(Above photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0)
Low snowpack has led to an earlier day hiking season at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, the park announced. The cables to the summit of Half Dome will be in place this Saturday, May 2 and available for hikers. This opening date is three weeks earlier than previously scheduled.
Day hikers wishing to ascend the cables between May 2 and May 22 must apply for a two-days-in-advance permit though an online lottery at: www.recreation.gov. The lottery will be open for applications from 12:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (PDT) with lottery results available at 6:00 a.m. the following day.
Day use permits for Half Dome are not available in the park. The cables will be inaccessible on Friday, May 1, due to maintenance.
The trail to Half Dome from Yosemite Valley is an extremely strenuous hike covering over 17 miles. Hikers gain 4,800 feet of elevation along the trail that passes highlights such as Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, before reaching the cables on Half Dome’s steep granite shoulder. Metal cables and wooden planks are placed along the steep shoulder of the dome to assist hikers to the summit.
Visitors are advised to take appropriate precautions when planning a hike of this length and difficulty, and to be prepared for changing weather and trail conditions. Thunder and lightning are common occurrences in the High Sierra during the summer and fall seasons. Hikers should not attempt to summit Half Dome when rain or thunderstorms are forecasted and are advised to use extreme caution when the rocks are wet.
Wilderness permits for overnight users who wish to ascend Half Dome are required as a part of any overnight wilderness trip. For more information regarding backpacking permits in Yosemite, visit: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm.
The regularly scheduled Half Dome season will start on Saturday, May 23. Permits for the regular season were available through a lottery during the month of March. Approximately 50 permits per day will be available on a daily basis through a two-days-in-advance lottery beginning Thursday, May 21. Visitors wishing to obtain a permit can make reservations at www.recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777.
For more information regarding the lottery and the Half Dome cables, please visit www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm.