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Yosemite kicks off lottery system for Half Dome

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) -- Park rangers say hikers can now apply for permits to ascend the summit of Yosemite National Park's iconic Half Dome.

A maximum of 300 hikers are allowed on the metal cables on the mountain's steep granite shoulder each day. Reservations are required, and a limited number of permits for this year can be obtained through a lottery system that started on Saturday.

The 17-mile trail is strenuous with a 4,800 feet elevation gain, and is dangerous when wet.

The route had been inundated with thousands of visitors a day, so in 2011 park officials instituted a permit lottery for daily access to increase safety.

The lottery system will end on March 31, but about 50 additional permits per day will be available through a two-day-in-advance lottery during the hiking season.

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