Mt. Whitney Passes: Got ‘Em!

By Heather

At the beginning of April, we got our passes to climb Mount Whitney. Which is very, very awesome, but it was stressful!

It all started when the application process opened up on Feb. 1. There is no advantage to applying early, by the way. The applications are gathered together on March 15 and dates are assigned at that point.

But I applied early because that’s just how I roll.

But then…

We didn’t get the passes. Boo!

Although the lottery is the best chance to get a pass, general sales for the remaining/unclaimed passes were going on sale April 1. There weren’t many – some days had no passes, others had just a handful.

Me, Darren and Steve were ready at our computers with a few pre-selected dates, ready to pounce at 7 a.m. But at 7:00:01, they were gone. I knew this stuff was competitive, but I wasn’t prepared for that.

I did actually get to a screen where I needed to enter additional information, but when I clicked “proceed to shopping cart” they were gone. How about giving me 30 seconds to enter everything before just giving my tickets to someone else?

A few hours later, I checked again. There was a date in September with four passes available. Sold!

Funny thing, I guess: My cousin swooped in at the last minute and got the fourth pass. After all that stressing and strategizing and waiting… But I’m thrilled that she’s going! She’ll probably beat us to the top by hours.

Going in September is a little more chancy, I hear – storms get more and more likely the later in the year it is. But September is still supposed to be one of the nicer times.

One crazy day hike. Twenty-two miles round trip. We’ll start the hike around 1 a.m. It takes about 12 hours, start to finish. It’s going to be the craziest, the most challenging and the most fun thing I’ve ever done. Feats of physical endurance have always appealed to me (it’s long been a dream to run a marathon, but I just can’t run with these knees), which is a big reason I enjoy hiking so much. There are always opportunities to push yourself and get better.

Hiking for me has had so many moments of “Wow. I had no idea that was in me.”

I’m a little nervous, a little “Oh boy, what did I sign up for?” and a lot excited!

How to apply

You can select up to 15 dates on a single application. Each application is $6. Given how competitive the process is, unless you can do one date and only one date, you should pick as many of the 15 as you possibly can. Weekdays are lighter than weekends, but weekends appear to have more no shows.

To better your chances, you should have everyone in your group apply, too.

Study the Inyo National Forest Mt. Whitney website – there’s a wealth of information here about the process, plus valuable statistics and so much more.

Reading preparations

As I bone up on the hike and prepare myself, two resources have been awesome: