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#20986 - 01/24/12 05:13 PM Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2249
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
"Officials recommended a 300-per-day limit in their draft of the Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan released Tuesday, following years of study."

Details from the Mercury-News.

"Public comment on the report will be accepted through March 15.

Other options on the table range from requiring no permits at all to removing the safety cables.
"
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#20987 - 01/24/12 08:30 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: wagga]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
The Yosemite main page is here:
    Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan - EA Public Review

Here is the link to "Comment on Document"

Here's the document:
    Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan EA (1.7 MB, PDF file)
    Draft Environmental Assessment
    January 2012

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#21017 - 01/26/12 08:09 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Thanks for posting the proposed plan, Steve. Having read it through...whew...I think the maximum of 300 people seems reasonable. There would still need to be a ranger posted at the bottom of the cable to ensure only hikers with that day's permit ascends the cables.

Personally, I'm in favor of removing the cables, allowing only technical means for ascending that part of the dome. There might still be people trying to go up, but they won't get far without climbing gear. I wonder what cable-free routes would look like in that area - perhaps slick rock?

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#21019 - 01/26/12 08:32 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2249
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Aside from the slick polished granite between the cables, the rock is pristine Yosemite granite. It is easy to walk up the first & last thirds, using the cables for a small assist in the center third.

Now, if they remove the cables without filling in the postholes, there will be a new item of outdoor gear invented the same day.
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#21020 - 01/26/12 09:30 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
> Personally, I'm in favor of removing the cables

I'm not sure I understand the reasoning. Removing the cables would prevent all but a tiny few from ever climbing Half Dome. Is that the objective?

Have you ever climbed Half Dome by the cables? And by any non-cable route?


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#21028 - 01/26/12 12:22 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Perhaps they should have a demo setup at the permit station, so people might know exactly WTH they're getting themselves into?

This just might work:

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#21031 - 01/26/12 02:08 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: wagga]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
LOL! "someones got to go back and get a shit load of dimes"
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#21037 - 01/26/12 05:36 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
You said: "I'm not sure I understand the reasoning. Removing the cables would prevent all but a tiny few from ever climbing Half Dome. Is that the objective?"

Yes, but restricting the daily head-count on the dome is better than doing nothing. Banning private vehicles from Yosemite-Disney-Valley would also be a good thing.

You asked: "Have you ever climbed Half Dome by the cables? And by any non-cable route?"

I've climbed many technical routes throughout the Valley and in the Tuolumne Meadows area. Would you like me to list them for you, so that you can check my credentials? LOL.





Edited by Bob West (01/26/12 05:43 PM)

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#21038 - 01/26/12 05:42 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: RoguePhotonic]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Yep, and plenty of other coins and sundry objects are sure to be found near the start of Tis-a-ack.

But it would take a metal detector to find them in the impact zone.


Edited by Bob West (01/26/12 05:50 PM)

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#21039 - 01/26/12 06:04 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
There are several conversations taking place on this topic. One of particular interest is on the yosemitenews.info forum (Steve C and I both post over there, too)

I am always fascinated by this particular topic -- Half Dome Cables -- because they (the cables) are the closest thing to the Via Ferrata in the USA that I have experienced. As with Half Dome, people die using the European cables, too (recently, an internationally known climber was lost because he did not "clip in")but due to the fact that "rescue"(huh? What's THAT?) "risk"(everything is more fun after a Pint) & "dying"(we all gotta go some time) is viewed much differently, a conversation such as this would never occur.





Edited by Bee (01/26/12 08:06 PM)
Edit Reason: Via Ferrata
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#21041 - 01/26/12 06:27 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Bob West wrote:
> I've climbed many technical routes throughout the Valley and in the Tuolumne Meadows area.

I wasn't asking for credentials, but was certainly curious regarding the somewhat extreme view. And now I understand -- you don't need no stinkin' cables.

Unfortunately, taking the cables down would render that beautiful natural phenomenon entirely out of reach for the rest of us common pedestrians. (ouch!)

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#21045 - 01/26/12 09:41 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 252
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Bob West wrote:
> I've climbed many technical routes throughout the Valley and in the Tuolumne Meadows area.

I wasn't asking for credentials, but was certainly curious regarding the somewhat extreme view. And now I understand -- you don't need no stinkin' cables.

Unfortunately, taking the cables down would render that beautiful natural phenomenon entirely out of reach for the rest of us common pedestrians. (ouch!)


More importantly, I fear that it would mean a great amount of destruction to that beautiful face of rock, even more than is being done with the cables, while less than of average intelligence people tried to climb it anyway using... "unconventional" methods.


Edited by GandC (01/26/12 09:41 PM)
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#21047 - 01/27/12 04:54 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: GandC]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Perhaps we should ask what limits of access do we place on the average tourist/hiker?

Do we allow easier access to the summit of Mt. Whitney, by placing hand-rails all the way up the switch-backs and the summit ridge trail? How about a nice stone stair-case up the MR? Most of us would say: no way!

Should we advocate for a European system of gondolas so we can avoid the hard work of hiking to the base of Sierra climbs? How about a free-ride to the Palisade glacier? I think most of us would say a resounding NO to that idea.

As far as the meaning of "ordinary", no one needs to remain ordinary if they feel that inner challenge to go up in life. Most of us were pretty ordinary before we made the decision to do something about it by taking a climbing course, get better grades in high-school, attend a trade school, go on to college, etc., instead of relying on someone to make it easier for us for reach a high goal that others had struggled to attain.

There is a trend in this country to even things out for everyone, to make it easier and less challenging to get through high-school and college, or get a high-paying job. I would hate to see this notion applied to wilderness access. The Half Dome cables are just one small symptom of this kind of thinking.

So we have a conflict of philosophies. The question for me is: which philosophy is better for the human race?

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#21048 - 01/27/12 06:35 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: wagga]
EPS Offline


Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 11
Loc: Los Osos, CA
After reading the proposed quota revisions, I sure hope they don't become a reality. Isn't 400 too few already? So much more is getting taken away than saved by a newer reduction. Just two years ago (and for all time prior) anyone number of folks could ascend. Last year, only 400. Per this proposal maybe fewer. Soon the spigot may get turned off for the pedestrian. Crazy.

If this happens, this runs the risk of more harm than good. Only climbers will be able to enjoy this public natural resource (an its view). Can you imagine the cables being replaced with only lines of climbers waiting belay-in??? Can you imagine the belay line and time for climbers to ascend/descend via ropes one at a time? Talk about frustrating. All it is doing is reducing access more.

I say keep it at the meager 400. Trying to beat the odds of 400:1,000,000 visitors for access to the Dome is hard enough.

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#21049 - 01/27/12 07:36 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: EPS]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
I concur with EPS. After reading the EA two things stand out for me.

1) The EA does not make the case for an actual problem with the current 400 quota. Some congestion on the cables at peak times is to be expected. Go early or late or mid week if you want to avoid that. We were there last July around 7am Friday and had it almost to ourselves.

2) The EA does not explain how they came up with the estimates for people on the cables with a quota of 300 vs 400 permits. Table ES-1 has numbers that seem odd to me and they are not backup in the report. Am I missing something or is this all based on consultant estimates carried out to a false sense of accuracy? I just don't think there would be much noticeable difference in "crowding" with 25% fewer permits.

It's a popular hike and nobody should expect a true "wilderness experience" on this trail. HD lures a lot of people to get "out there" for the first time. That's a good thing in my mind. Some restrictions seem unavoidable, but keep them minimal.

I'm two cents lighter but I feel better now...

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#21132 - 01/31/12 06:19 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Bob West
Perhaps we should ask what limits of access do we place on the average tourist/hiker?

Do we allow easier access to the summit of Mt. Whitney, by placing hand-rails all the way up the switch-backs and the summit ridge trail? How about a nice stone stair-case up the MR? Most of us would say: no way!

Should we advocate for a European system of gondolas so we can avoid the hard work of hiking to the base of Sierra climbs? How about a free-ride to the Palisade glacier? I think most of us would say a resounding NO to that idea.

As far as the meaning of "ordinary", no one needs to remain ordinary if they feel that inner challenge to go up in life. Most of us were pretty ordinary before we made the decision to do something about it by taking a climbing course, get better grades in high-school, attend a trade school, go on to college, etc., instead of relying on someone to make it easier for us for reach a high goal that others had struggled to attain.

There is a trend in this country to even things out for everyone, to make it easier and less challenging to get through high-school and college, or get a high-paying job. I would hate to see this notion applied to wilderness access. The Half Dome cables are just one small symptom of this kind of thinking.

So we have a conflict of philosophies. The question for me is: which philosophy is better for the human race?


Bob, as a mountaineer and rock climber myself, I understand where you are coming from.

Where I get lost is in your apparent assumption that allowing the HD route means allowing building such routes on all mountains, everywhere.

I think I am on safe ground when I say it does not. I am unaware of any proposal for any mountain in the Sierra, anywhere.

Take your example of the Mountaineer's route. One could easily draw the conclusion that the answer to the technical MR was the main trail, and that you therefore oppose it, as it "pollutes" the pure experience of the mountain "as God intended that it be experienced."
I imagine that the road to Glacier Point to be in the same category.

It comes across as "those" people don't deserve to see/experience those places. I see that sentiment often in the mountaineering community.

Problem is, "those" people paid for these places, through support of laws and taxes. As my military friends say: "no Buck, no Buck Rogers." Without "their" support, Yosemite would be condominiums by now. EVERY SINGLE PERSON who climbs HD becomes a supporter of the outdoors and wilderness, and a supporter of preservation by way of parks. I think the sacrifice of ONE out of THOUSANDS of mountains, is a small price to pay to HAVE THEM ALL, mostly exclusive to mountaineers, don't you think?

