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Half Dome permit changes 2012

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Re: Half Dome permit changes 2012

Postby markskor » Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:36 pm

Talking apples and oranges here –
Both the Half Dome Trail and the Whitney Trail are considered Wilderness/wilderness… (Maybe).
Sure, some hikers adamantly hold one definition of “wilderness”; one where unique “altitude, weather, and wildlife factors of the location,” (among others too – beauty, exposure) firmly includes the Half Dome assent. Hike 14 miles past two waterfalls, filter water, climb cables…yes there is much wilderness attached to this hike no mater how crowded it has/will ever become. Done the Dome once or twice myself and highly recommend this adventure – at least once.

To others, “Wilderness”, certainly in National Park legal language, means something else – basically a wild area where nothing can be done to alter the environment. This definition is their fall-back excuse for not erecting more toilets on the Whitney Trail and not adding another much-needed facility below the HD cables. (Funny that a paved trail, three bridges, a two-story shitter, and some cables are exempted…whatever)

As long as this “Wilderness” designation remains status quo – on both the Dome and Whitney corridors, the Park Service is hamstrung on what improvements can be made to the wilderness trail experience. Ironically, taking these two trails out of their existing Wilderness designations and making a new designation for these trails: (suggest for HD, a lollypop zone - 7 - 8 miles long and 100 yards wide) – a better and cleaner wilderness experience would then exist for all.
Thus the HD trail would be/ have more wildernesses if it were not Wilderness.
Mountainman who swims with trout

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Re: Half Dome permit changes 2012

Postby JohnS » Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:03 pm

Since the $5/person fee is paying for a ranger to check Half Dome permits, it’s possible they will require some form of ID for the trip leader or alternate in addition to the HD permit. This could help curb the reselling of permits.

“The second fee is $5 per person and is charged only when you receive a permit. (This fee also applies to wilderness permit holders.) This fee pays for park rangers checking for Half Dome permits and providing Half Dome visitors with hiking and safety information. The $5 fee is fully refundable if you cancel your permit more than two days before the hiking date specified on your permit or if the cables are not up on the date for which your permit is valid.

Please check back on this page later in winter-we are still working out some of the details, so we may have more or slightly revised information at that time."
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Re: Half Dome permit changes 2012

Postby rlown » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:01 pm

well, Yose Planning just sent this tidbit out:

January 24, 2012

Long Awaited Half Dome Stewardship Plan Environmental Assessment is Here!

The Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment is now available for public review. Public comments on the plan will be accepted from Tuesday, January 24, 2012, through Thursday, March 15, 2012. The Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan was developed to address crowded conditions, visitor experience, and safety on the Half Dome Trail and encompasses the two mile section from the John Muir Trail to the summit of Half Dome.

The Preferred Alternative is to keep the cables in place with their current configuration and implement daily use limits of 300 people per day. This alternative provides the best combination of accessibility to the summit, free-flowing travel conditions on the cables, which improves safety, and low encounter rates on the trail, similar to use levels found on other high-use trails in Yosemite's wilderness and other wilderness areas. The park implemented an Interim Half Dome Cables Permit System for the 2010 and 2011 hiking seasons. An Interim Half Dome Cables Permit System will also be implemented during the 2012 hiking season.

In 1964, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, creating the National Wilderness Preservation System. As such, approximately 95% of Yosemite National Park , including Half Dome and the Half Dome Trail, is designated Wilderness. Consequently, all of the action alternatives were developed to improve the wilderness character of the trail.
The Environmental Assessment (EA) presents environmental analysis of five alternatives, including the Preferred Alternative. Alternative A, the No Action Alternative, would retain the cable system and continue managing the Half Dome Trail as it was through 2009, with no permits required. This action violates National Park Service (NPS) policy and will not be considered. Under Alternative B, the park would retain the cable system and implement day-use limits through a permit system allowing 400 hikers per day. Under Alternative C, the Preferred Alternative, the park would retain the cable system and implement day-use limits through a permit system allowing 300 hikers per day. Under Alternative D, the park would retain the cable system and implement day-use limits through a permit system allowing 140 hikers per day. Under Alternative E, the park would remove the cable system from Half Dome.
The park considers all public comments in making a decision, which will be documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), if appropriate. If approved, the plan will be implemented for the 2013 hiking season. Hiking permits for Half Dome will be allocated through an online reservation system and/or a lottery.

The public review and comment period begins with release of the EA. The document is available for electronic review at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/halfdome. Please submit written comments electronically through the website, or join us at the park's monthly Open House at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center Auditorium on Wednesday, February 29, 2012, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., to discuss the plan with park staff. Hard copies or CDs of the EA may be requested by emailing yose_planning@nps.gov. You may also mail your comments to P.O. Box 577 Yosemite, California 95389, c/o Superintendent, ATTN: Half Dome Plan; or send a facsimile to (209) 379-1294.

Open House January 25, 2012

Join park staff on Wednesday, January 5, 2012, to talk about ongoing plans and projects. Representatives from the Mariposa Grove Restoration Project, Half Dome, Merced River Plan, and others will be on hand to provide updates. Wilderness Rangers will also answer questions about the 2012 Interim Permit Program for the Half Dome Cables.

The open house is from 1 to 4 pm in the Auditorium located behind the Valley Visitor Center. Park Entrance fees are waived for attendees.

you can ignore the open house part as they only gave a days notice via email, and i just got around to posting it here. always good to be on their list though.
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Re: Half Dome permit changes 2012

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:58 am

The Cables are "grandfathered structures" that pre-date the Wilderness Act. They also are quite historical. If climbers were able to get Camp 4 designated as a National Historical site, I do not see why the same cannot be done with the Cables, if perchance, the take-down alternative is chosen.

The other issue is managing use of the Cables. There is an inconsistency here. It has nothing to do with "wilderness". No other day hike in Yosemite limits the number of day-hikers. There seems to be no other area where this "rule" is applied. After all, there already are two bathroom facilities (tied to the John-Muir/Mist trail loop) that are there, because of other use, not due to Half Dome use. So are they going to "manage the wilderness" by limiting the number of day-hikers allowed on the JMT? What about Yosemite Falls? More damage done up there because there are no bathrooms. I see the real issue as safety. And for that case, 300 a day is too much. With 300 a day, I really see the need for a Ranger being up there at the start to rein in stupid behavior and I guess the permit fees would help pay for that. My personal preference is to limit to 150 a day. OK, lots of folks will not get to do the climb- well lots who do it have no business doing it anyway. I think a large part of what they do will be based on minimizing the Park's liability.
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Re: Half Dome permit changes 2012

Postby hikerchick395 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:03 am

Unfortunately, just by the luck of the lottery draw, there may be particular days that the majority of the Half Dome hikers are first timers, novices, inexperienced...whatever you want to call them. The lottery won't differentiate on terms of experience (or IQ, at that matter. :wink:)
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Re: Half Dome permit changes 2012

Postby sparky » Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:04 pm

But.....hopefully the difficulty will prevent silly ones from doing it on a whim. Now preparation is involved, hopefully it will cut down on SAR costs, carrying out people with blisters and whatnot. I am ok with hordes of people doing halfdome and Whitney, as if they weren't there, they would be elsewhere, like where I'm at!
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Re: Half Dome permit changes 2012

Postby bheiser1 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:37 pm

rlown wrote:For me, wilderness starts when I don't have to say "hello" more than once an hour when on a trail. Once a day is almost perfectly wilderness.

Are there still places like that in the Sierra? Maybe just off-trail? oh, wait, you said "on a trail". :confused:
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