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Half Dome ascents by JMT hikers with valid non-Yosemite permits (Northbound JMT hikers)

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  • John Ladd
    The following is my correspondence with Yosemite confirming that hikers with a valid non-Yosemite wilderness permit that exits in Yosemite Valley may climb
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2013
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      The following is my correspondence with Yosemite confirming that hikers with a valid non-Yosemite wilderness permit that exits in Yosemite Valley may climb Half Dome without a separate HD permit. 

      You might want to print this and bring it with you. Last year some of the backcountry rangers had differing opinions about this, at least early in the year until we got a clarification.

      John Curran Ladd
      1616 Castro Street
      San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
      415-648-9279


      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: YOSE Web Manager, NPS <yose_web_manager@...>
      Date: Fri, Feb 8, 2013 at 6:18 PM
      Subject: Re: Half Dome ascents by JMT hikers with valid non-Yosemite permits (Northbound JMT hikers) - Clarification needed
      To: John Ladd <johnladd@...>


      We have made no changes to the policy regarding people beginning their hikes outside Yosemite. I reconfirmed this earlier in the week.
      Anyone with a wilderness permit issued outside Yosemite that reasonably includes Half Dome as part of the itinerary (such as a north-bound JMTers exiting at Happy Isles) can hike Half Dome without an additional permit.
      (This still excludes PCTA permit holders since Half Dome isn't along the PCT.) It's worth checking back each year because this could change at some point in the future depending on the amount of this type of use we see.

      Unlike in previous years, there is an enforced quota for Half Dome permits associated with wilderness permits this year. Previously, we estimated that would be 100 permits per day, on average, and filled every request. This year, we're enforcing it at 75 permits (based on the reduction in the total quota from 400 to 300). I'd expect people making a wilderness permit reservation for Happy Isles on the first possible day shouldn't usually have a problem also getting a Half Dome permit. You can find graphs showing demand from last year near the bottom of http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermitsapps.htm

      I believe training improved in 2012 and I also believe that the lead ranger in Little Yosemite Valley (who is very good) will be returning this summer. Hopefully, there won't be any confusion on this issue (but let us know if there is).

      Jeffrey

      National Park Service
      Yosemite National Park



      On Fri, Feb 8, 2013 at 5:42 PM, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
      I am a co-moderator of a large Yahoo social network group (1,742 members) focused on the John Muir Trail. (I'm glad to report that at least some of the people working in the wilderness permit office have been referring hikers to our Group.) We try to keep our members up to date on how to comply with Yosemite requirements.

      In 2011, "Jeffrey" (see below) kindly checked with the Wilderness Office and clarified the policies for Half Dome ascents by thru-hikers.  There had been some misunderstandings, esp. as the policies affected Northbound hikers who ended their hikes at Yosemite and therefore have no opportunity to pick up Half Dome Permits (even if they were able to estimate their arrival date and reserve a separate Half Dome permit). 

      As reflected in Jeffrey's e-mail below, the policy was clarified to make sure that Northbound hikers could ascend Half Dome based on their northbound JMT permit issued by agencies like Inyo or Sierra NF or SEKI National Park. A hiker with a valid non-Yosemite permit that ended in Yosemite Valley was recognized for a Half Dome ascent, without the need to hike down to the Valley to pick up a permit and then return to Half Dome. (Not including PCT hikers, since their permits do not include the Valley.)

      Note: the 2011 policy for NB hikers was later clarified for the 2012 season as well, without appreciable change for Northbound folks.

      I am hopeful that this policy still applies. For many Northbound hikers, the ascent of Half Dome is the concluding accomplishment of a great adventure and the perfect place to take the final pictures of the accomplishment. (Southbound hikers use the top of Whitney in the same way)

      I'm glad to see how you have dealt with Half Dome ascents by hikers who start their JMT trip in Yosemite headed south. It's great to see it so explicitly spelled out on the permit application.  But the situation may be confusing for Northbound thru-hikers unless there is a clarification of the policy which I can share with my Group.  In early 2011, there were instances where some Rangers at the foot of HD had one understanding, and other Rengers a different one, and some NB hikers got to go up, and others did not.

      John Curran Ladd
      1616 Castro Street
      San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
      415-648-9279


      On Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 7:29 PM, <YOSE_Web_Manager@...> wrote:
      I just double-checked with the wilderness office to ensure the information
      is accurate.

      ... 
      Anyone with a permit issued outside Yosemite but that ends at Happy Isles
      or otherwise includes Half Dome as the itinerary can use that non-Yosemite
      wilderness permit to use the Half Dome cables. (This does not include PCTA
      through permits because Half Dome is not along the PCT.)

      I'll also make sure the rangers in that area are aware.

      Jeffrey

      National Park Service
      Yosemite National Park
      http://www.nps.gov/yose/



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