More access to Half Dome??

Blog reader and Half Dome lover,  Mason Harrison, has taken the Half Dome cables story to another chapter. He has been successful in getting local Congressmen to support his idea to keep the HD cables up and not subject to any restrictions.

In fact, he convinced California 4th District Congressman Tom McClintock, to send a letter to the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Jan. 25, showing support for erection of a third cable. DOI is the parent organization of the National Park Service. So the fun is just beginning. Read the whole Sonora Union Democrat’s story <HERE>.

McClintock carries a lot of clout – this is getting interesting.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Blinded by the light. Wrapped up like a deuce, another runner in the night.” – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band 

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch –

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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19 Responses to More access to Half Dome??

  1. Dustin says:

    Everyone is so fixated on the cables argument. We have to remember that the Subdome stairs are just as treacherous as the cables even at current usage levels. Allowing unfettered access to Half Dome would create a huge safety hazard on both the cables and Subdome.

    Okay, let’s drill more permanent holes into Half Dome this year to add a third cable. Next year we’ll be blasting more steps out of the rock on Subdome. It’s a slippery slope….LOL

    • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:

      Yes, they are very scary…but no one has ever fallen to their death on Sub Dome….but then only 3 have on the HD calbes when they are up for summer use….2 were due to weather and the third dehydration and fatigue. A permit is needed to go up Sub Dome as well.

  2. Maureen L says:


    I think the use of the word “deny” in your comments is what sets my teeth on edge.

    most of the states in the US “deny” you the right to drive over 70 miles an hour on the internet. fine by me.

    also, to everyone,

    is there anyone out there who has hiked Half Dome before and after the permits who honestly feels they didn’t get a better experience with the permit system in place? anyway you want to define better, I think it was better last summer.

    • Maureen, I see your point, but to add to your metaphor, I would say that despite the speed limits imposed on all of us, the roads are still open to all Americans, unlike the Half Dome Trail.

      Unlike some, I actually don’t mind crowding on the trail. Even on its most crowded day, The Half Dome Trail is a beautiful day hike. It is not and should not be treated as a Wilderness excursion. Most of us view it as an extension of the National Park.

      • Dean says:

        I agree Mason, the Half Dome trail defaults to part of the valley just by the sheer numbers who use it.

        Thing is though it doesn’t matter how it seems, or how we perceive the Half Dome trail, in law it is Wilderness and interest groups like Wilderness Watch only care about the law.

        Have you seen this…

        …sticking to the letter of the law means they support leaving man made bits of metal to rust in pristine wilderness, yet bizarrely they advocate removal of virtually invisible temporary cables on Half Dome. So Wilderness Watch only care about the law, not common sense, not the general view of the masses…

        If it ever goes to court I expect a judge wouldn’t be too impressed with the “well we view it as an extension to the park” argument…judges tend to prefer the letter of the law too.

        • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:

          Me thinks Wilderness Watch gets thrills out of seeing people get it “stuck to them.” Wonder if they personally have any friends that really like them.

  3. Thanks for pointing to the article Rick. Really appreciate your website and all that it does to bring attention to, and celebrate this incredible natural landmark. I think we all share the goals of increasing access (at least to alternative B) and keeping the cables in place.

    Sonke, let’s keep it civil in our discussion. “Selfish” and “ignorant” are terms that are a bit harsh in describing my view. You realize that someone from my perspective could very well say the same thing about those who want to deny access to this trail for future generations.

    I share the view that Half Dome should never have been designated “wilderness” in the first place. It muddies up the conversation from what it should really be about. Nobody really views this trail as “wilderness”, it has been treated as an extension of the park since 1919.

    National Parks have their purpose just like Wilderness has it’s purpose. In my view, if you want wilderness and solitude, there are hundreds of thousands of acres of true Emmigrant, Yosemite and Iceberg wilderness within 100 miles. The park, and the Half Dome Trail, are gateways to promoting environmental awareness and conservation and should be treated as such. We often forget about the foreign exchange students, tourists from other states etc who would be prevented from ever hiking this trail under the proposed rules. It’s an opportunity cost that can never be truly accounted for.

    • Dean says:

      Mason you’re closer to this than myself, I’m one of the tourists, but I have strong feelings for Yosemite – it must be a Scottish thing after George Anderson and John Muir!

      Wilderness Watch seem very organised – are they as influential as they seem, or are they just loud?

      • In my opinion they are just loud.

        Rick, do you know if the Sierra Club has a position on this issue? Would be interesting to know since they established the cables in 1919 in the first place.

        • Maureen L says:

          the original motto of the Sierra Club was to “explore, enjoy, and render accessible” the Sierra.

          now, of course, it’s “explore, enjoy, and protect.”

          I can’t find any position on their national website or my local SF Bay Chapter one, but I’ll be looking for it.

          it is a great question.

          • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:

            Good work – keep poking around. “Protect” in their jargon might be “return the park to 1850.”

      • Maureen L says:

        remember that Wilderness Watch are the folks who want the Merced Lake High Sierra Camp taken out as part of the Merced Wild and Scenic River plan but think mule-assisted overnight trips along those trails would be just fine.

        of course, that makes no sense to me!

    • Sönke says:

      Mason, I appreciate your feedback. After carefully re-reading my comment I stand by it.

      I tried to discuss with you about your approach last year and you have evaded some of my key questions to you ever since.

      In fact my point of view or my approach is not to deny access to anyone including future generations. So please don’t confuse my point of view with Wilderness Watch.

      Although I’m not a US citizens I have travelled the US including some very, very remote places for the last 25+ years. In fact I consider the US my “home” if you know what I mean. Unfortunately I have also witnessed what careless visitors can do to nature. My recordings of vandalism at “The Wave” are a prime example (access is restricted to 20 people per day but apparently that still is too much).

      I have witnessed the robbery of artifacts at pristine grave sites in the GSNEM. I could go give you many more examples like this.

      I repeat my question from last year that you haven’t answered yet: DON’T YOU LOVE NATURE?!

      If you do there is no way you continue your quest to allow virtually unlimited access to Half Dome.

      With the current system or the preferred proposal (“C”) EVERYONE – and I mean EVERYONE – still can make it to the top of Half Dome. Maybe not in the month to their liking or maybe not even this season. So what?! I haven’t been able to reach certain places even without any kind of restriction simply because conditions didn’t allow, I ran out of water or whatnot. And this includes Half Dome because in 2003 and 2005 I couldn’t make it to the top because the cables were still down. I was disappointed because I had travelled 7,000 mls and spend thousand of US$ for airfare etc. – so what?! I made it in 2007 and that was good enough for me.

      Although I understand that Half Dome doesn’t present the same wilderness experience than hiking through an unnamed slot canyon in Utah I really don’t need the “Disneyland”-experience.

      The cables as they are today are just fine and with a solution like plan B or C nobody will be denied access.

      • Sonke:

        To answer your question, yes I love nature. I just believe that the key to protecting and preserving it is through exposure, appreciation and education.

        People are denied access under the current system- I’ve heard from them directly. Having grown up in the area (I also consider home) I consider it a tragedy.

        Still think your comments (that my views are ignorant and selfish) are emotionally based and a bit extreme.



        • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:


          It’s great that we can have this forum to express our thoughts. And thanks for keeping it civil and constructive. The park has gotten 150 written comments so far – that is great. At the Project Open Comment period they received only 96. Personally, I am going to hold off until near the end to submit. I want to re-read the 132 page document a few times to develop my comments. NPS will have the FREE webinar on Feb 10 – let’s jam the lines!!!!

          Regardless of how you feel – be sure to take the time and submit your comments to the park. They need to hear how we feel. Democracy. Our representatives put Half Dome into the Wilderness. It’s clear that will be re-visited. That was then – this was now. Now we have to deal with the future.

        • Sönke says:

          So where’s the appreciation and the education in your approach?!

          Where is the denial?! Just because some people where not able to scoop up a permit this means mankind is denied access to Half Dome?!

          But we had a very similar exchange of words last year. So our little discussion leads to nowhere.

          Concerning my comments: obviously they are emotionally based. Just like yours. On one side you want everyone roaming around freely but on the other hand you got a problem and are offended when I exercise my right to express my opinion?! Gimme a break. And I am very sorry to say that even after careful consideration I don’t find my comments insulting.

          I’m glad that you finally answered my question if you love nature. And I believe you. I just wish you would express this love a bit differently.

          Good luck.

  4. Dean says:

    Yes the existing cable system should be preserved, a third cable is not the solution and will only play into the hands of Wilderness Watch who can claim “Disneyfication” of the Wilderness.

    There is an error in the article though since only about half of the trail is in Wilderness, the other half is in one of the most popular tourist areas in the world. This is important because the close proximity of the valley to Half Dome means easy access…this is a failure of the original Wilderness designation process, though to be fair it would have been difficult for them to imagine such numbers coming to the Valley and hiking Half Dome.

    The other Wilderness Watch argument – that the cables are an an anachronism, like bear dumps and the firefall – is false. Those practices are indeed out of date, today we know better.

    Rock climbing is contemporary, relevant and barely impacts the wilderness. Rock climbers use temporary cables to assist them to the summit – the Half Dome cables are no different. They allow an assisted ascent of Half Dome, they are low impact (you can’t see them until you reach sub dome) and they are temporary.

    As I’ve said before Wilderness Watch’s true motives need to be explored – are they looking to limit numbers in the Valley? Are they in favour of banning all assisted climbing in Yosemite? Their stance on the Half Dome cables would suggest the answer to these questions must be yes.

    • Maureen L says:

      yes, the Park is going to have to limit visitor access to the Valley as part of the plan they need to do for the Merced as a federally-designated “wild and scenic” river.

      the comment period on that extremely complex plan may have closed, but you can find the documents on the NPS’s planning site.

  5. Sönke says:

    I didn’t like Mr. Harrison’s approach last year and I certainly don’t like it now. “The growing demand” – sounds like we are talking about some kind of consumer goods.

    Why not built a tram to the top?! I invite everyone who’s interested to visit the Alps and see how much nature has been destroyed by careless mass tourisms.

    Sorry, but I don’t get it how people can be so selfish and ignorant.

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