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#21138 - 01/31/12 08:03 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Ken]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Yes....and Yes! A refreshingly eloquent expression of the two main opposing views of the Half Dome cables. So many of the posts on this topic -- or any 'hot' topic, for that matter -- are a sloppy shot from the hip, a sad consequence of our post modern sound-bite society.

I recently read an article on how the emphasis on raising children has been shifted away from becoming a better person by giving to society, to taking from society to make one's life better (grossly over simplified here) As I read Bob's response, I was reminded of the latter group, and as I read Ken's I thought of the former. Yin and Yang. I have known of mountaineers who would tear the hell out of a mountain to get to the top, and hikers who would pick up other people's crap on the way down.

Thanks for taking the time to craft thoughtful replies, gentleman.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#21198 - 02/03/12 08:53 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bee]
Sheldon Neill Offline


Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 22
Loc: Orange County, CA
Its interesting how the timing of all this has unfolded.

I sincerely believe that these restrictions are set to help improve visitation to HD, but with them, I know it'll only increase the amount of people who race to the top before a Ranger is at the base to check for permits.

How do you think Yosemite HD was filmed up there? You think a Ranger was gonna allow two individuals to go up the cables with huge packs, 6 foot dollies, and stay there overnight?!

HD is an awesome attraction for Yosemite National Park. Its so iconic and is really how they've branded themselves apart from the other parks within the NPS.

All in all, I love HD, but I'm not sure I can agree with their recent arrangements. My 2 cents.

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#21431 - 02/13/12 10:39 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
CaliHawk Offline


Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 16
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Bob West wrote:
> I've climbed many technical routes throughout the Valley and in the Tuolumne Meadows area.

I wasn't asking for credentials, but was certainly curious regarding the somewhat extreme view. And now I understand -- you don't need no stinkin' cables.

Unfortunately, taking the cables down would render that beautiful natural phenomenon entirely out of reach for the rest of us common pedestrians. (ouch!)


I think that it goes beyond taking beauty out of the reach of commoners. Doing half dome with the cables is not for commoners, it takes a reasonable about of desire and conditioning. Without cables it is significantly more dangerous. The problem is that over limiting access to the beauties of nature creates fewer and fewer that are allowed to understand the beauty. My theory is that those that appreciate true nature will always desire to truly preserve it. Those that favor limiting access often carry the issue too far by arguing that ANY assistance in access destroys nature. Well nature that is not appreciated has already been destroyed. Of course we will always hear the argument that increasing access will lead to freeways through the Sierra, but that argument should be seen for what it is: hyperbole.

The best example that I have seen to explain the value of some access being for the good of all is Morro Rock in Sequoia. Many would scream of the railings were proposed to be added today, but those railing provide access and I am certain that people that have used that access to hike to the edge of Morro Rock are forever sold on preserving and SUPPORTING National and State parks. I see it as a minor sacrifice for a greater good.

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#21433 - 02/13/12 11:52 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: CaliHawk]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
> "nature that is not appreciated has already been destroyed"

like! like! like!

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#21434 - 02/13/12 12:31 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: wagga]
Jonishiker Offline


Registered: 02/06/12
Posts: 30
Loc: Socal,US
When my family lived near Yosemite I was lucky enough to take my pre-teen nephews and nieces,one at a time up that difficult climb from 5 different approaches.There is no easy way up! But I was lucky enough 2 times to be on top with nobody else on the rock. We have sat on the visor with our lunch while the snow patches cooled our blistered feet. I have tons of technical rock climbing experience but there is nothing as slick and slippery as the Yosemite granite not to mention the pucker factor of climbing anywhere in that valley. Unfortunately if they were to take the cables down (and out) completely I believe the book of the dead kept at the ranger station would double in no time.
Unlike some of the postings of wild solo climbs, "John Backer" actually came up behind me on the Apron and quietly asked me if he could pass on the 5th pitch of a 3000ft.5.10 climb.He was a great solo climber and unfortunately, he is no longer alive.
I don't like the cables but they do save lives and give many people an experience they will never forget.
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"If you don't have a strategy, you're part of someone else's strategy."
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#21435 - 02/13/12 01:03 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: CaliHawk]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
CaliHawk -- Very well put. You made many good points in a discussion that is too often contentious, has valid points on both sides, and is difficult to put into words. In addition to the comment that drew Steve's enthusiasm, I also particularly appreciated -- "I see it as a minor sacrifice for a greater good."

We cannot hope to help others appreciate the beauty and wonder we already know, if they cannot experience it for themselves -- just hopefully not all at the same time.

CaT
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If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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#21438 - 02/13/12 01:23 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: CaT]
LJB Offline


Registered: 02/10/12
Posts: 4
Loc: California
I really don't understand limiting the number of people who can use these trails. There are 1000's of miles of trails in the sierras, why is it a problem if a very tiny number of them are heavily used?

The HD cables may be a special situation, but I really don't see the harm if 300+ people hike Whitney in the same day.

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#21559 - 02/21/12 04:56 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: wagga]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles

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#21560 - 02/21/12 08:42 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Ken]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Each person has his own limit for what he fears. I certainly hope Yosemite isn't trying to limit access just because a few people don't cling to the cables.

                   

                                       

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#21561 - 02/21/12 09:29 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
C'mon, you know that was not the point of posting the video.

The quotas went into effect because people fall into the herd mentality, thus, rather than 1,200 people spacing themselves out throughout the day (if this is possible as a day hike?), it seems like they all went up at the same time over a 3 hour span. Within the crush of the herd, also came the rise of the occasional bad judgement quotient, and from that bad judgement culminated the year of 2009 with its staggering spike of incident reports/fatalities/rescue costs. This is the USA; I am sure that along with many of the "incidents" came the accompanying litigation$.

Unfortunately, now it will be 300 people going up all at once, and the rest of the time, the cables will be virtually empty.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#21613 - 02/25/12 03:51 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: LJB]
lori2000 Offline


Registered: 02/16/12
Posts: 3
Loc: central California
I understand the limits completely and fully support them.

Fewer injuries on that hike mean fewer taxpayer dollars spent rescuing fools and unfortunates from it. And fewer deaths. The real death toll for Half Dome is much higher if you include all the people who died on the trail heading for it. 70+ people dead, a dozen per day injured, all because people think this is something they NEED to do. The permits have cut the daily injury rate down significantly.

The sense of entitlement surrounding the cables flabbergasts me. I would not be surprised if the park ends up ripping them off the dome. They were *never* intended to be a tourist trap drawing thousands and thousands of out-of-shape people in for the "kill." Let people hire a guide if they don't want to learn how to climb to do it without cables. The ridiculous amount of damage done to the area around the trail and the top of the dome (we will likely never see a tree on top again) plus the incredible number of SAR and medical interventions (try listening to the radio traffic sometime! OMG.) are enough for me to look at the cables as an attractive nuisance.

That entire area is so trashed and ridden with problem bears and tourists I go out of my way to start from other trailheads if at all possible to head to other destinations in the park. It's not fun to me at all to hike up wincing all the way as I pass people limping in high heels, flipflops, under 100 lb packs, no water, heat stroke symptoms, crawling, lost, or on the verge of breaking up with the spouse who's marching determinedly ahead of them as they plead to turn around.

Viva la permit system!

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#21982 - 03/14/12 03:20 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: lori2000]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
> Fewer injuries on that hike mean fewer taxpayer dollars spent rescuing fools and unfortunates from it. And fewer deaths. The real death toll for Half Dome is much higher if you include all the people who died on the trail heading for it. 70+ people dead, a dozen per day injured, all because people think this is something they NEED to do. The permits have cut the daily injury rate down significantly.

By that logic, they should cut the number of permits to zero. And take out the Mist Trail. And close the park to automobiles -- all those accidents, you know. That is unfortunately the mentality of some park administrators, and the result is this proposal. The result is fewer and fewer people are given access to the wilderness. At some point, you reach a critical point, where few people are left who even support wilderness.

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#21983 - 03/14/12 03:31 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Today is the last day to comment on the plan to limit access to Half Dome even more than it was last year.

Please PLEASE, go to the Yosemite web site and ask them to think outside the box, and find more ways to allow people to access Half Dome without the rush hour crowding.

There are lots of people who would adjust their schedules and start their hike super early, or to arrive later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Yosemite could give out three or four times the current number of permits, if they would just invent a time-slot system.

If they would try it for just one day or maybe a week, it would be easy to observe the possibilities.

Please comment on the proposal!

But one last note: If you are someone with the attitude that people in flipflops, or those who are out of shape, Disneyland tourists, or fat or dumb -- or whatever, don't deserve to hike, please do NOT comment.

The Yosemite main page is here:
    Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan - EA Public Review

Here is the link to "Comment on Document"

Here's the document:
    Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan EA (1.7 MB, PDF file)

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#22020 - 03/16/12 09:42 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
My guess is the National Park service will proceed with their plan, in particular because of the following factors (from the Park Service's website):

The Half Dome trail's popularity is taking a toll on its wilderness environment:

•   Vegetation damage and soil loss on and near the trail corridor, including many sections that are very wide and deeply eroded
•   Habituation of wildlife along the trail corridor, and particularly at the summit and subdome, from improper food storage and feeding
•   Threats to a population of the Mt. Lyell Salamander, a California Specie of Special Concern
•   Severe crowding on the subdome, summit and cables, including long lines to use the cables
•   Very high encounter rates on the entire trail
Increases in the number of people hiking to Half Dome are impacting the environment so that it no longer reflects the conditions called for in the Wilderness Act.

Crowding on the Half Dome cables can increase exit time from the summit and the amount of time visitors are exposed to hazardous natural conditions such as slippery wet rock, extreme temperatures, and lightning.

PURPOSE OF THIS PLAN
1. Protect the wilderness character of the project area
2. Improve the visitor experience on the Half Dome Trail by reducing crowding
3. Protect the area's natural and cultural resources
4. Improve the ability of its visitors to manage their own risk

I fully support the Park's plan; it seems a reasonable compromise between the current free-for-all and a more carefully managed environmental situation, as well as providing more safety for the average tourist hiker.

I didn't see a fee schedule for Half Dome permits; is there a fee?

Will the Park have a "gate-keeper" to check for permits?





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#22024 - 03/16/12 11:46 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bee]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
> it seems a reasonable compromise between the current free-for-all
Are you not aware that the "free-for-all" ended in 2009? There have been 400 per-day quotas ever since. This new plan chokes it down to 300 per day.

> for the average tourist hiker

They should keep all the Disneyland tourists out of our mountains! ...oh, wait.... I've been to Disneyland, too.


Edited by Steve C (03/16/12 11:51 PM)

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#22026 - 03/17/12 12:08 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
They should keep all the Disneyland tourists out of our mountains! ...oh, wait.... I've been to Disneyland, too.

I agree with this. I've never climbed half dome. But it seems to me that the cables are creating a problem that they are trying to remedy with permits and regulations. I think that it's better to just remove the cables and return half dome to as natural a state as possible. Let people's survival instincts regulate the number of people who climb HD.

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#22028 - 03/17/12 01:01 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: tdtz]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2249
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
A single "handrail" in a new location a little to the side of the present tombstone granite slide would allow left-up right-down (or the other way round) travel. The footing would be much better, and wear (polishing) would be spread over two paths rather than one. People's survival instincts would also play a part, usage would perhaps be more self-regulated than at present. Removing/restoring the present cables & holes would give us some valuable data on how to restore damaged areas. I think access would be safer if the cables were left up year-round.
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

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#22039 - 03/17/12 09:06 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
How have the quotas been monitored, on site, since 2009? How will the quotas be monitored under the new system?

Is the new, proposed, system offense to you? Would you rather there be no quotas at all?

I did not call the average tourist hiker a "Disneyland tourist"; that's your term. But perhaps your term is more to the point.

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#22040 - 03/17/12 09:15 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: wagga]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Perhaps a better, safer, idea would be to carve steps for both up and down traffic, with signs indicating which is which. Granite steps have been carved throughout the Sierra Nevada trail systems...why not on Half Dome? LOL

Any suggestions on how to restore the damage caused by decades of foot traffic?

If the cables were left up year-round, I wonder what the Park management and YOSAR would think of that?

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#22042 - 03/18/12 12:08 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: Bob West
How have the quotas been monitored, on site, since 2009? How will the quotas be monitored under the new system?

Is the new, proposed, system offense to you? Would you rather there be no quotas at all?

I did not call the average tourist hiker a "Disneyland tourist"; that's your term. But perhaps your term is more to the point.


Hi Bob,

The quota system thus far has been monitored by placing a ranger near the base of the cables, and he/she checks the permits.

While there has been plenty of whining/sniveling about the quotas on all of the boards, the statistics speak for themselves: summer 2009 (before qoutas) was the worst season on record for rescues/fatalities, Summer 2010 (first year quotas) was one of the best.

Whitney is a big mountain, yet they only allow 150 entries a day; why are people not having tantrums about this relatively small number? Perhaps it is because they have seen their own personal mountain experience improved?

Things change.

There used to be a fabulous trail in Yosemite Valley called "Ledge Trail"; it was very popular, but now it is closed due to excessive rockfall. As soon as a "trail" is placed on the landscape, the future of that landscape is forever altered and placed in a state of managed peril. Not even herds of animals travel with the frequency of humans on a trail (most mass animal movement is seasonal, giving the surrounding landscape a chance to rocover in the midseason)

It continues to amaze me that anyone who witnessed/experienced the cable crush would continue his/her befuddlement over the need for any such numbers management (there are plenty out there who oppose any and all attempts to monitor the herd up the dome.)
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#22055 - 03/18/12 09:59 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bee]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Thank you, Bee, for injecting your words of wisdom into this discussion.

Several years ago I participated in a trans-Sierra migration re-enactment hike with American Indians from the West and East sides of the range. Long before the white man came, Indians would gather at Tuolumne Meadows for the Summer, and socialize, exchange trade items and perhaps, find a wife or husband. Our hike that year started south of Lee Vining, crossed Mono Pass, traversed the Tuolumne area and ended in Yosemite Valley. As we entered the Valley it was our hope to conduct a remembrance ceremony near to location of an ancient village, a spot regarded as sacred by local Indians. We arrived at the site to discover an "dig" in progress. A Phd candidate was trying to prove a theory she held regarding arrow point development. My indian brothers and sisters were dismayed and emotionally upset to see a sacred site being ripped apart in order to satisfy someone's intellectual goals and career. Some of my friends great-grand parents had been born nearby and worshiped the Creator at that very spot. The site has since been repaired by the Park Service, but the pain is still remembered by local Indians as "bad medicine."

Half Dome itself, among other formations in the area, might have been regarded with awe by our Indian ancestors as manifestations of the Creator and the spiritual realm. Great respect was shown by them for all of creation. Unfortunately, our dominate European/American culture seldom demonstrates the same respect for our natural world; we often seem more interested in using nature to increase our fun, instead of showing it respect and caring for it.

Perhaps the Park Service is starting to realize that some of its past decisions were not in the best interest of the natural world.

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#22074 - 03/19/12 07:03 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
lori2000 Offline


Registered: 02/16/12
Posts: 3
Loc: central California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
> Fewer injuries on that hike mean fewer taxpayer dollars spent rescuing fools and unfortunates from it. And fewer deaths. The real death toll for Half Dome is much higher if you include all the people who died on the trail heading for it. 70+ people dead, a dozen per day injured, all because people think this is something they NEED to do. The permits have cut the daily injury rate down significantly.

By that logic, they should cut the number of permits to zero. And take out the Mist Trail. And close the park to automobiles -- all those accidents, you know. That is unfortunately the mentality of some park administrators, and the result is this proposal. The result is fewer and fewer people are given access to the wilderness. At some point, you reach a critical point, where few people are left who even support wilderness.



There was actually a plan to close the valley floor to automobiles, or so it was rumored.

The issue remains - Half Dome is head and shoulders above the rest of the park in terms of incidents on the trail and fatalities related to it. In terms of hiking incidents, there is no equal (except perhaps Whitney) and there is no question - something needs to be done about it.

It has nothing to do with the wilderness at large. People act like Half Dome is the best place in the park, the only thing they want to do - if they don't get that golden ticket to go up it I've had folks tell me they cancelled their Yosemite vacation. That's the real shame - people focus so much on the single location that they are blind to the wonders of the rest of the perfectly accessible dayhiking opportunities out there.

I was called out for three searches last year - one of them was a mutual aid in Yosemite. Not sure what the figures are for the rest of the mountain range for SAR activity but I doubt they can compete with the number of injuries on the Half Dome Hike.

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#22149 - 03/22/12 10:39 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: lori2000]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Yep, Lori, there are many hikes that offer views equal to the view from Half Dome. among which is the Snow Creek trail, which starts near Mirror Lake and tops out near the Snow Creek area, and offers relative solitude and a stunning view looking directly across at Half Dome. And beautiful vistas up Tenaya Canyon toward Tuolummne Meadows and the upper high country.

The hike to the top of upper Yosemite Falls is another great view.

Or...drive up to Glacier Point for the remarkable view all around the park from the top of Glacier Point apron.

Unfortunately, the Half Dome cables seem to offer the casual visitor with the impression that they are actually climbing a mountain...they are not. No more than the trail hike to the summit of Mt. Whitney is actually a "mountain climb."

I've oftened wondered if local business interests have helped spur the popularity of the Half Dome cable "climb."

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#22154 - 03/22/12 06:57 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: wagga]
Jonishiker Offline


Registered: 02/06/12
Posts: 30
Loc: Socal,US
Wagga,
Oh I have a sick sense of humor and your term made me laugh out loud, but the topic is important to me because Half Dome is important. Over the years I have grilled the Yosemite Rangers with every viable solution that has ever been suggested to the point they would act occupied when they saw me coming. But there is no perfect answer to this debate. My absolute true preference is that they would take the cables down, fill in the holes to match the slick granite. Then I want permanent climbing bolts drilled in at the perfect interval to match my height 5.5' because every climb done on point is protected for the average guy, not a woman. And Half Dome would be on the front cover for every climbing guide as the best 5* 5.3 climb in the world. A few wouldn't do it because of the difficult approach or the weather...

But on the other hand....
I have also seen the joy and the transformation of people's faces including children, with that look of utter exhaustion mixed with complete delight due to that first view of the valley.

Half Dome is an incredible sliced off hunk of glaciated rock.
But I don't believe the park service will ever pull the cables and fix it to my specs. So I vote for the 300 people permit option. Possibly I missed some postings but why would everyone go as a giant clump at the same time? Some hikers run,walk,do the poky or barely succeed (sometimes me) especially on a difficult trail, many people do quit and turn around. I didn't quite understand the mention of a start time or is it just the Kitty Litter Clump Thing.

Please inform, I must have missed something.
_________________________
"If you don't have a strategy, you're part of someone else's strategy."
-- Alvin Toffler

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#22167 - 03/23/12 07:15 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Jonishiker]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
FYI, here is a summary of the year 2000 draft plan to reduce crowding in Yosemite Valley. I don't know the current status of this plan. My wife and I went into the Valley last October, and saw that the big parking lot at the Yosemite Falls area has been removed. Does anyone know what else has been done?

http://home.nps.gov/news/release.htm?id=24

P.S. Here is the link to Yosemite projects as of 2010, including Half Dome rehab: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/parkHome.cfm?parkID=347


Edited by Bob West (03/23/12 07:30 AM)

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#22171 - 03/23/12 09:23 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Yosemite has just released a completely new management document with five alternatives.
Comment period is 03/19/2012 - 04/20/2012.

