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Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables

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Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 08:09AM
So I'm climbing Half Dome again in mid-June, but this time with my girl friend who refuses to do so without clipping in to the cables on the final ascent. Can anyone provide a list of the specific climbing gear (harness, carabiners etc...) that would be needed to accomplish this?

Thanks a ton.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 08:40AM
Emc,
The cables don't allow for for a continuous clipping in. The stanchions would prevent a slide. I think that the constant clipping and unclipping would be distracting and dangerous. If she were to only clip in during a rest then maybe. The best bet is to just stay focused and respect what is going on.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 08:53AM
EMC,
The advice I got when I asked about harnesses and whatnot when I was
contemplating going up without the cables in the upright and locked position is
the best that I can give you.
Go to REI if you have one nearby and take a class. Get some instruction on
how to use the gear and ask them what you should buy. Who knows... it might
get you into rock climbing...
Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 09:04AM
Quote
mrcondron
Emc,
The cables don't allow for for a continuous clipping in. The stanchions would prevent a slide. I think that the constant clipping and unclipping would be distracting and dangerous. If she were to only clip in during a rest then maybe. The best bet is to just stay focused and respect what is going on.

I agree, and I think she'd make a lot of people very angry. The foot traffic there is already pretty dense, and a traffic jam won't endear your group to anybody.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 09:35AM
Quote
mrcondron
Emc,
The cables don't allow for for a continuous clipping in. The stanchions would prevent a slide. I think that the constant clipping and unclipping would be distracting and dangerous. If she were to only clip in during a rest then maybe. The best bet is to just stay focused and respect what is going on.

Regardless - people do this anyways. From what I've heard, there probably doesn't need to be more than two ropes, two carabiners, and a harness. At each stanchion, ust pull out one and slip it to the next cable segment, and then the other.

Of course I don't think it's necessary, but it's been done before. Perhaps it would be better if done on an off-peak day - perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 09:40AM
You guys are missing the point. It's his GIRLfriend. She is NOT going without a harness.
Period. Period. Period.
Maybe when she gets there she will nix the harness after awhile but I doubt it.
People clip in like this. It's dirt slow and pisses people off. Too bad. Go around.
Go outside the cable to pass.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 09:25AM
Emc47,

I have found that the biggest hang-up about heights, and climbing heights, is a simple lack of familiarity and experience. My job sometimes requires me to climb 20ft ladders -- something that I could not do out the door; I had to work up to it. Familiarizing your girlfriend with the environment of height might be gained through a Rock Gym....and after some confidence is gained, perhaps she could try climbing a single span of ladder (10') in a very relaxed environment, or higher if she gains confidence. What I do NOT suggest is prodding her beyond her comfort level and "hoping" that she will suddenly be inspired once reaching the cables...NOT!!! I saw a couple nearly kill each other under that same circumstance. Keep in mind, always, that this is supposed to be FUN.

Bee Cowboy
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 09:31AM
Going down is going to be harder than going up.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 09:48AM
Quote
Frank Furter
Going down is going to be harder than going up.

And that's why most people go down backwards. You don't have to see (maybe peek a little) and it makes it easier to remain relatively vertical with respect to gravity.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 09:48AM
Seems like there is a profound flaw in the reasoning here. Someone who is familiar with climbing equipment will know that it is unnecessary for HD and some one who is unfamiliar with climbing equipment should not be using it. Whenever I went with anyone new, I made extreme efforts to reassure them that NOT climbing is OK. It is a good walk to the saddle and some folks do better by not ascending for whatever reason. Some days you just don't summit. Being pushed beyond good judgment (varies person to person) just sets up a dangerous situation. Lots of reasons not to climb: weather, fatigue, anxiety, crowds, other frantic people on the cables, lightning, acute mountain sickness, etc. etc.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 11:49AM
Quote
Frank Furter
Going down is going to be harder than going up.

