Yosemite’s Half Dome Cables go up Friday; Still possible to Get a Permit

Special harnesses allow easy installation.
Courtesy NPS/Joy Marschall

Yosemite Trail Crews are heading up to Half Dome tomorrow to begin the installation of the famous cable system. The 68 pole sets (stanchions)  and 2×4 boards will be assembled and put in place. This steel cable banister allows visitors to pull themselves up the 425 vertical feet of the backside of Half Dome. Since they were first installed in 1919, this system has been used to summit the steep incline.

The cry of “the cables are up” will echo through the valley to allow hikers access at 12:01 am on May 24. Permits are required 24/7 to access the Sub Dome (the large granite “bump” before the cables) and continue on to the cables.  Only 225 day hikers are permitted along with 75 Wilderness Permit holders per day. The lower numbers reflect the newly issued Half Dome Stewardship Plan. In the past, up to 1200 people per day caterpillared up before permits were required. Waits of up to an hour just to touch the cables were common. The park wanted visitors to have a reasonable time to descend should mountain weather suddenly appear. This was only possible by limiting the numbers.

Rangers are stationed at the base of Sub Dome to check permits. They use an iPAD to verify valid permit holders. All permits for the summer season (through early October) were distributed via a lottery in March. Day hikers can still do the hike by participating in a mini-lottery two days before their desired trip. Hikers can apply today at recreation.gov for the 50 permits that will be awarded for Friday’s opening day.

Half Dome is the signature landmark of Yosemite National Park and appears on the 2005 US Quarter coin.

2005 Quarter with Half Dome, John Muir and a condor.

It was first summitted by George Anderson using a rope system on October 12, 1875. The hike is arguably the most popular day hike in the USA and perhaps in the world. It is a 16-mile round trip with a 4,737 vertical ascent, taking 10- to 12-hours.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!” – Indy 500 race 

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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One Response to Yosemite’s Half Dome Cables go up Friday; Still possible to Get a Permit

  1. Dean says:


    Hope everyone takes care, it’s early days, folk should really watch the weather, better to come back another time rather than try to negotiate Half Dome in bad weather.

    Can’t wait to come back, August can’t come soon enough – Canada last year was nice, spectacular up at the Plain of the 6 Glaciers, but nowhere is quite like Yosemite.

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