This has been forced on the park by an environmentalist lawsuit aimed at limiting access to the park and the Merced River. Their demands are so extreme that even the Sierra Club stayed out of it.

Here's the Yosemite document: Preliminary Alternative Concepts Workbook

Fresno Bee articles:
Quote:
March 20, 2012
Yosemite Valley peak capacity is 20,500 visitors

After a decade-long lawsuit and $15 million legal costs, Yosemite National Park is going the extra mile to get folks involved in its third Merced River protection plan.

Park planners this week put out five preliminary options and asked the public to take a look. The options included something I've never seen before -- a limit to Yosemite Valley visitors. It's 20,500, the National Park Service says.

Read more here: http://fresnobeehive.com/news/2012/03/yosemite_valley_peak_capacity.html#storylink=cpy


Quote:
EDITORIAL: Public must get involved in developing plan for Yosemite
Park Service is shaping rules that will change visitor access to Yosemite.
Thursday, Mar. 22, 2012

....As we have said many times, we don't believe that restricting access to the park is the answer to Yosemite's problems. But its capacity must be aggressively managed during the most popular months when Yosemite Valley is overwhelmed by visitors.....

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/03/21/2770285/editorial-public-must-get-involved.html#storylink=cpy

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#22173 - 03/23/12 10:06 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
John Prietto Offline


Registered: 06/01/11
Posts: 56
Loc: Vista, ca , united states
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Yosemite has just released a completely new management document with five alternatives.
Comment period is 03/19/2012 - 04/20/2012.

This has been forced on the park by an environmentalist lawsuit aimed at limiting access to the park and the Merced River. Their demands are so extreme that even the Sierra Club stayed out of it.

Here's the Yosemite document: Preliminary Alternative Concepts Workbook

Fresno Bee articles:
Quote:
March 20, 2012
Yosemite Valley peak capacity is 20,500 visitors

After a decade-long lawsuit and $15 million legal costs, Yosemite National Park is going the extra mile to get folks involved in its third Merced River protection plan.

Park planners this week put out five preliminary options and asked the public to take a look. The options included something I've never seen before -- a limit to Yosemite Valley visitors. It's 20,500, the National Park Service says.

Read more here: http://fresnobeehive.com/news/2012/03/yosemite_valley_peak_capacity.html#storylink=cpy


Quote:
EDITORIAL: Public must get involved in developing plan for Yosemite
Park Service is shaping rules that will change visitor access to Yosemite.
Thursday, Mar. 22, 2012

....As we have said many times, we don't believe that restricting access to the park is the answer to Yosemite's problems. But its capacity must be aggressively managed during the most popular months when Yosemite Valley is overwhelmed by visitors.....

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/03/21/2770285/editorial-public-must-get-involved.html#storylink=cpy


***This is my opinion if you might be offended please dont read***

how do we fight against these environmentalist? This is crazy talk. I love the world god has given to us but their platform is based fuzzy thinking. When global warming came out alot of people jumped on board and it becaame a platform for special interest groups to foce environment frieldy products that people dont want to buy, taxing people on the amount of polution the produce and ect while using the lie of destroying the environment to gather support. The majority of scientist have spoken out against such claims that were causing the destruction of the planet but rather the planet is slowly decaying at a steady rate and theres nothing you can do to stop it. anyways im sure some will disagree but alot of good intentioned people jump on board with this. The national forest wasnt given to any one person rather given to mandkind to share it and it is definately our job to take care of it together but to put limits as such is dictatorship and rediculous in my opinion, i say all this with respect to others but i personally think this is crazy.

I understand trailhead quotas the way there are currently in place and anymore i think in my opinion is not great. It is unfortunate that some people go out who just dont give a crap and trash the land or those who have a "im just going to go once so who cares what i do " mentality. But one shouldnt give up freedom for security, now that might not sound relevant but we cant live in fear or srupulosity. Once you start down that road it will continue until no one is allowed or some say since you barely use such land lets just use it and build.

on the other hand i know that alot of people just drive into yosemite and crowd the streets. I wander if entrance to the park was for people with trailhead qouats and campground reservation and maybe leave a certain amount for people who just want to check it out but ive been to yosemite more than once and it not bad enough to where i think we should limit it more than it is.


Edited by John Prietto (03/23/12 10:39 AM)
_________________________
"God has not called us to be successful but he has called us to be faithful"- Mother Teresa

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#22252 - 03/25/12 09:49 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: John Prietto]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
The environmental process provides an opportunity to express your input into the decision that is eventually made. You can get involved as much or as little as you have time and energy for. It's a long and expensive road that requires sustained effort if you really want to be heard.

I've seen climate change debates completely hijack many a forum that have nothing to do with it. Your claims about this topic indicate to me that you've been listening to one particular point of view on it rather than looking at the science. This is not the place to debate that emotional-political topic so let's get back to the Half Dome quota discussion.

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#22256 - 03/25/12 12:18 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: SierraNevada]
Jonishiker Offline


Registered: 02/06/12
Posts: 30
Loc: Socal,US
Agreed! My father who was a minister always told me that if I wanted to have meaningful discourse," Never discuss religion or politics." So let me close this chatter with one final opinion regarding law suits and climate change..
Just kidding. Thank you Bob for forwarding the postings and dialogues from the park service.
It appears to me that the park service is trying their best to be fair and objective with access to Half Dome and other national treasures. We do need to study objectively about these issues because the methods and rules will be applied to other hikes and sensitive access areas. And dagnabbit I want conservative and carefully managed access to all of it.
_________________________
"If you don't have a strategy, you're part of someone else's strategy."
-- Alvin Toffler

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#22259 - 03/25/12 02:27 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Jonishiker]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
I'll write down a couple of points on my views on the Half Dome issue:

1. Regarding the Half Dome numbers being cut down: They have cut the trail access first to 400 per day on weekends; then to 400 per day 7-days a week, and now 300 per day 7-days a week.

I see people on this forum and others complaining about the tourist hikers, hikers in flipflops, too many injuries/deaths/rescues, even complaining about "sniveling about quotas".

I understand the local Sierra Club chapter's "official" response was to ask for the even more limited numbers.

And the Yosemite Valley lawsuit to limit access to the valley brought on by some extreme environmentalist views is yet another example of trying to limit access.

2. Using safety as a reason to limit access: Anyone remember enjoying Hot Creek? or swimming in the pool above Vernal Fall in the late summer? Officials can always find experts who can cite a few observations to justify their actions, and then close off access. Saying the number of accidents on "Half Dome is head and shoulders above the rest" without actually quantifying the number of accidents against the number of hikers who go is "putting a spin" on the facts.

One poster on another forum stated: "Not having to read about Another Half Dome Death; Priceless." How about not having to read about another: Vernal Falls death? Yosemite Falls disappearance? Mt Whitney death? Highway death? There is no way to completely protect people from accidents. It is reasonable to post warnings and educate people. But to make it a crime to actually go??? At that point, government has gone too far, in my opinion.

Half Dome is one of America's iconic locations and hikes. They even put it on a coin!

The hike, the view, the experience, the memories -- all of those things come together to make it a highly sought-after hike. It is not reasonable to say that people should just look elsewhere. There may be other locations with similar views, similar fame, etc. But none is the same. In my opinion, the park service should try to enable as many people as possible to enjoy the Half Dome experience. It truly baffles me that more people don't share my view.

I guess I can be included in the list of those complaining about quotas. But here's the problem: Over the years, I have seen trail quotas imposed that are WAY too tight. Trails where I can't get a permit, or get the very last one, and then hike in and see barely a handful of other hikers, and camp where there is nobody around for miles. Yeah, I got that sacred "solitude" experience, but the frustration of not getting a permit, or the potential of being locked out is way more frustrating. If I want a solitude experience, there are plenty of places I can go.

It is my opinion that the Wilderness Act has been misinterpreted when they use it to exclude reasonable numbers of people from the wilderness. When will "environmentalists" and the rest stop their continuing and endless attempts to reduce access to the wilderness???

I've been a Sierra Club member for years, but this latest round of events has convinced me that it is time to end that.

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#22260 - 03/25/12 02:55 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: SierraNevada]
John Prietto Offline


Registered: 06/01/11
Posts: 56
Loc: Vista, ca , united states
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
The environmental process provides an opportunity to express your input into the decision that is eventually made. You can get involved as much or as little as you have time and energy for. It's a long and expensive road that requires sustained effort if you really want to be heard.

I've seen climate change debates completely hijack many a forum that have nothing to do with it. Your claims about this topic indicate to me that you've been listening to one particular point of view on it rather than looking at the science. This is not the place to debate that emotional-political topic so let's get back to the Half Dome quota discussion.


Well I appreciate your opinion and while I might not be a expert this science that you talk about has been shown by a good majority of scientist to be misrepresented by the other scientist side.

It's funny, for example the past 50 years the medical community has been convinced that fat is bad especially saturated fat and that it was the cause of cholesterol and medical problems. The thing is the doctor who started such claims didn't really have any proof but merely theories and from there people have followed his ideas. Problem is that more people despite the low fat diets are getting more heart disease, doctors have now after more objective data found that based on evidence and observation not just theory that it's the lack of fat and good cholesterol that causes heart problems and also they intake of carbs and America's biggest problem sugar.

My point is that while there might be some truth to the environmentalist side there appears to be a lot of data they are leaving out, my comments are far from emotion.

That aside I like Steve's recent post. It's a touchy subject and an important one. I agree that the world has lots of beauty and mankind should do what it can to take care of it and most people's positions are sincere.

On the half dome issue, I'm not sure I have a great answer. I don't agree that because people are idiots and either intentionally disobey the law and get hurt or unintentionally get hurt should we place law after law. You could make it mandatory to have a class certificate of some sort but that's doesn't prevent people from being stupid it will just cost more people money and time. It's impossible to protect people from themselves, part of freedom. We could work our way to socialism where government decides what's better for you than you deciding what's good for you. We have become a people that after every sad incident we need a law for it. The problem is that laws only affect the innocent because criminals don't obey laws and neither do idiots. Limiting the amount of people? Ok so now 5 are dead what's next? Eventually just close it right? " if you trade freedom for security you deserve neither and will loose both" benjamin Franklin

Always with respect, well not always but I try

John


Edited by John Prietto (03/25/12 03:44 PM)
_________________________
"God has not called us to be successful but he has called us to be faithful"- Mother Teresa

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#22263 - 03/25/12 03:20 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Saying the number of accidents on "Half Dome is head and shoulders above the rest" without actually quantifying the number of accidents against the number of hikers who go is "putting a spin" on the facts.


Bob West & Bob R, this one is for you: How many deaths/accidents per capita are "acceptable"? Say, 500 people a day go up Half Dome, but "only" 8 a year die & 20 are rescued -- are those "good" numbers based on the ratio of hikers to incidents? (My answer is that the decision to cut the numbers/install permits was to cut down on the deaths/rescues, period.)

Originally Posted By: Steve C
It is reasonable to post warnings and educate people. But to make it a crime to actually go???


It seems that the "warnings & education" did not help those folks back in June 2009, who insisted on entering the cables 1. After the 2:00pm "warned" cut off time 2. After the first drops of rain fell 3. After the hail began 4. After the snow began to fall 4. After the traffic going up ceased to move... It was really unreasonabe when two helicopters spent the next 8 hours plucking those very same "reasonably warned" individuals off the dome. I know, because my friends and I were camped out on Mt Watkins watching the whole drama unfold.

There are a lot of things that seem reasonably warned at the onset: Wear your seatbelts, Don't text while driving, Don't cluster the cables at any time -- especially during a storm.....but it seems that because some folks insist on being unreasonable, the "cost" (in the cases of car crashes, death...clustering the dome has had similar results) have to be mitigated by mandatory regulation.


Originally Posted By: Steve C
Half Dome is one of America's iconic locations and hikes. They even put it on a coin!


It's sweet of them to do that & further up the popularity of the place, but it does not make all of the problems magically disappear.



PS I think that there are still a few hold-outs whining & sniveling about having to wear seatbelts, too.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#22264 - 03/25/12 04:19 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bee]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Quote:
It's funny, for example the past 50 years the medical community has been convinced that fat is bad especially saturated fat and that it was the cause of cholesterol and medical problems. The thing is the doctor who started such claims didn't really have any proof but merely theories and from there people have followed his ideas. Problem is that more people despite the low fat diets are getting more heart disease, doctors have now after more objective data found that based on evidence and observation not just theory that it's the lack of fat and good cholesterol that causes heart problems and also they intake of carbs and America's biggest problem sugar.



This is a factually and demonstrably false statement.

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#22265 - 03/25/12 04:27 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Steve, I think you fall prey to the American concept of "I want what I want, period."

Wilderness preservation is FAR more complex than how many people you can stuff into a meadow at a time.

Take, for example, the case of Mirror Lake, on the MMWT. It has been closed to camping for FORTY YEARS. And yet, even today, it is easy to see the damage and erosion, even in photographs taken from high on the mountain above. That also gives you an idea of how long it takes for such things to heal----decades and decades---if ever.

You appear to look at capacity in terms of how many people can physically fit into a space, but I hope you see that it is more involved.

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#22269 - 03/25/12 05:59 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Ken]
John Prietto Offline


Registered: 06/01/11
Posts: 56
Loc: Vista, ca , united states
Originally Posted By: Ken
Quote:
It's funny, for example the past 50 years the medical community has been convinced that fat is bad especially saturated fat and that it was the cause of cholesterol and medical problems. The thing is the doctor who started such claims didn't really have any proof but merely theories and from there people have followed his ideas. Problem is that more people despite the low fat diets are getting more heart disease, doctors have now after more objective data found that based on evidence and observation not just theory that it's the lack of fat and good cholesterol that causes heart problems and also they intake of carbs and America's biggest problem sugar.



This is a factually and demonstrably false statement.


Ken I will refrain from pilling a pile of articles and studies on your desk, in fact maybe I should. It actually shows right off the bat how intellectually dishonest people are. The reaction you have shows that even if you were given such proof you wouldn't believe it. As a paramedic going for my nursing and with a family of doctors it amazes me your rude comment calling an out right liar. I have to laugh because every couple years I have to get recerted as well as all the medical community and you know why? Because we were wrong about what we were just taught. Lol funny is that we are far from perfect. Even the information around I wouldn't gamble my savings on but usually such information takes a while before it reaches the main stream community. It is the same for some of history. There is such blatent lies or even mis information in the history community that the correct information it will take a while before it makes it's way into the main stream. Just life. So your comment is just ignorant or maybe arrogant . Now am I perfect? Nope far from it. Am I very smart? Maybe maybe not. Every person knowledge is dependent on alot of factors. Your or my knowledge even if not right is not our fault. Since not everything is objectively correct I thinks it's more correct to say you or me have knowledge not that either is smarter than the other. Being smarter tends to denote one has a clear truth while another doesn't. Even if I memorized everything not understanding the info is useless. My point is gosh I'm far from being the know it all wizard but neith are you. I was sharing some recent info , info that has more proof than previously.


Edited by John Prietto (03/25/12 06:09 PM)
_________________________
"God has not called us to be successful but he has called us to be faithful"- Mother Teresa

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#22275 - 03/25/12 07:36 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Jonishiker Offline


Registered: 02/06/12
Posts: 30
Loc: Socal,US
Steve, My husband and I have both been members of the Sierra Club for years as well. We also cancelled our membership a few years ago but recently,they have moved more to the right due to some of the extremist groups that want to limit all access to everything. I am not one of these people, I just want careful thoughtful management because like it or not the fight is on. The Sierra Club has put up some of the money to fight for access to Half Dome and other areas. I feel like there is a club called (PFAPW)People for a Perfect World, and yet we all know that nobody can make people stop being well..Stupid at times. I don't want anyone to lose their life, this is for keeps but Accidents happen to all of us at times. And it steams me when people act like it would all be solved if just one more law was passed to restrict all access to all peaks or climbs. Half Dome needs people to admire it from the top. That even makes me laugh but we do have to do our part to protect our right to climb and explore.

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#22278 - 03/25/12 09:24 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Jonishiker]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Bee wrote:
> Say, 500 people a day go up Half Dome, but "only" 8 a year die & 20 are rescued -- are those "good" numbers based on the ratio of hikers to incidents? (My answer is that the decision to cut the numbers/install permits was to cut down on the deaths/rescues, period.)

Those numbers are hugely out of proportion to the actual numbers of people who have died on the cables of Half Dome. Before the quotas, there were way more than 500 on a busy day. And the number of accidents and rescues on the summit or the cables is far fewer in a given year.

And that is part of the problem... Why do people put such exaggerated numbers out there when they feel the quotas should be reduced???

Regarding watching helicopters in a rescue mission: It is unfortunate that people do such things. Maybe if there weren't such restrictive quotas, people wouldn't be so inclined to take on bigger risks.

Jonishiker's words answer this for me: "...nobody can make people stop being well..Stupid at times. And it steams me when people act like it would all be solved if just one more law was passed to restrict all access to all peaks or climbs."
It steams me too!

The same people could be advocating for tighter quotas on Mt Whitney because we all know -- people die here. Saying they should remove the Half Dome cables is a step away from saying they should blast those cliffs at trail crest to return them to their natural state.

Ken wrote:
> I think you fall prey to the American concept of "I want what I want, period."

I have not, and am not, advocating a free-for-all. Reasonable quotas are part of the solution. But there are other things that can be done to alleviate the crowding and safety issues on the Half Dome cables. I am really angry that so many people seem to think that lower quotas is the only solution.

> You appear to look at capacity in terms of how many people can physically fit into a space, but I hope you see that it is more involved.
That's sure twisting what I am saying. Your Mirror Lake camping example doesn't fit well with the quota problem on Half Dome. It is reasonable to stop people camping at Mirror Lake on the Mt Whitney Trail. But that situation is not comparable to the reasons they are citing to close Half Dome access to so many.

There ARE ways to spread the numbers of people accessing Half Dome out over any given day, achieving both reduced crowding on the cables AND allowing a lot more people to go. But it seems most just want to lock it down.

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#22284 - 03/25/12 10:24 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: Steve C

And that is part of the problem... Why do people put such exaggerated numbers out there when they feel the quotas should be reduced???


You missed my point: the point being that no number of deaths is acceptable when the cause repeatedly has been overcrowding & bad judgment. Now that ranger rick is stationed at the subdome, he can wag his finger during lightning storms and say "no, dear, this is NOT a good time to go up the dome". In a way, I don't like it any better than you do, but people have proven themselves unable to manage their own mass effect on the cables.

To address the usual response that "deaths are going to happen...it's the risk one settles with". I beg to differ when the setting is much like a stack of dominoes waiting to be knocked over by a falling cannon ball; the consequences of one person's actions could have the potential to be much more tragic than loss of one's own life. I have no problem with people risking their lives and killing themselves in the process (it's good for business*inside joke) However, in an extremely tight, public setting such as the cables, there is not much room -- even less when packed like sardines -- for "individual" error. It is a unique setting.

Originally Posted By: Steve C
Regarding watching helicopters in a rescue mission: It is unfortunate that people do such things. Maybe if there weren't such restrictive quotas, people wouldn't be so inclined to take on bigger risks.


Wrong. The June 2009 incident was BEFORE the quotas. That particular fiasco was said to be one of the last deciding factors in the initiation of the permit system.

_________________________
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#22286 - 03/25/12 11:56 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bee]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
> the point being that no number of deaths is acceptable when the cause repeatedly has been overcrowding & bad judgement. Now that ranger rick is stationed at the subdome, he can wag his finger during lightening storms and say "no, dear, this is NOT a good time to go up the dome".

Stationing a ranger is a good thing. It helps counteract bad judgment. So is cutting down the numbers as to avoid gridlocked knots on the cables.

But cutting the number down all day because there is a knot during a single hour in the day is a ridiculously oversimplified attempt to fix the problem. The park service has not explored all its options, and keeps reducing the quota without doing anything else.

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#22289 - 03/26/12 01:33 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Early on in the permit discussions, I had suggested that they bracket the "arrival" times at the cables, but a good buddy brought up the dilemma:

A large amount of the hikers (I am not going to make up any numbers here; I do not know the exact ratio) are day hikers, and there really is not that large of a window to arrive at the cables when everyone has to start at daybreak just to finish the hike in daylight.

Perhaps those receiving permits as part of an overnight package could be required to make a morning entry on the cables?

I am not sure what the answer is, but I am sure that after the disasterous 2009 season, there was a lot of "we gotta do something now" and reaching for the hammer was the first line of defense.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#22295 - 03/26/12 07:18 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bee]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Thank you for your comments, Bee. Eventually the Park Service will do what it has to do, regardless.

The "hammer" could have been a "sledge hammer" by completely removing the cables, but that probably will not happen.

In the final analysis, hikers have to take personal responsibility for their actions, no matter how many warning signs or ranger monitors are employed. The Park does what it can to educate the public to potential dangers in the Park, but individuals must exercise some degree of judgment. This is why, in spite of the many climbing fatalities and rock climbing accidents in the Valley, climbing has not been banned. Climbers are, in general, fully aware of the risks involved in their sport, but many hikers are not aware of the hazards of ascending a cable supported (5.3?) climb. So, the Park Service has to walk a fine line between protecting the public and restricting the public's freedom. (Hmmm...this is starting to sound political!)

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#22298 - 03/26/12 08:03 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Originally Posted By: Bob West

In the final analysis, hikers have to take personal responsibility for their actions, no matter how many warning signs or ranger monitors are employed.


Ah, now there's the rub, eh, Bob? Since when do we take responsibility for our own actions? It's infinitely easier to find fault in someone, anyone else. Why else would we investigate the safety of existing railings? Why would hit the 911 button on my SPOT because the water tastes salty? Exercising judgment takes, well, energy and effort, and DAMN these heels are hard to hike in up all these hills! Oh, and do you have some extra water?

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#22301 - 03/26/12 08:38 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bee]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
> A large amount of the hikers are day hikers, and there really is not that large of a window to arrive at the cables when everyone has to start at daybreak just to finish the hike in daylight

There they go again: "We've never tried it, but I am sure it will not work"

I could scream! mad

Let me see.... I think I recall someone saying that, somewhere close by..... wait.... wait... Oh yeah, isn't it down there somewhere around Mt. Whitney? Oh yeah, that's it! Dayhikers down there sometimes start at midnight or 3 AM. And sometimes the day hikers finish late at night.

...but I am sure nobody would ever want to try that up here in Yosemite. It is a completely different situation. cry

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#22302 - 03/26/12 09:04 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Bee wrote:
>
Ken wrote:
> I think you fall prey to the American concept of "I want what I want, period."

I have not, and am not, advocating a free-for-all. Reasonable quotas are part of the solution. But there are other things that can be done to alleviate the crowding and safety issues on the Half Dome cables. I am really angry that so many people seem to think that lower quotas is the only solution.

> You appear to look at capacity in terms of how many people can physically fit into a space, but I hope you see that it is more involved.
That's sure twisting what I am saying. Your Mirror Lake camping example doesn't fit well with the quota problem on Half Dome. It is reasonable to stop people camping at Mirror Lake on the Mt Whitney Trail. But that situation is not comparable to the reasons they are citing to close Half Dome access to so many.

There ARE ways to spread the numbers of people accessing Half Dome out over any given day, achieving both reduced crowding on the cables AND allowing a lot more people to go. But it seems most just want to lock it down.


I appreciate that I didn't make it clear, but I was more responding to your description and example of obtaining BACK{ACKING permits and going into a wilderness and being disappointed in finding relatively few people. You mixed that in with your diatribe about HD.

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#22306 - 03/26/12 09:19 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Steve C
> A large amount of the hikers are day hikers, and there really is not that large of a window to arrive at the cables when everyone has to start at daybreak just to finish the hike in daylight

There they go again: "We've never tried it, but I am sure it will not work"

I could scream! mad

Let me see.... I think I recall someone saying that, somewhere close by..... wait.... wait... Oh yeah, isn't it down there somewhere around Mt. Whitney? Oh yeah, that's it! Dayhikers down there sometimes start at midnight or 3 AM. And sometimes the day hikers finish late at night.

...but I am sure nobody would ever want to try that up here in Yosemite. It is a completely different situation. cry


You do have to wonder, though.

After all, there is nothing stopping people from doing an alpine start on HD right now, or ten years ago.
We all moan about the crowding problem on the cables, and yet, people don't do the alpine starts.

In contrast, on Whitney, people do the starts not because a gov't agency has mandated a rule, but because they have to if they are going to go the trip in a reasonable fashion, from the perspective of avoiding weather, arriving at a good time, getting back before dark. Their permit does not require it.

You are talking about something entirely different, that has NEVER been tried on Whitney, and is not neccessary to hike the trail in good fashion. In fact, you are talking about requiring people to walk the trail in poor conditions. Have you discussed this with an attorney? Does this open the PS to liability? Generally they avoid liability by not making choices for people. This is why the ranger at subdome will not prohibit you from going up, because then by letting someone else up, he has, in contrast made a judgement and given legal assurance that it is safe. If anything goes wrong.......

I think this is more complex than you are making it out to be.

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#22309 - 03/26/12 10:41 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
People do alpine starts on Whitney dayhikes because Whitney is a 22+ mile round trip versus ~16 miles for HD. Yosemite is also more convenient to large population centers, and strictly by the number of people who visit both, is surely the more popular of the two (hard as that may be to believe, given Whitney's popularity), also in part, because Yosemite is a long-standing national park. The summit of HD is also 500+/- feet higher than only the TH at Whitney, thus altitude (and AMS) isn't nearly as much of a factor at Yosemite. So as strenuous as the HD hike is, my personal opinion is that, overall, a Whitney dayhike is even more so. My guess would be that, for the foregoing reasons, and probably others, you have far more noobs (who don't know what they're really getting into, and who haven't done their "homework") who visit and hike in Yosemite (and with it, HD) than you do Whitney. Given this, it seems unlikely to me that very many of those people would be willing to do an alpine start in order to summit HD.

It is frustrating to have limits put on something that has, heretofore, been unlimited. Sadly, that is a natural outgrowth of increasing popularity and just population growth. We experience it at our family's 6 islands up in Canada which have been in our extended family since 1927. For us, at some point in the future, there will not be enough space on the total room available on all 6 of those small islands together for all the family members in existence. Whitney and HD are no different, albeit on a far grander scale than our tiny islands. Everyone should have the opportunity to "do" Whitney and HD; but if "everyone" comes at once, or in this case, wants to do HD, you run into logistical problems which are not easy to overcome, and which have the potential to diminish the otherwise grand experience for those who are there.

Given the fact that this is only the second (third?) year that the HD permit system is in place, additional time is probably still needed to iron out the bugs. Even the Whitney permit system (which has been in place far longer) changes from time to time to accomodate the changing circumstances. It will likely be the same for HD.

CaT
_________________________
If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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#22312 - 03/26/12 11:30 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Ken]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
The vast majority of Yosemite Valley visitors would not be up and around early enough to do an alpine start (odd to hear that term applied to a hike...but oh well).

I recall one very rainy day while returning to my little mountain tent at the old Upper Pines campground, seeing all the campers with RV's and big tents fleeing to escape the rain. After about an hour, the only campers left were backpackers and climbers. The latter might be expected to do "alpine starts", but not the former.

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#22323 - 03/26/12 04:26 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2249
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
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#22327 - 03/26/12 06:33 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
> A large amount of the hikers are day hikers, and there really is not that large of a window to arrive at the cables when everyone has to start at daybreak just to finish the hike in daylight

There they go again: "We've never tried it, but I am sure it will not work"

I could scream! mad

Let me see.... I think I recall someone saying that, somewhere close by..... wait.... wait... Oh yeah, isn't it down there somewhere around Mt. Whitney? Oh yeah, that's it! Dayhikers down there sometimes start at midnight or 3 AM. And sometimes the day hikers finish late at night.

...but I am sure nobody would ever want to try that up here in Yosemite. It is a completely different situation. cry


Okay, I will stop here, because I thought that we were to the point of having a conversation, rather than having you respond with a tantrum every time I reply to a post. Cheers.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#22333 - 03/26/12 11:37 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Ken]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Ken wrote:
> ...there is nothing stopping people from doing an alpine start on HD right now, or ten years ago.
We all moan about the crowding problem on the cables, and yet, people don't do the alpine starts.


Yes they do! I have have hiked HD at night, to see the sunrise. And there were at least a dozen others up there at the same time. In Sheldon Neill's Yosemite HD timelapse, see all the people stream up the cables at dawn. It is not reasonable for Yosemite to lump those people into the same group they are trying to limit from clustering on the cables at mid day.

> on Whitney, people do the starts not because a gov't agency has mandated a rule,... Their permit does not require it.

Anyone uncomfortable with hiking in the dark could opt to try for those mid-day or anytime permits.

I am not sure how hiking in the dark is a worse liability than allowing hiking on a wet, slippery path along a waterfall gorge where there is no guard rail.

CaT wrote:
> Given the fact that this is only the second (third?) year that the HD permit system is in place, additional time is probably still needed to iron out the bugs. Even the Whitney permit system (which has been in place far longer) changes from time to time to accomodate the changing circumstances. It will likely be the same for HD.

