HOT – Half Dome fate up to us

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
     Since the emergency interim permit process for the Half Dome cables was announced on January 29, we have been waiting for word on the next step. The permit “ticket” process will be in effect until 2012 when the NPS will rollout a more permanent solution to the overcrowding situation. Hopefully,the permit system will work and nothing more drastic will be announced. All that said, the park has now opened the public scoping process for the “Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan.”
     There has been a blast of information put out by the park. If you are concerned about the fate of our favorite hike, I suggest you take this seriously. One of the options to be considered is the removal of the cables. This would make access to the summit via the face the only option. Not good. The “elevator pitch” is that with up to 80,000 people hiking to the top each year, the impact is such  that the mandate of the 1984 Wilderness Act to provide “natural conditions” and “solitude” has vaporized. I’ll be discussing all this from the vantage point of my soapbox in the coming days. Your thoughts?
Call to ACTION:  #1. Read these documents:
Call to ACTION:  #2. Attend the public Open House on all this on Wednesday, May 26, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the East Auditorium near the Visitor Center. Comments will be accepted from then until June 25. I will still be on my cruise so I am depending on many of you to go.  It’s a workday so I am asking the park to set up a dial-in or conference / online capability. (Don’t plan on it.)

More tomorrow.
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


11 Responses to “HOT – Half Dome fate up to us”

  1. Dean Says:

    Here’s my comment for anyone interested…

    I specifically answered the 3 questions about wilderness experience, Half Dome experience and alignment with the wilderness act.

    My main point is that I feel the hike is too close to the main valley to be considered a “wilderness” experience and I feel the hike is a mass appeal hike that passes through wilderness and can and should be managed as such

  2. mrhalfdome Says:

    Super. You are right. I was musing this myself. If taking the cables down is an option, then redesignating Half Dome as NOT in the wilderness should also be discussed. It may be a battle on this option as Congress decides on the designation.

    Thanks for participating.

  3. andy Says:

    Bye-Bye Half Dome hike.
    There is nothing “wilderness” about this hike. Maintained trails and steps, part of it even being paved!
    There is potable water and restrooms. Now we’re going to have ticket takers to restrict the Sub Dome and Half Dome.
    This has nothing to do with “wilderness”. It’s just big government at it’s worst.

    Big government creed: “If it’s popular, restrict it. If it’s a failure, subsidize it.”

    Enjoy it while you can folks, the writing is on the wall for this one.
    In the mean time I’m going to do my best to “get involved”.

    Wow, this post is almost long enough to qualify for a “guest” blog.

  4. Sönke Says:


    well, it’s not my government but I disagree. In my humble opinion it’s people at their worst: drinking, smoking joints, chatting on the cell phones or 2-way radios while hiking etc. etc.

    yes, it’s not a wilderness experience and I think from 20+ years exploring the west I can tell the difference. but it could be much more of a wilderness experience if everybody just behaves nicely and everybody would start to appreciate nature. easy as that…

    yes, it’s close to the valley but there are other places not too far from the valley that provide more of a wilderness experience – partly because they are less accessible (e.g. north dome) or less known (fern ledge easily comes to my mind – one of the best kept “secrets” of the valley).

    I am certainly not a fan of regulations (and believe we got plenty of them where I come from – much more regulations than in the US) but unfortunately sometimes our most beloved places just got trampled to death when more and more people learn about it (“The Wave” immediately comes to my mind). Unfortunately sometimes regulations are the only way to keep nature intact.

    I know there is no solution to this problem that will satisfy everybody and safe our nature in the same minute.

  5. Ron Says:

    I personally think there should be a Helicopter lift to the bottom of the cables or there a bouts,or a cable-car to roughly the same area.I would love the hike down but up and down NO,not when i am only 2 weeks in the USA!!!

  6. kathy Says:

    I think that Sonke has some good points – I’d like to see some combo between Sonke and Dean’s comments. I don’t think the answer is eliminating the cables for the sake of wilderness. Call it what it is – a long, very strenuos, valley floor hike that passes through some wilderness trails. I think Rick has had the key from the get go….preparation and awareness. Much of the behavior that Sonke describes is seen on both the Mist Trail/Half Dome trail as well as Upper Yosemite Falls and it come from folk who don’t adequately consider the hike they are attempting. The NPS has begun to do some better, more easily accesible info on the Half Dome hike so people realize what they are getting themselves into which is a positive. I also am not sure as of yet if the passes are the answer, but the very least, if you have to think about setting a date months in advance, you have to at least prepare a bit more than on a whim and it might prevent some of the problematic issues and behaviors.

    I am sorry the forum is on a work day, I am close enough to drive to get involved, but can’t get away from work in time to make it happen, would love to have them use technology like Rick proposes, but I am not holding my breath. Will have to let my voice be heard in other ways.

  7. kathy Says:

    WEATHER REPORT: Here is a weather update from the Sierra Nevada Foothills (Sonora). We are still expecting rain tomorrow (Monday) but they are to be light, snow is possible above 6,000, which is Half Dome elevation, but also should be light and mild weather returns on Tuesday, so I still think that those who are planning the hike for the second week of June should be o.k.

  8. Steve Hutton Says:

    Is there a update on when the cables are going up

  9. Jim Y Says:

    Mr. HD, even if they pull the cables that route will still be an option (in addition to the face route). It will be what it once was, an easy 5.2 – 5.3 rock climb that most visitors could with the help of a Yosemite Mountaineering School guide. I think it would be a huge boon for YMS and might turn out to be a very good thing.

    That said, I love the hike as it is and I try to do it every year. I truly appreciate all you’ve done to educate and encourage us. I will make my comments heard…

    • Dean Says:

      Jim I have a great admiration for climbers especially those able to take on big wall challenges – it’s not something I think I can do.

      I disagree with the idea that the cables should be removed for a few reasons.

      Firstly, let’s not kid on about folk climbing the rock face – over 50000 people ascend the cables each year and I’d be surprised if more than 1% of those decided to go learn to climb in order that they can continue to hike Half Dome. Hikers are hikers for a reason just as climbers are climbers for a reason. Taking away the cables effectively closes the hike and leaves Half Dome the preserve of the big wall climber. Certainly it would preclude most foreign visitors, a sizeable number, who just wouldn’t have the time.

      Secondly I’m not sure how it will be as “it once was” since the YDS classification started more than 50years after the pioneering George Anderson climb, and more than a decade after the first modern day version of the cables were installed. Indeed, those cables were installed more than 25years before anyone was able to climb the North face. How can the cable route go back to what it once was when it is what it has always been, a semi-permanent assisted climb?

      Thirdly, I’ve heard this argument many times before on other forums and I think the climbing fraternity need to be careful about setting a precedent here – removing the cables, an assisted climb, opens up the possibility for the NPS to argue that there should be no assisted climbing in the wilderness.

  10. andy Says:

    Wow, that’s a great post.
    Especially your last paragraph. This sums up the whole problem without ranting. 🙂
    This whole thing is about setting precedents and your right, they won’t stop at just removing cables.

    This qualifies Dean as an official guest poster. Mr HD what do you think?

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