The signature landmark of Yosemite National park is the iconic Half Dome. First summited in 1875 by George Anderson and first climbed by Royal Robbins in 1957, Half Dome has become a rite of passage for many climbers and hikers. While the climbing routes are self-regulating, the hiking trail got overcrowded to the point that the NPS instituted a permit system in 2010. In its fourth year, the refined process allowed only 225 daily hikers via a lottery in March; 50 more per day via a 2-day mini-lottery; and 75 for those with Wilderness permits on trails near Half Dome. Cancellations were added to the mini-lottery.
The intent was to reduce the crowding on the cables to allow hikers time to get down during emergencies and fast moving weather systems. Peak loads of nearly 1,000 people per day in the pre-permit days made the hike very unpleasant. Lines of 45-minutes just to touch the 600 ft long cables were common.
A Protection Division Ranger was stationed at the base of Sub-Dome to check for permits. A key was that prior year scalping was eliminated by requiring that the buyer of the permits (or one alternate) be on the hike. Fatalities off of the cables of Half Dome are very rare and the 2014 season closed without a single one.
The cables are targeted to be up again in late May, weather permitting. Lottery applications are accepted any day during March, with awards in April. Consult the Yosemite website for updated information.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I’m not ready to face the light. I had too much to dream, last night.” – The Electric Prunes
MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com