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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: 742
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: 2192
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

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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: 7131
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 Offline


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 189
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: 7131
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: 742
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: 7131
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: 7131
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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