It looks like hikers will need to be a little more proactive when it comes to scaling Yosemite’s iconic natural monument known as Half Dome. Starting in the 2010 hiking season, Yosemite will begin issuing permits to make the climb, limiting the number of persons to 400 per day.
For now, the permits will only be utilized on the weekends (Fri-Sun) and holidays, and will, consequently, result in hundreds of hikers being turned away. The permits are free, though there is a $1.50 fee to reserve a permit, up to four per party. There are currently no limits on the number of hikers visiting during the week (Mon-Thur).
The new permit policy follows the death of one hiker and the serious injury of another, both in June of 2009. Both incidents were the result of hikers slipping on wet trails and cables on their descent.
Personally, while I admittedly am unfamiliar with the events surrounding the incidents, I’m not sure that simply limiting the number of hikers per day will help alleviate the problems associated with the accidents. It would seem there are some major safety concerns to address that limiting hiker usage will not resolve.
Perhaps the need is for more hiking safety education and awareness. Either way, if you’re planning to summit Half Dome this hiking season, reserve your permit ahead of time — in the grand scheme of things, I think 400 permits are going to go fast.
[photo: Randy Son Of Robert]