I don't believe there are any examples of any trail quota being expanded or rules relaxed. That is what has me so frustrated -- I am afraid they are cutting off access for thousands of people, and that access will NEVER be returned.

I just don't understand why so many here continue to swat this idea down. ...why so many are so sure all the Half Dome hikers are flipflop tourists who need to be "protected" from all risks.

It would be so easy to encourage the park service to just try it -- for just one week ...even for a day. What could that hurt? I am baffled.

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#24077 - 05/17/12 06:53 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
I just watched this video (one of the videos in the "Yosemite Nature Notes" series). I thought it was very good, and in particular, the final section touches upon a lot of what we have been discussing in this thread, perhaps summarizing the give-and-take better than our thread.



CaT
_________________________
If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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#24084 - 05/17/12 09:15 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: CaT]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
I like that video.

Of interest, I've been using that series in some of my talks, and one of the producers was in one of my audiences, and was jazzed that it got the attention.

I still have very mixed feelings.

I think the concept that Steve has of trying some innovation in terms of time-related starts would be worthwhile.

After all, if there were not a road to the top, Glacier Point would have the same problem.

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#24089 - 05/17/12 11:29 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Ken]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
Quote:
I think the concept that Steve has of trying some innovation in terms of time-related starts would be worthwhile.

Agree.

CaT
_________________________
If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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#24097 - 05/17/12 02:39 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
dbd Online


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 216
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Steve C
...
I don't believe there are any examples of any trail quota being expanded or rules relaxed. That is what has me so frustrated -- I am afraid they are cutting off access for thousands of people, and that access will NEVER be returned.


We only want there to be quota if the is a reason based on harm to the resource or danger to the visitors. We should see no relaxation in a quota unless public interest drops to make the quota unnecessary, the increase in traffic is necessary to provide for the good of the resource or safety of the visitors smile , or unless we have "paved paradise and put up a parking lot" and need new rules. The cables are of course a pavement and parking lot.

Originally Posted By: Steve C
I just don't understand why so many here continue to swat this idea down. ...why so many are so sure all the Half Dome hikers are flipflop tourists who need to be "protected" from all risks.

It would be so easy to encourage the park service to just try it -- for just one week ...even for a day. What could that hurt? I am baffled.


If it would be so easy, why don't you try to make a complete statement of what the rules and enforcement would be? Then we could consider if it were "easy" or believable and how many parking lot attendants it would take to make it work and how many parking lot attendants we want in the wilderness.

You might also take a look at the reasons for dismissing "Control Timing of Use" in the EA (Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan EA) at page 2-14 available at:
http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=347&projectID=29443&documentID=44771

Dale B. Dalrymple

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#24113 - 05/18/12 04:56 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: dbd]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
Here's the relevant narrative from the EA on this specific alternative (with one strike-through edit on my part to fix a typo they didn't catch):

Quote:
Control Timing of Use

Under this alternative, the NPS would spread use out over the day by assigning hikers to specific time slots. Controlling the timing of use would eliminate midday crowding and maintain freeflowing conditions. A ranger would be stationed at the base of the cables and would serve as a gatekeeper allowing hikers to use the cable system only during their assigned time slot. Chapter 2: Alternatives January 2012 Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan EA 2-15

This alternative was dismissed because it does not meet the purpose of increasing safety along the trail corridor. A late ascent time could have pose safety risks for many hikers. Most people plan their hike to Half Dome to take advantage of all daylight hours. Forcing some users to wait to ascend until the late afternoon would result in an increase in the number of hikers. Potential consequences of having to wait for a later ascent time could make their day even longer. There have been numerous search and rescue incidents caused by completing the return portion of their trip after dark. In addition, delaying people until later in the day means they are at the summit in the afternoon when thunderstorms are more likely.

CaT
_________________________
If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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#24158 - 05/20/12 02:07 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: dbd]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: dbd
If it would be so easy, why don't you try to make a complete statement of what the rules and enforcement would be? Then we could consider if it were "easy" or believable and how many parking lot attendants it would take to make it work and how many parking lot attendants we want in the wilderness.

Thanks so much, Dale, for coming in to swat the idea down yet again. I can see from your opinion relating the cables to parking lot pavement, that you would just as soon see them removed. ....So to me, your opinion backing the park's tighter quota is more a support of that, and not caring for a second that the opportunity of thousands of people whose only wilderness experience is climbing Half Dome has been eliminated by the gatekeeper attendants.

Your question about how many parking lot attendants it would take implies there would be more than the ranger already stationed there. I doubt that, unless perhaps they needed two rangers to cover the expanded times people would be hiking. (So what is wrong with one extra ranger???)

Looking at the Park Service study, and their six sentences dismissing the idea, I have several comments: Six sentences out of 132 pages shows pretty convincingly that they didn't spend more than 15 minutes thinking about it.

> A late ascent time could pose safety risks for many hikers.
This completely fails to address an early ascent time. People can and do start hiking early.

> Most people plan their hike to Half Dome to take advantage of all daylight hours.
I doubt that. I'd like to see how many hikers are on the trail at first light. The writer seems to forget that people can hike with headlamps. They currently do that on the Half Dome hike.

> Forcing some users to wait to ascend until the late afternoon would result in an increase in the number of hikers.
I sure don't understand that statement. Can someone explain?

> Potential consequences of having to wait for a later ascent time could make their day even longer.
This seems to assume that people with a later access time would start the same time as others, but wait at the gate. I would think people would start later -- I sure would.

> There have been numerous search and rescue incidents caused by completing the return portion of their trip after dark.
...But those rescue incidents will still be there with the proposed system, because some hikers underestimate the hike, don't turn around in time, get worn out, (whatever the issue), and get into trouble. I would hope that people starting later would not take on the hike without proper equipment, like a light. In fact, if hikers were out later on the trail, they would be there to help the others in trouble, whereas currently, the trail is nearly deserted at dark. (I once hiked HD, returning after dark, and shared our light with others caught without.)

> In addition, delaying people until later in the day means they are at the summit in the afternoon when thunderstorms are more likely.
Forgetting again that there could be earlier time slots. How does the present system keep people off Half Dome "when thunderstorms are more likely"? How many thunderstorms are there on Half Dome during the summer? ...maybe ten? Seems like a weak reason to prevent thousands of people from accessing Half Dome.

Both the late return / rescue issue and the afternoon thunderstorm issue could be addressed by educating hikers. I have seen people here strongly advocating education to help the WAG bag issue on Mt Whitney. It certainly seems like it could be a viable solution to significantly increase hiker safety on Half Dome, and safety seems to be their biggest issue. Also, since there will likely be a ranger gatekeeper stationed on the trail, it seems that person should serve to underscore the danger to people going up in the face of an oncoming storm. Other parks shut down trails if weather threatens (the Zion Narrows hike); why can't Yosemite?

As many have written before, Yosemite appears to have made up their mind almost before the document was started. But it sure makes me mad that they so glibly justify terminating the opportunity for any sort of wilderness experience without exploring as many alternatives as possible before slamming the gates.

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#24160 - 05/20/12 09:57 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Interesting response, Steve.

As you probably know, I am of two minds on the issue, and as such, I'm willing to look at viable alternatives that are creative, responsible, practical, legal, and cost effective.

You were asked to present your version of such, and I'm disappointed that, instead, you simply yelled at Dale for his position (as much as he might have deserved it), and asked a bunch of rhetorical questions of the Park Service (but since we're not the Park Service, how are we to answer?)

I would like, instead, to see your reasoned approach to the issue, with specifics. You know far more about the problem than most here, because you are a local and have hiked it many more times and have access. There are assumptions that you probably make that we don't even know.

Perhaps there is a "common sense" postion that you could lay out, that we could get behind collectively, and instead of as a group simply blathering, actually making a difference. As you know, I like to do that from time to time, and I think you do, too.

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#24166 - 05/20/12 05:33 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Ken]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Thank you Ken, for a reasoned approach. I have two questions that perhaps you and others in this forum might have answers.

Have there ever been any open meetings conducted by the NPS, during which the general public can air their views on this issue? We seem to have spent a lot of time speaking our minds in this forum, but I wonder how much of our opinions here actually reach the powers-that-be of the Park Service. The NPS's write-in opinion polls probably serve some purpose, but often lack the human impact of face-to-face meetings with the public.

Will the reduction of daily hiking quotas to the top of Half Dome have any noticable impact on the business climate of Yosemite Valley and/or the communities on the routes into the Valley? I can't see that it will, especially from the Eastern approach to the Park from this side of the range. But could it have a business impact on the West side?

Just wondering...

Thank you


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#24178 - 05/20/12 11:04 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Bob, I've always gotten the idea that most "public comment" processes exist so that agencies can say that they have taken public comment into consideration, without taking it into consideration....and try to make it as arms-length as possible, and certainly wouldn't want to meet in person (gasp).

I don't get the impression that they give a lot of weight to effect to local businesses. Personally, I don't imagine that it would.

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#24179 - 05/20/12 11:23 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Bob West]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Bob, YNP did in fact hold public discussions. I attended one at REI here in Fresno regarding the Half Dome permits several years ago. I got pretty frustrated at the nonsense the people there were saying. So many off-the-mark ramblings and scattered topics. I don't do well speaking to a group of more than three people, but I tried to make a point then, that cutting the numbers of hikers by imposing too low quotas on trails is having a negative long-term effect on people's access to, enjoyment of, and therefore willingness to support, wilderness. I think I even brought up the fact that the parks and national forests keep getting their funding reduced in the Federal budgets. Of course, I was just one in the crowd, and they were probably thinking everyone there was an idiot by then anyway.

As for the business impact, I certainly don't have a handle on the statistics, but I would think cutting back from the 500 to 800 hikers pre-permits to 300 this year will have a definite impact on the number of visitors traveling to the park. Half those who can no longer hike Half Dome will likely find other Yosemite destinations, but there are many who made the trip, especially a day trip, just to do HD.

Maybe if we presented the Half Dome issue in the light of a reduction of business, I could get some congressman and two Senators to draft a bill. wink

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#24180 - 05/20/12 11:59 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Ken]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Ken, looking back at my response to dbd, I don't see where I "simply yelled". I thought his use of the Joni Mitchell phrase comparing the Half Dome cables to a parking lot were extreme; that his implying that an extra ranger on the trail is somehow worse than barring access for thousands was extreme; and his "why don't you try to make a complete statement" pretty inflammatory.

I cannot debate with people who feel we should lock down the wilderness. I just plain disagree, and I think it is hopeless to try to convince people with such opinions to change their minds. But I don't see any yelling.

As for the rhetorical questions: Only when addressing the thunderstorm issue did I ask questions, and immediately followed with a bit of discussion.


This is probably an futile exercise in self-flagellation but I'll try to put down what I think should be tried. And of course IF they would try anything similar, the numbers could and should be adjusted to tune the numbers of hikers to spread people across the entire day so as to reduce any clustering and crowding on the cables.

1. Station a ranger / gatekeeper at the bottom of the cables, not the bottom of the sub-dome. The ranger should have absolute say when it comes to allowing people to climb the cables. With an all-day spread of the hikers, it would require someone there controlling the numbers at least 8 hours, perhaps 8 AM to 4 PM. The ranger should not allow people to ascend if thunderstorms are imminent, and could in fact, head off the sub-dome, turning around anyone climbing it if one occurred.

2. Permits: Make permits available by time slot.
50 before 8 AM. 40 before 9 AM. 40 before 10 AM. 40 before 11 AM.
300 anytime permits.
40 after 2 PM. 50 after 3 PM 50 after 4 PM. The higher numbers early and late are allowed since very few of the anytime hikers would use those times.

The ranger would check the permits against the time, making sure people arrived at the proper time.

People with early time-slot permits would need to be aware of the time it takes to climb, and be aware of their own physical abilities. A timeline could be developed to let people know they were on schedule to make their time at various junctions.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So there... is that a complete enough statement? Now, I am sure absolutely everyone can find something in the above to dislike, so now all can swat the idea down.

All I can say, is if they never try something new, then everyone suffers with the ever-shrinking quotas imposed.




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#24182 - 05/21/12 06:33 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Mike Condron Offline


Registered: 11/05/09
Posts: 215
Loc: Now Manteca, CA
_________________________
Mike

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#24186 - 05/21/12 10:06 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Steve, I think that is a fair effort. I'm going to give it a little time to digest, before I respond.

One thing that I do want to talk about is a concept that I learned about last week that I didn't quite understand before: official hazards in wilderness. This was in the context of an advanced class in cutting trees that I was involved in, in which we were discussing what hazards exist that the public must be warned about. The answer: there are none by definition. The wilderness is a wild place that is not defined by man nor managed by man. As such, it should not have it's dangers be defined by any agency, but rather, be defined by the individual traversing it themselves so as to actually experience a wilderness place. To do othewise is to steal wilderness from American experience.

So to have a ranger stand in a wilderness area, and order people to do something because of danger, is antithetical to wilderness meaning. People who are into wilderness are very passionate about these things!

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#24199 - 05/21/12 02:50 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Ken]
amg Offline


Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 18
Loc: los angeles
Originally Posted By: Ken
Steve, I think that is a fair effort. I'm going to give it a little time to digest, before I respond.

One thing that I do want to talk about is a concept that I learned about last week that I didn't quite understand before: official hazards in wilderness. This was in the context of an advanced class in cutting trees that I was involved in, in which we were discussing what hazards exist that the public must be warned about. The answer: there are none by definition. The wilderness is a wild place that is not defined by man nor managed by man. As such, it should not have it's dangers be defined by any agency, but rather, be defined by the individual traversing it themselves so as to actually experience a wilderness place. To do othewise is to steal wilderness from American experience.

So to have a ranger stand in a wilderness area, and order people to do something because of danger, is antithetical to wilderness meaning. People who are into wilderness are very passionate about these things!


If that is true, what is the justification for banning basejumping in yosemite?

It seems a bit arbitrary considering that the wilderness is "managed by man", in that things like trail building/maintenance, fish stocking, and restrictions on access take place. And when you pick up a wilderness permit the rangers do warn you about hazards, at least in general terms. Since the cables are manmade, and maintained by the park service, it's not exactly untouched wilderness anyway. What is the problem of turning people away if conditions are dangerous?

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#24208 - 05/22/12 09:58 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Steve C]
dbd Online


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 216
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Steve C
...
Thanks so much, Dale, for coming in to swat the idea down yet again. I can see from your opinion relating the cables to parking lot pavement, that you would just as soon see them removed. ....So to me, your opinion backing the park's tighter quota is more a support of that ...


Steve
I didn't make any statement to swat the idea down and I expressed no opinion backing any particular quota. I asked you to flesh out a concrete proposal for discussion.

As to the road references, I got that from Ken's post:
Originally Posted By: Ken
After all, if there were not a road to the top, Glacier Point would have the same problem.

Ken was exactly right. Looking at that observation another way, if the wilderness act had excluded the cables from wilderness consideration as "paved paradise" the same way the road to Glacier Point was excluded, there would be less complication to providing alternate approaches to safely allowing larger numbers of people to use the cables. The Sierra Club decided that Half Dome was a special place and worth "paving paradise" to get people to. That distinction was not maintained by the Wilderness Act. There may be other places that you would not consider the terms of the Wilderness Act to be the best for as well, for example, the main Mt whitney trail.

As to traffic control implementation, I think there are two issues: traffic control up and traffic control down, and I think that one ranger can't do both. So it could take two. Is that a killer problem? I don't think so, but when you look at the current form of the Wilderness Act YMMV.

Please don't try to invent opinions for me. You are not very good at it. There is a difference between recognizing what currently applicable law is and what one might wish the rules to be. You might also do better in understanding official actions by considering whether they are required by the current Wilderness Act (and the hoops that the current legal structures require jumping through before changes can be tried) rather than solely a result of an official's personal inclination, imagination or lack thereof.

Dale B. Dalrymple

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#24223 - 05/22/12 12:48 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: amg]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: amg
Originally Posted By: Ken
Steve, I think that is a fair effort. I'm going to give it a little time to digest, before I respond.

One thing that I do want to talk about is a concept that I learned about last week that I didn't quite understand before: official hazards in wilderness. This was in the context of an advanced class in cutting trees that I was involved in, in which we were discussing what hazards exist that the public must be warned about. The answer: there are none by definition. The wilderness is a wild place that is not defined by man nor managed by man. As such, it should not have it's dangers be defined by any agency, but rather, be defined by the individual traversing it themselves so as to actually experience a wilderness place. To do otherwise is to steal wilderness from American experience.

So to have a ranger stand in a wilderness area, and order people to do something because of danger, is antithetical to wilderness meaning. People who are into wilderness are very passionate about these things!


If that is true, what is the justification for banning base jumping in Yosemite?

It seems a bit arbitrary considering that the wilderness is "managed by man", in that things like trail building/maintenance, fish stocking, and restrictions on access take place. And when you pick up a wilderness permit the rangers do warn you about hazards, at least in general terms. Since the cables are man made, and maintained by the park service, it's not exactly untouched wilderness anyway. What is the problem of turning people away if conditions are dangerous?


Base jumping, paragliding, Ultralighting, parachuting...are significant activities of man. I don't think you would consider it to be a normal activity of nature to be standing in a grove of trees, and see a parachute-laden person descending.

Fish stocking is no longer allowed in wilderness.

Trail maintenance is done to concentrate impact, so it is not spread all over the place, which is what would happen if trails did not exist (when they tried that-think Mirror Lake), and so that the trails will not deteriorate and cause damage to the surrounding areas. Enormous effort goes into doing in such a way so as to not leave a trace of the work that was done.

What is the problem of turning people away if conditions are dangerous?

Then you have taken on the responsibility of turning people away if any dangerous condition of any kind exists....which means that you turn people away all the time, because the cables are ALWAYS dangerous, that darn slippery rock and that pesky slippery cable. And then they have to supply rock shoes, and tie in carabiners and harnesses, water, guides, insurance, etc, etc, etc

or

people can be warned that wilderness is inherently wild and dangerous, and they are taking responsibility for their own safety.

Edit: Posts following this one were moved to the "Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags" thread, since they blended more into that topic.

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#24410 - 05/28/12 01:30 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: Ken]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7880
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Ken
What is the problem of turning people away if conditions are dangerous?

Then you have taken on the responsibility of turning people away if any dangerous condition of any kind exists....which means that you turn people away all the time, because the cables are ALWAYS dangerous, that darn slippery rock and that pesky slippery cable. And then they have to supply rock shoes, and tie in carabiners and harnesses, water, guides, insurance, etc, etc, etc

or

people can be warned that wilderness is inherently wild and dangerous, and they are taking responsibility for their own safety.


So if I understand: they can warn of danger, but not stop anyone lest it lead down the proverbial "slippery slope".

It appears ironic that from the "Control Timing of Use commentary, Yosemite is using safety as the primary reason to dismiss it:

Quote:
This alternative was dismissed because it does not meet the purpose of increasing safety along the trail corridor. A late ascent time could have pose safety risks for many hikers. Most people plan their hike to Half Dome to take advantage of all daylight hours. Forcing some users to wait to ascend until the late afternoon would result in an increase in the number of hikers. Potential consequences of having to wait for a later ascent time could make their day even longer. There have been numerous search and rescue incidents caused by completing the return portion of their trip after dark. In addition, delaying people until later in the day means they are at the summit in the afternoon when thunderstorms are more likely.

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