Hikers who obtained permits will ascend the cables on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park on Friday , a week earlier this year because of the low snowpack.
The cables provide access to the summit of Half Dome, one of Yosemite’s most popular hikes. Park officials said the cables will be in place and open from Friday through May 22, but only for those who successfully applied for a permit online Wednesday.
These early season permits are required, nonrefundable and nontransferable.
The regularly scheduled Half Dome season will start May 23. Permits for the regular season were available through a lottery in March.
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About 50 permits will be available on a daily basis through a lottery held two days in advance, beginning May 21. Visitors wishing to obtain a permit can make reservations at www.recreation.gov or call ( 877) 444-6777.
The trail to Half Dome from Yosemite Valley is an extremely strenuous hike covering more than 17 miles. Hikers reach 4,800 feet of elevation along the trail that passes highlights such as Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, before reaching the cables on Half Dome’s steep granite shoulder.
Metal cables and wooden planks are placed along the steep shoulder of the dome to assist hikers to the summit.
Park officials advise visitors to take appropriate precautions when planning a hike of this length and difficulty, and to be prepared for changing weather and trail conditions. Thunder and lightning are common occurrences in the High Sierra during the summer and fall seasons.
Hikers are urged not attempt to summit Half Dome when rain or thunderstorms are forecast and to use extreme caution when the rocks are wet.
For more information, please visit www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm.