Half Dome cables Webinar recap

Today’s webinar was a great outreach by the park to present the 2012 process and a bit of the Environmental Assessment segment of the Half Dome Stewardship Plan. We had overwhelming participation. So much that the phone line burped and they had to set up one with greater capacity. I don’t have the total count but I’d guess about 40 callers. Usually, the CISCO webex system has audio right from the presenter to avoid the phone jam. Dunno why not this time.

The NPS people on the call were the big kahunas for the cables project. Remember these names: Echo Davenport, Planning Compliance Mgr; Ed Dunlavey, Wilderness Mgr; Mark Marschall, former Wilderness Mgr and Cables lead; Mark Fincher, Senior Wilderness Ranger.

To refresh you, 2 of the guiding numbers are the PAOT – persons at one time on the cables and the times for free flowing conditions. Past studies revealed that a PAOT of 30 would result in an easy down in case of an emergency and 70 would be the bare minimum for perceived safety. Also, the goal is 23 minutes for an UP unimpeded ascent and 19 mins DOWN.

This slide was given and explained away.


They showed a series of PowerPoints that rehashed what you read in the EA (You did read it?). The goal is NOT to provide “solitude” in the purest sense of the word, but to reduce crowding i.e. to “protect and enhance the wilderness character” on the Half Dome trail. NOTE they are talking the last 2 miles to Half Dome as well as the cables.

The preso ran about 40 minutes; then 20 for Q&A. Some didn’t really answer the real question but gave the EA answer.

1. No-shows will be replaced by the 2-day advance permit lottery.

2. Guide services will really be impacted. As little as only 2 groups for 15 each to NO commercial trips.

3. Wilderness permit holders will have to pay the $5 per HD permit also.

4. The 3rd cable idea was said to NOT reduce trail overcrowding.

5. The winners of the lottery will be drawn by a computer program managed by recreation.gov (oh boy!).

6. If the cables are taken down (option E) then the holes will be filled in and the park thinks only technically skilled climbers would be able to go up – governed by the same rules as current climbers (none). You and I know that people will put on sticky shoes and go up and then fall coming back down. Just check out YouTube.

Here are the milestones going forward. No dates given as they depend on how many comments they have to go through, but the goal is to have it all done and sealed for the 2013 season.  Comments end March 15. NOTE: The Merced Plan is due July 2013 and it could override the HD Stewardship Plan. So climb it while you can.


Minutes of today will be posted on the NPS HDSP website.


Unrelated thought worth quoting:   If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning. I’d hammer in the evening, all over this land. I’d hammer out danger. I’d hammer out a warning. I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters. All over this land.”Trini Lopez 

*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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5 Responses to Half Dome cables Webinar recap

  1. Don meadows says:

    Bummer… I see the third cable option is out even before the public comment window is closed?

    Here’s a note I submitted to the Stewardship public comment:

    Topic Question 3: I’ve been to the top of HD four times. Prior to the permits, the backlog at the base was typically caused by scared, slow hikers ( those that probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place.) My recommendation is a third cable… A passing lane of sorts. It would not be very invasive to the environment, by widening the current cable path by only a foot or two. A third cable would allow ALL who want to experience HD the ability to do so. Slow hikers can still have access, but not hinder others. Additionally, cost saving could be had by eliminating the rangers checking permits, the costly permit system, and more savings that I’m not aware of.

    • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:

      Most of the delays on the cables are by novices who have no clue how hard and scary it is. Panic attacks are common and understandable. Don’t do it if you can’t handle it. Go to the mall instead. Or get educated on it, prepare for it and be motivated to do it.

      The park is managing the cables hairball with no extra budget. A 3rd cable would degenerate into a free for all – who decides who uses the other lane? And when people come down, who decides?

      Clouds Rest – the NEW Half Dome. It’s also a long hike and scary up top. No lines and no cables.

  2. Dave Griswold says:

    Remove the cables. Crowding issues will disappear immediately. The whole area will be cleaner and more pristine, due to few hikers having any reason to get near HD.

    • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:

      I guess we could all stay home and never go out. Then the world would really be pristine.

      We all know that if the cable are taken down, fools will go up the backsid anyuway with sticky rubber shoes. Then we will really have a shortage of body bags.

  3. Sönke says:

    I dialed in several times and the maximum number was 47 callers. Too bad the webinar had some technical issues and didn’t provide PC audio but dial-in only.

    Having said that I found it was really interesting to learn about the different numbers and analysis.
    I think that a lot of work and thoughts went into it to come up with a plan that provides the best and there most enjoyable experience for most people. Clearly it is impossible – and uncessary – to come up with something that will satisfy the extreme ends of the opinion spectrum and no matter what will be the final outcome it will leave (some) people unhappy.

    I am very confident that it is not and never was the intention of the NPS guys to remove the cables. I’m very pleased that they are looking for an alternative that provides a certain level of safety plus and restores some of the enjoyable outdoor experience that even an icon like HD deserves. I am also very happy that the NPS doesn’t support any of the “open all flood gates – meet Disneyland”-proposals (maybe demands is the better word here).

    My personal favourite is alternative D but I’d support C too.

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