Digital "HDR" techniques are just another way of doing what photographers have done as long as there has been photography. Keeping a book of various dramatic skies to print into blank white ones from ortho film is just one of many examples of the ways photographers have combated the limitations of their materials to get something closer to what they want. Masking to control contrast is another. Contending with differences between what the eye sees and what our materials render will need to be practiced as long as photography exists, no matter what techniques arise for doing it.
Personally, I don't think Adams' pictures are anything like what the eye sees, however. Their strength is in the fact that they are not, in fact. They are extreme and fantastic (as in "of or pertaining to fantasy") manipulations that get more to the emotional heart of a subject than a purely literal rendition would (i.e. attempting to render exactly what the eye sees).