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Re: Another death on Half Dome

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Another death on Half Dome
June 13, 2009 08:55PM
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/06/13/state/n192648D13.DTL&tsp=1

Why can't the park service modify the cables enough to give anyone who lost his grip and fell a chance to self arrest? Maybe add two more long cables stretched along and attached to the bottom of the poles with shorter vertical cables spaced at one foot intervals. With the additional cables, anyone who slipped and fell would have a chance to grab onto something before picking up speed, losing control and tumbling off of the mountain.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 13, 2009 09:07PM
This is crazy. The weather as of late has made the rock even more slippery but people don't seem to have the sense to see the danger. Last weeks incident, in addition to the wet granite, was hampered by being overly cold and tired.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 13, 2009 09:20PM
The weather on Saturday made for dangerous conditions, and some 30 other Half Dome climbers were being escorted down by rangers on Saturday evening.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hZw4r-0oJMRB0pqhBHl0iONeF8JwD98Q6RA00
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 13, 2009 09:26PM
Be careful. Government preys on the meek and helpless.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 13, 2009 11:37PM
Quote
Vince
Be careful. Government preys on the meek and helpless.

Stated without supporting evidence.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 06:39AM
Let me preface this by saying that I am a big fan of Half Dome, so much that I tried to make it a rite of passage for my kids to gain some experience with a challenging physical and mental obstacle.

Times and conditions change.

The cables are not "untrammelled" wilderness but exist and are maintained by the Park Service. This route is not an unmarked freely accessible rock scramble. Effectively hikers have only the cables as a route to the top of Half Dome and according to Park Service rules about off trail travel (cutting across switchbacks) it could be argued that hiking closeby but outside the cables is illegal. I believe that the track up Half Dome between the cables has become more slippery over the decades. In addition, there has been a crush of people at times on the cables producing a "people related" danger as the access to holds on the cables is compromised by too many hands on the cable and too many feet on the wood crossbars.

If people started falling off Glacier Point because erosion or overuse had made the area very slippery during bad weather or so many were on Glacier Point trying to see the views that people got pushed off, what would happen? What happened when people started going over Vernal Falls while trying to swim in the area known as the Silver Apron?

Liability is a frontier with changing borders (consider the effectiveness of the tobacco lawsuits recently). A successful liability action will certainly result in changes in access to Half Dome. In addition, there is an overdue study of Half Dome Cable use. I wonder what it will show and recommend. I'm afraid that we will be seeing some substantial changes to access in the near future.


http://www.nps.gov/yose/naturescience/half-dome-cables.htm



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 06:53AM
Quote
Frank Furter
In addition, there has been a crush of people at times on the cables producing a "people related" danger as the access to holds on the cables is compromised by too many hands on the cable and too many feet on the wood crossbars.

What happened when people started going over Vernal Falls while trying to swim in the area known as the Silver Apron?

Liability is a frontier with changing borders

I agree. This has to be addressed. At the very least, a sign similar to the one near Vernal Fall warning that people regularly die from being on the cables when the rock is wet and/or ......?

Maybe a similar sign at HI trailhead. I think that by the time people get to the cables they are so determined to make it to the top that they don't have reason. If they had in mind the possibility of the sub-dome being their destination from the beginning, maybe it would come easier to end there, if needed.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/14/2009 01:11PM by sierranomad.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:05PM
Quote
Frank Furter
The cables are not "untrammelled" wilderness but exist and are maintained by the Park Service. This route is not an unmarked freely accessible rock scramble. Effectively hikers have only the cables as a route to the top of Half Dome and according to Park Service rules about off trail travel (cutting across switchbacks) it could be argued that hiking closeby but outside the cables is illegal.

That's REALLY a stretch. Off-trail hiking is discouraged period, but not illegal. They would prefer everyone stay on approved trails, but that's because it's easier for them.

Try going into the visitor's center and asking for help finding the route to Sierra Point. It's not illegal to go there, but pretty unlikely you'll get any official help in finding it.

There are other routes up HD, Snake Dyke and the face; those aren't illegal. And I don't see any switchbacks on the cable route.

As far as the signs, there are already signs warning about going up during threat of a storm, you can see how much good those do. As much good as the warnings to slow down driving in reduced visibility...yet every dust storm or fog bank on I-5 has people plowing into each other because they didn't pay any attention, just like the people who climb HD with a storm on the way...those warnings are for someone else.

I suppose signs wouldn't do any harm, but what about the rest of it, like we see on products?

"Warning do not eat these rocks. Do not throw them at people's heads. Do not fall on them. Do not attempt to roll down the cable route in a ball. Do not wear roller skates, inline skates, or ice skates while ascending. Do not run down. Do not lick the cables. Do not ascend in winter at night naked and spend the night on top. Do not jump off the top. Don't stand by the edge if it's windy. Don't run down the face. Do not attempt to slide down. No skateboarding. No bicycles. Do not tightrope walk the cables. Do not smear Jello on feet before ascending."

There are lots more, it would need to be a big sign.



Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:19PM
Quote
Sierrafan
Quote
Frank Furter
The cables are not "untrammelled" wilderness but exist and are maintained by the Park Service. This route is not an unmarked freely accessible rock scramble. Effectively hikers have only the cables as a route to the top of Half Dome and according to Park Service rules about off trail travel (cutting across switchbacks) it could be argued that hiking closeby but outside the cables is illegal.

That's REALLY a stretch. Off-trail hiking is discouraged period, but not illegal.

See: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm

"Cutting Switchbacks
While hiking anywhere in Yosemite, do not take shortcuts off the trail or across switchbacks; this causes trail erosion and is illegal."



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 09:00PM
Quote
Frank Furter
See: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm
"Cutting Switchbacks
While hiking anywhere in Yosemite, do not take shortcuts off the trail or across switchbacks; this causes trail erosion and is illegal."

Again, I don't see any relationship between cutting switchbacks (for which the reasons for being illegal/damaging are obvious) and the Half Dome cables, which aren't switchbacks, the route if one goes outside the cables is not a shortcut, and there is no dirt to erode.

I'm with Vince, Bill, and others on this who say leave it be; fools will do what they will do, careless people will continue to ignore warnings, and accidents will happen to even people who are careful at times. These last two incidents are both people doing what they shouldn't, and there are consequences to that. If they choose to do things like go up when it's wet, they're tired, it's beyond their abilities, they need to accept any consequences for their decision. I'll be happy to accept responsibility for my decisions as to where I do and don't go, and when, and don't want to be "protected" for the sake of people who make bad decisions.



Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 10:33PM
Quote
Sierrafan
Quote
Frank Furter
See: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm
"Cutting Switchbacks
While hiking anywhere in Yosemite, do not take shortcuts off the trail or across switchbacks; this causes trail erosion and is illegal."

Again, I don't see any relationship between cutting switchbacks (for which the reasons for being illegal/damaging are obvious) and the Half Dome cables, which aren't switchbacks, the route if one goes outside the cables is not a shortcut, and there is no dirt to erode.

The critical phrase is "do not take shortcuts off the trail" which is termed "illegal" in the paraphrased regulation. People become impatient and hike outside the cables as a shortcut to avoid waiting for those moving slowly between the cables. But, my point is merely to make the argument that hikers may be constrained by park regulations, recommendations, or the unique circumstances of the Half Dome to stay on a trail which is within the cables, but that route (between the cables) has deteriorated and become progressively more slippery over the decades. I believe, for all hikers, it is more dangerous now, even under ideal weather conditions, than it was 40 yrs ago (my first hike to top) when the granite was less slick and the crowds were less. Perhaps that increased danger is acceptable; perhaps not.

Whether increased danger is also related to park regulations, diminished judgment of all members of society, global warming, reduced athleticism of the hikers, poorly worded warnings, lack of ranger oversight, excessive use of mood elevating drugs, or something else is a matter of discussion.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/14/2009 10:36PM by Frank Furter.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 05:31PM
Sierra Nick,

While we often needle each other in fun and have spirited discussions it is not customarily accepted to make personal attacks on other forum members, at least on this forum site. I for one would appreciate it if you would take it elsewhere. Your recent posts regarding Vince would be more appropriate for private messaging. Thank you.

Jim
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 05:59PM
I agree. PM the guy if you have an issue or PM the moderator and hash it out with him. Let people figure things out for themselves as everyone comes here with a clean slate and only they should mess it up.



Old Dude
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 13, 2009 09:44PM
Quote
KenS
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/06/13/state/n192648D13.DTL&tsp=1

Why can't the park service modify the cables enough to give anyone who lost his grip and fell a chance to self arrest? Maybe add two more long cables stretched along and attached to the bottom of the poles with shorter vertical cables spaced at one foot intervals. With the additional cables, anyone who slipped and fell would have a chance to grab onto something before picking up speed, losing control and tumbling off of the mountain.

I'm sorry, but I have to completely disagree. After reading this article, the very last thing on my mind is how the park service could do this or should do that. Gimme a break! Why don't we just install large stantion poles which would protrude out from the mountain, and install nets, so people are "safer"?!?!? While they're at it, toss in a few pillows and some teddy bears, so visitors could take a nap too. Look, hiking Half Dome is not a right, not a privelege, it's an arduous physical challenge in which visitors MUST take full responsibility for. They have to know their own limitations, as well as the day's weather limitations. IF THE ROCK IS WET THEN DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SCALE A 45 DEGREE GRANITE COUNTERTOP IN WHICH MISTAKES WILL COST YOU A 4,800 FOOT DROP AND YOUR LIFE.

