You can now climb the cables on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park -- and, through June 25, you can comment on their future, too.
Cables that help hikers climb a steep, 400-foot ascent of Half Dome's north-facing shoulder just went up June 16. It's the first day in the 2010 hiking season that visitors have been able to climb to Half Dome's 8,842-foot summit. Due to a heavy snowpack, cable installation occurred about 1 month later than usual this spring.
As mentioned in an REI Blog post last week, permits are now needed to climb Half Dome on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays. The goal is to reduce crowding on the cables during days of high visitation. Permits have been claimed for most dates; to inquire about any that remain, visit recreation.com. Permits are not required to climb the cables Monday through Thursday; no permit is needed to hike to the subdome and the base of the cables.
Yosemite officials are pondering the long-term future of managing the route to Half Dome, a 16-mile round-trip that has attracted an estimated 1,200 hikers per day. Public comments are being sought on how the park should manage the cables and the crowds that flock to them.
For anyone in the Bay Area, REI Berkeley is hosting a public-comment forum June 16 from 4 to 8 p.m. Readers can also submit a public comment using links provided in this National Park Service planning document. What is your opinion of the new permit system?
If you have never attempted a hike up Half Dome, check out this splendid short film of the experience created by park videographer Yosemite Steve.