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Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome

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Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 24, 2014 11:25PM
My teenager and I went up on Sunday night for a trip up Half Dome, Cloud's Rest and through Echo Valley. We were hoping for the good weather from the weekend, but the forecast was iffy for what we were planning, so we put our contingency plan on our permit when we started out on Monday morning.

Both Vernal and Nevada falls were flowing well, but well below peak flows from previous years (a month early, yes, but with the warm weather we were expecting more)



(The Mist Trail wasn't very wet. It's dry below the staircase)





(Nevada Falls was flowing well)


(Yikes! Another headline??)

We originally planned to camp in LVY and continue the same day up Half Dome, but as we reached LVY, we decided to go higher for a shorter return to camp. After setting up camp near Sunrise Creek, we still had time to go up to Half Dome, but with the cloud cover and the latest forecast from home (snow expected later with high winds), we weren't sure that we could linger to enjoy the view. The dropping barometer the final straw, we decided to try Half Dome when the weather improved. I wanted to climb at least another 1,000 feet to help acclimate, so we decided to scout around Quarter Domes for a campsite the following night. (We read Basilhop's trip report!). It was dry all the way up, with sporadic patches of snow.

The snow came later that evening, and we could hear the wind in the trees on the ridge above us.


Woke up to this scene. It was warm, so the snow didn't stick. After breakfast, it got colder and started snowing again, so we hunkered back in the tent.






The sun quickly melted the snow wherever it shone, so we decided to try Half Dome.





Snow covered parts of the trail but there were no tracks so it appeared that we were the only ones going up that day. The subdome was mostly clear.



My son was a little nervous about climbing with the cables down, but I brought full sets of climbing gear with us. The granite was much slicker than I remembered when I first climbed Half Dome; then again from old pictures I saw that there wasn't the distinct line marking the cable path that you can see now. As we climbed, we saw three others below us on the subdome. We thought they were waiting for us for a clear way up, but it turns out that they were gearing and psyching up.







In the distance it doesn't look like it snowed earlier in the day!

After overcoming his fears, my son had a great experience climbing up Half Dome and was looking forward to Quarter Domes and Cloud's Rest that evening. But alas he turned his ankle on the way back, and we decided to keep the camp for another night. The next day it was better, but we decided to cut our trip short to not further aggravate his ankle.

We enjoyed clear skies and warm weather for the trip back down to the valley.





The cliff trail just below Nevada Falls was amazingly dry....

The moral of the story was that changing weather conditions and an injury allowed us to do only a little of what we planned for, but we still had a great time. Conditions are nice now, but it is going to be a really dry summer.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/25/2014 12:26AM by OL.
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 25, 2014 07:58AM
Thanks for the photos. Memorable trip.
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 25, 2014 08:14AM
Thank for the report and the pictures. Ankle injury is one of my biggest fears while backpacking (missing some ligaments in my right ankle from an old injury). I'm glad that it wasn't too serious and that your son was able to hike out! I really like the photo from the top of HD I think looking between Moraine Dome and Cascade Cliffs?
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 25, 2014 01:09PM
The picture is looking out Tenaya Canyon. The near ridge to the right is Cloud's Rest, with the Watkins Pinnacles and Mt Watkins across it. In the distance you can see Tenaya and Cathedral Peaks. There's snow up there, but not much.
avatar Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 25, 2014 10:43AM
Very cool! Thanks for posting. I'm curious about the climbing gear (I'm not a climber)...... you had harnesses and was there some sort of thingy (technical term) that clamped or grabbed the cable? I think I've seen a video of people going Sequoias using ropes and something like that.

Looks like a cool trip, even though it was cut short.
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 25, 2014 01:00PM
We used regular climbing harnesses, and prussik loops (friction knot) to tie onto the cable. As we climbed, we pushed the loop up the cable. Whenever my son went through a transition point, he tied on a second prussik before untying the first one (so he was always connected). The rock along the cable path is really slick, so I anchored in above the large crack and using a traditional rope for protection, had my son climb along the crack where he had a better grip (at this point, we were not on the cables). Note: what we did doesn't work well when the cables are up, because you have to tie and untie a loop every 10 ft, and because of the other people on the cable.

We have heard of people using makeshift climbing harnesses by using a rope or webbing, and using metal carabiners to "clip" on the cable, but they don't support the body well in case of a fall, and the carabiner just slides down the cable until the next transition point.

I am glad I brought all of our gear because it made my son feel safe; we would not have climbed Half Dome without it. I've done the route many times during my youth, but feel that the popularity of the climb and the worn rock makes it more dangerous now than before. It was a bummer about the ankle, but I taped it up, took most of his gear and he was fine. We had a great time just being outside and hanging out together.
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 25, 2014 01:10PM
Awesome! What a great trip. I would love to do this with my boys. Am I understanding correctly that at some point you used your own climbing rope to get off of the cable route because of the slickness? Was that your intent from the beginning and the reason you brought the rope on the trip? I ask because I would rather avoid bringing a full rope. When I went up the cable route with cables I went up on the outside right of the cables where traction was better than inside the cables.
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 25, 2014 03:16PM
Yes, I brought the rope because I remembered the middle section was slick when I did it years ago. At that time I free climbed the crack to the left of the cable and felt a lot safer. I think my son could have tied onto the right cable and been ok, but his feet were slipping even to the side of the cables. Roped in, with a better grip on the rock, he flew up the crack. (it took me longer to set up the anchor) I don't think you need a rope, but for my son's piece of mind I don't regret schlepping it. Rock climbing shoes could have been another option, but he didn't have any, and we already had the other gear.

