First Ascent

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
     The very first weekend of hiking to Half Dome when permits are required was this weekend.  Seems all went smoothly. I got a great report from Scott P. who went up Friday and have it below. It speaks for itself.  This is the kind of “community” we need – sharing.  A tip of the cap to Scott for this fine field reporting.
     At Happy Isles, PSAR had an information booth out by 6am (and probably earlier), making sure hikers were prepared and knew about the permit requirement. The Mist Trail was about the same as a week earlier.  A poncho or other rain jacket is a good idea, mostly because the cool breeze is otherwise a little too cool between the two falls. You may want it again for the section of John Muir Trail headed down from Nevada Fall; it has its own car wash flowing in a 200′ section. Booties, gaiters, etc. are overkill IMHO.
     A team of three, including Mark Marschall, I think, was waiting to collect permits/tickets at the base of the subdome.  (I think this was actually a wilderness ranger, Mark the wilderness manager overseeing this whole process, and a YOSAR tech.)  They were also collecting excess permits to give to people who made it that far without them, although I wouldn’t want to hike all the way to the subdome hoping that some excess permit would be waiting for me.

Checkpoint Charlie

We were pretty late in the day, starting the cables around 2:20pm.  There were still folks coming down and the normal coordination confusion passing, although it probably didn’t add more than ten minutes to the hike.  It was pretty empty by Half Dome standards.


Thin at 2 pm

The rangers hadn’t yet tallied their counts, but thought about 300 people had passed by 2pm.  Quite a few folks made it to the subdome with no permits nor supposedly having heard of the requirement.  It sounded like many of them were allowed to complete the hike using excess permits from other groups. There was at least one rescue, although thankfully at the more mundane end of the scale: a hiker injured her ankle on the way down the trail below the subdome.  When we passed, the subdome crew had helped her out and splinted her ankle.  Shortly thereafter, we saw a YOSAR tech headed up with crutches and a full-size split.  Then just below Nevada Fall, we saw a horse team headed up to help her get back down to the Valley.  No idea when she finally made it home.

Later, Scott told me that the process is for the rangersto  punch a hole in the permits and hand them back. They were not there when his party returned, so they are focused on the key times of 10 am to 3 pm.  He said on the downward trek, he saw many ill-prepared going up – no rangers by then. He also said there was no back up at Checkpoint Charlie to continue up sub dome.

Unrelated thought worth quoting for the ladies: “Gonna walk right up to him. Give him a great big kiss. Tell him that I love him, tell him that I care, tell him that I’ll always be there. –  Well what color are his eyes? I don’t know he’s always wearing shades. Is he tall? Well, I’ve got to look up.  Well I hear he’s bad. Hmm, he’s good, bad, but he’s not evil” – The Shangri La’s

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


14 Responses to “First Ascent”

  1. John Lauer Says:

    That is also what I have seen… Rangers headed back to Yosemite Valley late afternoon. You`d have to be careful summitting late in the day- help would likely be far away.

  2. Ken Says:

    I joined Rick’s seminar at Trailsloggers (Campbell, CA) last week and got his book. The book is must-have for those who try to make it.

    We made it on June 19 (Sat).

    On the way to check point, 2 people went down and asked us if we have extra permits. So it seems the rangers did not have any extra permits.

    At the cables, there were no line. We started ascending the cables on 10:00AM and finished in 30 minutes.
    The permit system works great and the number of permit (400) is good enough, I think

  3. mrhalfdome Says:

    Thanks for the report. Maybe there is hope. A message is if you have extra permits…bring them to give (give) to your fellow hikers – IF they have good boots, water and look like they can do it. NO MORE FALLS

  4. mrhalfdome Says:

    I relocated Romy’s post to this thread–> Inmy book I do mention the upper body, toenails and going back via JMT. – Rick


    Romy Greenwood Says:

    June 21, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Just an update after our hike on 6/19/10. We were 1 permit short. Thankfully the rangers posted at the subdome said a hiker had given them an extra. So we were allowed to use it.

    This was my 1st hike to Half Dome. My thoughts… I see the need for the permit system (though I did not like being unsure about adding our last minute hiker and being one permit short). The crowd we experienced at the cables was an issue. If there had been double the people on the cables it would have really been horrible.

    Things I learned that were not included in the sites I had read… I wish I had done some upper body workouts because the cables required a lot of pulling that I was not in shape for. Also, trim toenails, sounds gross, sorry. My toes feel bruised at the cuticle from the levering.

    We went up the mist trail and due to tender knees came down on the other side of Nevada Falls. I am glad we did, it saved my knees. We left at 7:00 am and got back at 7:00pm. I liked the timing. I would not have left earlier.

    Safe hiking… Romy

  5. John Lauer Says:

    SONKE, you know who fixed it, the SUPER himself… On Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 10:51 AM, wrote:

    We will get on fixing it. Sorry.


    Don Neubacher
    Yosemite National Park
    9039 Village Drive
    PO Box 577d

    • John Lauer Says:

      This is the full contact info: Don Neubacher
      Yosemite National Park
      9039 Village Drive
      PO Box 577
      Yosemite, CA 95389
      209-372-0201 (Phone)
      209-372-0220 (fax)

      The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American
      people so that all may experience our heritage.

    • Sönke Says:


      Superintendent’s ToDo-List June 21, 2010

      1. Take care of HD permit system
      2. Make sure power line for Tioga Pass webcam will be repaired
      3. Read blog at
      4. Send out Sönke’s HD permits
      5. Fix Webserver


      • John Lauer Says:

        I also told him he needs to wish MR HD well before he sets out on his trek Wednesday.

      • mrhalfdome Says:

        Be nice and don’t rag on Don…he’s a nice guy and has a monster job with all the fertilizer that is hitting the ventilator at the park.
        Be polite but voice your concerns.

  6. vu Says:

    thanks to this site we hiked half dome at night on the 21st and i proposed to my gf at the top. started at 10pm and finished around 1.

    here is a video of our trip!

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