Permits update

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
I’ll share information as I learn about any bits of info regarding the Half Dome permits. I got permits for the July – August window. When I got my confirmation email, a new paragraph appeared:

Tickets will be mailed to you (at least 14 days prior) to your scheduled arrival. Be sure to bring your tickets with you on the day of your hike; you must have this ticket when you ascend the cables.

This is different than word I received from the Program Office 2 weeks ago. They said that the confirmation email notice would  serve as the permit to ascend the Half Dome Cables. We were to print out the first page of the confirmation letter (with your name and reservation number). Make copies and give one to each hiker in your group. Further that people who purchase their permits in April and May will receive updated  instructions as part of their confirmation letter. Anyone get one? The park hopes to have a safety video by the end of May. In addition to the 2 roving rangers on the Half Dome trail, they will have a Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) ranger stationed at Happy Isles trailhead each day of the week – with safety exhibits- to help spread the safety message. I hope they are there at 5:30 am.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Wild Horses, couldn’t drag me away, Wild, wild horses, We’ll ride them someday” – The Rolling Stones
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


11 Responses to “Permits update”

  1. Dean Says:

    I seem to remember a lot of folk suggesting a ranger at Happy Isles with Half Dome info…sounds good. Going to be a tough shift though with so many day trippers heading up Vernal, maybe Nevada at a push.
    Personally I don’t think you can have too many Rangers…they’re great.

  2. Stalin Says:

    “you must have this ticket when you ascend the cables.” — I thought you would need the permit even to ascend sub-dome. Did that change or i got it wrong from the beginning 🙂

    If the permit is only to ascend the cables, then great for people like me who loves to just hike. Oh yes have been to the top once.

    • mrhalfdome Says:


      Sorry if I misled you.

      Most folks go up the Half Dome trail to get to the cables and then to the summit. You need to have the permit to enter the greater SubDome hill. There is no way to sneak around the rangers at Check Point Charlie and go up the cables without scaling the almost 90 degree walls of SubDome. Most will check-in with valid permtis then to continue on to the cables. So yes, to go up the cables you need to have the permit in your pocket. You also need it to go up SubDome. So I guess you could just go up SubDome and look around without going up the cables. You gotta do #2..the rock is calling…LUIS….LUIS….

  3. John Says:

    “Tickets will be mailed to you (at least 14 days prior) to your scheduled arrival.”

    This is great news! It means they are listening to feedback and trying to work out the kinks of a new system!

  4. John Says:

    RE: The PSAR Ranger…

    I’ve said for YEARS that the problem with slow progress up and down the cables is that so many first time Half Dome hikers don’t have any real concept of what they are getting themselves into. What seems to happen to people is that they’ve already made this epic hike up to Sub Dome and are soooooooo close and maybe get peer pressure to go up the cables and, part way up the cables, it starts to seem like a long way down on a terrifyingly steep slope (>50°) and they just freeze in fear. And for many, going back down seems to be worse than going up.

    I’d rather those people had the chance to make that decision down at Happy Isles and not halfway up the cables.

    Maybe the PSAR could have first timers — that haven’t read your book or been to one of your talks ;^) — watch an informational video before trading their confirmation letters for permits?

    It’s not crazy as it might sound; for Wilderness Permits they already require all trip leaders to listen to a “Bear Food Safety”/”Leave No Trace”/”Ten Essentials” discussion with a ranger before trading confirmation letters for the actual permits.


    • mrhalfdome Says:


      Right on. I have preached the same gospel to deaf ears. I made those suggestions to the park multiple times myself. Since you need talk to a Ranger before getting your Wilderness permit, why not do a positive action before getting a Half Dome permit. Watch a video, read a sheet, hear a talk, etc. The issue was resources to manage it all. But they are hiring new staff for the HD permit process. Maybe time for a kiosk in the valley for HD Education.

      One GOOD thing – no permits given within 7 days…will prevent the “day skiers” from going up unprepared. A mute point since they were sold out in 9 minutes anyway. But actually looks like the dummies can still go up weekdays.

      Get the book. Honestly it’s the only in depth education for the hike. While it would be great to have everyone read it, the best I can do is blog and lecture. Truly a mission John Muir would be proud of. Sigh.

  5. Stalin Says:

    Thanks Rick. Looks like i need a permit to hike up to base of the cables. And who knows i might get tempted to ascend cables as well. Are you planning to post another “Reader Appreciation Day” 🙂 or may be see if my luck favors at REI saratogo. See you there.

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      Well, judging my the yawn of a response to the last Reader Appreciation day … (yawn). Dunno if folks are not interested or the dates were wrong. But I warned all the readrs to be online at 7 am. I have a few others in my bag of tricks. So I wil ldo it again.

      The crowd was 142 at Saratoga last year. I may bring a few there. Since I live near there it’s my favorite place – there and Frys!


  6. Kathy Littrell Says:

    Regarding reader appreciation day – my guess is the date just didn’t work out.

  7. andy Says:

    So the “permit” has now extended to the BOTTOM of the subdome. Doesn’t this bother anyone?

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      No no no. You are reading into this way too much. The idea is to keep the crowds down on the cables. To do that the rangers will be sitting at the bottom of SubDome – probably near the DANGER sign and the 3 small granite steps before you actually go up the SubDome switchbacks. You can play around as much as you want just below wherever the Ranger is standing. But you cannot go up SubDome without a permit.

      I guess they felt that was the easiest place to have Checkpoint Charlie. Maybe they will have a Kool-Aid stand there too. On the top or at the Saddele would be a congested mess.

      Unless you really LOVE SubDome with no intent of going up the cables – why would you NOT continue up the SubDome and to the summit? Different strokes for different folks. That a long hard 7 miles to stop short of the Apex.

      By the way, there are actually a few other ways to get on to SubDome’s granite switchbacks without entering up the usual place near the DANGER sign. But I will leave that hunt up to you! :^)

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