Archive for January, 2010

Permit Patter

January 31, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

I hope yall read yesterday’s blockbuster news that permits are now required to go up Half Dome on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays plus all US Federal Holidays. With about 1,000 now doing Half Dome each of those days, the competition for the 300 hiker permits will be fierce. I suggest you have alternate plans for Kings Canyon or other adventures lined up if you get zip. Although most visitors are US citizens, we get a nice share of folks from the UK, Germany, Japan and points far away. They will be on the same phone or internet as you. If you have a high speed broadband, you may try the internet route. Dail or click GO at a millisecond past the hour or reckoning. I suggest you have everyone in your party try to get the 4 allowed permits. For $1.50 a shot it’s worth having duplicates. You can give them away. Since the park has stated they cannot be sold or “auctioned” – that legally prevents you from scalping them on EBay or Craig’s list. I am sure creative folks will find a way around this. Will we see the likes of a Stanford-Cal BIG GAME line of people selling you a candy bar for $20 and tossing in a free permit? The cost should have been way higher. Like $20 a pop. The incremental cost is nil compared to what you would spend on the hike and $80 for 4 permits  is a high barrier to the scalpers.  I suspect people will get 4 permits just in case someone wants to join their party… then not use them … thus WAY less people than the 300 hikers (and 100 backpackers) will be going up. And LOT of disappointed people. Most accommodations in the park can be cancelled within 7 days, but if you have to deal with air tickets etc, you may have a negative experience.  In my opinion, the ROOT cause of all this is that humans are breeding like rabbits. 6.8 billion people on the globe…and 300M in the USA. Oil, food and now Half Dome are endangered items! Carpe Diem while you can.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Walking takes longer… than any other known form of locomotion except crawling.  Thus it stretches time and prolongs life.  Life is already too short to waste on speed.” – Edward Abbey
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

SPECIAL REPORT – Permits !!!!!!!!!!

January 30, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing

In the first major change to the Half Dome hike since 1919, the Park is now beginning a mandatory permit system for hikers who want to go up the cables. The excessive loading has resulted in the cable route being clogged in times of “get down fast.” Weather is the primary culprit. Even in good weather, waits of up to 1-hour result in unsafe ascents by tired hikers. An intensive survey of the user experience on the cables was done in August 2008 and those results and the recent falls off the cables by 2 hikers (one fatally) in June led the park to enact an emergency Superintendant directed interim solution until the issue can be debated in a public forum (beginning this spring) and a better remedy found. 84,000 people now climb the cables every year. The previous estimate was 50,000. Busy weekends now see upwards of 1200 attempting the cables – a system now 90 years old. This negatively affects the promise of a Wilderness setting devoid of human interference and a place of solitude. I have read though the reams of material and provide links to them below. Here are the highlights:

1. 300 permits will be available for hiking per day on weekends and holidays. 100 will be set aside for those getting backpacker permits on routes that will include the HD cables. No permits required on other days – for now pending experiential studies.

2. Cost is $1.50 non-refundable per permit with 4 obtainable with each call/email request. You cannot get one within 7 days of your requested hike. NO refunds for any reason. Permits are transferable (no names on them) or given away – no resale.

3. Everyone must have a permit to go beyond Sub Dome.

4. Rangers will enforce this with a possible misdemeanor / $5K fine / 6 months in a federal jail levied for abuse.

5. NO onsite in-park (or walk-up) permits given.

6. To hike in May or June, operators will be standing by on March 1. To hike in July and August, call on April 1; For Sep and Oct, call May 1.

7. Book at or by calling 877-444-6777.

We will discuss all this in upcoming blogs. The impact will be felt by all of us. Tune in for Mr. Half Dome’s 2-cents and enter your praise or rant here.


1. NPS Half Dome permits Press Release <HERE>

2. Permit Description <HERE>

3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) <HERE>

4. Long term planning process for HD <HERE>

5. NPS Half Dome hike primer <HERE>

6. 2008 Half Dome visitor study (102 page PDF) <HERE>

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “After dinner sit awhile, after supper walk a mile.” – English Proverb

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

The Yosemite Grant

January 29, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing

Abe pauses during the War to sign off.

The source document for all that prevails at Yosemite is the June 30, 1864 agreement between the US Congress and the State of California in regard to the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees. It was signed by Abe Lincoln during the Civil War and enacted by California Governor Frederick F. Low. Below is the first part of the act, dealing with the Valley. Part 2 is similar pertaining to the Mariposa Grove. Verbatim:

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That there shall be, and is hereby, granted to the State of California, the “Cleft,” or “Gorge” in the Granite Peak of the Sierra Nevada Mountain, situated in the County of Mariposa, in the State aforesaid, and the head waters of the Merced River, and known as the Yosemite Valley, with its branches and spurs, in estimated length fifteen miles, and in average width one mile back from the main edge of the precipice, on each side of the valley, with the stipulation, nevertheless, that the said State shall accept this grant upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort and recreation; shall be inalienable for all time; but leases not exceeding ten years may be granted for portions of said premises. All incomes derived from leases of privileges to be expended in the preservation and improvement of the property, or the roads leading thereto; the boundaries to be established at the cost of said State by the United States Surveyor-General of California, whose official plat, when affirmed by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, shall constitute the evidence of the locus, extent and limits of the said Cleft or Gorge; the premises to be managed by the Governor of the State, with eight other Commissioners, to be appointed by the Executive of California, and who shall receive no compensation for their services.”


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I represent what is left of a vanishing race, and that is the pedestrian…. That I am still able to be here, I owe to a keen eye and a nimble pair of legs.  But I know they’ll get me someday.” – Will Rogers

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Bear canister idea

January 28, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Half Dome vet and loyal reader, Chris B of Palo Alto sent me the following suggestion. At first blush it sounds like a good idea. I’ll toss it to you for comment.  If you do any camping in the valley (and many formal campsites) there are nice large bear proof containers for your food and scented items. Bears like getting their grub the easy way – from us. If you are back country hiking or in many other western parks, you must use a bear proof canister.

A simple plastic can with a lid designed so bears can’t get in. These are NOT homemade and MUST be on the NPS list of approved cans. They usually have a slot for a quarter to unlatch the device. Most bears do not carry change. Some have an odd screw off lid. Until Bears grow an opposable thumb, we are superior in this dept. They win the teeth category. So Chris thinks a good idea is to attach some construction safety tape to the can so that when the bears eventually find your container (that you placed far away from your campsite at night) you can find it the next day after they kick it down the trail. With a strip of yellow or orange plastic tape your odds of finding are pretty high. Not sure why the bears wouldn’t tear off the tape, but good reasoning!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country.  A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo.  Even a bicycle goes too fast.” – Paul Scott Mowrer
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Boy Scout POW WOW

January 27, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing

Boy Scouts Troop 948-998

This past Saturday I participated in the Santa Clara Council Boy Scout “Pow Wow and University.”  It’s an annual event held to instruct adult leaders and senior scouts on the skills that scouting is known for. There were about 200 people in attendance. Classes from rope tying to tee-pee construction were offered. I gave 3 classes on Hiking  Half Dome. These one-hour sessions were well attended and several bought my book to continue their education.  I offered to be available for follow up talks to the troops who are picking the Half Dome hike as a summer project. (Contact me –  can do private sessions for your group.) This presentation was like preaching to the choir since scouts are well aware of water treatment, proper boots and leave no trace hiking. We drilled down on the ins and outs of doing the hike safely. Of course the photos of the cables drew gasps! Many have already snagged permits for Little Yosemite Valley this summer. I was not a Boy Scout as a kid, but I heartily support their program. With our youth spending an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using “entertainment media” during a typical day (more than 53 hours a week) we are seeing soaring obesity rates among kids who should be outside playing.  And because they spend so much of that time media-multitasking they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those 7½ hours. TV, Wii, Xbox, Playstation, TV, cell phone, iPOD, s etc. You can read the entire Kaiser Family Foundation study <HERE>.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “A dog is one of the remaining reasons why some people can be persuaded to go for a walk.” – O.A. Battista
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

John Conway

January 26, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing

Today we learn about one of the Yosemite early trail builders. John Conway was a very busy beaver. He is mostly known for his construction of the Glacier Point road in 1882. He also did a lot of the pioneering work on the Yosemite Falls Trail in 1873. In 1871 he was involved in the Four-Mile Trial construction from the Valley to Glacier Point. But what caught my eye was the work he contributed to the eventual ascent of Half Dome by George Anderson in 1875. I describe this in my book on Page 9. Seems a couple years before, Conway attempted to scale it but only got a couple hundred feet up from the saddle (the apex being about a 900 ft diagonal at 45 degrees).  He  came up with the technique of drilling holes in the granite and placing steel pegs in them to create a makeshift ladder.  He sent his young sons up to try this. The dangerous slope made them abandon their effort. Good thing for us Anderson continued the technique with resolve and made the summit accessible to us all.  Check out all the tiny holes during your next trip up. Could be Conway’s attempt.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Walking:  the most ancient exercise and still the best modern exercise.” – Carrie Latet
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

