2012-03-08 / Front Page

Half Dome permit application deadline is March 31



Saturday, March 31 is the last day to apply for advance permits to climb Half Dome in Yosemite this summer season. Another deadline falls on March 15--the last day to comment on a Park document that proposes a per-day summer limit of 300 people for the hike.

Since 2010, Park officials have enforced a permit system that limits the number of hikers allowed to ascend steel cables to Half Dome's summit. Park planners drew the policy up in the wake of several fatal accidents on the popular hike.

Last year, a former Sonora resident who works as a political consultant in Washington, D.C. created a pressure group that advocates a return to the no-permit system. On March 12, Save Half Dome delivered 531 signatures opposing the permit system to Yosemite superintendent Don Neubacher.

"Eliminating access for tens of thousands of people is utterly at odds with the core mission of our national parks," group founder Mason Harrison said in a press release. In addition to lobbying for no daily limit, Save Half Dome is asking the Park to add a third cable to the final, 400-foot ascent of the dome. Adding a third cable would violate the federal Wilderness Act, Park officials respond.

A leading advocacy group on national park issues supports the Yosemite plan. "In a perfect world, the Park wouldn't have to regulate," Kati Schmidt of the National Parks Conservation Association told the GAZETTE. "But when (the Half Dome cables are) too crowded, it isn't safe. The proposed limit (of 300 hikers a day) is a balance. It makes sure that people still have access but are safer when they do it."

To apply for a Half Dome permit, visit the Recreation.gov Web site or call (877) 444-6777. The deadline to apply for advance permits for the May 25-Oct. 8 hiking season is March 31.

Close to 50 tickets will be available each day during the hiking season, however. Daily lotteries for these permits will have have an application period two days prior to the hike date, with notification late the night of application.

Park visitors can use the Web site and phone number listed above to apply for permits via the daily lottery this summer.

To comment on the Park's proposed Half Dome policy, visit http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=347&projectID=29443&docu...

Click on "Comment on Document."

Photo credit: National Park Service

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