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Half Dome Permit Policy Safety Analysis

Half Dome Permit Policy Safety Analysis

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 24 October 2019




Half Dome
From the Trail Guide
Liberty Cap in Shadows with Half Dome towering over Mount Broderick.
Liberty Cap in Shadows with Half Dome towering over Mount Broderick, Looking from just West of Nevada Falls, Guide, Map.


Half Dome Safety Analysis

Restricted permit-only access to Yosemite National Park's Half Dome summit, anticipated to improve hiker safety, did not,
Elsevier, June 26, 2019.


2010 Half Dome Permit Restrictions
"Implementation in 2010 of permit-only access to Half Dome cable handrails along the final ascent of this iconic landmark reduced the number of people on the summit at one time, but this did not result in a significant reduction in the overall toll of associated human suffering and mortality, or search and rescue (SAR) activity and costs."

"The permits limited the number of hikers in the region by 66 percent, yet analysis of the safety data found that the restrictions were not effective at reducing their risk of experiencing dangerous episodes."

Half Dome Stats
2005 to 2009
"...85 SAR incidents, 134 victims, eight fatalities, and 38 major incidents"...

Half Dome Stats
2011 to 2015

"...54 SAR incidents, 156 victims, four fatalities, and 35 major incidents."

Summit Fever Kills
"The investigators noted that a possible factor contributing to Half Dome injuries was "summit fever," predicated by the difficulty that average hikers have in acquiring permits. With greatly curtailed opportunities, hikers may press on even when they feel fatigued or disabled by injury or bad weather, thinking that they may not get another chance to ascend Half Dome."

"If people are getting hurt, it's important to figure out why. Limiting day-hiking access to only a few hundred people may not be the best strategy for the public, or the park, unless preventing resource degradation is the key objective of a permit intervention."


Bottom Line

These stats offer excellent prep and training insights for prospective Half Dome Hikers. First, the failure rates tell us that proper training is the key to success. Being adequately flexible and fit, being properly physically prepped, is crucial to avoiding the pitfalls contributing to the 98% and 68% percent weekend and weekday Half Dome Hiker's failure rates.

Trail Guide
Fitness and Trail Rating Standards: Where Are You At?


Take A Look...

Half Dome Web Cam
Yosemite Conservancy

Comprehensive list of California Web Cams




Mountain Safety, Generally...

Feb 2019
Who’s Responsible for Your Mountain Safety?


Yos News

2019 Yosemite Half Dome Permit Lottery Delayed

Daily Lottery for Camp 4, Yosemite Valley


Oct 2017
Massive Rockfall off El Capitan


Yosemite Safety Incidents

Feb 2019
Death on the Mist Trail: Visitor Fatality in Yosemite National Park


Trail Guide

Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows to Donohue Pass,
Click Map for Detailed Area Maps

Trail Segment
Yosemite Valley to Cathedral Pass or Merced Lake,
Click Red Dots for Trail Guide entries


Trail Guide

JMT-Half Dome Trail Junction

West End Little Yosemite Valley

Happy Isles Trailhead




Mountain Safety Section

June 2019 News of Man & Nature








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Half Dome, Yosemite, permit policy, safety analysis, changes


Originally Published
2019-06-26 14:20:05

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