Mt Whitney and see if any permits weren't picked up and you might have more luck doing that for a one day trip instead of camping. Good luck and have fun. You can find CA's 14ers in "Climbing CA's 14ers" by Porcella and Burns. (or on SP, MP, etc)

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Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby mtn_nut » Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:33 am

Cottonwood lakes is a good alternative. I will be using it in august for a trip of mine. From old army pass or new army pass, you have three options.

hike west to the PCT, then around on the PCT and the JMT to whitney. there is more mileage with this route, but its a more relaxed route with no cross country.
http://arturo.crespoweb.com/Pictures/Langley03/Langley-Muir-Whitney.JPG

then there are two main cross country routes. one is through arc pass, which will drop you onto the east side of Whitney, and has more elevation gain/drop than the other route, but if you're goal is just Whitney, you can setup a camp on the east side, and just use summit packs for mount Whitney.

the other is crabtree pass, which will either include some route finding to avoid the "dreaded sand hill" or just hike the dreaded sand hill. This will lead you up to discovery pinnacle and trail crest. crabtree pass will be the shortest option with the least amount of elevation gain/loss.
http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/10807

a possible 4th route would be to use crabtree pass, then hike down to crabtree lakes and around mount hitchcock to join up with the whitney trail. there are a lot of other options like this.

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Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby nyker » Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:50 am

Ironman, don't give up on a Whitney Permit just yet...there is a good chance you can get a walk-in permit, but you need to plan it right. What day(s) are your planned climbs?
A weekday trip would have a better shot at getting a permit than weekend. The last week before Labor day will likely be busier, but still not impossible. You need to be there (at the Ranger station in Lone Pine) at 11AM the day before you want to climb to get the noshows, (which there typically are); if there are more people than permits available, they have a mini lottery there on the spot.

Options:
For backup plans in case you can't get one, as mentioned Langley is a good option (just about as long as Whitney with a bit less gain), over a bit more rugged terrain.

White Mountain is another 14er that I really like due to its isolation and cool drive into the trailhead, where you pass through ancient Bristlecone trees and a cool high altitude plateau. This is about an hour from R395 driving east. Totally class 1 to the top and has a Whitney like weather station there. About 15 mi roundtrip/+3000ft gain. You can also climb this from the west but it is a grueling 20 mile+day with 9,000+ft gain over Class 3+ terrain, which doesn't sound like what you're after for this trip.

Boundary Peak is another great option which is about an hour northeast of Bishop in the middle of the desert, which makes for a cool ascent. Last time I was there, I did see Mountain lion tracks though. August there will be bone dry. Bring all water on this peak since none is found enroute. This is the high pt in Nevada and is paired with Montgomery Peak nearby.

I'd also recommend heading over the Kearsarge Pass in Onion Valley along R395 where there are a few 13ers handy: below is my trip report from Mt Gould last Spring:

http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=12412&parmuser=nyker&cpgm=tripuser

In Yosemite, well tons of options exist as you might imagine...but for a class 1/2 13er, Mount Dana stands out, the TH of which is located right inside the east entrance. I've only climbed Dana in the snow, but assume it is a decent walkup/scramble without it. have you climbed Half Dome or Clouds Rest? Those would be my two picks in Yosemite.

Lastly, if you have your heart set on Whitney, you can always hire a guide to the Mountaineers Route (don't think anyone is allowed to formally guide on the Main Trail). SMI is the popular choice here.

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Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby ChrisinAZ » Sat Mar 23, 2013 11:35 am

All good suggestions here...if Langley is an acceptable goal, it can easily be done in two days with a camp up near Cottonwood Lakes. I camped at Long Lake and found it a pleasant, if chilly camping spot in August. White Mountain would be good as well, albeit less exciting--it looks to have a very high desert feel to it, so you would not be getting the Sierra experience, except for looking at them from across the Owens Valley!

If Whitney is a top priority, then in addition to the possibilities mentioned by other posters, there is another option too: show up at the visitors center, get a walk-in permit for Cottonwood Lakes (generally easy if you're there when they open), and try to get a walk-in exit permit to go down the Mt. Whitney trail. This cuts a lot of time and distance off the return trip. The one downside is that you'd need a way to get back up to the Cottonwood Lakes TH from Whitney Portal. I found hikers were more than willing to give me a ride back down to Lone Pine from the Portal, but the other leg of the trip may be trickier. If you guys have two cars, it'd be a piece of cake though. The other downside is that walk-in exit permits are not distributed based on the date that you show up to ask for them, but on the date you'd be hiking down the Whitney Trail. This meant that my partner and I had to revise our plans to hike back out to Cottonwood Lakes TH (I actually ended up getting permission to hike back down the Whitney Trail instead, but that's a long story).

The back way from Langley to Whitney along the PCT is a bit long, but other than the 2400' climb up to the saddle of Guyot, it's generally easy country. Crabtree Meadows are quite gorgeous, and you get to avoid the large crowds for a time. You can also come back over Siberian and Cottonwood Passes, which are a bit lower than Old/New Army Pass if you do have to return this way.
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason."
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Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby jrbren_vt » Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:59 pm

I was there in 2011, I got the impression cancellations are common and your chances of getting a walk in permit are pretty high. Keep calling the permit offices over the next several months and be flexible with your dates and you should get a Whitney permit. I can't overstate how many doors you are closing for wonderful peak experiences if you are limiting your self to 14ers. But I know, the web site is called 14ers.com.

When I did it in 2011 I joined friends at Onion Valley and we did a week long back pack and climbed Whitney from the west. JMT is amazing. I just needed an exit permit for that which is much easier to get. Many do that stretch of the JMT in much less time (4-5 days) but we were in no hurry.

One 13er that captured my imagination is photographed often in NYker's report, called University peak. I was not acclimatized enough for my taste to try when I was there and did not leave enough slack in the schedule. A 14er just off the JMT was Mt Tyndall, again, I was not feeling energetic enough to actually do it the day I was in position to try it. Point being you could climb several spectacular peaks with this approach.

Have fun.
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Best Regards - John
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Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby ironman11 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:36 pm

So an exit permit means I can start somewhere else than the whitney portal, hike up to whitney and come out through the Whitney portal? What are possible starting points for an exit permit? We wanted a 2 day 1 night hike. Our problem with a no show pass is that it would require us to do it in a day. How feasible is that? I know people do it, but my g/f will kill me if I turn this into a death march. We did Quandary in march 12' and she absolutely loved it. I want to try and keep her excited about this stuff before I introduce her to a death slog hike. We will be hiking in Yosemite for 3 days prior to get some acclimation.

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Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby ChrisinAZ » Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:35 pm

ironman--that's correct regarding the permit. And really, the only feasible starting point for you with an exit permit will be Cottonwood Lakes. About the quickest you'll be able to do the route that way is:
-day 1: get permit, drive to Cottonwood Lks TH, hike into the lakes and camp (or if you're feeling great and the weather is good, pop over New Army Pass and camp at the scenic lake at ~10850' just off the trail)
-day 2: hike as far as Guitar Lake, camp again
-day 3: climb Whitney, and with an exit permit, descend the main Whitney Trail
Realistically, four days would make for a more pleasant climb, but the above is probably the best you're gonna do with that approach.

I'm not 100% positive, but I thought that overnight walk-in permits were available at times as well in much the same way dayhike permits were. However, as fewer of them are offered in general, you're probably less likely to be able snag two of them. By and large, trails in the Sierra Nevada seem to be designed for pack animals and are consequently rarely steep, just very switchback-y (go off-trail though, and things can quickly become insane!).

Barring the above two possibilities, I'd still recommend Langley; it's a sweet-looking peak from Cottonwood Lakes, and while the ascent from the passes can be sandy and tedious at times, it doesn't exceed Colorado class 2+ if you go by the easiest route. It's something like 22 miles RT and 4000' gain, perfect for a 2-day-1-night trip. And the views over to Whitney will take your breath away...it was the first 14er I ever climbed, including CO, and I'll never forget taking the last few gasping steps to the summit and suddenly seeing that incredible vista.
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason."
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Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby pbakwin » Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:56 pm

There is no "exit permit". You get a permit for the TH where you begin your hike, and you can exit wherever you want. There may be restrictions on camping in the Whitney Zone - carefully check the Inyo NF site. You can get a permit from Cottonwood online anytime, if there is availability for your date. For all THs, including Whitney Portal, a % of permits are retained for walk-ins. I am 2 for 2 getting a walk-in day permit for Whitney. Again, carefully read the Inyo site for details of how those permits are allocated. Whitney is most often done as a day hike. It is long, 22 mi RT, but not difficult if you are reasonably fit & acclimated.

Last year we finished our JMT thru hike on Whitney & had the unique experience of being the only people sleeping on the summit (in the summit hut). The main trail was closed to ascents for several days so that the FS could do work on some steep sections below Trail Crest. JMT hikers were being allowed to hike out first thing in the morning, but no one could hike in. Normally it's a zoo up there!

Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby Climbdent » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:05 pm

I know this advice might not help you for this trip, but, my strategy for climbing in the west coast is to climb in the early season. Though you have to deal with the deep pacific snow pack permits are just a formality. I would stop by the Ranger station the day before and nvr had any problems getting permits. Plus, an added benefit is that the crowds are not quite as large.

And I agree with another member who posted that doing Whitney in a day is not all that difficult. I think the hardest part is the punishing heat at the lower elevations.

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Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby oscarchicago » Mon Mar 25, 2013 7:11 pm

I never had any luck with the lottery until this year.

Previously, so we took other measures. So, if your mind is set on bagging Whitney then you should try going to the Visitor centor for forfeited permits. I've been to Whitney twice and both times we were able to obtain forfeited permits. Forfeiting permits are available the day before the entry date.

Good luck.

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Re: Whitney Permit Denied

Postby George Kaplan » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:51 am

+1 on everything nyker said! He suggested everything I would have! :)

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