I go down backwards. That way I can lean and push my feet into the rock.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 10:08AM
I have nothing against clipping even if it causes delay and pisses people off. My main concern is the distraction of the clipping process. Point gun, shoot gun, blow smoke away, etc.
Clip A, unclip B, Move B, Reclip B, Unclip A, Move A, Reclip A, repeat several hundred times with out ever having an unclip A-unclip B-Standing-there-with-two-biners-in-your-hands-and-nothing-on-the-cable moment, or clipped on the wrong side of a stanchion and then BOING, taught rope and then stumble. Just too many things to go wrong and no real benefit.

Maybe you and your girl clipping together.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 10:45AM
Very good advice here.

Don't clip onto the cables.

Don't push her beyond her comfort level (A very rewarding hike even if she doesn't go beyond the sub-dome; the views from sub-dome are incredible).

My first time up HD my reaction when seeing the cables was "no way, not me!" (I'm afraid of heights). I stayed at sub-dome to take in the wonderful views, and occasionally watched people on the cables. It was a "light traffic" day. After about an hour I decided to ascend to the first poles, just to see what it was like. It wasn't as bad as it looked, so I decided to go all the way. If you are focused and take the ascent with proper respect it is safe. I personally found coming down easier than going up (to my surprise). I've attempted HD many times, and about 1/3 of the time I don't go to the top (again, as previously mentioned: weather, crowds, attitude of other climbers).

I wouldn't have had the "relaxed environment" to do it at my own pace had it been a crowded day. So to repeat another piece of good advice, try to go midweek.
Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 01:20PM
Get a sewn runner, which is a strong loop of nylon that is cut various lengths. For half dome, it probably wouldn't hurt to get at least a 24" runner so that you have some room to work.

Get one of the cheap, but unused climbing harnesses from a web site such as sierra trading post.

3 Locking carabiners per person will do the trick. Jumbo biners are easier to open with one gloved hand but the biner locking the harness to the runner need not be jumbo. One biner locks the harness to the runner, and the 2 jumbo biners lock to the cable.

Clipping / unclipping won't take long and you really don't want to rush this part of the hike

buy some gloves with sufficient padding/protection -- you will be gripping the steel cables as if your life depends on it..

Has anyone used a screamer for their climb? A screamer is basically a heavily stitched runner that has been designed to reduce the energy sustained during a fall so that you don't break anything or really hurt yourself. I just wanted to know under both scenarios - cables down and up - how quickly one could actually "fall" down half dome and whether the investment in a screamer was worthwhile.


Since we're on the subject of half dome safety -
Is it unethical to clip yourself to the cables when they are down?
When the cables are down, and you *fell* during your climb while clipped to the cable, you'd slide down to the end of that section of cable, right? If so, you'd save your own life, but could potentially be responsible for killing anyone below you who is sharing that section of cable and isn't secured to it because you will collide and likely send them down the side. So, is it unethical to lock yourself or should anyone attempting the ascent with downed cables be responsible for anything that could possibly happen? I could see the media and California judicial system holding one accountable for this..

When the cables are up, and you fell, I guess your fall would stop at the next pole below, but there is a possibility that the pole could come out of the granite because it isn't cemented into place. I wonder what the odds are that this happens as well.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 03:03PM
Quote
Dowwie
Since we're on the subject of half dome safety -
Is it unethical to clip yourself to the cables when they are down?
When the cables are down, and you *fell* during your climb while clipped to the cable, you'd slide down to the end of that section of cable, right? If so, you'd save your own life, but could potentially be responsible for killing anyone below you who is sharing that section of cable and isn't secured to it because you will collide and likely send them down the side. So, is it unethical to lock yourself or should anyone attempting the ascent with downed cables be responsible for anything that could possibly happen? I could see the media and California judicial system holding one accountable for this..

When the cables are up, and you fell, I guess your fall would stop at the next pole below, but there is a possibility that the pole could come out of the granite because it isn't cemented into place. I wonder what the odds are that this happens as well.

It seems to me that regardless of whether or not one is secured to the cable, someone slipping and falling stands a not so insignificant chance of knocking down someone else on the same section of cable. It might also cause the cable to rattle. Of course the big risk would be that the rope or other securing device would catch someone on the way down.

