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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  1. can people camp at the parking lot, near the whitney trail head?
    what about the wag bag situation? is there an alternative where we can get them near whitney?

  2. No one is allowed to camp anywhere near the trailhead, either at Whitney Portal camp, the parking lot, or anywhere else. Wag bags can be bought at your local camping store. REI sells them. You could also inquire at Elevation, a backpacking / climbing store in Lone Pine.

  3. So no camping at outpost or Trail camp?

  4. Yes, there is camping at Outpost and Trail Camp. Technically, your reservation letter is not a permit. However, the rangers seem to be resigned to letting people up because they know folks would "poach" Mt Whitney anyway. Please be extra respectful because a lot of those people are working for no pay right now.

    1. Thank you very much for the info Jerry. This is very helpful. My dad and I will follow all the rules to the letter. I just need to find a bear canister as I believe they are required.

    2. Doug Thompson at the Whitney Portal Store has them for rent. You can rent one at your local REI if you're a member (the non-member rates are very high). REI and other outdoor outlets sell them as well.

  5. I was wondering how you get your permit from the ranger station if know one is answering the phone. I hade arranged for my permit to be in the drop box .

  6. Please see the comment I made above. Keep your reservation letter with you unless the government opens for business.

  7. But you can PARK at the portal and go up to Outpost and camp?

    1. As stated above in this post, both the day and overnight use parking lots are open.

  8. Hello Folks....have (did?) have my permit for the 21st but don't know now...still going to attempt. Going up on Sunday. Just want to make sure I'm not running around up there alone and that there are a few die hards on the trail. Dan Reyes, USN (Retired)

  9. The government shutdown is now behind us. Give 'em a couple of days to catch up and everything should be in place to pick up your permit and climb. As stated in the article, emergency services were not curtailed.


OK guys, let's keep 'er civil and mannerly. This is not a political site so diatribes of that ilk are not welcome and won't be published.