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Suggestion: 2012 permit process

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:40 am
by Cnnlive
If you can be fined up to $5000 for not having a permit, why can't there be a penalty for those who don't use their their permit?! Say I applied for a permit in my name and never use it. If I ended up missing in my home town on the day of the hike, should search and rescue comb Yosemite Valley or look in my home town or elsewhere? Permits are to drive numbers down, but they are also used for safety.

Suggestion: NPS should charge a $50 deposit when you purchase your permit. An automatic email to be sent 7 days in advance to confirm. If you don't confirm, you forfeit your deposit.

Re: Suggestion: 2012 permit process

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:08 pm
by AlmostThere
You make it sound like it's a problem for people to prioritize other things over hiking up a rock.

I'm happy to see that people do in fact have priorities, and don't see a reason to penalize people for not using a free permit. (That little charge is a service fee.) People can get upset about being unable to get permits all they like - the bottom line is that no one NEEDS to do that hike, there are plenty of others to do if you can't go this year. It's safer to limit use of the cables, and unused permits may not feel like it's fair, but there are a ton of wilderness permits for backpacking that don't get claimed either - no one whines about those, despite the demand. Of course, there's a mechanism to get unclaimed permits. I suspect that like Whitney a system will evolve where HD permits are recycled efficiently. It's still in progress.

So no - that's not fair. Fines for not using a free permit make no sense. The HD permits have a different purpose than wilderness permits - safety through reduction of use of the resource, not safety through registration of an itinerary so SAR can find you.

Re: Suggestion: 2012 permit process

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:42 pm
by bpatteson
Charging for not use would be a mistake.

Ultimately though, it is clear the 2011 permit process was not well thought out. Permits became to hard to get for those that wanted them. A good number were not used and the park service had to modify its policy mid season to allow access to "predicted non used permits" the day before. This was not well thought out either. Finding Internet in the valley at 7am the day before is not easy and finding a printer to print the permits in the valley is impossible.

The ultimate goal of the park service was to try to make the cables safer, by reducing the number of people. Like most government policies, the goal and what effectually happens are two different things. For those who do pull a permit for a single day and are determined to go, they will use there permit despite conditions being safe or unsafe. Last week, a Thunderstorm had just occured and rangers were telling hikers that half dome should not be accessed, when a San Ramon girl slipped on wet rock and died. When you only have one day to make your ascent, it becomes harder to walk away and say "we will tackle this in better conditions later in the season."

The park service in 2012 should move to a 7 day window of permits. You pull a permit and can use it anytime in the 7 day window. Half should be made available months in advance and half should be available a week in advance. Any day within that seven day window, the permit should be valid. This will encourage groups to use wise judgement in using them. The crowd control may be a little less predictable for the NPS, but can ultimately be controlled by the ranger at the base of sub dome controlling access by metering access on busy week ends.

Re: Suggestion: 2012 permit process

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:14 pm
by AlmostThere
bpatteson wrote: When you only have one day to make your ascent, it becomes harder to walk away and say "we will tackle this in better conditions later in the season."

That right there sums up the entire problem - people need to adjust their brain to "It's not as important as my life" and live with the disappointment - whether they have a permit and it's raining, or are just frustrated with the process of getting it. The rock will be there, and there are other places to go in the meantime.

Re: Suggestion: 2012 permit process

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:41 pm
by Cnnlive
You all are right. 1) there are many other beautiful hikes than HD; 2) penalizing not using a permit may not be so hot either; 3) the 7 day advance idea is a good one proposed above.

How about dropping permits altogether and have a ranger at the base monitor the # of people on the cables and on top? There is one there anyway to check permits.

This is starting to sound like Disneyland....

Re: Suggestion: 2012 permit process

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:23 am
by AlmostThere
We could also rip out the cables entirely, and then people would not be forced along the same slick path as the cable jerks who yank and shake the cables and make everyone unsafe. That would make it just like every other rock in the park - climb it if you can, take the gear you need to do it.

Or we could just acknowledge that the park service is doing the best they can, trying a new system and changing it as they go along. The only thing you can change is how you think about it - the levels of frustration with the permit system rival the levels of frustration with the campground reservation system, however, it is all part of the attempt to preserve the park for everyone and having patience and understanding is about all you're going to be able to do. Suggesting the abolishment of efforts to preserve when the primary goal of the park service is to do just that is almost as futile as... suggesting to a determined half dome wannabe that he/she shouldn't go up the cables in the rain.

Did you know they release 50 permits for use the following day?

"Initial hiker counts for this season indicate that there are numerous no shows among Half Dome permit holders. In an effort to make up for these no shows, the National Park Service (NPS) will manually release additional Half Dome permits each day, at 7 am PDT on the day before the permit date. For instance, at 7 am on Friday, additional permits will become available online (recommended) and through the call center at for use on Saturday. This will continue throughout the summer until further notice. These permits are taken in a matter of seconds, but it's worth continuing to check because some transactions are not completed, resulting in a few permits becoming available as late as 7:30. Additionally, some permits are canceled every day (and can be canceled and re-reserved until midnight the day before the hiking date).

NPS will initially release an additional 50 Half Dome permits each day and then adjust these numbers, either up or down, throughout the season based upon ongoing hiker counts.These additional permits will have $1.50 processing fee and be limited to purchases of four at a time. Unlike the earlier Half Dome permits, these are non transferable. To counter the illegal resale of Half Dome permits, the group leader, whose name is recorded at the time of transaction, must accompany his or her group on their Half Dome hike. Once the permit transaction is completed, the group leader’s name cannot be changed. "

Re: Suggestion: 2012 permit process

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:07 am
by Neutrino
Yeah that's exactly what we need - more regulations, more rules and more fines to enforce them. People need to be penalized! On top of that we need more signs, more enforcement. And training - don't forget the training. People should attend a 2 hour training orientation on how to follow all the new rules and regulations.

So let me get this straight, If I don't wake up bright and early 2 months ahead of time when the permits are offered and sit at my computer like a monkey, I will not get a $6 permit to hike the cables.

The same goes for getting a campsite in the valley.

I should be fined if I attempt to buy one.

I should be fine if i attempt to sell one.

I should be fined if I do not turn one back in.

If I got a permit, got a campsite and these lined up with my annual vacation Ding, ding ding---I win!

If i am not able to pull of this hat-trick I should turn in whatever permits I did get or face what - 30 days in jail? $500 fine?? $5000 fine??


Re: Suggestion: 2012 permit process

PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:18 pm
by z34u2b1
There should be no permit process whatsoever...if you can hike that far and want to give it a go then have at it...I have been on the cables when it was easy up easy down and I've been on them when they were choked with fools...kinda like the real world...if it looks too crowded wait or go back down...if your stuck behind some poor sap who's gripped on the way down then take a deep breath and relax..there are worse places to be stuck on a summer day...if they have to put a ranger at the bottom which is actually not a bad idea, then just have a simple quota system for how many can be on the rock at any one hard can that be?

Re: Suggestion: 2012 permit process

PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:23 pm
by AlmostThere
There should be no cables at all, if you ask me. Let anyone who can climb it do it like they do any other rock in the park.

But the fact is, the permits for dayhiking half dome have decreased injuries and SAR activity on that route radically - the rangers will tell you so.

So what - you went once and the cables weren't busy. There have been more than 70+ deaths on the way to and on the dome - don't just look at people who fell off, there are people dying on the way up. And more who do not die, but require medical assistance and evacuation.

The smartest thing they could do is follow the National Park objective of preserving the wilderness in its natural state, aka, without a cable that tempts tourists who have no business even attempting a 16+ mile round trip with that much elevation gain in flipflops with 16 oz of water and a granola bar.