I don't think the stanchions are likely to come off. They're heavy by themselves and are weighted down by the heft of the cables and all the people holding onto the cables for dear life. They must also be buried pretty deep in there. I've seen steel volleyball net poles that are buried about 12 inches deep, and they don't move at all even when someone bangs full speed into the padded poles. They come out easy when deliberately lifted.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 02:42PM
Dowwie,

Are these general comments about how to clip in or are you suggesting this guys girl use this method?

Interesting thought about hooking up to the cables while they are down. That could get messy. Most of the time though I think there is only one climber on the down cables at a time. It's not a real popular thing to do and I think the stanchions are still threaded on the cables but stashed in cracks. I'll check with my idiot adventurous friend and see.

So Billie where are the stanchions?



Old Dude



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/01/2009 04:02PM by mrcondron.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 03:01PM
The stanchions are not connected. They are stored in cracks half-way up and I presume (I didn't look)
up on top somewhere. But.. they are NOT connected to the cables when the cables are laying flat.
There are, if I recall correctly, 4 sections... the last of which is not needed... anyway, the general
rule of thumb is that there is only one person on a "section" at a time going up. So you should have a
total of 8 people on the cables at any time. If you tie into the cable then that rule doesn't apply so much.
(i.e. a couple of people could be right after each other both tied in)
What people were doing was using some device that would arrest them immediately if they started to
fall. The guy I talked to mentioned it but I just don't recall and I don't have rock climbing gear.
I was really hesitant to go up without anything but gloves. But once I started it was super simple
and was up in about 10 minutes. Coming down was even easier than with the cables up. 5 minutes tops.
So that's that. Think what you want but I don't really take many risks out there. Sometimes I fear
for my life on the drive there and back... but never worried out in the backcountry... although when solo
you get a really good feeling of how miniscule and insignificant one is.
Be safe and have fun. I'm always prepared to not go somewhere... not cross that river... not go up that Peak... etc.
Fire away.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 03:14PM
Quote
bill-e-g
What people were doing was using some device that would arrest them immediately if they started to
fall.
There are locking cam devices with one-way ratchets. Something like an ascender? I haven't used one of these things, so I don't know how they might attach to a fixed steel cable. Petzl does have rescue equipment meant for fixed cables.

http://www.petzl.com/us/outdoor/ascenders-2/ascension

If the connection to the climber's harness is kept short, it shouldn't result in a terribly long fall. As long as the cables aren't packed, there is likely to be enough distance to the following climber. A helmet could also help since head trauma is a possibility in slipping and getting whipped against the cable or a stanchion.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 03:31PM
If we are going to persist with this thread, perhaps someone could address the best gloves.

I realize there is a pile often at the base of the dome, but I have been disappointed with the choice and the typical leather or cloth gloves do not offer much traction on the steel cable. It seems that the best would be some cloth/nylon gloves with very adhesive grip material in the palm. Rubberized gloves alone do not seem to be ideal. Anyone have specific favorite brands or suggestions?



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 03:45PM
Quote
Frank Furter
If we are going to persist with this thread, perhaps someone could address the best gloves.

I realize there is a pile often at the base of the dome, but I have been disappointed with the choice and the typical leather or cloth gloves do not offer much traction on the steel cable. It seems that the best would be some cloth/nylon gloves with very adhesive grip material in the palm. Rubberized gloves alone do not seem to be ideal. Anyone have specific favorite brands or suggestions?

Atlas palm-dipped rubber gloves. I use them for gardening or shucking oysters (I'm still trying to find some kevlar reinforced ones). There are similar gloves that you can find at almost any gardening nursery or hardware store.

http://www.atlasgloveconsumerproducts.com/palmdipped.html

avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 05:05PM
Quote
y_p_w



Those fit tightly on the hand if I recall. That is an advantage. I know Professor Goat prefers leather but I have found leather to be too slippery (perhaps if it is sprayed with benzoin, athletic tape adhesive, it would grip better). No need for protection against sharp wires on the cables, in my experience. I tried the cloth gloves with rubber/plastic dots but they did not grip adequately; bare hands were better that trip.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 06:15PM
Quote
Frank Furter
Those fit tightly on the hand if I recall. That is an advantage. I know Professor Goat prefers leather but I have found leather to be too slippery (perhaps if it is sprayed with benzoin, athletic tape adhesive, it would grip better). No need for protection against sharp wires on the cables, in my experience. I tried the cloth gloves with rubber/plastic dots but they did not grip adequately; bare hands were better that trip.

