Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

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Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby sdtripper2 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:58 pm

Half Dome's new lottery permit system begins

The process, which gives would-be hikers until March 31 2012 to apply for a reservation, is intended to eliminate scalping.

If you're hoping to hike Half Dome at California's Yosemite National Park this summer, you'll want to take action by March 31 2012. That's because, under a new system, permits to reach the summit will be allocated by a lottery this month for the whole season, instead of month by month.

Other changes may be coming too as the National Park Service considers overhauling management of the iconic granite dome, which rises nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley. Thousands each year make the grueling trek to the top, aided by a 400-foot-long cable system in place during warmer months.

Now, with only a month to apply, "everyone gets to throw their hat in the ring."
You can apply online at ...... Recreation dot gov
or by phone at ............ (877) 444-6777.

Details on Half Dome Permits here:
Winners are expected to be notified by early April by email or phone.

Read whole article here:

Knowing that this group of people will have contact with many that would go to Yosemite in the future. It will be good to know if you or your friends want to trek uP Half Dome for the views you will have to have a permit or be disappointed uPon arrival at the park. I thought it would be good to get the word out.
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby Shadow Catcher » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:14 pm

Yosemite is one park that is being loved to death. I know the National Park service was at one time considering the ban of cars in the valley and the access would be by train. There is a RR right of way that makes it as far as the Hetch Hetchy dam starting in Tuolumne built in the 1800's as the Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley Railroad and eventually became the West Side Lumber Company after then dam was built.
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby Wolffarmer » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:34 pm

Shadow Catcher wrote:Yosemite is one park that is being loved to death. I know the National Park service was at one time considering the ban of cars in the valley and the access would be by train. There is a RR right of way that makes it as far as the Hetch Hetchy dam starting in Tuolumne built in the 1800's as the Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley Railroad and eventually became the West Side Lumber Company after then dam was built.


Yup, We are making people faster than mother nature can make another Yosemite
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby myoung » Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:23 am

We've had the pleasure of climbing Half Dome twice and did so in the company of friends. I doubt that we could have anticipated the exact date of the climbs months in advance and certainly it would have been problematic if we had to enter a lottery only to find that our plans had been crushed by the limitations in whole or in part.

While many folks intend to climb all the way to the top, many are intimidated when they reach the summit of "Quarter Dome" and gaze up at the slick face of the last 400-foot climb along a cable with few footholds other than the 2x4s that are laid crosswise.

To experience Half Dome even if you don't climb to the top is something that should be available to all visitors (and citizens). It's an unforgettable experience. And, don't we pay for these opportunities already?

I'm reminded of old photographs that show wealthy folk picnicking below Vernal Falls. Back in those days only people with enough money for staff and transportation could experience the beauty of our National Parks. Since then, our NPs have been available to all regardless of fortune or luck. In essence, our parklands have increased many fold with access to all.

Now, sadly, the trend is to restrict parks and thereby diminish the opportunities and pleasures of our citizens and visitors from around the world. This is not a good thing.
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby halfdome, Danny » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:14 am

myoung wrote:We've had the pleasure of climbing Half Dome twice and did so in the company of friends. I doubt that we could have anticipated the exact date of the climbs months in advance and certainly it would have been problematic if we had to enter a lottery only to find that our plans had been crushed by the limitations in whole or in part.

While many folks intend to climb all the way to the top, many are intimidated when they reach the summit of "Quarter Dome" and gaze up at the slick face of the last 400-foot climb along a cable with few footholds other than the 2x4s that are laid crosswise.

To experience Half Dome even if you don't climb to the top is something that should be available to all visitors (and citizens). It's an unforgettable experience. And, don't we pay for these opportunities already?

I'm reminded of old photographs that show wealthy folk picnicking below Vernal Falls. Back in those days only people with enough money for staff and transportation could experience the beauty of our National Parks. Since then, our NPs have been available to all regardless of fortune or luck. In essence, our parklands have increased many fold with access to all.

Now, sadly, the trend is to restrict parks and thereby diminish the opportunities and pleasures of our citizens and visitors from around the world. This is not a good thing.


I couldn't agree more.

In the 1960's a ranger told us of the plan to ban all visitor cars and they would shuttle you from El Portal (like cattle?).
It upset me then and now. It seemed only the rangers and the stewards of the park would have free access, an elitist group in itself, in my opinion.
Campers would have to use a tent in the park. The national parks are for all of us.
They started offering the free valley shuttle buses and in my opinion they have cut down on campers driving all over the park. Most times theirs standing room only on the shuttle buses. Since the 1960's I've noticed large motor homes and long trailers increase in visitation which may or may not be a bad thing since they seem to stay put and not pollute once set up.