I'm sorry the guy died, and I make no bones about the fact I do not know what happened in this particular case, but if it comes out that the weather was poor, and the rock was wet, then frankly, he should have known better. If it was purely an accident on a perfectly sunny day, then that's too bad also, but this should not be put on the Park Service in any way. Period.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/13/2009 09:45PM by cthenn.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 13, 2009 09:49PM
There's only so much you can possibly do to warn folks of what they're about to step in.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 07:45AM
Either they should eliminate the cables completely, preventing unqualified and unequipped people from attempting the climb, or else build something stable and secure, similar to the masonry stairway on Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park. Two masonry stairways, one up and one down, with non-metallic guardrails, and even safety nets every 30 feet to catch anyone that falls outside the railing. Either that or just eliminate all man-made modifications completely and leave Half Dome just to the rock climbers.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:26AM
Legal implications aside, I think at the very least a large sign should be posted just across the Happy Isles bridge with something to the following effect:

WARING TO ALL HALF DOME HIKERS

A number of people have died or received serious injuries attempting to climb the final 400' on the Half Dome cables. (accompany this line with a couple small photos of the crowded cables) The summit is a 4,800' ascent and over 16-mile round trip. This can be a difficult and dangerous hike.

This hike should not be attempted if:

1. You are beginning after 10:00 AM.
2. You are not physically fit.
3. You are not carrying an ample supply of water.
4. You do not have hiking shoes.
5. You do not have protective clothing in event of sudden storms.
6. There is threatening weather.
7. You are not prepared for heavy 2-way traffic on the cables.

Half Dome is a very popular and enjoyable destination but many people are not prepared for the environmental and physical challenges it presents.
Are you prepared?



Such a sign would in no way protect the really stupid people who ignore it but would at least provide sensible folks who have never done anything like this before some clue as to what is entailed. I don't think this hike should be denied from the general public due to its tremendous popularity and number of people who do in fact manage it quite well without mishap or regrets.

Jim
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 09:29AM
Those kind of warnings you find on the Grand Canyon National Park website (http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/day-hiking.htm), and I also remember seeing like warnings posted at the trailheads and even down at Phantom Ranch.

After a fatal glissading accident down the chute from Trail Crest on Mt Whitney, there also was a discussion on the WhitneyPortalStore website about placing a warning sign up at Trail Crest. While the Mt Whitney hikers are more prepared and experienced than most Half Dome hikers, even they can use some local knowledge that can be a matter of life and death.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 10:25AM
I like this idea!

When I was there last Saturday, we helped a young man who was wet and cold, and when I asked him why he came up without a coat and just a cotton t shirt and thin rain poncho, he said someone at the visitor center said it was going to be a nice day.

Maybe an informative sign might have educated him a bit. Luckily he listened to us and retreated shirtless with the heavier poncho we gave him.

I love Yosemite and want others to have the wonderful experiences I have had over the years but not everyone researches and asks for experienced help before they head out.

A sign like this is kind of like talking to someone in the know before you go.

Can someone tell me what happened this Saturday?
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:31AM
Quote
Bob Weaver
eliminate the cables completely, preventing unqualified and unequipped people from attempting the climb....



The most rational suggestion of all.

Eliminate Disneyland North.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 10:29AM
It's not the unqualified under-equipped people that fall off. It's the idiots that go up against well established and posted warnings.



Old Dude
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 11:46AM
It is sad to hear a person has died. To me it is also worse to hear the talk of more controls on our activities. I am from New Jersey and have climbed Half Dome 3 times. When younger we were runners and out fitness level was excellent. Now we walk and hike and our fitness level is still excellent. On one of our climbs I was taking pictures of people along the edge. I was about a yard away from the edge and I noticed through the view finder a person along the edge I was photographing was aiming his camera towards me. Curious as to why he was taking that picture, I glanced to my left and not more than 4 feet away from me was a young lady doing a hand stand at the edge. I cautiously backed away, turned and left that spot without looking back. I was fuming that there are so many idiots that cause the rest of us to lose parts of our freedom.
As my name implies I am a young, "old timer" I remember when I moved to my current house many of the roads had speed limits of 35 to 50 miles per hour now these are mostly down to 25 miles per hour. Things that took a few minutes to accomplish now take twice as long. Hunting has been limited so our landscaping has been decimated by the deer. Also you can't walk along trails that pass beautiful lakes and ponds without hop scotching around Canadian Geese droppings. On the football fields of some of the local high schools there are so many droppings the players are getting sick from them.
Why do I bring these points up, because our liberties, enjoyments and fun things are being taken away because our society is interfering with nature. The animals that have become pests have done so because we have eliminated all their natural enemies. Yet right now you hear the complaints of the Goose culling that is talked about around the NYC airports. In this forum you read about some additional controls to stop those with inadequate brains from causing their own deaths. Why?
I wonder how many of the people that are clamoring for more controls climbed Half Dome themselves.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 03:15PM
Quote
fitoldtimer

I wonder how many of the people that are clamoring for more controls climbed Half Dome themselves.

You made some very good points. And I wonder, though of course we can't know for sure, if that person would want it as his legacy...that because of this the cables were removed and the Half Dome experience ended for thousands who would have successfully climbed and enjoyed in the future. I certainly wouldn't want that to happen if it were me that fell.



Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 03:48PM
Injuries from natural events and the expectation for redress is not a unique American phenomon:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1193145/Woman-hit-falling-branch-countryside-strolls-SUES-government-agency-damages.html?ITO=1490

Woman teacher hit on head by falling branch sues Environment Agency for £300,000
A woman is suing the Environment Agency for £300,000 - after a tree branch fell on her head during a countryside stroll.
Teacher Doreen Prior, who was left with a cut head, says she has been unable to work since the accident - and fears she could consequently lose her home.
Her lawyers believe if she wins it could force the agency to check every tree it maintains across Britain to prevent further people being hurt and launching legal action.....



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 06:02PM
You mean she didn't become a nymphomaniac?



Old Dude
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:36AM
On Thursday I talked to a 70 year old woman climb up the cables, and heard a 9 year old boy also made it up. I myself did not make it over the shoulder. This is a NP not disneyland. people know the animals are wild and the trails are dangerous. I dont want any restrictions on my hiking. People should understand the risk.

If you put up one sign with warnings, it better be in every know written language in the world.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:39AM
Quote
michaelg
If you put up one sign with warnings, it better be in every know written language in the world.

Why? None of the other trail signs in the park are multilingual, to my knowledge.

Jiml
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 01:49PM
Quote
tomdisco
Quote
michaelg
If you put up one sign with warnings, it better be in every know written language in the world.

Why? None of the other trail signs in the park are multilingual, to my knowledge.

Jiml

ISTR at least a couple of multilingual signs in Yosemite. One is at Nevada Falls I believe, warning people to stay out of the water.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 02:03PM
Quote
krusovice
Quote
tomdisco
Quote
michaelg
If you put up one sign with warnings, it better be in every know written language in the world.

Why? None of the other trail signs in the park are multilingual, to my knowledge.

Jiml

ISTR at least a couple of multilingual signs in Yosemite. One is at Nevada Falls I believe, warning people to stay out of the water.


At the top of Yosemite Falls - English and Spanish
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 02:18PM
The warning message at Nevada Falls is in German, French, Spanish, and an Asian language (looks like Japanese).

Of course, there's only so much they can do. It's up to the individual to use his/her best judgment and common sense.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 02:50PM
Quote
tomdisco
Quote
michaelg
If you put up one sign with warnings, it better be in every know written language in the world.

Why? None of the other trail signs in the park are multilingual, to my knowledge.

Jiml
What I am trying to say is, if you plan on trying to protect people from themselves, you need a sign for everyone to read. I knew my limits and did not go any farther. I do not need someone else to tell me what is safe. I can figure it out myself.

Any more avbout the person who died?
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 04:09PM
http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_12589788
San Ramon man falls to death from Half Dome in Yosemite
By Laura Dudnick
Bay City News Service
Posted: 06/14/2009 02:16:18 PM PDT
Updated: 06/14/2009 02:16:19 PM PDT
A hiker who fell possibly hundreds of feet to his death from Yosemite National Park's Half Dome on Saturday has been identified as 40-year-old Manoj Kumar of San Ramon, a park ranger said today.
.......
"The weather was not ideal for the hike," Cobb said. "That definitely played a big part. It gets really slippery when it gets wet."
Cobb said Kumar's body was being recovered late this morning.
The last person to fatally fall from Half Dome was a Japanese hiker in June 2007, who also slipped and fell from the cables....



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:25PM
Quote
Frank Furter
http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_12589788
San Ramon man falls to death from Half Dome in Yosemite
By Laura Dudnick
Bay City News Service
Posted: 06/14/2009 02:16:18 PM PDT
Updated: 06/14/2009 02:16:19 PM PDT
A hiker who fell possibly hundreds of feet to his death from Yosemite National Park's Half Dome on Saturday has been identified as 40-year-old Manoj Kumar of San Ramon, a park ranger said today.
.......
"The weather was not ideal for the hike," Cobb said. "That definitely played a big part. It gets really slippery when it gets wet."
Cobb said Kumar's body was being recovered late this morning.
The last person to fatally fall from Half Dome was a Japanese hiker in June 2007, who also slipped and fell from the cables....

Again, very sad story, but two things in this article made me laugh:

1) Half Dome, a granite monolith and one of the most popular hikes in Yosemite, is 17 miles roundtrip. Cobb said the experience of climbing it is "like hiking up a big, granite dome."

So hiking HD is LIKE hiking up a big, granite dome??? Oh, I can imagine it much better now...

2) "The weather was not ideal for the hike," Cobb said. "That definitely played a big part. It gets really slippery when it gets wet."

