Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
S o let’s see – what are the odds that YOU will get a permit to hike Half Dome under the new rules set in place by the NPS? Any statistic majors out there? So these are just some thought to put the challenge in perspective. You only need to get permits for a hike on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Federal Holiday. If my calendar and math are close, there are 21 3-day weekend days and 3 holidays in the window for 66 “Half Dome hiking days in the 2010 poles up” season. (21 x 3) +3 = 68 (Cables elevated and boards put in place – about the 3rd week in May – weather depending.) With an estimated 800 doing the hike each day on average each year on those dates, that makes 68 x 800 = 54,400. This rings close to the previous estimate of 50,000 a year who do thehike (not the 80,000 in the permit packet of info).
Follow me? So the NPS will have 400 available permits a day. But this 400 permits includes 100 set-aside for those backpackers who get wilderness permits. So the average “hiker” Joe or Jane will be trying for only 300 “hiker permits” since they will not be getting a wilderness permit. The good news – those 100 need not be on the phone/internet ,but the bad news – there will only be 300 permits for any given day. Since a huge number take off work Friday and drive up to do the hike on Saturday then drive home Sunday, Saturday will be the worst odds … with Friday and Sunday less, but not by a huge margin. (Some come from afar and are not weekend warriors… they tend to stay a few days.) But when you log on to the reservation system March 1, you have no idea what dates people will be shooting for – other than for June and July dates. Oh boy, that leaves only 28 possible dates in the June/July block that people are competing for. And we’re not counting those who will do it more than once in a given window. Or those who will try to get one for June/July to be sure they get a permit rather than wait to try for a later summer day. And if a party of 4, for example, is trying for 4 permits, they would be wise to have everyone attempt getting 4 simultaneously with the hope that one of them gets through.
Conclusions? It’s going to be a long wait to connect. In a similar scenario, I bought 2010 Burning Man tickets (the free expression festival in Nevada over Labor Day). They offered 9,000 tickets for sale via internet. The doors opened at 8 am recently. I hit the website at 1 second after 8 and I was #2300 in the queue. With that it took me a good 35 minutes in the queue to finally get “served.” So plan on camping out on your keyboard. And get all your friends and relatives to log on and try for permits for you. They are transferable. If anyone “hits”, call the others and tell them to back off. Whew. Anther thing to stress about. Oh, and don’t forget to train and be prepared. I hear there is only one guidebook that covers the hike from A to Z. See my website link below.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-three today and we don’t know where the hell she is.” – Ellen DeGeneres – stolen fr0m Rodney Dangerfield
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com