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[Yosemite]

Half Dome cancellation rate by authorities

Discussion about hiking to the top of Half Dome, planning the trip, and when the Half Dome cables are installed in Spring or removed in Fall.

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Half Dome cancellation rate by authorities

Postby askus3 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:30 am

My group of 5 submitted two applications that were won in the lottery. One permit for August 29 & one for August 30. Before I dump the permit for August 30 back into the pool via cancellation, I was wondering what the rate of cancellation at Half Dome is due to weather. I have read where if wet, slippery or thundershowers it is not advisable to climb the peak/ladder, but not anything about cancellation/closure rate due to these conditions by 12 Noon. Should I waste the $40 and save the August 30 permit as a back-up for inclement weather or that would be foolish since the chance of cancellation is slim. I am planning on an arrival time of around noon, figuring about a 6 hour climb for the 7+ miles to the summit as our group shouldbe acclimated to hiking as this is half-way thru my hiking trip and would already have other 10-15 miles hikes under our boots. This I figure is early enought to beat late day thunderstorms. However, I hate the thought of wasting a day going about 80% of the way only to turn back and then have to go do it again the next day. Also how easy is it to get a permit at last minute (within two days) if the weather does cancel our August 29 permit? Would still be available to do climb 8/30, 8/31 & 9/1. I know nobody has a crystal ball on the weather, but a probability of historical cancellation rate would be knowledge to give me a more accurate plan to make an educated decision.

Thanks, Aaron
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Re: Half Dome cancellation rate by authorities

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:40 am

Predicting the weather is futile. I've had snowstorms in July, August, September, October.... May, April, June.... Lightening happens every month of the year somewhere in the mountain range. I've seen the forecast turn in two days - start backpacking, get out there, and the backcountry ranger suddenly tells you that mild weather in the forecast is history and it's 30 degrees below the predicted lows tonight, winds up to 60 mph on the crest, and then we're hiking out over a pass with the clouds sitting on us like giant dark curtains full of snow.... Cancelled a trip in the first week of August due to snow.

You take your chances... most of the time it'll pay off, sometimes it won't and you end up somewhere scenic but not a mountaintop. Summer is less likely to be stormy. That's as good as you'll get. I watch the weather app in the days leading up to the hike, and most of the time it is good, some of the time it is wrong, but you don't know until you look at the sky for sure.

You only "waste" the day if you say so... when I go up that trail, I end up at some fantastic places that the Half Dome hikers have never heard of, apparently, since they all look at me like I'm speaking Turkish when I mention them. There are more places than one overwhelmed rock to go in the park. Any cancellation is an opportunity, not a bummer. Bunnell Cascades was so nice, with the azaleas in bloom and NO other hikers around. Moraine Dome was cool, excellent views of the Merced River Canyon and Half Dome. We raced out ahead of a storm one day when drops fell on our faces as we were napping on the granite near the Merced - what a fun day that was, watching the clouds boiling up over the high country and dodging bears in Little Yosemite on the way out.
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Re: Half Dome cancellation rate by authorities

Postby askus3 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:50 am

Thanks for the immediate reply, but unanaswered - is there a way of knowing the historical cancellation rate to make an educated decision on whether to keep the permit or let it cancel? My figuring is if the rate is more than 10% I would keep the rain date permit and accept the $40 loss.
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Re: Half Dome cancellation rate by authorities

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:15 am

More work than it's worth...

Remember too that the current system is new to this year. And more people "no show" than cancel. Wilderness permits are recycled because people don't show up - are they tracked? Never seen data on that either. I think the question is unanswerable.
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Re: Half Dome cancellation rate by authorities

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:48 am

I win the booby prize. Did not register the title of the post in the three brain cells i have left today....

You can access the wilderness 24/7 all year round. You can climb the cables when the stanchions are down for the winter. They do not look at the forecast and tell you not to hike. The ranger at the subdome may tell you not to go up the cables if weather is bad. It didn't register with me that you meant rate of cancellation by them because they don't tell you not to go. They don't care if you go in a howling snowstorm as long as you are prepared, geared up, and safe about it. Thus the self registration wilderness permits in winter - as long as you know how to winter camp and travel in winter safely, write up a permit and leave it in the slot, no quotas. Because hardly anyone goes in winter.... Only the ones who are prepared for the conditions. Hopefully.

Best to develop awareness of the risks of wilderness travel - rocks, water and your own ignorance being the top three. Animals don't enter the picture until way down on the list, and weather is only a factor if you are in exposed high places. You will want to avoid going to any high exposed place in bad weather because that is the smart thing to do - go some other day. Alpine is not a good place in a storm.

Comfort, on the other hand - some don't like hiking in rain. It's fine by me if I have dry clothes in the pack, or in the car. I always carry 'em.
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