From the South

January 25, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

Hello America! I write you today from San Migel city on Cozumel Island. We’re on the eastern side of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexican Maya. A welcome 80 degree respite from the heavy rains the SF Bay area has been having. The water is about 77 degrees at 40 feet under. I’m getting strong wifi and today I want to chat a bit about getting to the park from due south. I speak of Highway 41 out of Oakhurst. This run of Hwy 41 from the Fresno County line north to the Park is very hilly and boasts a ton of curves just waiting to grab the sleepy driver. Shoulders are minimal in many spots on the way to Wawona. Traffic continues to become denser and you really need to be alert. The volume of cars northbound on Highway 41 in the greater area near Chukchansi Casino has increased 70% since 2001. That translates to about 20,000 trips a day. Since the Indian casino opened in 2003, traffic has steadily grown. Be careful – since 2003, 47 people have died in vehicle wrecks. There have been over 600 injury accidents along that route. Get to Yosemite safely – be alert.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “We live with our heels as well as head and most of our pleasure comes in that way.” – John Muir

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Adventure Magazine

January 24, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing
A short one while I head to the airport for Cozumel ….   National Geographic has ceased production of Adventure Magazine. Wow. This was top notch and my favorite with Outside.

E C O N O M Y  S U C K S. They say my subscription will be filled in by the National Geographic main magazine.  Dang, I just sent in a proposal to do a Half Dome article for them.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk.  Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.  I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” – Soren Kierkegaard

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


January 23, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing
    Scary week was fun, but that’s enough. Mrs. Half Dome tells me some of you may be shivering by now… hair standing up on the back of your neck?  OK, I’ll tone it down now… Don’t suffer “paralysis from over analysis.” If you do the training and go to the park educated – you’ll soon be an official “domer”. Oh yeah, there is a neat shirt you can buy to prove it. <HERE> Today we focus on blister prevention. Don’t change that channel. There is nothing worse than a boo-boo on your little toe that causes you to go “wee wee wee all the way home.” Blisters are caused by heat, friction and moisture. Here’s what seasoned hikers do to reduce the odds.(and always carry moleskin and blister pads just in case.) Choose you poison – pictured here are products that all do the trick.

When you get dressed before your hike smear the goo of your choice on potential hot spots. I rub it all over the toes, heal, arch and instep. Then put your thin liner sock on before you walk all over the carpet. Pictured from left to right we have:  1) “Runner’s Lube” – bought at my local running supply house. 2) “Body Glide” – same place or outdoor stores; 3) Vaseline petroleum jelly. I used to use #3 since that was all that was available. Real gooey and took days to wash off. I used #1 when I did a marathon. Also smeared it on any chafing spots – inside thighs, armpits and breastal area. #2 comes in small sizes that you can use to reapply before you head down after getting to the top of Half Dome.

    On an adminsistrative note, I’m taking the entire staff of this blog to Cozumel for a week+. The research dept, content creation, editing and technical. This is in support of my Carpe Diem philosophy. We’ll be diving the briny deep to visit Davey Jones’s locker. Arrrrr.  So no blog tomorrow. I’ll be in transit. I’m assured we will have wifi so I hope to be back on the air as usual. Same Dome time – Same Dome channel.
Unrelated thought worth quoting:  “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”- John Muir

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


January 22, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing
This is my last segment of “Scary Week.” I sense some of you are too tough to be scared. OK here we go with my best shot. There are many places at Yosemite that you could lose it. Half Dome has it’s share. One misstep and down you go. A mere blot on the map. A statistic in a book. Can’t chew gum and walk? Spit it out. Here’s #1 – The Slabs.



#2. A Diving Board. OK, the tippy top is called the Visor, and there are several hunks of granite that look like diving boards. (The REAL Diving Board is on the maps and it’s where Ansel Adams took his HD shot.) So any of these slabs could be diving boards. Here you could do a half gainer or cannonball and leave no splash.


#3 A similar one at Glacier Point. Made famous by this olde tyme pix of 2 women dancing on it and even one with a car parked on it.

#4 Vernal Fall. Sure honey, step over the railing…it’s August and I’m sure it’s OK.

Related thought worth quoting: “When you’re falling down, the worlds not spinning around you. When you’re falling down, the world’s not all about you. When you’re  falling down, you know I’ll be around. When you’re falling down, falling down.” – Selena Gomez

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –