Half Dome Day Use Permits


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Social climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 29, 2010 - 12:56pm PT
For further information on permits go to:

If you are a "technical" climber, you do not need a permit to descend the cables. Please read the press release and the information on the website carefully. If you have any questions let me know.

-Jesse McGahey
Yosemite Climbing Ranger

Yosemite News Release
January 29, 2010
For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:
Scott Gediman 209-372-0248
Kari Cobb 209-372-0529

Yosemite National Park Announces Interim Program for
Half Dome Day Use Permits to Address Visitor Safety
Program to begin May 2010

Hiking to the top of Half Dome is one of the most popular hikes in Yosemite National Park. The iconic granite monolith, at 8,842 feet above sea level, attracts people from all over the world who attempt to climb to the summit. Most visitors ascend Half Dome via the cables, which are in place from mid-May through mid-October.

Approximately 84,000 people climbed to the top of Half Dome in 2008. Although there are several trailheads leading to the cables on Half Dome, the majority of visitors start their hike at the Happy Isles Trailhead in Yosemite Valley.

The increase in popularity of the hike has resulted in large numbers of visitors using the cables, particularly on weekends and holidays. During last summer, Saturdays and holidays averaged 840 visitors per day. On peak days, visitor numbers were estimated at 1100 to 1200. This increase has resulted in significant safety concerns. Specifically, there was both a visitor fatality and a visitor who sustained serious injuries on the cables during two consecutive crowded weekends last summer. This increase in use has also impacted the resources and has negatively affected the visitor experience. For example, visitors have had to wait up to an hour to ascend the cables on a busy day.

In an effort to address these issues, the park will institute an interim program that will require a Day Use Permit to hike the cables on Half Dome on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays starting in May, 2010. Four hundred permits will be issued per day, 300 of these will be Day Use Permits and 100 will be included in wilderness permits. These permits are required for the use of the trail from the base of the Subdome to the summit of Half Dome and include the Half Dome cable route.

The Half Dome Day Use Permits will be available starting March 1, 2010 through www.recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Each person climbing the Half Dome cables will be required to have their own permit. Up to four permits may be obtained under one reservation. The permits are free, however, there is a non-refundable $1.50 service charge for each permit obtained.

During this interim program, visitor use and impacts to the park will be monitored. Yosemite National Park Rangers will be studying visitor use and safety, assessing the visitor experience, and compiling data that will be analyzed by park managers. At this point, the interim program will be in effect for the 2010 visitor season, as well as the 2011 visitor season. An Environmental Assessment process for a long-term plan for the Half Dome Cables will begin public scoping in spring 2010.


Editor’s Note: Photographs of the Half Dome cables are available by emailing kari_cobb@nps.gov

Trad climber
los arbor
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:01pm PT
"In 2010, permits are available up to about four months in advance to one week in advance only through the National Recreation Reservation Service. Permits are not available in the park or on a first-come, first-served basis."

No permits in the park for one of the most popular trails??? Must get permits a week in advance???....WTF are they thinking

Social climber
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:02pm PT
For example, visitors have had to wait up to an hour to ascend the cables on a busy day.

A whole hour? Say it ain't so!

The permits are free, however, there is a non-refundable $1.50 service charge for each permit obtained.

That's some serious Orwellian bullshit right there. Free, except that it's not. Up is down, black is white.

Trad climber
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:04pm PT
An Environmental Assessment process for a long-term plan for the Half Dome Cables will begin public scoping in spring 2010.

That could be an important sentence.

Trad climber
The Best Place On Earth
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:06pm PT
Wow, $600 a day to study visitors on the cables. In addition to the park cost.

I'm sure paying $1.50 will not keep people from dying.

People are stupid. Doing stupid things kills people.

Taxes don't address those factors in any way.

I wonder if Jesse will be the poor sucker who will have to sit on the hill to collect tickets to get on the cables. Man, that's a job to aspire to.

What will be next? Where will they stop. Their acceptable level of danger will continue to shrink until they have crossing guards at every intersection in the valley. I guess park ranger jobs will be in higher demand, hiring from your local school yard volunteer pool!

I guess waiting an hour or a year to secure a permit while in your home is so much better than waiting an hour on the rock. Just take the cables down and quit holding people's hands.

"For the Half Dome Day use permits we are only covering the costs of the permit service. Nothing else."

So it's a make-work project. Charge a fee to cover charging the fee. Can I sub-contract that one out? I can guarantee my program will expand in the future.

