Touchstone Blog Archive
Friday, January 29, 2010
  Yosemite Restrictions- Climbing Access and Hiking Permits
The Access Fund, an organization that helps to protect crag and climbing area access, released a statement regarding the future Merced River Plan, which will affect significant amounts of climbing in Yosemite National Park.

"We need your help to influence the latest Merced River Plan, which could restrict climbing access and camping in Yosemite Valley, depending on how the Park prepares its new revised user capacity program. At issue is access to iconic climbs including those found on The Rostrum, Cookie Cliff, and Middle Cathedral Rock (everything ΒΌ mile on either side of the river). This plan will also affect all travel through the management area to locations just outside the river corridor, which brings into play all climbing in Yosemite Valley including El Capitan and even Half Dome. Another consequence of this litigation is the increased likelihood that camping will become even more scarce while the number of lodging units remains largely unchanged.

Please write Yosemite National Park by February 4 and support the preservation of climbing access in the Valley! With our easy-to-use letter writing tool, it only takes two minutes to make your voice heard.

Thanks for your support

Your Friends at the Access Fund"

The Merced River and Liberty Bell

Also, the National Park Service has issued a notice requiring permits for weekend Half Dome hikers. This permit system affects hikers mostly as NPS stated, "Rock climbers who reach the top of Half Dome without entering the subdome area can descend on the Half Dome Trail without a permit." Those who top out Snake Dike or the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome will not require a permit.

Read the comments Jesse McGahey, The Yosemite Climbing Ranger and Liason, made regarding the permit system on

Half Dome Hiking Permits

Permits to hike to the top of Half Dome are now required on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays when the cables are up. This is an interim measure to increase safety along the cables while the park develops a long-term plan to manage use on the Half Dome Trail.

Beginning in 2010, all people using the Half Dome Trail above the subdome must have a permit in possession on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays when the cables are up. A maximum of 400 permits will be issued each of these days. (Before the permit system, fewer than 400 people used this trail on weekdays, while about 800 people used this trail on weekends and holidays, on average.)

In 2010, permits are available up to about four months in advance to one week in advance only through the National Recreation Reservation Service. Permits are not available in the park or on a first-come, first-served basis. Demand for permits will be very high; availability may last only a matter of minutes on the first day permits become available.

Note: Backpackers with an appropriate wilderness permit can receive a Half Dome permit when they pick up their wilderness permit with no additional reservation required. Rock climbers who reach the top of Half Dome without entering the subdome area can descend on the Half Dome Trail without a permit.

The Half Dome Cables are usually in place and available for use the third Friday in May, conditions permitting. The last day to use them usually is Columbus Day Monday. We can not guarantee the cables will be available on any given date. If you choose to get a permit for dates in May or October, there is an increased chance the cables will not be in place.

If you are unable to hike Half Dome for any reason (including weather, cables not available, illness, etc.) on the day you have a permit, we will not be able to provide a permit for a different date.

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