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Re: Half_Dome

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December 10, 2008 06:43AM
Hi Everyone,

About 4 weeks ago I tried climbing half-dome with the cables down. My arms got pretty tired after about 60 feet of climbing. I came back down, but a gentleman came along who in the blink of an eye just seemed to walk up the cables. On the way back down the mountain, he gave me a few pointers on how to navigate the cables. Turns out he has a bit of mountaineering experience. I was wondering if anyone else out there has gone up with the cables down. The guy who went up seemed to think (assuming it's dry) that it shouldn't be a problem for most people except for the confidence factor, which I know causes alot of problems; i.e. people will drown in water they could walk out of, and others will fall off mountains under the best of circumstances. My question is whether anyone out there has done this? Would clipping in with a simple harness (Alpine Bod from Black Diamond), sling and caribiner be overkill?
avatar Re: Half_Dome
December 10, 2008 08:02AM
Here is what I told you about on the other forum:
avatar Re: Half_Dome
December 10, 2008 08:06AM
And here is a discussion on safety:

Again, I'll just say.... go to Merced Lake ... save HD for when the cables are up...
Re: Half_Dome
December 11, 2008 08:59AM
There's always someone to make things look or sound easy, like the 130-lb. guys that practically run up the cables (inside or outside) in sandals and with just a water bottle, as though it's just a quick stop.

Clipping in, even with a nice springy line and harness may or may not work, depending on how you hit the granite when you're going down, and when you stop. It's probably better than slipping without it, but if there's someone below you, they may not agree.

When you look at it on a year-round basis, there are lots of people that go up and down HD with cables down, without incident. If you've decided you're comfortable with going up/down with the cables down, being clipped in certainly won't make things worse if you fall.

Just don't let the fact that "other people do it" affect the decision. There are fools all over the place; a couple of years ago, we headed down the cables at 1PM with thunder in the distance, and as it even began to rain, people were going up. I even heard one person give advice that it's "OK, not much risk really" to a newbie at the base. And in most cases, he's right, nothing happens to them.

I once thought I'd probably go up with cables down, say in late October or early May, but just decided it's not worth it to me. It's a little like deciding where you'll solo hike and where the risk is beyond your comfort level...I may read about someone who hiked Tenaya Canyon Solo, or the Ledge trail (solo or not), but that doesn't mean it's a wise move. The next person may feel it's OK though. I'd personally hate to go down the Dome with it wet or icy and cables down; people are usually very confident until the instant something happens, then it's too late.

Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: Half_Dome
December 11, 2008 12:56PM
I cannot imagine any value-add to going up Half Dome when the cables are down. The best possible scenario is that you get up and back. Bragging rights? Who wants to brag about being an idiot?

I you had traveled halfway around the world, spent all your money to get there, had only one shot at in your life, and it was on you bucket list then maybe you could make an argument.

Old Dude
avatar Re: Half_Dome
December 11, 2008 03:32PM
I went up one early May about 15 years ago without extraordinary problems or special equipment. I have noticed recently that the granite has become rather slick due to the unmentionably large crowds that now climb Half Dome during open season and have not tried it recently without cables.

Perhaps that fact (slick granite) has made the climb more difficult now than in the distant past without the boards. I would be interested in learning of the experiences of those who have done it in the past without the cables being "up".

The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Half_Dome
December 13, 2008 10:03AM
Check out this video, you will get sucked in

The Cables are Down

Re: Half_Dome
December 13, 2008 11:51AM
Hey Vince,

Very cool video. I've seen it before when I was surfing the web wondering what people did to climb the cables with them down. Did you do this snake dike climb? Are you in the video? Looks like a real challenge, especially hiking all the way from the valley floor on the day of the climb. I'm considering signing up for some introductory climbing classes at Planet Granite here in town. If for no other reason but to know my limits when hiking and scrambling around the Sierra.
avatar Re: Half_Dome
December 14, 2008 08:05AM
It was interesting that the commentary at minute six referring to coming down the cables that had been taken down for the season; "insanely lethal".

Post Edited (12-14-08 11:59)

Old Dude
Re: Half_Dome
December 14, 2008 10:09AM
mrcondron wrote:
> It was interesting that the commentary at minute six referring
> to coming down the cables that had been taken down for
> theseason; "insanely lethal".

There was a brief glimpse of the cables that was a good reminder of just how steep it really is in that middle section. Imagining a slip there, wet or dry, shows how quick and simple it would be to end it all right there. At least one of last years fatalaties was a very experienced hiker, and though I've been up the cables quite a few times, that steep part with the cables down demands respect.

Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
Re: Half_Dome
December 14, 2008 09:53AM

It looks like the top of half dome is going to be covered in snow and ice until next year anyway, and I wouldn't even think about going up the cables if the surface is wet. Though if we have another mild winter, who knows.

avatar Re: Half_Dome
December 14, 2008 12:42PM
Think back on the last time you did half dome in the summer. By mid-day there are usually people going down "outside" the cables because someone has "frozen" in place and clogged up the whole line. If you're very tired, it will certainly be treacherous but it is by no means unusual to go down without using the boards.

Going up is harder because the upper extremity has a lot to do but you can still rest in places.

The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Half_Dome
December 14, 2008 03:08PM
There have been all kinds of discussions on this. Remember we flammed
the "silly" article on Half Dome safety:

And here is some more:

Check out the photo at the end of the post:

Anyway, at the end of the day I just don't think that anyone should
condon climbing up when the cables are down. The last thing we
want to see is an increase in the number of people doing that feat.
This will guarantee that someone loses their life.

Now, if you want to go and do it go ahead. But I certainly voted against it.
I think you may end up as the cat in the tree. It was easy to get up
but ... oopsie... poopsie...
I've gone up and down on the outside... but I think having the stanchions
makes a big difference.
Like I mentioned to Roland before there are soooooooo many other things
to do and see.... why risk it.... go check out 1/4 domes. check out diving
board.. Starr King... yadda yadda yadda

(and my stupid football team lost again)

Happy Holidays everyone
Re: Half_Dome
December 14, 2008 05:01PM
Hey Bill,

Wow. That "silly article" post sure stirred up alot of conversation. Anyway, I agree whole-heatedly with being prepared for whatever it is you do, including not doing it at all. The reason I asked originally about the harness, sling, carabiner was precisely to try and be as safe as possible, short of not doing it. Waiting till the cables are up and waiting in line to summit, like waiting in line for a ride at Disneyland, seems to grossly diminish the power of the place, though as you've said before there are many others like it and less traveled around the park. I've been to two of them, clouds rest and el capitan. I'd like to check out obelisk lake, but as others have suggested, given my newness to backpacking, wandering off into the sierra winter might also be quite risky. With the right training I would love to try the snake dike climb. but that's the point isn't it? People would never think to climb the wall at el capitan without proper preparation, so why half dome?

Anyway, on our way back down the half dome switchbacks maybe about 4 weeks ago now (when I tried the downed cables but gave up after about 60 feet before getting to the really steep section) we ran into one couple going up who were draped in slings and carabiners. They didn't ask any questions. Just said hello and continued on. A little further on we ran into a couple of guys each carrying a water bottle only. They asked whether they were going the right way (following signs, but no map) how much further is it, and did we think they could get there and back before dark. The first couple I have no problem with. They've made some risk assessments, knew where they were going etc. The second two guys, no way. They're already too worried about getting there and getting back before dark without a map or headlamp to deal with any adversity that might come up on the climb itself. Actually, we met several couples on our way back as ill-prepared as those two guys. Reminds me of the people getting to the top of yosemite falls while I was eating some lunch and taking a break before going back down from my el cap. trip a couple weeks ago. About 4 or 5 of them asked me if there was a water fountain or a tap where they could get some water. I was surprised to say the least, though when I thought about, I can kind of understand it. I think the problem is that they treat these things as if it's a typical tourist stop, like the Washington Monument or the Hoover Dam. For many it's just lack of information. I get the impression that if they knew what they were getting into they wouldn't even go, but once they've already slugged their way up the mist trail, they feel obligated to go the rest of the way. Still not an excuse for no map, too little water and not enough sense to ask someone what to expect before you start. Before each of my 3 backpacking trips there, I stopped in the Visitor Center to get a status of the area where I was going, and any other information I could get. (well, I had to self-register for the wilderness stuff too). They're very helpful, but it gets busy, and two rangers for that many people might not be enough. I suspect some people, after waiting awhile, just turn around and leave, telling each other "hey everyone goes there, so we can just ask on the way". I did hear one ranger talk a couple out of going up to nevada falls once he made it clear that it was quite a rigorous hike. He wasn't trying to talk them out of it, but by just letting them know what was involved, they opted for a nice drive up to glacier point with a picnic basket and a bottle of wine. but for some people even the walk from day parking to the visitor center is too long. And this post has gotten too long as well, I just didn't want people out there to think I was asking to do something that's unreasonably risky. Shopping at the mall during the Christmas holiday can be far riskier; i.e. Wallmart, I think. I just came back from Stonestown Mall, and some guy looking for parking and not watching the crosswalk almost ran into the lady in front of me rushing to the new Trader Joes that just opened.

Liked the photos from mt watkins and the amazing one someone took of the guy who had slid almost to his death. I checked out mt watkins on the map. Was it good place to camp? By the way, I got a book that I think you suggested "Deep Survival Who Lives, who dies and why". Very good read so far.

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