Yosemite officials are warning visitors that they might have some unexpected company atop one of the national park’s most famous landmarks ― because bears, it seems, are now climbing Half Dome.
Half Dome is so popular that hiking it in summer requires not just stamina but luck as permits are distributed via a lottery system.
But the park said on Facebook there’s a way to get around that system.
“Be a bear,” the post said. “Rangers recently discovered evidence of a black bear’s presence on the summit of Half Dome.”
The 8,839-foot Half Dome is one of the most popular hikes in the park. It’s also one of the most challenging, as the final 400 feet are at a dizzying 46-degree angle, and requires the use of cables embedded in the rock.
Well, humans need the cables:
“Yosemite bears are excellent climbers and can easily tackle the 46-degree angle ― no cables needed!” the park’s post noted.
The post said the signs of bear activity on Half Dome are a reminder for visitors to store scented objects ― especially food ― in bear lockers or canisters, and that’s true both on and off Half Dome.
“While nobody drives up Half Dome, Yosemite bears are great at opening car doors in the Valley if they smell something tasty,” the post noted, adding that squirrels and other wildlife will also try to get at visitors’ food if given the chance.
These animals “will approach unattended bags quickly and are likely to create a few new holes before you notice them!”
Yosemite is home to 300-500 black bears known to “attempt amazing acts to obtain human food,” according to the park’s website.
“If food has been left in a car, bears will break vehicle windows, bend car frames, and pop open camper shells,” the site notes. “To get into a trunk, they will enter the passenger area and claw through the back seat.”
And if the new report is any indication, they’ll also climb some 400 feet of a rock dome in search of snack.
“For the safety of people and animals alike, keep your friends close and your food closer,” the park said in its latest post.