Half Dome is the signature landmark of Yosemite National Park in California. It reaches 8,836’ above sea level and 4,836’ above the Yosemite Valley where it stands guard on the eastern edge of the granite canyon. Half Dome was first climbed in October 1875 by George Anderson. He climbed barefoot and drilled holes to place big iron spikes for protection. Things have changed a bit since then, as you could imagine. Now the hike culminates with the cable system, erected in 1919 where you climb the last 425 vertical feet using a 1/2-inch steel cable handrail.
Hiking to the top is a taxing ordeal, taking anywhere from 10-16 hours depending on your physical ability and pace. Most people average 12-14 hours. Half Dome in a Day is one of the most popular hikes in the country and offers terrific scenery throughout. This hike in total is about 16 miles round trip depending on the trails used. Day hikers will begin their journey in Happy Isles and ascend via the steep Mist Trail next to both Vernal, and Nevada Fall, each via 700 man-carved granite steps. Once atop this famous landmark (featured on the 2005 Quarter coin) you will have unparalleled views of Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, El Capitan, Clouds Rest, Tenaya Canyon, and pretty much the entire Yosemite High Country. You can now officially say “I made it to the Top.”
In 2008 the numbers of people trying to summit Half Dome was reaching close to 1,500 per day. The trail from Happy Isles up to Half Dome was a constant stream of people. The impact on the environment as well as the wilderness experience was getting to a point that the National Park Service was forced to act, read the half dome permits case study here. Thus, in 2012, Yosemite released and signed the Half Dome plan in order to provide protection for the trail and wilderness around Half Dome. The current plan limits daily use to approximately 300 hikers total (225 day hikers and 75 backpackers). Today, in order to get a permit to climb the cable route on Half Dome, you must apply through a lottery system on recreation.gov. The application period is coming up in March with results made available in April. Competition is steep as is the final climb to the summit (see below)!
This next week, on February 4th at both noon and 7pm, Rick Deutsch (aka Mr. Half Dome) will be offering a webinar where he will present the entire permitting process and how to maximize your chances in being effective in the lottery. Rick will also offer tips on how to get to the top in 2015. Rick Deutsch is author of “One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome.” Rick is an expert on Half Dome history and the hike itself. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to learn all you can about Half Dome and the permitting process. See more on Rick’s Hike Half Dome website.
You can also leave the permitting nightmare to us! Lasting Adventures has successfully guided thousands of people to the top of Half Dome on both Day Hikes or on Backpacking Trips that include Half Dome such as our famous Cathedral Lakes to Clouds Rest & Half Dome Trip. On all of our trips we take care of all the permits including the cable permits that now regulate access to Half Dome.
Looking forward to seeing you on the summit!