It looks like the Yosemite process for getting permits in 2014 will be the same as 2013. Caveat the text that it is all subject to NPS change. I will update as I find out.
225 daily permits are distributed via a lottery in March. This is a one time lottery for every day of the summer. The lottery is managed by the park wilderness division, and executed by the recreation.gov vendor “back east.” There is no rush to apply.
All requests that arrive in March will be shuffled and winners selected and notified by mid-April. People can specify up to seven dates that are prioritized. Whoever buys (by name) the permits is charged a $4.50 non-refundable fee per application and must be on the hike (or a named alternate) with ID. Up to 6 people can be on the hike. No names required for the last 4.
The last 4 can be swapped at any time but everyone must be under the umbrella of a permit. Each permit is $8.00 but that can be refunded if it is cancelled two days prior to their proposed hike. No date swaps, no fire or weather refunds.
Also, every day during the summer season, 50+ permits are distributed by a “mini-lottery” per the same process above. Applications must be in on Day 1. Winners are notified on Day 2 and they can hike on Day 3. NO walk-up permits and they cannot be sold or bought. The park may add to the 50 if they receive cancellations -or- if the no-show factor is large.
In addition to the above, 75 daily permits are given to Wilderness Permit holders who request them and who’s journey would be near the Half Dome trail.
The net is 350+ legal permits per day. About 40,000 per summer.
A ranger at the base of Sub Dome confirms names and allows passage – 24 hours a day during the summer season. He/she will not tell you you cannot go up if yo have permit, regardless of conditions. This is in the Wildeerness and you assess the risk of what you are doing and deal with it. People have died in inclement weather.
During the winter season, the cable support system is dismantled but the cables remain. Since it is Wilderness, visitors are permitted to go up Half Dome using just the cable. The This is very dangerous and one person died in 2006 and another in 2007.