Last summer they started turning away campers who's ID didn't match the name on the reservation . It was a way to stop the hacking of reservations for a profitable after market on EBay etc. I hope they succeed as the hackers makes getting reservations very difficult. Over the years I've noticed a good 30% of campsites are empty.

I have noticed the parking lot at Camp Curry fill up with day hikers on the weekends apparently to hike Half Dome. It's a touchy situation on who and what we restrict. With the goofy camp ground reservation system it's near impossible to plan a hike to Half Dome months in advance. The day you have reserved to hike it could be in jeopardy since you may have to move to another camp site at noon the day of your hike. Maybe it should be a first come first served system the day of the hike or maybe those who are camping get a day hike voucher. Those who drive from San Francisco/Sacramento areas for the day would have to take their chances? There's really no clear answer but the current system is better than some hiker feeling rushed on the cables or want to pass everyone to get to the top first and slip to his death. It's bad enough we run into these kinds on the roads every day.
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby StPatron » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:21 pm

Thanks for the notice, SDTripper.

Simply stated, this change in the reservation system boils down to dollars and manpower... with the added bonus of making it more difficult on the scalpers.

The establishment of a lottery system for reservations, in particular a system with a one-month time slot, reduces the amount of time spent on reservation paperwork and allows manpower to be allocated to other duties for the other 11 months. The visitor suffers as a result of the pressure put on park superintendents to do more with the same or less. Nothing new here. Lottery systems have been instituted for other popular NPS attractions.

The new system doesn't keep anyone from taking the hike, it just mandates a bit more planning. We all make dinner reservations, hotel reservations, airline reservations, doctor appointments... you name it. If hiking Half Dome is on your bucket list.. then, plan for it!

myoung wrote:
Now, sadly, the trend is to restrict parks and thereby diminish the opportunities and pleasures of our citizens and visitors from around the world. This is not a good thing.


I question what you suggest, then?

I've enjoyed visiting and camping in our National Parks, often times on very short notice. But, those days are now history at the more popular areas. It should come as no surprise to anyone that eventually visitor usage limitations must be implemented for the protection of the parks themselves. They are a finite resource, an irreplaceable resource, an oft-times delicate resource that would be destroyed by an unlimited visitation policy. That's the realization, it's not utopia. I'm not saddened in the least that the NPS realizes this and has taken necessary precautions, that is their designated duty and responsibility.

Danny, I enjoyed reading your comments. I've met and worked with a few "elitist" rangers but on the whole I've found them to be a very dedicated group involved in increasingly high-risk situations for the benefit of the public safety. You presented not only the opinion of someone very familiar with the area but also proposed alternative approaches. I urge you to voice your suggestions to the Yosemite park superintendent.
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby myoung » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:32 am

Reservations at National Parks merely to hike trails is of recent vintage. I've been to Yosemite about 10 times and never found it crowded. Many people think that Yosemite is Yosemite Valley but there are vast areas only a few steps away from the valley floor. The trail to Half Dome is certainly not crowded. I've never seen a Ranger along the trail and, other than the cables, there are no facilities requiring maintenance or supervision. I just don't understand the reason for the reservation system if not to satisfy some highfalutin complaint that there are just too many people around spoiling the experience of a privileged few.

Those who would restrict access to our National Park lands are simply depriving people of the experience of visiting the Parks except in government approved ways. How is this not elitist? Enjoyment of our land should not be restricted to those deemed acceptable to gatekeepers and their henchmen, the Sierra Club and similar elitists. We need more access not less. Respect and appreciation of the land comes from experiencing it. To limit those experiences is to limit support for continued existence of the Parks themselves.
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby halfdome, Danny » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:56 am

I believe the lottery system to hike Half Dome is not a money making proposition for the park system but a way to limit the amount of people on the cables.
Last year someone reportedly slipped or lost his balance on Half Dome and fell to his death into Tenaya Canyon.
Jane has a book titled "Off The Wall: Death In Yosemite" and you wouldn't believe how some have met their demise.
It says there have been nearly 900 fatalities in Yosemite's history.
One guy wanted to wear the shirt "I Made It To The Top" (Half Dome) so bad that he ignored his body and friends requests and continued on to the top only to suffer a fatal heart attack.
Somehow I feel those shirts are part of the lure/problem of too many on the cables.
I have received notices of the permit implementation and it may evolve into something entirely different after they see how it's is working.
:D Danny
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby StPatron » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:37 pm

myoung wrote:Reservations at National Parks merely to hike trails is of recent vintage.

I suggest you do some research. Start with hiking permits for Grand Canyon on North and S. Kaibab and Bright Angel trails. Learn when that was instituted. Study the history of campground max. limits, including the backcountry permit system. Study the lottery system for private Grand Canyon rafting permits.

myoung wrote: there are no facilities requiring maintenance or supervision. I just don't understand the reason for the reservation system if not to satisfy some highfalutin complaint that there are just too many people around spoiling the experience of a privileged few.

My point, which you missed, is the labor involved in the permit system itself. Interestingly, you didn't address the scalper issue with one word. This doesn't have anything to do with anyone's "spoiled experience", that is a class warfare claim you're making that is way off the mark.

myoung wrote: Those who would restrict access to our National Park lands are simply depriving people of the experience of visiting the Parks except in government approved ways. How is this not elitist?


You need to address your class warfare critique with the Department of the Interior who, after extensive assessment, have determined the impact of visitor usage and established limits in popular areas. It's a very small percentage of the total park lands. There is no trend toward closing down our National Parks, the sky is not falling.

What experience do you personally have in assessing visitor impact? Have you read the goals and objectives of the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service? If you were the Interior Secretary would you suggest they take down all gates and allow an unlimited number of visitors anywhere? Does a permit system control arguments and fights that would otherwise occur amongst those wanting to participate in the same event?

myoung wrote: Enjoyment of our land should not be restricted to those deemed acceptable to gatekeepers and their henchmen, the Sierra Club and similar elitists. We need more access not less. Respect and appreciation of the land comes from experiencing it.


There is NOT ONE WORD in the lottery policy that refers to Half Dome hiking permits being issued based on personal biases regarding race, creed, color, class.... nothing. This has nothing to do with class warfare. To think that unlimited access to our precious National Parks would NOT result in their quick destruction is totally unrealistic. Teddy Roosevelt realized that and addressed it in his writings.

myoung wrote:To limit those experiences is to limit support for continued existence of the Parks themselves.

Hmmm, guess we should install an escalator on Half Dome. After all... that experience is currently limited only to the physically fit. Do you not see the absurdity in that statement?

As was posted by others in this thread, it's simply a case of too many people wanting to visit the same place at the same time. Happens everyday in a variety of situations and is limited by ticket sales, fire codes, etc. I love my freedoms as much as the next guy, but I'm also aware of the valid reasons for visitation restrictions. Why some have difficulty in understanding that concept when it transitions to a US Govt. administered area is telling.
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby StPatron » Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:16 pm

halfdome, Danny wrote:[color=#4000FF][i][b]I believe the lottery system to hike Half Dome is not a money making proposition for the park system but a way to limit the amount of people on the cables.

I didn't mean to imply that it was a money making proposition, Danny. It actually probably operates at a loss, most permit systems do. It's an administrative manpower/budget issue that operates more efficiently with a one-month window. And, you know how it goes... if you are already operating at a loss, if you can operate more efficiently and reduce those losses... all the better. I'd be in favor of it based solely on its ability to eliminate the scalper angle alone! The notion that scalpers are profiting from our National Parks is disgusting!

I agree with your comment about the t-shirts, I have witnessed that in several other parks. The motivation that a t-shirt provides... always interesting.

I admire your interest and concern for a place you obviously feel a strong attachment to.
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby myoung » Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:58 pm

Okay, Gary, here are some crazy ideas. If reservation systems cost money so that fees have to be collected to recover costs or minimize losses, then simply eliminate the reservation system. No reservation system; no cost; no loss. Case closed.

Scalpers are just a manifestation of an imbalance between supply and demand. When the supply of goods or services are less than that which is demanded, the price for said goods and services rises to clear the market, at least in a free market system. Scalpers can only operate at break-even or better when the price that one is willing to pay for a good or service is actually inflated by restriction on supply. Pretty simple and straightforward microeconomics explains the "problem." Pretty simple common sense eliminates it.

Clearly we have different beliefs about what it means to live in a free society. So let's agree to disagree rather than trying to impugn the motives or understanding or knowledge of one another.

Cheers...
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby StPatron » Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:26 pm

You fired the first volley.. my rebuttal.

myoung wrote:Okay, Gary, here are some crazy ideas. If reservation systems cost money so that fees have to be collected to recover costs or minimize losses, then simply eliminate the reservation system. No reservation system; no cost; no loss. Case closed.


Yeah, that's crazy all right. And, in sharp contrast to Teddy Roosevelt's concepts and the basis of the founding of the National Park System. To propose that plan is an attack on the parks themselves. I don't take kindly to those who are enemies of the parks while forming thinly veiled arguments that park resource protection is an attack on a free society. Free societies are not free of physical restraints and those who enforce the law.

myoung wrote:Scalpers... Pretty simple common sense eliminates it.

And, that's what the NPS has addressed with the lottery system. If the goal is to eliminate scalping, without jacking up the prices to the consumer, a lottery is the answer. Basic concept. What's so difficult to understand?

myoung wrote: Clearly we have different beliefs about what it means to live in a free society. So let's agree to disagree rather than trying to impugn the motives or understanding or knowledge of one another.


Clearly we have a different understanding of the impact of visitation numbers on our valued resources. This topic didn't just cross my radar screen with SDTripper2's post. I've studied it for over forty years now both independently and as an NPS and BLM employee. National Geographic presented an article in July, 1978. "Grand Canyon: Are We Loving It To Death?" Add that to your research.

I concur with Teddy Roosevelt's wisdom, guidance and words. He referred to Yosemite when he wrote:

"There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children's children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred."
Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter 1905.

Thanks for the false elitist and Sierra Club accusations, Mike. I don't think I've had that good a laugh all year!! :lol:

Enjoy your pipedream. 8)
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby halfdome, Danny » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:20 pm

Gary, I was speaking in general and not to you specifically about the money making issue, so it's not a problem here.
Charging $4.50 to enter the reservation lottery and an additional $5.00 if you win isn't a significant amount to be conserned about.
If they did make a profit I'm sure the park system could use the funds.

My first trip to Yosemite was about 1953 and was a life changing experience for me and my family. We had no idea there was such a beautiful place so close to San Diego. My first time on Half Dome I was 16 and our parents didn't even know where we had gone for the day. When we returned they were surprised we hiked "All the way up there?" and mom said it's time to eat. A different world then. My parents stopped going when we became teens. My older brother and I would get in his yellow 1956 Chevy Apache pick truck with a bamboo fence covering on a 2"x2" frame for a camper shell ( not rain proof) and head out for Yosemite almost every year. Over the years I've visited Yosemite on a pretty regular basis and yearly since I met my wife Jane. In the mid 1990's my friend & former co-worker Horst was retiring as the park Cabinetmaker and I was offered his job. After careful consideration for our family and window sill height of snow I decided to stay in Washington State which is also beautiful. Jane & I were married in the geology shack at Glacier Point. So far I've hiked Half Dome 4 times but stopped at the cables in 1980 because of a storm and concerns for my 10 year old son. Lightning strikes Half Dome every month of the year.
Yes, we have a strong attachment to Yosemite.
:D Danny
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby StPatron » Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:10 pm

halfdome, Danny wrote:Gary, I was speaking in general and not to you specifically about the money making issue, so it's not a problem here.

Oh, ok. My apologies.

What a great story! My granddad had a yellow Chevy Apache, does that ever bring back memories. And, the bamboo camper shell.. what a hoot! It's no wonder your builds are primo... with experience going back that far. :lol:

I think we all have a tendency to remember our roots and the places that have provided us with so much pleasure, inspiration and challenges. I have a strong attachment to the Wichita Mts. Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, where I originally started backpacking, rock climbing and exploring the backcountry amongst the elk, longhorn, turkeys, buffalo and granite. Used a sheet of plastic for shelter, rolled up burrito-style when the weather got real bad. Many of my climbing buddies would make non-stop gonzo trips to Yosemite for big wall climbing, but I never got the chance to go along so I especially enjoy your descriptions and links while I armchair travel.

Thanks again for the wonderful story!
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Re: Yosemite icon "Half Dome hike" ~ Permits now needed

Postby halfdome, Danny » Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:29 pm

StPatron wrote: And, the bamboo camper shell.. what a hoot! It's no wonder your builds are primo... with experience going back that far. :lol:
Thanks again for the wonderful story!

How's that song go? "It never rains in Southern California? :lol:
That was Larry's handy work. He later set it on fire on Fiesta Island in San Diego Bay.
Seems it was an attraction since the fire department came to put it out.
A little too big for the fire ring and a bonfire. Thanks, :D Danny
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