So rocks get slippery when they get wet? I honestly don't know which statement is sillier.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:39AM
WARNING: You are entering a National Park and you may die.

WARNING: You are about to get in your car and drive to a National Park and you may die.

WARNING: Stay home.

How ridiculous do you want to get on this?
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:52AM
Quote
Vince
WARNING: You are entering a National Park and you may die.

WARNING: You are about to get in your car and drive to a National Park and you may die.

WARNING: Stay home.

How ridiculous do you want to get on this?

Vince,

I don't think it's ridiculous to provide a caution/information sign of this nature to such a popular and misunderstood hike. I certainly understand that there are a multitude of other dangerous trails and overlooks lacking caution signs or railings but most of them lack the unique dangers presented by Half Dome, mostly due to simple ignorance/lack of being properly informed. Right now I think it's unfortunate that folks adequately prepared for this hike have to share it with so many folks who are not prepared. For the most part I share your feelings about not trying to protect the stupid from their predetermined life experiences. I just don't want to share the experience with them.

Jim
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 09:01AM
Quote
tomdisco
Quote
Vince
WARNING: You are entering a National Park and you may die.

WARNING: You are about to get in your car and drive to a National Park and you may die.

WARNING: Stay home.

How ridiculous do you want to get on this?

Vince,

I don't think it's ridiculous to provide a caution/information sign of this nature to such a popular and misunderstood hike. I certainly understand that there are a multitude of other dangerous trails and overlooks lacking caution signs or railings but most of them lack the unique dangers presented by Half Dome, mostly due to simple ignorance/lack of being properly informed. Right now I think it's unfortunate that folks adequately prepared for this hike have to share it with so many folks who are not prepared. For the most part I share your feelings about not trying to protect the stupid from their predetermined life experiences. I just don't want to share the experience with them.

Jim

I see your point but I don't agree with it.

I think a trail quota would be a better option. The Mount Whitney quota seems to work well, at lately there seems to be an equal number of deaths at both (i.e., hardly any).
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 04:57PM
Quote
Vince
I think a trail quota would be a better option.

I don't.

Quote

The Mount Whitney quota seems to work well

I call used-bovine-feed.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 09:11AM
Wow, I can't believe some of these responses. I see the pussification of America continues unabated. Here's a solution on par with some proposed within this thread. I suggest the Park Service install escalators to the top of Half Dome with soothing Kenny G music accompanying the slow and SAFE ride up to the top. But just in case any silly silly person decides to leave the safety of the escalator, let's install comfy plush top mattresses just outside the SAFETY of the escalator. Then those silly people would be SAFE! They can staff the escalator route with Park Personnel who could waggle their fingers at those people, and say "OK, don't do that ok? Is that ok? You should be SAFE ok???" Oh, but the escalator has to be powered by human happiness and joy, not evil coal or nuclear power, because we have to be green in addition to being SAFE! And make sure we also have a SIGN in every possible language (including Ebonics) stating that riding the escalator may make your feet tired, and you may need to have a rest upon reaching the top.

And if we just can't make it SAFE for the most disgustingly fat or completely idiotic people who try to go to the top, well, then let's just take our ball and go home. Take it all down and then that fixes everything. Because of a few (out of thousands) people have accidents, then we just have to make drastic changes and get rid of the historic cables so we can prevent such tragedies and keep America SAFE! But then what happens the next time a climber dies?? We can install a friendly sign that says CLIMBING A VERTICAL ROCK FACE SEVERAL THOUSAND FEET IS A DANGEROUS ACTIVITY! Uh-duh.

Ri-dic-u-lous!!!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/14/2009 09:14AM by cthenn.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 09:16AM
So, I take it that you are too lazy to learn how to properly rock climb?
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 11:36AM
Quote
szalkowski
So, I take it that you are too lazy to learn how to properly rock climb?

I have no desire to learn how to rock climb, nor do I have any desire to hike up Half Dome again. But then again I'm not a person foolish enough to hike up HD's cables when it's cold and wet. Darwin takes those who are.

However, I also have no desire to turn America into the land of the pussies where unless something is made ultra downy soft, no one is allowed to undertake dangerous activities (and I'll argue that hiking up the cables is far less dangerous than a whole crapload of things we do everyday). But apparently you are. So I guess we just disagree. You go live in your world of signs and nets and padding, and if you can't make it SAFE then why, we'll just do what it takes to protect people from themselves.

Yuck... not where I want to live.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/14/2009 11:37AM by cthenn.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 11:45AM
The only thing I would possibly agree with in changing the Half Dome hike is making the language stronger in the standard park guide everyone gets at the entrance. Straight up saying PEOPLE HAVE DIED ON THE CABLE ROUTE in bold letters should get people's attention. Tell them EXACTLY how dangerous the route can be, and then leave it up to the individual. Choices have to be made by the individual, not the park service. If a person feels that wearing their 10 year old sketchers and carrying a 1-L bottle of water is enough for them, then so be it.

I'm still undecided on a quota, but there really are way too many people who queue up at the cables on summer weekends. THAT is a situation which can create problems, especially those who then choose to go on the outside of the cables, or get impatient and angry.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/14/2009 11:46AM by cthenn.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 09:23AM
Quote

Because of a few (out of thousands) people have accidents, then we just have to make drastic changes and get rid of the historic cables so we can prevent such tragedies and keep America SAFE! But then what happens the next time a climber dies?? We can install a friendly sign that says CLIMBING A VERTICAL ROCK FACE SEVERAL THOUSAND FEET IS A DANGEROUS ACTIVITY! Uh-duh.

The NPS doesn't regulate traditional rockclimbing except to limit the placement of permanent anchors. Half Dome, unfortunately, is a different sitch. I don't argue for making it "safe" but I think that it has become preventably more dangerous. The question is what can or should be done with an increasingly dangerous situation.

One can argue against tort law and liability lawyers, but they are a fact of life in this society and I doubt that any aspect of our life has not been made somewhat safer by their actions. We may dislike the concept in a "pure" society, but they actually provide an important check on the tendancy toward expediency of companies, organizations, professionals and governments and the efficient disregard for unsafe, preventable aspects of governmental policy, drugs, tools, recordkeeping, professional practice, unsafe products, etc..



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/14/2009 09:25AM by Frank Furter.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 10:47AM
At some point, individuals have to bear responsibility for the risks they undertake. I know nothing about this poor hiker, but if he was on the cables at 3:40 in a hail/rain storm, he chose poorly. As I posted on the thread about last week's incident, we started back about 2 and it started raining shortly after that. I was amazed to see the number of hikers still trudging towards Half Dome, many in tennis shoes with their only equipment being a liter bottle of Aquafina the bought at Curry Village. A quota or permit system such as Whitney will does not gauge the skill, fitness or IQ level of the applicant. There has to be a certain level of "caveat emptor".

Maybe more signage advising people of the dangers or to be prepared would help, or something a la the sign at the Mt. Whitney trailhead that simply states...

"People DIE Here!"

Prayers for the family of the hiker.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 11:12AM
It is evident every time this Half Dome safety issue comes up that one thing is certain. We never agree on the solution or whether or not a solution is even required. In that we are consistent. Yeah! LOL

Jim
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 11:48AM
I had to backtrack on my opinion after doing some research. It's been a while since I hiked Half Dome. I was really shocked to see how congested it has gotten. Nobody hiked in Teva sandals when I did it. I also don't recall anyone going outside the cables. It was a different era.

I think a permit system might be a good idea and hiking boots should be required. Not because it would prevent another person from falling to his death, but as Frank put it, a catastrophe where lots of people could be knocked off the cables. I mean as far as individuals go, only 3 have died from falling off the cables since they were put up. I did some googling to find this out. So the permits are not going to make much of a difference in that respect. They'll only make a difference preventing the scary possibility that someone could fall and knock a lot of people off. The two times I went up there weren't that many people so I didn't have to worry about that. But now, I'd be scared of some hotshot in Tevas dancing around the cables and then falling down on me...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/15/2009 02:25AM by rightstar76.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 12:04PM
The Human Airbag for fall protection:


http://www.iatselocalone.org/safety/Sineonov.pdf

See slide 23 and 25



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 12:43PM
Frank,

I'm sitting here chuckling. You are going to get crucified for your airbag submission. Got your flame proof suit on?

Jim
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 02:05PM
It will be argued over endlessly, until the day comes when (hopefully not) there is a catastrophic incident when parties who are 100% innocent are affected by parties at fault. For example, a person falling from the top of the cables knocks down other people who were obeying all rules and were properly prepared, and they all come down like a set of dominoes. Then the park service will have to do something to protect those who were playing strictly by the rules from those who were not. Sadly it takes a major tragedy before real change happens.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 05:59PM
I would have to agree, everything in life is a hazard. I ride a motorcycle and at any point i could get in a collision and be killed, should we ban motorcycles. I work for the goverment and i see all of the rights we are losing. We don't need rangers all over the backcountry with a new law book. It is the WILDerness, lets leave it alone.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 07:47PM
Quote
Roadrash
I would have to agree, everything in life is a hazard. I ride a motorcycle and at any point i could get in a collision and be killed, should we ban motorcycles. I work for the goverment and i see all of the rights we are losing. We don't need rangers all over the backcountry with a new law book. It is the WILDerness, lets leave it alone.

Fatalism and nihilism are simple but unreasonable, unsophisticated and unproductive philosophies. Dangerous activities can be made safer; unregulated wilderness will not be wild for long.

I think there was a discussion on this forum about whether the Yosemite backcountry is wilderness. I don't think it has received that designation. Nevertheless, I don't disagree that certain activities are inherently dangerous and wilderness should be left wild. Unfortunately, even Native Americans produced a human impact on the wilderness and our current society unchecked would essentially assault, consume and quickly destroy whatever elements of wilderness that still exist. especially in California. Without regulation and oversight, the Sierra would be overrun by inconsiderate, self-serving individuals leaving trash, chopping down trees, killing wildlife. building permanent structures and abusing the resources. The issue is not whether there should be regulation, rangers, or limits , the issue is how much and where. Most restrictions are driven by bad experience (and bad experience is produced by poor regulation).

It is possible to ameliorate inherently dangerous activities. Motorcycle riders expect that roads have adequate and appropriately functioning traffic signs; motorcycle purchasers would expect the brakes and steering to function properly, motorcyclists expect that motorists appropiately yield the right of way, etc. In the case of Half Dome, there has been systematic human action and intent exercised on the access to the top. The question is, how can the process be made safer.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan




Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/14/2009 08:26PM by Frank Furter.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:15PM
Quote
Frank Furter
I think there was a discussion on this forum about whether the Yosemite backcountry is wilderness. I don't think it has received that designation. Nevertheless, I don't disagree that certain activities are inherently dangerous and wilderness should be left wild.

Yosemite NP is about 97% Congressionally designated wilderness by land area. I think what's been discussed (and surprising) is that there is no Congressionally designated wilderness in either Yellowstone NP or Grand Canyon NP.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:22PM
Quote
y_p_w
Quote
Frank Furter
I think there was a discussion on this forum about whether the Yosemite backcountry is wilderness. I don't think it has received that designation. Nevertheless, I don't disagree that certain activities are inherently dangerous and wilderness should be left wild.

Yosemite NP is about 97% Congressionally designated wilderness by land area. I think what's been discussed (and surprising) is that there is no Congressionally designated wilderness in either Yellowstone NP or Grand Canyon NP.

Right. My error.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 08:15PM
Bob Weaver and Szalkowski...please don't ruin the Half Dome hike for the 99.99999999999999% of people who take the proper precautions and do the hike successfully. I feel badly for the person who died, but taking down the cables is a ridiculous idea. Can the nanny-state leave at least a couple of things for us to do beyond its control?

Just as many people have been killed riding bikes in Yosemite this week as have died on Half Dome. How about banning all bikes from the park, too?

I don't enjoy tractor pulls, NASCAR, and a lot of other things. But people doing those things don't bother me, so why do I care? If you don't think the cables are safe, no one is forcing you to use them. Suggesting that we either learn to rock climb the face of Half Dome, or don't go to the top at all makes as much sense as saying if I can't drive 200 mph, I shouldn't be allowed to drive 50 mph.

One person (out of tens of thousands) tragically dies and some want to stop the whole thing. Craziness.

This is not original, but sums up my thoughts on regulations:

"If you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solutions."



Bill
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 09:01PM
Wow, That's crazy. I heard the YOSAR helicopter fly over no less than 7 times on Saturday. We got rained and hailed on and when it rained, it rained very hard. The top of Half Dome was hidden by cloud cover for much of the day. I even said to my wife that some not very smart people would be attempting it. I was amazed at how completely unprepared people were...especially when you could see the inclement weather with your own eyes.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 09:26PM
Quote
cornbread
Wow, That's crazy. I heard the YOSAR helicopter fly over no less than 7 times on Saturday. We got rained and hailed on and when it rained, it rained very hard. The top of Half Dome was hidden by cloud cover for much of the day. I even said to my wife that some not very smart people would be attempting it. I was amazed at how completely unprepared people were...especially when you could see the inclement weather with your own eyes.


Apparently 3 guys from Wales were planning to climb Half Dome this past weekend (from the Hikehalfdome.com website blog June 12). Wonder how they did.
For background info see:
http://www.360toyosemite.org.uk/



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 09:30PM
Just for reference, this pic was taken at 3:04. The guy fell at 3:40...



It was really raining hard between 3 and 4.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 09:41PM
We camped at the top of the Snow Creek Switchbacks a couple of weeks ago during several days of thunderstorms and rain in Yosemite. From our camp there was a perfect silhouette view of the cable route.

I was amazed to see hikers on the cables while it rained and thundered all around.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 14, 2009 10:09PM
I was on halfdome yesterday about 30 minutes before everything went haywire. The people who were up on the cables made an unwise choice. There was hail, cold rain, dark clouds and wind surrounding half dome. The weather was looking ominous for hours before the storm rolled in. At one point from the dip on the shoulder I could not see halfdome or the cables from a distance of 50 feet. The shoulder (quarter dome) was littered with slipping, clumsy hikers. The hail and rain had made everything very slick. We made the decision to not attempt the cables, people are nuts, they get summit fever and lose all judgement. I feel sorry for the victim, but he was a victim of his bad judgement. I think half dome is going to be around for awhile, there is always another day.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 07:24AM
Some more info...

June 14, 2009 - At about 3:40 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, 2009, Yosemite Emergency Communications Center received 911 calls regarding an individual who had fallen from the cables on Half Dome. Manoj Kumar, a 40 year old male from San Ramon, California, had gone to the top of Half Dome and was descending. Day time weather conditions mirrored those of the last several weeks with clouds developing midday with afternoon showers.

At the time of the 911 calls individuals on the summit reported being caught in a hail storm and unable to descend. The park helicopter transported two Park Rangers to the scene of the fatality. Upon arrival Park Rangers accessed the victim and determined he was deceased from severe system trauma.

An additional team of five Park Rangers were flown to Half Dome to begin the controlled evacuation of 41 visitors from the summit and cables. Many of the individuals had been unable to descend due to the incident, as well as exposure to the cold and wet elements which they had experienced for nearly two hours. The evacuation was completed by 8:15 Saturday evening; however, it was nearly 1:45 this morning before all visitors had returned to the trailhead.

There is an ongoing investigation which is focusing on the actions of the individual that led to the slip and fall, any contributing factors, as well as wet rock due to rainfall.

The last hiker who died on Half Dome was Hirofumi Nohara, who slipped to his death on the cables on June 16, 2007.

Two other Half Dome fatalities involved women who were hiking on Half Dome when the cables were down. These were Jennifer Bettles, who died on April 21, 2007 and Emily Sandal, who died on November 8, 2006.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 09:33AM
Quote
cornbread
An additional team of five Park Rangers were flown to Half Dome to begin the controlled evacuation of 41 visitors from the summit and cables. Many of the individuals had been unable to descend due to the incident, as well as exposure to the cold and wet elements which they had experienced for nearly two hours. The evacuation was completed by 8:15 Saturday evening; however, it was nearly 1:45 this morning before all visitors had returned to the trailhead.

What's the going rate nowadays for a helicopter rescue?
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 10:17AM
Quote
Vince
What's the going rate nowadays for a helicopter rescue?



Looked it up in connection with another thread a couple months ago. Believe that it was approx. $4k.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 02:51PM
If anything spoils the Half Dome trip for the rest of us, it will be due to people like the ones we've been reading about, and the park service getting tired of having to rescue people who don't use common sense from situations of their own making.

They could have left early to avoid the predictable afternoon storms; they didn't.

They could have made the hike, but heeded obvious warnings including the signs at the base of the cables, and just enjoyed the rest of the hike and views, skipping the summit; they didn't.

They could have done a little basic research on a 17-mile strenuous hike that most people should plan for well in advance, and known what to expect and what to watch for. They apparently didn't.

They could have, when this year's unusual weather pattern set in to stay for a while, changed their plans and done one of the many other hikes around the park, even from the valley.

They had to helicopter lift rangers in for things that should have never happened. Maybe they should split the cost between those 41 who foolishly got themselves stranded. Charging people for rescue services is something they don't like to do, because they don't want people being reluctant to accept help because they can't afford it. That makes sense, and if it's some unforseen circumstance that caused it, no reason the person needing help should be charged.

The situation reminds me of the group "leader" in the book "Shattered Air", where two of them looked up from the warning sign at the cables, with rain, thunderheads, thunder and lightning around, and Rice, the lead fool, proclaiming "F... it; this is our mountain. Let's just do it!". Unfortunately, that's probably the amount of thought and the depth of it that a lot of people use.



Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 18, 2009 09:59PM
The father of Emily Sandall hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2008 in her memory, one of several PCT journals I followed last year.

http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=217061
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 19, 2009 09:51AM
Quote
KenS
The father of Emily Sandall hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2008 in her memory, one of several PCT journals I followed last year.

http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=217061



Ken,
Lovely, touching tribute. Thank you for the link.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 19, 2009 10:10AM
Len/Ken,

I too, read the journal last night; It was remarkably touching in its celebration of life.

I am hoping that after a week of seeing "Death.." as our lead-in thread, it will gently, gracefully make way for a new day, and another chance to get it right.

I am so fortunate to be heading to Yosemite this weekend, once again, and I hope to bring back happy memories and a bagfull of stories...Dana...Dana...Dana...

Busy Bee
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 10:13AM
I wonder how many idiots went up the cables during the period of time when the route was wet. Two times in two weekends, a fall.

All but one of the deaths in the last few years save one happened when either the cables were down or it was wet. I wonder what the total number of people is that try this climb under these adverse conditions. What are the odds of dieing under them?



Old Dude
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 10:45AM
Quote
mrcondron
I wonder how many idiots went up the cables during the period of time when the route was wet. Two times in two weekends, a fall.

All but one of the deaths in the last few years save one happened when either the cables were down or it was wet. I wonder what the total number of people is that try this climb under these adverse conditions. What are the odds of dieing under them?