Trad climber
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:07pm PT
National Parks and everything in them are supposed to be completely free and accessible to the public. I understand the need to regulate crowds for the environments sake and safety's sake. However, whatever the costs to issue permits are is completely on the shoulders of the NPS and therefore our tax dollars.

Any type of charge in an NP is a violation. Period.

Somewhere Teddy Roosevelt rolls in his grave. And John Muir weeps.

Trad climber
Beautiful British Columbia
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:08pm PT
Let me guess, the 1.50 must be paid with a credit card over the phone or online, so no one without a credit card can be permitted to hike Half Dome ?
John Moosie

Beautiful California
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:09pm PT
Whoever wrote that release should really think about changing the wording on the "free" part. Just say there is a 1.50 service charge and skip the free part as you will take a lot of flack for that. It ain't free. It costs a buck fifty for service charges.

Jan 29, 2010 - 01:11pm PT
Seems like a reasonable approach to me. Funny "spin" on the free $1.50 though.

Thanks for the headsup Jesse.


Jan 29, 2010 - 01:13pm PT
Sounds very similar to GC, not saying it's ok, but I think "fees" are/gonna be part of the "new normal". I guess the other option is to not have the cables?

Trad climber
Kennewick wa
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:16pm PT
I think it's a great idea.

Then they can do a "beyond the limit" type show. Follow a group of people around as they try and secure a permit, hike up and scale the cables. After waiting UP TO AN HOUR to access the cables we can watch the drama of getting down. We all know that is the most dangerous part.

"after waiting four months and spending $1.50 Bill, Tina and John wait for their chance to ascend...insert dramatic music...THE CABLES!!!!!!

They could call it "Half Dome, Below the Limit"
Jerry Dodrill

Sebastopol, CA
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:20pm PT
Thanks for not including technical climbing in this program!

I can see that this permit would be necessary considering the traffic load. But it should be truly free. It definitely seems like some permits should be made available first come-first serve the day before, in the wilderness permit office in both the valley and Tuolumne. Lots of folks do the through hike from TM to Valley, and would have to skip the highlight -HD- if they can't get the permit months in advance. I hope this will get worked out in the trial period.


Trad climber
Kennewick wa
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:22pm PT
My guess - "free" technical climbing permits are right around the corner.
ron gomez

Trad climber
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:24pm PT
Take the cables down......problem solved!
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:25pm PT
I have no problem with some of the permits being available six months in advance (say for those coming out of country) and some being available say a week in advance for semi-locals who can't/didn't plan six months in advance.

But it seems really bad that there are no permits at all on a first-come basis.

I can't imagine that this won't at some point effect climbers, especially if they come up the happy trail as opposed to the death slabs.

It would be nice if the permite was phrased saying it is a permit to ascend the cables (or maybe it does). So it was clear it didn't impact anyone who got to the top by some other means.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:29pm PT
Yea, taking the cables down might be the smartest move. But there would be a huge public backlash. Furthermore, can you imagine the zoo as large guided (officially or otherwise) parties try to "climb" get dragged up the 5.4 slab that will suddenly sprout bolts everywhere. Say it won't be so...
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:30pm PT

Here is what they are talking about while our own Riley is viewing the situation.

It is also interesting that 40 years ago the hike was mostly regarded as "too much" for ordinary people.

I wonder, imagine the controversy if they opened a second cable lane....or one over by Snake Hike.

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2010 - 01:32pm PT
I knew you guys would enjoy this one.

Let me reiterate, that climbers don't need permits for the South Face, NWF, or Snake Dyke. This will reduce crowds on your descent.

I'll pass on the complaints about the "free" terminology. Understandable.

Many National Parks make you pay a fee for Wilderness Permits to recover the costs of managing Wilderness Areas in general. For the Half Dome Day use permits we are only covering the costs of the permit service. Nothing else.

The NPS will be conducting an environmental analysis for a long term solution. Prepare your comments, and suggest how you would manage the cables for the safety of all Half Dome hikers.


A permit is not required for Mon-Thurs, and this still provides opportunities to come without an advance permit.


Big Wall climber
Jan 29, 2010 - 01:35pm PT
Lame Lame Lame, but in some ways good. But I am personally inconvenienced, so....Lame.

Jan 29, 2010 - 01:37pm PT
Taking the cables down might help solve the problem temporarily, but it will start a slippery slope of erasing historical routes where the NPS sees fit.

Imagine, welp too many deaths on the nose this season, lets just go ahead and remove that route.
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