On March 1 the window opens to apply for a permit via the 2012 Lottery. There is NO rush to be doing this on March 1. You have all of March to apply. You get no “points” for applying early. The lottery will be conducted in early April.
I went to the recreation.gov site to scope the beast out.
I suggest you set up an account and review the process. Finding the Half Dome page is not obvious. On the home page, go to the left and search “Yosemite” then “Permits and Wilderness” it will take you to a page that says this below. (I copied it here to save you time.) It will not be active until tomorrow, March 1. I am going to wait several days for the recreation.gov site to be stable and get the bugs out. The last 2 years there were many issues and the staff of the vendor had no clue as to the process.
Half Dome Permit LOTTERY information:
Application period opens MARCH 1, 2012!
The National Park Service has extended the interim permit system for climbing the cables on Half Dome that begun in 2010. To make it easier and to be more equitable, the park is going to institute a lottery system for distribution of these permits. You can make a first choice of dates and up to 6 alternate dates and have up to 6 people on a single application.
• Apply between March 1 and March 31, 2012 for all dates that the cables are expected to be up this year (May 25 -October 8, 2012). Permits for 300 people per day will be available.
• An additional 50 permits per day will be distributed through a secondary DAILY lottery. This lottery will have an application period two days before the hiking date with the results announced one day in advance. The first daily lottery for Half Dome permits is expected to begin on May 23, 2012. Check back then for more information.
• Fees: One application per person per season; non-refundable lottery application fee of $4.50 on the web / $6.50 though the toll free call center. Successful applicants will also be charged a $5 per person fee. This fee is refundable if the permit is not printed and cancelled at least 48 hours in advance of the hike.
This web page is not currently active and will be updated soon.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir
*MrHalfDome™ - Rick Deutsch - www.HikeHalfDome.com
One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome