Restricted permit-only access to Yosemite National Park's Half Dome summit, anticipated to improve hiker safety, did not | 8/3/2010 | Staff
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Half Dome Trail map. The Half Dome Trail splits midway into the John Muir Trail and Mist Trail, which converge at Nevada Falls to form a single route through Little Yosemite Valley to Half Dome. Permit area is the restricted section including subdome, the cable route, and summit. Credit: Figure adapted from NPS file created by Jared Doke on August 3, 2010, and Paul Doherty on August 12, 2010, using NAD 1983 UTM Zone 11N.

Overcrowding on the trails leading to the summit on Yosemite National Park's Half Dome is not the key factor influencing hiker safety, according to a new study in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, published by Elsevier. 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.

Quotas - Parks - Number - Hikers - Prevents

"Using trailhead quotas in national parks to limit the number of hikers prevents natural resource degradation and preserves opportunities for solitude. Does the risk of a dangerous incident increase when more people ascend at once? Our study debunked that widespread belief. The data showed that limiting day-hiking access to only a few hundred people is not effective as a safety strategy," explained lead investigator Susanne J. Spano, MD, University of California, San Francisco Fresno, Fresno, CA, USA.

Yosemite National Park, like many US national parks, is increasingly popular as a tourist destination. The Half Dome is a popular, but challenging, day hike and climbing area, and there are frequent incidents that require SAR activity and expense. Improving safety has become increasingly important with the increased number of visitors. As a result, a lottery to issue permits...
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