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For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby jsdratm » Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:35 am

Another option is to go with a guide service and have them handle all of the permits, which is what I did. The backpacking from Army Pass or Horseshoe Meadows to Guitar Lake is very scenic and fairly isolated. It sounds like the eastern side of Whitney gets pretty busy in comparison.

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby rickinco123 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:48 am

Does anyone here have experience to verify the claims made on that website? Especially the ones about the surrounding peaks and passes he claims receive very little traffic? If this is true, then it seems like a system to generate revenue for the FS, much like putting a road block on a Colorado state highway to try and illegally charge cars $10 to drive up to a Denver Mtn Park. I understand California is a populated state but this sounds like they are using a popular hike up Whitney to go further than they need.

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby peter303 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:26 pm

Scott P wrote:This is a tough one. Even with the permit system, there are still up to 60 overnight hikers and 100 day hikers a day. Without the reservation system holiday weekends could attract thousands. Hundreds of people a night would likely do it as an overnighter if it were allowed.


The crowds were only one factor. Both Whitney and Half Dome had a bad rash of deaths in the years just before starting their permits. And forest service lost a seven figure lawsuit in the 1990s Whitney case. (Lighning injuries and deaths inside a summit house.) Signing the permit means you've been made aware of the dangers.
In recent years Colorado expanded it "outdoors personal responsibility waiver" from just skiing to include other sports like hiking. As discussed in other threads the skiing law is periodically tested by personal injury lawsuits.

I wonder if there a sudden increase in deaths in some outdoor activity here if there would be more legal activity and demand for regulation? Say if ten people died on lLongs in one season instead the typical every other year?

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby valleygirl » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:55 pm

That's a pretty funny rant in the original post, and I appreciate that we don't like to have to deal with a permit system, but my experience has been that it really isn't as bad as advertised. I got the Whitney permit I asked for in 2012, and then broke my foot and couldn't use it. I got the permit I wanted for this year too, and had a really great time on Whitney. What a fun hike! The experience was wonderful partly because it was not crowded, as I'm sure it could have been without the permit system. It was my strong impression that the reason they make you come in to the Lone Pine ranger station for the actual permit the day before is that they want to give you the WAG bags and give you the speech about using them. BTW, I'll take a pushy Ranger over the jerks who don't use the WAG bags up at Trail Camp...

The same goes for the Half Dome permits - I got a permit the first year I wanted to do it - just get the permits in advance if you can, be flexible on the dates, and the experience is so much better without the giant crowds when everyone is all bunched up on the cables.
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby rider » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:55 pm

Does anyone here have experience to verify the claims made on that website? Especially the ones about the surrounding peaks and passes he claims receive very little traffic? If this is true, then it seems like a system to generate revenue for the FS, much like putting a road block on a Colorado state highway to try and illegally charge cars $10 to drive up to a Denver Mtn Park. I understand California is a populated state but this sounds like they are using a popular hike up Whitney to go further than they need.


Part of the humor of the website is that there is some exaggeration. While most of what is said is true, there is some exaggeration for effect.

Mount Russell receives little traffic compared to Mount Whitney, but the claim of 1 or 2 hikers a day may be little exaggerated. Mount Russell is a 14er, and there are more and more hikers wanting to climb Mount Russell every year, since it's one of the easier 14ers in CA. Plus, most people that climb Mount Russell would not go solo, so my guess is that the average would be higher than 1 or 2 per day for the season. Also, the website fails to mention that access to Mount Russell, Mount Carillon, and the Russell-Carillon pass requires using the first 2 or 3 miles of the trail which goes to the Mount Whitney's Mountaineer Route which is popular; hence the access to Mount Russell, Mount Carillon, and the Russell-Carillon pass is affected by the quota system due to the proximity to Whitney.

I was on the climbing trail to Mount Russell, Mount Carillon, and the Russell-Carillon once in the summer on a weekend; and I counted 6 total people for the day that were using the route including myself.
Last edited by rider on Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:25 pm

Tony1 wrote:Without permits, imagine what the Half Dome trail would look like, or Mt. Whitney too.

You don't have to imagine, just go hike the Manitou Incline - 800 hikers per day average since July 20th. It's not a perfect comparison, since the Incline route is shorter but people start all day long. I think it's still manageable, although if half of them wanted to camp it would be a disaster - I wonder if Whitney could handle unlimited dayhikers with permits only for overnighters. Half Dome is a different issue, since there's a big safety bottleneck to deal with.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby jsdratm » Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:45 pm

Jim Davies wrote:
Tony1 wrote:Without permits, imagine what the Half Dome trail would look like, or Mt. Whitney too.

You don't have to imagine, just go hike the Manitou Incline - 800 hikers per day average since July 20th.


Interesting, do you know what the average was before the Incline was made an official hike?

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby uwe » Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:28 pm

djkest wrote:
uwe wrote:


I think you need to enter the lottery for the mountaineering route now. How long ago did you do this process? They say it is constantly changing.



We went in 2010. That would be a bummer if the Mountaineering route switched to a lottery. If true, I'd take Scott P. suggestion of climbing off season.
I know the normal route is lottery based.

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:32 pm

jsdratm wrote:
Jim Davies wrote:
Tony1 wrote:Without permits, imagine what the Half Dome trail would look like, or Mt. Whitney too.

You don't have to imagine, just go hike the Manitou Incline - 800 hikers per day average since July 20th.


Interesting, do you know what the average was before the Incline was made an official hike?


There was an estimate of between 350,000 and 500,000 per year being thrown around a few years ago. Given the recent counts, that's probably a little high, although the pay parking and floods might be holding the crowds down somewhat this year.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby hansolo35 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:15 pm

Rider wrote:
"Mount Russell receives little traffic compared to Mount Whitney, but the claim of 1 or 2 hikers a day may be little exaggerated. Mount Russell is a 14er, and there are more and more hikers wanting to climb Mount Russell every year, since it's one of the easier 14ers in CA. Plus, most people that climb Mount Russell would not go solo, so my guess is that the average would be higher than 1 or 2 per day for the season."

Actually, technically russel is one of the hardest Cali 14ers, with only north palisade, t-bolt, starlight and polemonium being harder ( all class 5 by their easiest routes), maybe Sill as well with its two class 4 moves. In Colorado comparisons, russel is most like Capitol peak, involving sustained class 3-4 scrambling over huge exposure in a definite no fall zone. It's fun and exhilarating climbing, but the pucker factor on russel is huge and intense!
Russel is only for experienced climbers. This isn't a hike, and I'm sure Russel turns away many wannabe 14er baggers when they get to its upper slopes...

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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby falcon568 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:18 pm

Actually, technically russel is one of the hardest Cali 14ers, with only north palisade, t-bolt, starlight and polemonium being harder ( all class 5 by their easiest routes), maybe Sill as well with its two class 4 moves. In Colorado comparisons, russel is most like Capitol peak, involving sustained class 3-4 scrambling over huge exposure in a definite no fall zone. It's fun and exhilarating climbing, but the pucker factor on russel is huge and intense! Russel is only for experienced climbers. This isn't a hike, and I'm sure Russel turns away many wannabe 14er baggers when they get to its upper slopes...


+1. Russell's East Ridge was quite airy, and an awesome climb
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Re: For the Mount Whitney permit system haters ...

Postby susanjoypaul » Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:52 am

falcon568 wrote:
Actually, technically russel is one of the hardest Cali 14ers, with only north palisade, t-bolt, starlight and polemonium being harder ( all class 5 by their easiest routes), maybe Sill as well with its two class 4 moves. In Colorado comparisons, russel is most like Capitol peak, involving sustained class 3-4 scrambling over huge exposure in a definite no fall zone. It's fun and exhilarating climbing, but the pucker factor on russel is huge and intense! Russel is only for experienced climbers. This isn't a hike, and I'm sure Russel turns away many wannabe 14er baggers when they get to its upper slopes...


+1. Russell's East Ridge was quite airy, and an awesome climb

Have to agree with this... Russell was more exposed than anything I've done in Colorado (without a rope). When we did it in August 2010, there were two of us on the East Arête and two others on the Fishhook Arête. That was it - the whole day. It was a *much* stiffer - and more satisfying - climb than the Mountaineers Route on Whitney.

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