I think both of them before the summer of 2007 were when the cables were down AND it was wet. I remember reading more about Jennifer Bettles who died in April 2007. Apparently she was into investments, in her early 40s, and in recent years had taken up cross-country foot racing. I found some photos of her competing. She was probably very fit but didn't really look like an athlete. She probably had a whole lot of confidence from her fitness level, but I suspect that she didn't necessarily take into account factors beyond just her fitness, like the wet weather and that nasty drop down the cables.

Remember we were discussing the ethics of clipping oneself to the cables? While many thought it could be unethical (risk of knocking people off with the equipment) when the cables were up, it might be different when they're down. There are rarely people on the cables when they're down, and the difficulty would be different. I'm not sure what equipment would be needed though, since the cables themselves wouldn't have stanchions to arrest anything. Perhaps some sort of locking cam device. Maybe a set of ascenders for going up and descenders for going down.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 11:08AM
Quote
y_p_w

There are rarely people on the cables when they're down, and the difficulty would be different. I'm not sure what equipment would be needed though, since the cables themselves wouldn't have stanchions to arrest anything. Perhaps some sort of locking cam device. Maybe a set of ascenders for going up and descenders for going down.

That's another thought. How about another set of cables, one for up and one for down? Certainly would be cheaper than helicopter rescues for 41 people. Or, just shut the trail in bad weather (I don't think that's do-able).

I don't think a sign would do any good. There are signs on cigarettes and booze and no one reads those, either.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 11:10AM
There is equipment that will allow for a self arrest but with climbing gear you need to be proficient in it's use. A person that gets to that level of proficiency is by definition not an idiot. They've been weeded out before then. Any sort of climbing gear being used by the general Half Dome hiker would lead to an increase in fatalities.

Anybody that doesn't want to die on Half Dome needs to do only two things:

Heed the warning signs
Stay focused
Virtually every fatality on Half Dome including lightening strikes involved ignoring one of both of these simple things.

Between one and two million people of all ilks have gone up and down the cables without getting killed.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 11:14AM
Quote
cornbread
The last hiker who died on Half Dome was Hirofumi Nohara, who slipped to his death on the cables on June 16, 2007.

Two other Half Dome fatalities involved women who were hiking on Half Dome when the cables were down. These were Jennifer Bettles, who died on April 21, 2007 and Emily Sandal, who died on November 8, 2006.

I was wondering about this, so in the entire history of the Half Dome cables, only 4 people have died, and all 4 of them since 2006?
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 11:31AM
I think the total since 1971 or something is about 10 or eleven and I think Nohara was the only one when hiking conditions were good. I believe he lost focus nearing the top of the climb and had a misstep of some sort.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 11:39AM
Quote
PineCone
Quote
cornbread
The last hiker who died on Half Dome was Hirofumi Nohara, who slipped to his death on the cables on June 16, 2007.

Two other Half Dome fatalities involved women who were hiking on Half Dome when the cables were down. These were Jennifer Bettles, who died on April 21, 2007 and Emily Sandal, who died on November 8, 2006.

I was wondering about this, so in the entire history of the Half Dome cables, only 4 people have died, and all 4 of them since 2006?

There's been far more than 4 deaths. It's been about 10 since 1971, and but there has been a relative rash of fatalities (4) since 2006. Most of the fatalities were due to the weather conditions, including a lighting strike that killed two people at the top.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 11:15AM
Why would somebody want to go up Half Dome on a cloudy day in the first place? What view could you get? A view of gray clouds.

By the way, the marmots that are sometimes seen on the top of Half Dome - do they live there all year or do they climb up? How do they get up there?
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 01:43PM
Quote
Bob Weaver
Why would somebody want to go up Half Dome on a cloudy day in the first place? What view could you get? A view of gray clouds.

By the way, the marmots that are sometimes seen on the top of Half Dome - do they live there all year or do they climb up? How do they get up there?

Not sure, but many animals are either capable of doing things that would surprise people, or are oblivious to the dangers inherent in going up the granite. It wouldn't surprise me if numerous marmots have met their demise sliding off the side of Half Dome.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 03:06PM
Quote
Bob Weaver
Why would somebody want to go up Half Dome on a cloudy day in the first place? What view could you get? A view of gray clouds.

It sounds like the day started out fair and clear. See description on http://www.hikehalfdome.com blog for Jan 15 (in reference to trip Jan 13)



http://www.hikehalfdome.com/blog.html
Mr. Half Dome - Rick Deutsch - www.HikeHalfDome.com

June 15th blog
(cut)
.....My party left the trailhead at Happy Isles at 5:30 am. We were in shorts and light shirts. The hike up to Little Yosemite Valley was beautiful – blue sky with just a few clouds. It was cool, so I drank way less than usual. I didn’t even need to pump-filter water at the Merced. We arrived at the cables about 10:15 and still it was very pleasant. Low clouds but no indication of bad weather. We knew that the recent weather was unpredictable in the afternoons, so we wanted to be heading back well before anything arrived. On the top it was still good, but a small cloud was moving in towards the northeast side of the rock. At 11:15, (checking time tags on the JPEGS) we took a photo of the flag of Wales that my 3 British companions brought. While we were on the Visor, a cloud danced in and back. We even had 15 minutes of clear sky overhead then it would move back in - just touching the visor and stopping. It was as if the sheer size of Half Dome was a barrier to the cloud’s progress. There was even a line of white “cloud” to the north of Tenaya Canyon clear towards the south of it. We descended about 12:15 and watched the cloud continue its in/out dance. The cables were always in the clear and people continued up the cables. Going down Sub Dome, it got pretty chilly so I put on my zip-off legs and a jacket. I felt very light drops of moisture. Continuing down into the forest, at 1:15, it started to hail. Only 5 minutes or so, but real small hail. I thought “Oh boy, those folks on the cables are in trouble.” People were still going up the trail towards the dome. About 2:30 it starting raining in earnest. I put on my poncho and continued down. It rained real heavy as we continued down the John Muir Trail. ....



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 05:30PM
Quote
Frank Furter
It sounds like the day started out fair and clear. See description on http://www.hikehalfdome.com blog for Jan 15 (in reference to trip Jan 13)

January?
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 05:39PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
Frank Furter
It sounds like the day started out fair and clear. See description on http://www.hikehalfdome.com blog for Jan 15 (in reference to trip Jan 13)

January?

D-oh! June 15 not Jan 15



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 05:43PM
It's one of those J months.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 11:54AM
Quote
y_p_w
There's been far more than 4 deaths. It's been about 10 since 1971, and but there has been a relative rash of fatalities (4) since 2006. Most of the fatalities were due to the weather conditions, including a lighting strike that killed two people at the top.

Yep, I was thinking there had to be more than that also! Thanks for the clarification y_p_w .
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 04:40PM
Yes, it's been far more than four deaths on the Half Dome Trail. But the rangers were correct last year when they said that Nohara was the first healthy person to fall off the cables and die in clear weather. He was careless, that's all. The book "Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite" by Michael Ghiglieri (2007) lists hundreds who have died in the park up to its publication date. One guy stopped, put his hands on his head, and toppled off (1948). Another had a heart attack, slumped down, and then fell off the cables (1995). These are the only two listed who died on the cables. If you want to shut down the cables based on statistics, there isn't much evidence that they are unsafe in fair weather. Many more die along the many trails in Yosemite, or foolishly try to cool their feet above waterfalls, etc. More people have died on the Yosemite Falls Trail than on the Half Dome Trail. Probably even more have died from overeating in the Valley, or driving unsafely during their trip to Yosemite. And many more die from drowning in the park than on the trails.

The ones who climbed Half Dome in stormy weather, and were killed by lightning were stupid, and could just as well have killed themselves doing something else. Ditto for the ones scrambling up on icy rock after the cables were down for the season. It is very sad when these people die. It's not, however, a reason to shut down the trail. There is already a fine warning sign at the bottom of the rock steps. If you want to put up an even bigger sign, OK. But as Rick Deutch points out, people will still go up there in bad weather, even after someone has fallen that day. Dumb! http://hikehalfdome.com/blog.html?cq=1&p=1506

I have often climbed this route, and always bring a few extra rubber gloves. I give them to terrified ladies who have been dragged up there by their macho boyfriends, and who have been handed suede leather gloves from the pile at the base of the cables. These things have zero friction on steel! You might as well grease them first. It's amazing how much better the descent is when your hands can easily grip the cable.

On the other hand, I've seen some surprisingly fast and sure ascents by little old ladies and kids (the latter with proper two-carabiner safeties). If officialdom feels the need to put some new rule in effect (which the lawyers will no doubt suggest), the only one that makes sense to me would be to limit the number of people on weekends in June. I've seen an hour and a half wait at the base of the cables. That situation does not allow for clearing the summit if the weather changes. But I would still prefer to leave things as they are....
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 04:51PM
Anyone have thoughts on whether or not something like super-grippy climbing shoes would help? I too have seen the gamut of different footwear being used for the ascent/descent. However - the climb up doesn't seem to require ankle-support and climbing shoes are usually lightweight deals that typically weigh about 1 lb for the pair.

Even with climbing shoes, I would still have a healthy sense of fear. I suppose the worst thing that could happen for anyone is overconfidence based on equipment.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 05:26PM
Quote
y_p_w
Anyone have thoughts on whether or not something like super-grippy climbing shoes would help? I too have seen the gamut of different footwear being used for the ascent/descent. However - the climb up doesn't seem to require ankle-support and climbing shoes are usually lightweight deals that typically weigh about 1 lb for the pair.

Even with climbing shoes, I would still have a healthy sense of fear. I suppose the worst thing that could happen for anyone is overconfidence based on equipment.

