Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mt Whitney Government Shutdown Information

Okay, so it looks like the shutdown won't go away anytime soon.  I don't want to get into a political discussion about it and will not publish any overtly political comments.  I'm just trying to update everyone pertaining to Mt Whitney and act as a clearinghouse regarding what facilities are open or closed.  This post will be updated as new information comes in or conditions change.

  • Whitney Portal Road is OPEN.  The road is part of Inyo County's jurisdiction so there is no impact thus far.
  • Whitney Portal Store is OPEN.  Unless the Federales tell him to leave (which they won't),  Doug Thompson intends to keep the store open.
  • The Whitney Portal Store Bathroom is CLOSED.  No flush toilet facilities until further notice.  However:
  • The Whitney Portal pit toilet and drop-off station at the trailhead are both OPEN.
  • Whitney Portal Campground is CLOSED.  As of October 3,  Whitney Portal Campground will not allow any campers regardless of reservations.  Don't even think about camping anyway.  Almost every site can be seen from the road so renegade campers will be easy pickin's for The Law. 
  • Lone Pine Campground is CLOSED. See above.
  • Horseshoe Meadow Road is CLOSED.  There is a gate across the road where it enters federal land.  While it may be possible for motorcycles to bypass the gate, the rangers still patrol and the potential for heavy fines (four figures) remains high.
  • The Eastern Sierra Interagency Center is CLOSED.  Permitted climbers cannot pick up their permits.  For the time being, your reservation letter will act as a permit. There was a rumor Doug Thompson had all the paperwork at the Portal Store but I cannot get corroboration.  Hold onto your reservation letters.  Note:  The Agency website still says "open."  Reliable sources tell me it's not.
  • Climbers are still allowed up Mt Whitney.  For the time being anyway.   Visitors to other national parks and forests are not so lucky as federal law enforcement patrols remove visitors from the parks.
  • NEW UPDATE:  The day and overnight use parking lots are OPEN:  You won't have to cadge a drop-off at the trailhead.  You can park your car at the appropriate lot.
  • NEW UPDATE:  Rescue operations are NOT curtailed.  Doug Thompson will be at the Portal Store generally between the hours of 6:00 am to 8:00 pm.  If someone needs rescue, Doug will relay the message to 911 and the authorities will still mount a rescue.  Be careful.  Rescue may still be a long time coming, especially if Doug is gone for the night. 
Here's what we don't know yet and hope to update:
  • We don't know specifically about other areas to camp.  However, there are a few private campgrounds in the Lone Pine area with showers and everything.  The Mt Whitney Portal Hostel is operating.  All of these options are around 3,700 feet (1128 m) of altitude so they won't help your acclimatizing process.  Of course, you did your high altitude training, right?
Everything is fluid right now so this post might change dramatically as new info comes in.  Also, please don't hold me accountable if anything proves inaccurate.  I'm pulling from a number of sources so it's possible someone told me something in error or I misunderstood.  I'll fix any errors ASAP.

Good luck everybody.  I sincerely hope the shutdown doesn't last much longer.

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