I think the key is that they grip on the outside and slip a little on the inside. That's rather important to me because the alternative is heavy chafing against the skin.

I actually brought some rawhide work gloves for my 2007 trip, but forgot them in the car. I ended up using a mismatched pair of palm-dipped rubber/cotton gloves from the pile at the base of the cables.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 03:47PM
My bad. I didn't see the stanchions. I saw the cross boards in some cracks. (I took a picture)

But take a look at this picture and it should be obvious how they put the cable up.
Step 1: Unscrew tops off of stanchions
Step 2: Walk up and put x beams and stachions in
Step 3: place cable in slot
Step 4: Screw in End Caps
Done



I used Rawhide Leather Gloves. Spit some water on them and they are super grippy.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 03:58PM
I like grippie going up and slippie coming down.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 03:59PM
Quote
mrcondron
I like grippie going up and slippie coming down.

That's what Rawhide buys you. I never took my hands off the cables coming down.
(ok.. only to change cables twice)
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 04:07PM
Lemme just throw this up here while were at it.
I wrote this to roland cause he asked about going up with the cables
laying down awhile ago. I vehemently told him not to do it.
Really bad idea. You can die.

To Roland:
"I just wanted to mention to you that I did what I kinda told you not to do.
Went up Half Dome with the cables laying down.

IMO it really wasn't too bad at all. Fairly simple. I'd for sure recommend tho
that you go up when the cables are up first so you kinda know what you
are getting yourself into. There are a couple places where you can rest for a bit..
but it is pretty steep at the beginning. The last cable section you're home free
.. don't even need the cable.
The hardest part IMO is just lifting the cable... it's pretty darn heavy.
I didn't feel any danger whatsoever... but I'm pretty experienced in crosscountry
and doing stupid things...

Also went up to Clouds that same day and camped on the top... never camped
on top before and there was noone on the trail so that was cool..."

For the record: DO NOT GO UP WITH THE CABLES DOWN I SAID SO
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 09:12PM
I talked with some friends who are climbing enthusiasts, and they were split down the middle as to use a harness or not. One thought that a person who felt that he/she would need a harness would be too nervous to let go long enough to switch carribeaners. I agree, as most of the nervous folk like to keep a death grip on the cable. Just make sure that this person WANTS to go up/down the cables for herself, rather than being talked into it, which is SURE to backfire.

BTW, I did not see anyone going down any other way other than backwards (like a rapel), is it a common sight to see folks who are walking down facing forward?? That just seems awkward at best...


I dunno. I found the whole cable thingy to be annoying, and seeing that there are a zillion other peaks to be climbed, it is not likely that I would ever waste time on the cables during high season again (I might contemplate an early season ascent when they were down, though)

Bee Cowboy
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 09:44PM
Quote
Bee
BTW, I did not see anyone going down any other way other than backwards (like a rapel), is it a common sight to see folks who are walking down facing forward?? That just seems awkward at best...

I think I saw a few people who weren't happy with the pace going down and went outside the cables more or less facing the in the directions of travel. It's rather awkward since the options are to stay more or less perpendicular to the rock (hard to hold on to the cable) or extend the ankles. Part of it might be that most people prefer to walk on their front of their feet. Walking a steep downhill tends to jam the knees (I lived on a hill and walked to school) and sometimes walking backwards just feels more comfortable.

For the most part I think most people don't want to look down.
avatar Re: Climbing equipment- Half Dome cables
June 01, 2009 09:46PM
I always face down on the descent. I like to see what's coming toward me (all those coming up). I feel very safe, and it doesn't feel awkward.
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