Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Story of the Half Dome cables

In an effort to better regulate the number of hikers using the cable system to the top of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park will begin requiring day-use permits for the popular climb when the cables are put back up in May.

This interim program, implemented by the National Park Service, is being done in an effort to address safety issues that have arisen from crowding, which has led to unsafe conditions and long waits.

The Half Dome day-use permits will only be required on weekends, including Fridays, as well as holidays. Four hundred will be issued per day, with 100 of those to be included in wilderness permits. The permits are required for the use of the trail from the base of the subdome to the summit of Half Dome and include the Half Dome cable route.

The hike has become extremely popular, and crowded. About 84,000 people climbed to the top of Half Dome in 2008. Last summer, daily visitor numbers on peak days were estimated to be 1,100 to 1,200.

This overcrowding on the cables has led to unsafe conditions and long waits. Last year, Manoj Kumar, 40, of San Ramon, Calif., fell to his death from the cables. The following weekend, a woman fell during a rainstorm and sustained serious injury.

Permits are available by advance reservation only, and can be purchased online or by calling (877) 444-6777. Up to four may be obtained per reservation, with each person required to have his or her own.

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