Permit applications due Sunday for Yosemite’s Half Dome

A hiker pulls her way up the cables, the final obstacle along the hike to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. (Photo by The Associated Press)

If you want to hike to the top of Half Dome this year, pick any day but Saturday.

Last week, Yosemite National Park officials released some interesting statistics about the 2013 Half Dome permit lottery, which continues through Sunday.

It isn’t surprising to learn that Saturday is the most requested day. As of March 15, 36% of all permit requests were for Saturday. Friday (14%) was the second-most requested day, followed by Sunday and Tuesday (both 11%), Monday (10%) and Wednesday and Thursday (both 9%).

Two hundred and twenty five permits for each day are available through the preseason lottery.  Permit applications are due Sunday at recreation.gov. Applicants will receive an email with lottery results on April 15 or can get them online.

In addition, approximately 50 permits per day will be available through a daily lottery. (The exact number will be based on estimated no-shows and cancellations.) Applications for the daily lottery will be accepted two days before the date of the hike (from midnight to 1 p.m.), and applicants will be notified later that day.

Concerned about overcrowding and visitor safety on the Half Dome cables, where hikers use handrails to hoist themselves up the steeply sloping granite, park officials began requiring permits on certain days in 2010 and seven days a week in 2011.

An extensive visitor use study, published in January, established the permits as permanent.

Rangers are planning to erect the Half Dome cables May 24 and take them down Oct. 14, but that could change based on the conditions.

Skiing Clouds Rest

Extreme skier Jason Torlano peers down the fall line before dropping into the northwest face of Clouds Rest on Jan. 16, 2013. 

Clouds Rest is a massive granite formation located northeast of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. From Tunnel View, it sits just left of — and more than 1,000 feet above — its more famous neighbor and is often shrouded in clouds. (Hence the name.)

The sweeping northwest face, approximately 5,000 feet tall and 5,000 feet wide, presents a serious challenge to rock climbers who bother to make the hike up Tenaya Canyon.

But ski Clouds Rest? That would be impossible. Until now.

Last Wednesday, extreme skiers Jason Torlano of Foresta and Jonathan Blair of South Lake Tahoe completed the first ski decent of Clouds Rest after spending Tuesday night camped on the airy 9,926-foot summit.

Torlano, who gre

The rounded summit of Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park before last week’s first ski descent by Jason Torlano of Foresta and John Blair of South Lake Tahoe.

w up in Yosemite Valley, has spent the last several years seeking out Yosemite’s steepest ski terrain. The 37-year-old has skied nearly every major chute and gully while establishing 28 first descents. He’s skied Quarter Dome, Lost Brother, Dewey Point, Crocker Point, you name it.But Clouds Rest, he admits, tops them all. “It was the most committing ski I’ve ever done,” Torlano said in a phone interview.

Look for the complete story on Thursday’s Out There page. For now, whet your appetite with a couple photos Torlano sent over.