Half Dome cables permit process Update 3/24

In follow up to yesterday’s post (please read it first), I have gotten clarification from the park that the pie chart and the bar graphs represent the total number of permit APPLICATIONS that recreation.gov has received as of March 19.

The total number of permits this represents is 12,000. So, the worse case is 12,000 x 6 = 72,000  people trying for permits for all summer. There are only going to be 300 permits available to day hikers per day all summer. So the 136 season days yield 40,800 permits that the 72,000  people are competing for. AND we still have a week of applications yet to come in.

Based on past surveys and studies, most groups hiking Half Dome are 4-somes. So with that figure, realistically, 12,000 x 4 = 48,000 (not 72,000) competing for the 40,800 possible permits. BUT, in many groups of 4, each person is submitting requests for 4 permits with a different Trip Leader on each application. So logically, when one in a group wins 4 permits the 3 others will cancel their 12 permits. Stoichiometric analysis yields the result that MANY more permits maybecome available  for each”mini-lottery” for 2-days later trips – if the park will put those into the pool with their proposed 50 per day. 

Bottom line – don’t give up trying even if you don’t “win” the April 13 lottery. And if you do win, please cancel your excess permits so others can make it to the top. And thank the flaming 2011 scalpers for this headache.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Long as I remember, the rain been coming down. Clouds of mystery pouring confusion on the ground. Good men through the ages, trying to find the sun; and I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain? – Creedence Clearwater Revival  

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome



About Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch

Mr Half Dome. Has written the only half dome hiking guide, One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome. Has hiked it 31 times to day. Lives in San Jose, CA Available for presentations. Carpe Diem Experience, LLC
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12 Responses to Half Dome cables permit process Update 3/24

  1. lacey says:

    K…so back to questioning the system for “two-day” before lottery. Do you think there will only be 50 available for these or do you think they plan to put the other “canceled” permits into this pool and make it much much larger? if the answer is “we dont know” Has anyone yet posed that questions to the NPS ? Lacey

    • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:

      The pool of 2-day permits will be 50 PLUS any cancelled permits. There will be alot since most want their $5 each back… and many over bought with everyone in their group applying.


  2. Michael R. says:

    I have a question regarding the Half Dome Lottery System:

    It states, “people applying multiple times as trip leader will have all their lottery applications canceled” Seems clear enough.

    But, is there a limit to how many times my name can be used as “alternate trip” leader?

  3. Kyle says:

    Oh I just read this on nps.gov…

    If someone with a permit does not show up, can I wait at the base of the subdome and take their place?
    No, you must have a valid permit in possession in order to proceed beyond the base of the subdome.

    If I don’t have a permit, can I stay at the base of the cables and wait for other members of my group to hike to the top of the cables and back?

    Hikers without a valid permit cannot hike beyond the base of the subdome.

  4. Kyle says:

    Hey Rick and Evo,

    In regards to Evo’s question about tagging on with other groups. It states on nps.gov under FAQs,

    “Are the permits transferable?
    No. The group leader or alternate listed on the permit must be present (with photo ID) to use the permit. Resale or auction of advance reservations is prohibited. Any resale or auction of permits will make the permit null and void.”

    Hope this helps out with answering your question. It sucks, I was going to wait and tag along as well, until I read that.

  5. evo says:

    Rick you the man for doing this.

    I have a question though,

    So I have done half dome and would love to do it again. Getting a permit is going to be extremely hard but…would it be possible to wait at the bottom of the dome or wherever you can legally go and tag on with someone that has a permit? I read that you can take up to 6 people per permit. So if someone had 4 and they had 2 spots left, would that be possible?

    • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:


      Bingo. Yes this is legal. BUT you cannot pay the person – even the $5.00 for what he/she paid for the permit. They cannot be sold. So a normal person would just cancel their unused slots 2 days prior to get the $5 refund. But may be worth a try. Personally, I cannot “win” more than 1 trip – most of my friends are burned out, so no other trip leader. But I plan to try the 2-day lottery system. I sense from your email that you are in Idaho. Get a place to stay and try the hike. It’s superb anyway. I may go around to the base of the wall on the eastern side where the climbers go up. That approach is just before and to the right of Sub Dome and not too hard. Hey – a new perspective. Or you could try to get to the Ansel Adams Diving Board on the far western side of the dome. Go to Little Yosemite Valley and hang a left and go way past Lost Lake.


  6. Maureen L says:

    great work, Rick and colleagues.

    very helpful.

    I’ll bet it’s relatively easy for the park/recreation.gov to tell how many people have put in lottery applications, but not easy to dig into the requests for actual numbers of hikers.

    3 1/2 advantages to hiking in late June — 1. waterfalls are gorgeous; 2. days are longer 3. Valley’s not so hot and not so crowded, and4. (maybe) less danger of T-storms in the afternoon.

    probably not a consideration this year, unless California weather is even more erratic than it’s been — June permit holders may find the cables not up yet. 2010 and 2011 were wet years and had very cold and rainy/snowy Mays.

    but if Half Dome is your goal, I think Rick’s given good reasons to think August!

    • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:

      You are spot on. June is my favorite and I am trying to get up mid-month. Ugh. Lotsa competition. But am also trying for a few other dates. The park is munching the data and will try to give the actual number of applications soon.

      • Maureen L says:

        hmmm..we usually crunch data in statistics, but I have heard people tell students to “chew on” their results, so munch works too!

        2010, cables up June 16;
        2011, cables up around June 23/24

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