If you want to hike Half Dome this summer, start making plans. The cables that guide hikers the last 400 feet to the top of the Yosemite high point will be in place starting Friday. The lottery for a hiking permit for the popular rock face has started too.
The steel cables usually go up around Memorial Day, but were delayed this year because of snow — and that's still a problem. Yosemite National Park warns hikers who want to go now to "be prepared for winter hiking conditions" on the trail to Half Dome, a Wednesday news release says.
Slippery and icy trails can be dangerous, especially for less experienced hikers. For most of us, that means it's best to wait until later in the summer when conditions improve.
Permit prices increased this year to $20 per person: $10 to apply for the permit (non-refundable) and $10 if you prevail and win a permit. That permit, by the way, is just for the final 400-foot push up the granite face. Anyone can hike to the bottom of the base or "subdome" of Half Dome without a permit.
And yes, rangers do check. If you don't have a permit, they'll turn you back. Worst-case scenario: You could face a fine of up to $5,000 and/or six months in jail.
The national park started requiring permits in 2011 out of safety for crowds drawn to the strenuous 14-mile round-trip hike on the Mist Trail and other routes. Today, roughly 300 day hikers and 100 backpackers are permitted to use the cables each day. If you make it to the top, you'll stand 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley.
Above is a great video of what it's like and what it takes to hike up Half Dome video made by the National Park Service.
The cables will be in place, and permits required, until Oct. 10.