If you have a permit to climb atop the famous Half Dome in Yosemite National Park this summer, there's finally some good news. The cables that make the ascent possible will be in place next week Wednesday, June 22nd, park officials announced today.
They are usually up by Memorial Day, but high snow levels this year delayed the installation, forcing scores of permit holders this past month to make other plans.
Permits, which are date-specific and required seven days a week, can be booked up to three months in advance, but none are currently available. On July 1st, another set of permits will be released for October, but only for half of the month due to the return of winter.
The actual climbing of Half Dome is only one part of the experience permit holders will have. The roundtrip journey is at least a 14-mile hike with a 4,800-foot elevation gain. That shorter hike is along the Mist Trail, which, as its name indicates, offers close views of Vernal and Nevada falls. Those views, however, come with steeper inclines, prompting many hikers to take a detour on the John Muir Trail, which offers switchbacks instead, but at the cost of an extra three-mile leg (and only a view of Nevada Fall).
Although all permits are already reserved, there are still a couple ways to get a chance at hiking up Half Dome:
- Cancellations: Yes, they do occur! Check recreation.gov for availability, but this might be an exercise in patience, perseverance and luck.
- Wilderness Permits: If you're planning to stay overnight in wilderness anywhere in the park, you'll need a free permit, which can be reserved up to 24 weeks in advance. For those doing that in the vicinity of Half Dome--for example, at Little Yosemite Valley--your wilderness permit acts as a Half Dome permit as well. Only 60% of wilderness permits for any given area can be reserved online (these are done through Yosemite's website, not recreation.gov), leaving the remaining 40% available for walk ups starting the day before a planned trip (warning: for popular trails like the Mist, some line up at sunrise).
And if none of that works out, you can still enjoy the trails leading up to the base of Half Dome. Good luck, everyone, and have fun!
Update, June 20th: Officials today clarified that the cables are expected to be placed on Half Dome late in the afternoon on June 22nd. "Visitors with permits to use the Half Dome cables on June 22 should not expect access to the cables until the late afternoon and plan accordingly," a statement read.
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