Well I'm sure the soft sticky rubber on climbing shoes would be better than tennis shoes. Heck, I didn't like my Merrells on the cables. That damn Vibram sole is HARD rubber, great for wear, but not too good for super grip. The times I had to stop in between the boards, it was a constant, slow backslide unless I locked my arms to the cables. Not fun.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 09:32PM
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 06:04PM
Quote
y_p_w
Anyone have thoughts on whether or not something like super-grippy climbing shoes would help? I too have seen the gamut of different footwear being used for the ascent/descent. However - the climb up doesn't seem to require ankle-support and climbing shoes are usually lightweight deals that typically weigh about 1 lb for the pair.

Even with climbing shoes, I would still have a healthy sense of fear. I suppose the worst thing that could happen for anyone is overconfidence based on equipment.

Special Shoes for Climbing Half Dome:
http://blog.modernmechanix.com/issue/?magname=ModernMechanix&magdate=1-1932






The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 06:43PM
Quote
Frank Furter

Special Shoes for Climbing Half Dome:
http://blog.modernmechanix.com/issue/?magname=ModernMechanix&magdate=1-1932



Dude, I give you credit. The stuff you find....hahaha, good show!
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 06:54PM
Frank,

You should submit this idea to REI and tell them here's their chance for another exclusive REI brand hiking shoe. Just think of the royalties. Your in the money, man.

Jim
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 07:09PM
Quote
cthenn
Quote
Frank Furter

Special Shoes for Climbing Half Dome:
http://blog.modernmechanix.com/issue/?magname=ModernMechanix&magdate=1-1932



Dude, I give you credit. The stuff you find....hahaha, good show!

Oh man, for some reason I just started thinking about Flubber.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 09:05PM
Dooooood,
Those shoes really suck!

Where can I get a pair!?!?!?
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 09:10PM
Joe,

I heard that Frank is setting up a deal to open a concession at the base of Sub Dome so that he can peddle those sticky-booties!

Busy Bee
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 09:59PM
Quote
joe_schmo
Dooooood,
Those shoes really suck!

Where can I get a pair!?!?!?

The shoes are part of a total system:

As noted in prior post http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?1,13454,13485#msg-13485 you would also need the airbag suit:






The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 10:11PM
Quote
Frank Furter
Quote
joe_schmo
Dooooood,
Those shoes really suck!

Where can I get a pair!?!?!?

The shoes are part of a total system:

As noted in prior post http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?1,13454,13485#msg-13485 you would also need the airbag suit:



We are DEVO
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 08:36AM
Rock climbing shoes are a help on the cables, but they are usually awful to use on the rest of the hike. Remember that you have about 16 miles to hike. Climbing "slippers" are especially bad when pounding downhill. I had one friend who wore them for the whole hike, and felt like he was crippling himself. Bad idea...
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 09:02AM
Quote
wherever
Rock climbing shoes are a help on the cables, but they are usually awful to use on the rest of the hike. Remember that you have about 16 miles to hike. Climbing "slippers" are especially bad when pounding downhill. I had one friend who wore them for the whole hike, and felt like he was crippling himself. Bad idea...



What part of the phrase "rock climbing" doesn't your friend understand?
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 09:07AM
Quote
wherever
Rock climbing shoes are a help on the cables, but they are usually awful to use on the rest of the hike. Remember that you have about 16 miles to hike. Climbing "slippers" are especially bad when pounding downhill. I had one friend who wore them for the whole hike, and felt like he was crippling himself. Bad idea...

I thought that climbing shoes weighed about 1 lb a pair, packed fairly easily, and could be slipped on at the base of the cables. The other possibility I heard of was wearing approach shoes.

I never advocated wearing climbing shoes for the duration of a hike - just when ascending or descending the cables. Of course the requirement would also include a pack big enough to accommodate the hiking footwear used for most of the hike in.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 12:00PM
Some more info from Mr. Half Dome...

I thought his book says not to ascend if the weather looks bad. I watched Half Dome slip in and out of cloud cover all day. Maybe he pushed it for the Welsh fellows. Regardless of how he says the weather was, all forecasts predicted rain and thunderstorms and he, of all people, should have known that those really form around mid-day. Just sayin'...
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 09:19PM
Account from a couple hiking next to the doomed hiker:
http://planetrambler.com/150mph/news/_accidentonhalfdome.html

(Link copied from http://www.tommangan.net/twoheeldrive/)
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 02:37PM
There was a post out of its hole the week before too. I have no idea if it was the same one. The post across from it had a broken top, so both cables were loose at that location. The hiker in front of me put the post back and placed the 2x4 back in place, but the post popped back out after we passed.

I was reading through the accidents page on hikehalfdome.com and it seems as if the deaths can be in part attributed to "user error". The guy who fell to his death in 2007 arrived late the night before and got little or no sleep before hiking. Others tried to climb while the cables were down and fell. If I read it right, this poor guy was only the second hiker in good health to fall from the cables while they were in the up position in over a century of use. Two accidents in two weeks makes people rightly sensitive to the dangers of Half Dome, but maybe this will serve as a warning to those who are facing bad weather. Although there are a lot of unprepared or ill-equipped people on the Mist Trail, I don't want a park ranger deciding if I am fit for the hike.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 02:58PM
Quote
bobarrowhead
There was a post out of its hole the week before too. I have no idea if it was the same one. The post across from it had a broken top, so both cables were loose at that location. The hiker in front of me put the post back and placed the 2x4 back in place, but the post popped back out after we passed.

I was reading through the accidents page on hikehalfdome.com and it seems as if the deaths can be in part attributed to "user error". The guy who fell to his death in 2007 arrived late the night before and got little or no sleep before hiking. Others tried to climb while the cables were down and fell. If I read it right, this poor guy was only the second hiker in good health to fall from the cables while they were in the up position in over a century of use. Two accidents in two weeks makes people rightly sensitive to the dangers of Half Dome, but maybe this will serve as a warning to those who are facing bad weather. Although there are a lot of unprepared or ill-equipped people on the Mist Trail, I don't want a park ranger deciding if I am fit for the hike.

When I went I noticed that some of the planks weren't exactly well secured. Each one has two wires that place it around the stanchions. As for the stanchions, they can be replaced if they're damaged or don't fit. I would think the holes could be repaired with concrete if needed.

Those who died climbing when the cables were down possibly got a little bit ahead of their capabilities. They might have been very fit, but that didn't make up for the difficulty of what they were doing. Those were also incidents when it was wet.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 06:45PM
Quote
y_p_w
Those who died climbing when the cables were down possibly got a little bit ahead of their capabilities. They might have been very fit, but that didn't make up for the difficulty of what they were doing. Those were also incidents when it was wet.

When they make the decision to go with cables down, and those weather conditons, it seems they were accepting responsibility for their own safety. There are apparently different philosophies about going with cables up...is it still your responsibility to assure your own safety, or is it the park's responsibility to provide a safe ascent?

I've noticed the stanchions aren't always tight, and the wood slats sometimes missing or in questionable condition. But I figure it's my responsibility to proceed with caution and the assumption that all is not well, and check things as I go, not putting all faith into something that I haven't checked for security, and trying to never have just one thing to rely on completely for life or death.

Climbers don't assume an anchor is secure (or shouldn't anyway) until they've checked it and looked it over carefully, and at that generally will have a belay as a backup. People heading up Half Dome often might assume the park has provided them a safe and secure ascent, and would not allow anything dangerous, so they get careless. (climbers can get careless or overconfident too, and at times pay with their lives).

I see nothing wrong with the park trying to tell people that it's not a park-provided safe trek, and that they are responsible for their own safety if they choose to go up Half Dome, including decisions on weather, traffic, and their own fears and abilities...and that a fall from the cables is almost certain death, so it's up to them, not the park, to see that they don't.

I think the rash of articles in newspapers and magazines the last 2-3 years have probably not helped the situation. Many of them give the impression of "looking for something to do? Why not climb Half Dome?"

This thread is amazing...it has actually stayed pretty much on topic, without deteriorating into the personal jokes, messages, and references that so many have lately. Hope it, and others, continue the trend, what a nice surprise. Maybe I shouldn't say anything...8^)



Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/16/2009 06:48PM by Sierrafan.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 08:09PM
Quote
Sierrafan
This thread is amazing...it has actually stayed pretty much on topic, without deteriorating into the personal jokes, messages, and references that so many have lately. Hope it, and others, continue the trend, what a nice surprise....

We are doomed now.

BTW, There has been an update to the blog at HikeHalfDome (JUNE 16th, ....I think) with some additional comments about how quickly the weather changed. Am I the only one here who is going to implicate global warming?



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 08:09PM
This is serious stuff that can affect the basics of the Yosemite experience. Most posts can easily get off topic with no consequence as anything pertinent has been posted early on.



Old Dude
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 19, 2009 08:16PM
Some comments about the cables and the upright posts and the wooden cross pieces. There may be some readers here who haven't seen them, and may be wondering how the system can still be used by people when part of it is "broken". It's not like a ladder with a broken rung.

The Cables:
The cables are thick steel ones than run for a hundred feet or so, and then are anchored to big eyebolts in the rock. Eyebolts come in pairs a few feet apart, so that there is an overlap where one piece ends and another begins. This results in what are effectively two very long cables an arms length apart.

The Posts:
At intervals of ten or twenty feet, there a large holes drilled vertically into the granite. Posts are set in these. At the top of the posts, they have a holes through which the cable passes, so that as the cables expand with temperature or have their tension change due to people pulling on them, the cables can slide through the post tops. This way, the cables produce only a mostly vertical force on the posts. It's like having expansion joints on a bridge; you have to allow for the cables to change in length and tension. The purpose of a post is to keep the cables at a convenient height for gripping. Also, you can rest for a while by placing your foot on the uphill side of a post and stand there more or less comfortably, depending on your footwear. If you are in sneakers or light hiking shoes, it is more likely to be uncomfortable.

There is a tradeoff in choosing the height to make a post. If it's too long, short people can't comfortably reach the cable. If it's too short, a tall person can easily lift a post out of its hole. Since the post is threaded on the cable, it isn't lost. It can slide down to the next post or eyebolt, and will stay there until some nice person takes it back up and sets it in the hole. This isn't ordinarily a problem. Even tall people when descending normally keep a downward force on the cable. There are a couple of places, though, where the exfoliating granite causes a downward step perpendicular to the rock surface. Just before the step, the cable is closer to the rock than below it, and it is more likely that someone will pull the cable far enough away from the rock at that point that they pull a post out of its hole.

Again, not a serious problem. The cable still works fine, and you can still descend it easily. But, obviously, the next people can't now stand against that post to rest until someone puts it back. They will have to use the equivalent post on the other cable, or descend to the next pair to rest.

The Crosspieces:
Posts come in pairs, one on each cable, so you can lay a board between them for people to rest on more easily. They aren't actually necessary, since standing against the post works too, but they are better for some footwear and for people who insist on holding onto both cables. Each board has a pair of pipe straps to keep it from sliding off to the side. These don't grip the pipe tightly. They just keep keep the boards in place against the uphill side of each post. If you lift a post out of its hole, that side of the board is now detached. If you lift them both out, you'll lose the board. It happens. Mostly we rely on people to be sensible. Also, the wood is in a terrible environment, so these boards can split or have straps pull off. There are often one or two of the crosspieces missing along the route. In good weather this is just a place to be more careful.

Groups of people on the cables often work out their own "best way" of descending. Soon, the whole group takes this as gospel. Facing up, facing down, both hands above, both hands below, one of each with the cable across the chest, one of each with the cable running across the back "under the armpits", etc. Actually, changing between one or another helps reduce fatigue. The actual best depends on your strength, the quality of your footwear, the quality of your gloves (if any) and the weather.

The point of all this is that the witnesses who were close to the victim were extolling the armpits method. This normally means sinking down against the cable, not standing up so as to pull the cable as high as you can. Otherwise, you can start pulling posts out of their sockets. If too much of this is going on, pretty soon there will be missing crosspieces and several posts piled up at one place. If the footing is already marginal and hands are half frozen, things can go very badly when the next guy gets there....

Again, it sounds like conditions were the real culprit this time. By the way, if you are at all worried about this sort of thing, carrying a pair of slings around your waist and clipped to the cables will absolutely prevent these accidents. (Two, so that while you are unclipping around a post, you are still always clipped in. The worst that can happen is that you will slide down to the next post. It can be slower, but so what? On a busy Saturday, you will spend most of your time standing a post anyway, waiting for someone to stop resting on the next one, and in that case it won't slow you down at all. This would certainly have prevented the recent death.

Also, when the cables are "down" for the winter, they aren't. The cables can't be removed. All that has happened is that the posts have been pulled out, so the cables rest against the rock surface. This minimizes ice damage in the winter, which is still bad enough to be a problem. It also keeps the tourists off the icy rock.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 15, 2009 09:22PM
Thanks, Ken. That's an amazing report. We need more reports like that (not of death, just detailed reports).

Thank you very much, again.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 12:03PM
Keep the cables the way they are, but create a permit system for the hike. In order to get a permit, the person must get it the morning of departure, must meet equipment requirements (proper water, gloves, adequate shoes, clothing, etc), and must get a short but blunt safety briefing ("you will most likely die if you fall while ascending/descending the cables"winking smiley.

-People that are prepared and educated on the dangers will still get their chance to do the trail.
-People that are unprepared and uneducated on the dangers won't.
-Traffic jams will be reduced if not eliminated
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 05:57PM
So how do you tell if a person is fit? Who monitors the cables to be sure the person is permitted?



Old Dude
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 05:59PM
Quote
mrcondron
So how do you tell if a person is fit?

Certainly not by just looking at them. I've led too groups to fall for that one now.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 07:40PM
Wouldn't you think that if they can make it to the flat area before the bottom of the cables, they are probably fit enough to do the cables? The "staircase from hell" part right before that is pretty grueling and if they can make it up that, then rest before starting the cables, they should probably be able to handle the cables, from a fitness standpoint. That would be a pretty good test of their physical fitness. What they need at that point is the knowledge necessary to make the cable ascent safely and the proper footwear and gloves, etc. If I were in charge of the park, I would be in favor of having a ranger stationed there to approve people for the cable ascent and to regulate the traffic. And a shaded resting area as well as sales of bottled water. That's just my opinion, but then I always err on the side of safety.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 07:46PM
Quote
Bob Weaver
Wouldn't you think that if they can make it to the flat area before the bottom of the cables, they are probably fit enough to do the cables?

Fit, yes (if they day hiked that). Skills are another story.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 07:59PM
Quote
Bob Weaver
Wouldn't you think that if they can make it to the flat area before the bottom of the cables, they are probably fit enough to do the cables? The "staircase from hell" part right before that is pretty grueling and if they can make it up that, then rest before starting the cables, they should probably be able to handle the cables, from a fitness standpoint. That would be a pretty good test of their physical fitness. What they need at that point is the knowledge necessary to make the cable ascent safely and the proper footwear and gloves, etc. If I were in charge of the park, I would be in favor of having a ranger stationed there to approve people for the cable ascent and to regulate the traffic. And a shaded resting area as well as sales of bottled water. That's just my opinion, but then I always err on the side of safety.

Besides the fact that this is designated wilderness, how do you plan to get the supplies in? I suppose they could be sent in by air, but they sort of frown on that unless there is an emergency situation. You wouldn't be able to get mules to the shoulder either.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 09:06PM
Quote
y_p_w
[Besides the fact that this is designated wilderness, how do you plan to get the supplies in? I suppose they could be sent in by air, but they sort of frown on that unless there is an emergency situation. You wouldn't be able to get mules to the shoulder either.

Marmots.
8^)



Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 08:16PM
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 09:34PM
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 20, 2009 12:42AM
Quote
Bob Weaver
Wouldn't you think that if they can make it to the flat area before the bottom of the cables, they are probably fit enough to do the cables?

I haven't read all of the posts, so I apologize if my comment has already been covered.

But there's another side to being "fit" to do the cables than general fitness. When I tried to make it to the top 3 weeks ago I was pushing myself so much, in attempt to get to the cables before the bad weather came in, that by the time I got there I was pretty worn out. I don't think it would have been a good idea for me to do the cables that day even if the weather was OK.

When I hike w/o pressure I go to the top of HD and back down without even feeling tired.

Jon
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 07:54PM
Quote
mrcondron
So how do you tell if a person is fit? Who monitors the cables to be sure the person is permitted?

Perhaps a handwritten short answer test or one page essay on "Why I want to hike Half Dome" should be required.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 08:27PM
Sling shot. People can dial in the angle that they desire.
And a Zip Line to get down.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 08:32PM
Silly me... I keep forgetting this is the 17th century. Thanks for the reminder.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 08:37PM
Quote
Bob Weaver
Silly me... I keep forgetting this is the 17th century. Thanks for the reminder.

He calls himself a goat; I suspect he's more coyote.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 08:39PM
I'm just appalled at the traffic on this thread to be honest.
We can come up with stuff until we're blue in the eyeballs but it's not gonna change anything.
People want to go up Half Dome. You MIGHT get less traffic up there
if you limited the number of permits into LYV. But then you might just get more day hikers then.
It's catch 22.

For me it's just plain said that other very interesting and beautiful areas in the park are simply
ignored or dismissed. It's Half Dome Half Dome Half Dome. Go past LYV up the Merced
River Canyon and it's just spectacular. And my guess is that 90% that go to LYV don't go past
LYV... they just go up HD and go yeah...
All the pictures I've put up in other areas of the park I feel like I'm blowing hot air. It's just Zzzzz
it seems.

And the crap about staying on topic irks the crap out of me too.
Run your own forum if you don't like the stuff that goes on. This forum is great. There's alot of
poking and fun. It's what makes it fun. Go to any comment website and you'll see 100 bazillion
comments that are just not right.

So.. make fun of the goat... I don't mind...
But Leave no Trace and enjoy the park... the whole park not just Half Dome

Ok... goat off the soapbox.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 17, 2009 05:46PM
Quote
bill-e-g
Go past LYV up the Merced
River Canyon and it's just spectacular.

Are there set trails that go in that direction?

I've always been confused over the legality of hiking in certain areas of National Parks. I don't understand what places you absolutely are never allowed to go, what places you simply need a permit for, what places are only legal during certain seasons, and what places are always legal. It's just so confusing to a noob like me that has never left an established trail. :0
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 17, 2009 05:49PM
Quote
dqniel
Quote
bill-e-g
Go past LYV up the Merced
River Canyon and it's just spectacular.

Are there set trails that go in that direction?

Yes.

Quote

I've always been confused over the legality of hiking in certain areas of National Parks. I don't understand what places you absolutely are never allowed to go, what places you simply need a permit for, what places are only legal during certain seasons, and what places are always legal. It's just so confusing to a noob like me that has never left an established trail. :0

Permits are usually needed only for overnight trips.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 17, 2009 06:51PM
Quote
dqniel
Quote
bill-e-g
Go past LYV up the Merced
River Canyon and it's just spectacular.

Are there set trails that go in that direction?

I've always been confused over the legality of hiking in certain areas of National Parks. I don't understand what places you absolutely are never allowed to go, what places you simply need a permit for, what places are only legal during certain seasons, and what places are always legal. It's just so confusing to a noob like me that has never left an established trail. :0

One doesn't have to have a permit to day hike in Yosemite. There also doesn't seem to be any readily defined definition of "overnight" and/or day hike. As far as I can tell, one needs an overnight backcountry permit in order to set up a tent and/or sleep for extended periods in the backcountry. People start their day hikes at 2 in the morning, so there is no time standard for when one can or can't day hike. I have been to some Forest Service wilderness areas where a self-issued permit was required to day hike, but there was no quota. The limit would generally be when there were no more permit forms in the box.

Off-trail travel is perfectly legal. There are restrictions are on the number of people in a group. The NPS calls this "cross country" travel. If you need to "do your business" in the backcountry, you're supposed to go off trail and find a good place to do it.

Did you know that no permit is needed to rock climb anywhere in Yosemite? You can even sleep on a ledge without a permit, as well as overnight in the backcountry at the end of a big wall climb before heading back without a permit.

If there's any place you're not supposed to go, it should be marked. I think climbing the side of O'Shaughnessy Dam might be something that wouldn't be legal.

Over in Yellowstone they've got pretty set rules. Off-trail travel is legal (and encouraged by some rangers) except in geothermal areas and Yellowstone Canyon (someone just committed suicide by jumping).
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 18, 2009 07:01AM
dqniel,

In addition to what others have said, there are some areas in Yosemite where overnight camping, whether on or off-trail, is not permitted. The largest single area is in the greater Toulumne Meadows area extending up to 4 miles or more in from either side of Tioga Road. These areas are best defined on the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps, which are what the permit stations use. These areas are shaded in pink with a definite boundary line. There is one such map covering all of the park but I recommend using the 4 separate maps available that cover the same area with much more usable detail. Other notable areas are in the immediate vicinity of the High Sierra Camps, a sizable portion of Little Yosemite Valley, portions around Yosemite Valley and Wawona, an area north of Tioga Road around White Wolf and the north side of Hetch Hetchy reservoir.

Map 306 covers Yosemite Valley & Wawona (SW corner); map 307 covers Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (NW corner); map 308 covers Tuolumne Meadows & Hoover Wilderness (NE corner); map 309 covers Ansel Adams Wilderness (SE corner). These can be ordered on-line thru National Geographic. Go to http://www.natgeomaps.com/products.html and click on Trails Illustrated Maps in the left column. You can click on each map and zoom in for detail for previewing purposes. These maps fold nicely without getting torn or worn and are also water resistant. If you are into serious Yosemite hiking or prone to catch that particular bug these maps should last for many years.

Jim
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 16, 2009 09:09PM
Quote
bill-e-g
Sling shot. People can dial in the angle that they desire.
And a Zip Line to get down.

Of course I realize that's tongue in cheek. However - compare Yosemite (or any other [US] National Park) with what was done at a place like Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in China. Some of you may know that Huanghan National Park in China has a sister park relationship with Yosemite NP. However - they've gone the whole nine yards providing transportation and amenities. They've got cable cars taking people up to the top of granite formations, and stairs have been installed everywhere. They even have hotels at some of the high peaks.





Some of the stairs are a bit scary. They make the Mist Trail looks somewhat tame. Sorry - I couldn't direct link to this one.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11277322@N00/2467549477/

If Half Dome were in China, I think they would have already built stairs up to the top, a cable-car ride, and maybe even a hotel at the top.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/17/2009 02:31PM by y_p_w.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 17, 2009 02:20PM
I think Dale hit it on the head. Go someplace else and really discover Yosemite. I would almost kill to be able to see portions I know I never will.

Jim
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 18, 2009 08:01AM
Quote
tomdisco
I think Dale hit it on the head. Go someplace else and really discover Yosemite. I would almost kill to be able to see portions I know I never will.
Jim

But that's because you're not interested in the Half Dome hike. There are multitudes of great places to go in Yosemite, to where the choice is overwhelming, and all have their own attributes. If a 'wilderness experience' is what you're looking for, HD would not be a good choice, but as you may have noticed, some of us really enjoy the hike. The reasons may vary, but they're every bit as valid as solitude, or getting away from people. It doesn't have to be the "best hike" in all respects to be a worthwhile effort. The complaints you hear are mostly from folks who didn't make the effort, or maybe in some cases weren't able to avoid things like excessive crowding. Why do people go back if it's so awful?

There are many reasons why someone would choose such a hike, rather than one of similar challenges. It's an icon that stands out to even first time visitors, and the idea that you can actually go to the top of it, provided you can do the strenuous hike, is bound to attract people. The views, and the route there, either from Glacier, the valley, or Cloud's Rest are outstanding, and because of the Mist trail, the route from the Valley is probably the most outstandingly beautiful.

Several years ago, when I decided I was going to try the hike, I happened to mention it to one of my sons. Almost immediately he wanted to go too, and the younger and older one both heard about it and wanted to go. They're not all avid hikers, and if I said I was going up the Merced River canyon, I can guarantee I'd not have had 3 volunteers that I didn't even have to ask. The remaining two (daughters) also have wanted to go, but not been able to so far due to scheduling (but are in fact planning to go on a postponed trip later this year). For me, that in itself is enough reason to 'do' the Half Dome hike, disregarding the beauty of the hike itself.

So yes, there are plenty of great places to go, and unfortunately I will never have enough time to get to all (my list of 'to do's' grows faster than I can keep up with it), but that doesn't mean that just unknowing tourists or people who don't know what else is in Yosemite go there. Some of us know what the hike is, know what else is around, and still include it in our plans for whatever reason.



Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 18, 2009 08:19AM
Let me say it in not so many words.

Half Dome is THE hike to do in Yosemite.
Half Dome is NOT THE ONLY THING to do in Yosemite.

Signed,
Mr. Yosemite

(if someone can call themselves Mr. Half Dome... geez)
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 18, 2009 08:25AM
Quote
bill-e-g
Let me say it in not so many words.

Half Dome is THE hike to do in Yosemite.
Half Dome is NOT THE ONLY THING to do in Yosemite.

Signed,
Mr. Yosemite

(if someone can call themselves Mr. Half Dome... geez)



I thought that the Mr. Half Dome designation referred to something associated (or, not associated) with his head.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/18/2009 10:34AM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 18, 2009 04:02PM
Thanks to everybody that helped to clear up the questions I had. Next time I go to Yosemite I really want to try and get to the base of Illouette Falls for one of the hikes (depending upon conditions, of course) and make my way up Cloud's Rest on the final day. There are a million other places I want to go there, but those are at the top of my list.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 18, 2009 05:13PM
We need to stop referring to this as a hike. It's not. It's mountain climbing. (It is relatively easy mountain climbing because the cables are already there.)

People tend to assume that it is fairly safe, because it is only a hike after all.

Take a look at the article in this thread: http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?1,13818

Be sure to check out the comments. They are often ignorant, but they show how people think about the hike climb.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 18, 2009 05:50PM
Quote
RobE
We need to stop referring to this as a hike. It's not. It's mountain climbing. (It is relatively easy mountain climbing because the cables are already there.)

People tend to assume that it is fairly safe, because it is only a hike after all.

Take a look at the article in this thread: http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?1,13818

Be sure to check out the comments. They are often ignorant, but they show how people think about the hike climb.

An amusing anecdote to this overtrod topic/thread: When I was climbing hiking in the Swiss Alps, the topic of Half Dome came up, and when I mentioned the "hike" up the cables, the guide chuckled and referred to it as an assisted walk.

The Swiss are born with the ability to walk up verticle elevations, and skip on ledges no wider than a foot.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
June 18, 2009 06:17PM
Quote
Bee
Quote
RobE
We need to stop referring to this as a hike. It's not. It's mountain climbing. (It is relatively easy mountain climbing because the cables are already there.)

People tend to assume that it is fairly safe, because it is only a hike after all.

Take a look at the article in this thread: http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?1,13818

Be sure to check out the comments. They are often ignorant, but they show how people think about the hike climb.

An amusing anecdote to this overtrod topic/thread: When I was climbing hiking in the Swiss Alps, the topic of Half Dome came up, and when I mentioned the "hike" up the cables, the guide chuckled and referred to it as an assisted walk.

The Swiss are born with the ability to walk up verticle elevations, and skip on ledges no wider than a foot.



Under the YDS (look it up) classification system, the rock climb up that portion of Half Dome would probably be rated something like a Class 5.7. The cables make it a Class 3 scramble. Any major slip will cause it to revert back to a 5.7 situation for that person. People that don't have the expertise and equipment to extricate themselves and make it back to the trailhead, without assistance, from a 5.7 climb are just playing footsie with suicide.
Re: Another death on Half Dome
July 17, 2009 07:33PM
YOSAR report with pictures on that tragic accident:

http://friendsofyosar.org/rescues/2009/6-13-09_HalfDomeFatality.html
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
July 17, 2009 08:20PM
Criminy, KenS, open another thread! I don't about anyone else, but when I saw the "Another death..." headlines, for a moment, I thought that someone ELSE had died. With a title as dire as this one, it's probably best NOT to randomly ressurrect it for updates.
avatar Re: Another death on Half Dome
July 17, 2009 08:24PM
Quote
Bee
Criminy, KenS, open another thread! I don't about anyone else, but when I saw the "Another death..." headlines, for a moment, I thought that someone ELSE had died. With a title as dire as this one, it's probably best NOT to randomly ressurrect it for updates.

Saw that coming.
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