For many visitors to Yosemite, the chance to snap photos of the iconic symbol isn't enough. Some find it more memorable to actually make the five-thousand foot climb.
The DeAlba family of San Mateo fondly remembered their hike two years ago. Fernando DeAlba explained, "It's an experience that everybody should at least do once."
His son Marty said, "I would have liked to do it again it's pretty upsetting that we don't get to."
The DeAlbas and their friends were denied a return trip because like so many others they were shut out of the on-line permit process.
This year the Park Service set a 400 permit a day limit to reduce dangerous crowding on the cables. Half Dome permits go on sale the first day of each month.
Julie Meyers of Redwood City said, "It seems hard to believe that 400 permits can be gone within five to 10 minutes for one day let alone for 30 days. "
Permits cost just a dollar-fifty but once they go on sale, park officials say they're snapped up by scalpers. Yosemite park ranger Scott Gediman said, "They're buying Half Dome permits and turning around and selling them on the internet on craigslist and things like that for exorbitant prices and it really is just unfair."
Gediman explained scalpers use computer software to secure large numbers of permits. They're then sold for as much as 40-dollars on-line. "For a place that we feel is so magical and such a big part of the fabric of American society for people using our national parks, specifically Yosemite to make money, it's infuriating."
Especially for those looking forward to a once in a lifetime experience. Meyers said, "This would have been my first time climbing."
Growing demand coupled with a limited supply of permits has created a black market for Half Dome permits and campsite reservations.
Gediman said, "Scalping occurs for sporting events, for concerts, it's a fact of life but we feel that at Yosemite National Park it shouldn't happen."
But it continues to happen. Federal officials are looking into whether scalpers can be prosecuted because they say the permits aren't transferrable.