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Permit required to hike iconic rock

** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **A backpacker views Half Dome, the 8,842-foot symbol of Yosemite National Park, May 30, 2004. A popular trail to the summit of Half Dome approaches from the ridgeline at top left.  Cables assist hikers on the final 400-feet, over the steep section in shadow just left of the peak. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **A backpacker views Half Dome, the 8,842-foot symbol of Yosemite National Park, May 30, 2004. A popular trail to the summit of Half Dome approaches from the ridgeline at top left. Cables assist hikers on the final 400-feet, over the steep section in shadow just left of the peak. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) ASSOCIATED PRESS

One of the world’s most iconic hikes now requires a permit seven days a week.

Yosemite National Park officials announced Monday that individual day-use permits will be required on the Half Dome cables route during the entire 2011 summer season.

Last season, park officials implemented a permit system for Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays limiting access to 400 people per day.

While that system reduced crowding on the cables on days permits were required, the average daily visitor use on nonpermit days soared, according to a study issued by the National Park Service.

The number of people attempting to climb Half Dome on nonpermit days last summer — 635 per day — nearly equaled visitor use on Saturdays and holidays in 2008, 692 per day, according to the report.

Park officials implemented the permit system due to safety concerns on the cables and stone steps leading to the broad 8,842-foot summit. Officials have blamed overcrowding and bad weather for at least one recent fatality on the route.

The Half Dome cables are generally erected from mid-May through mid-October, depending on snowpack and weather conditions.

Permits will be available starting March 1 for May and June, then at the beginning of each month for the following three months. A $1.50 service charge is required for each permit and up to four can be reserved at a time.

Permit reservations can be made through www.recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777.

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