I considered a via-ferrata rig, but I liked how the prussik (actually I used a kleimheist) gripped the cable when I applied pressure to it. I would imagine there are a couple of alternatives that work well; whatever you are most comfortable using I think is more important.
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 25, 2014 01:25PM
Quote
OL
We have heard of people using makeshift climbing harnesses by using a rope or webbing, and using metal carabiners to "clip" on the cable, but they don't support the body well in case of a fall, and the carabiner just slides down the cable until the next transition point.

I don't use a climbing harness for myself on the cables, but have done so for children, a Downs Syndrome friend, and an easily terrified newbie. While it's true that a free fall onto a chest webbing would be awful, 1) There is no free fall in sliding down the granite face at the cables and 2) losing your grip on the cables is not like just letting go. You would still be holding on for dear life, but with weakened hands. So it would be more like a too-fast descent.

I have a via ferrata rig, with actually is good for a free fall. It has a brake bar thingy at the waist. But I would still offer a pair of chest slings with carabiners to someone who might need it. Yes, it is belt and suspenders, and yes, Ive never seen anyone lose it on the cables.

I have seen many people who just wanted to clip in breathe for a bit, while the crowd flows past. For that you only need one sling..

http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,43563,43751#msg-43751
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Via_ferrata#Via_Ferrata_Set
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 25, 2014 01:55PM
Thanks for clarifying what the picture is.... I don't really know how I missed that. When I took my wife up the cables I put her in a harness and had two daisy-chains. Doing the same thing you did at the transition, but we had to do it at every post. I went right behind her and clipped in, then unclipped. Didn't take long at all. Sure if she fell she would have slid down to the next post...but that is much better than the alternative. More than anything it was a peace-of-mind tool. Did you test out the prusik knot? Just wondering how well it was able to 'bite' in on such a smooth cable?
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 25, 2014 03:28PM
With enough winds, the kleimheist had good bite with both cord and webbing, and it was easy to slide up the cable. I tied a web sling to the harness, and clipped the cord/webbing to the sling. With the cables up and the sheer mass of bodies on the wall, you won't slip far (since the 2x4s are every 10 ft or so), but with the cables down and no boards, there are few natural stopping (or resting) points.
Also I forgot to mention that in some spots the granite was wet...
avatar Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 28, 2014 12:14PM
What kind of shoes? I did it once with the cables up wearing backpacking boots with Vibram hiking soles that balanced grip and durability. If I were to do it again, I'd insist on climbing rubber - probably an approach shoe. Something like Five Ten Stealth MI6 (grips even on glass) would probably be ideal given how slick it is now. Here's a guy doing his own demonstration on a hardwood floor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIuPShiWOUY

I do realize that some people prefer the surface outside of the cables because it's less slick than between the cables.
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
April 29, 2014 12:41PM
Cool video. We just had trail runners; mine were regular, my son's had Vibram soles. My feet slipped a little next to the cables but not more than expected. Away from the cables our footing was fine. On another fun note, over the weekend we saw my old mentor who first took me up to Half Dome years ago. He made his first ascent in 1961 wearing special "Danish climbing shoes" and continued to do so on annual trips up until about 10 years ago, when the footing became too slick. Those shoes? Wooden clogs...
avatar Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
May 07, 2014 10:34PM
Quote
OL
Cool video. We just had trail runners; mine were regular, my son's had Vibram soles. My feet slipped a little next to the cables but not more than expected. Away from the cables our footing was fine. On another fun note, over the weekend we saw my old mentor who first took me up to Half Dome years ago. He made his first ascent in 1961 wearing special "Danish climbing shoes" and continued to do so on annual trips up until about 10 years ago, when the footing became too slick. Those shoes? Wooden clogs...

I just got a pair of shoes with that rubber. And I could immediately notice that when I wore them I stayed planted to anything. They would be the ultimate shoe for tug of war on hardwood or other indoor surface. However, those are ridiculously soft - almost as soft as the foam midsoles they were glue onto. I don't think they last and I wouldn't wear them on pavement more than I had to. I walked around my kitchen, and they basically picked up about every speck of debris that I managed to walk over. The model I got was also very light. They almost felt light I was wearing slippers.

Still - if I were to do Half Dome again, I'd probably bring them along, but only for the cables.
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
May 08, 2014 06:35AM
Not sure what "that rubber" is? Are you referring to the Vibrams? Did you actually get the Vibrams or just something similar?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2014 06:35AM by DavidK42.
avatar Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
May 08, 2014 07:15AM
Quote
DavidK42
Not sure what "that rubber" is? Are you referring to the Vibrams? Did you actually get the Vibrams or just something similar?

Five Ten Stealth MI6 - the one demonstrated in the YouTube video I linked. That stuff is like glue, but it's ridiculously soft. It feels like I'm squishing a gummy bear. I don't know how durable it is though. It's so soft I feel like I would wear it all the way down just walking 20 miles on pavement. It could just be my perception though. Five Ten claims that one could climb glass or polished rock (like the sides of buildings) wearing it.

Quote

http://gearpatrol.com/gp100/2013-awards/five-ten-stealth-mi6-rubber/

Every climber knows that stiffer rubber means more stability and control on the wall, right? At least, that was the conventional wisdom until climbing company Five Ten released their latest evolution of Stealth Rubber, MI6. The radical departure from the typical stiff, unforgiving formula to soft, springy rubber started, of all places, in Hollywood. In 2010, the crew of the latest Mission: Impossible movie called Charles Cole, Five Ten's president, with one simple question: could he design a shoe that could climb up a glass wall? Cole and his team went to work on their Stealth C4 rubber, rebuilding it stickier than ever. The result? Rubber that is viscous enough to gain purchase on glass (just watch Tom Cruise use it in Mission: Impossible), while maintaining the durability to do battle with even the sharpest rock faces.

They do claim that it's more durable compared to the perception that soft rubber should wear out:

Quote

http://gearjunkie.com/tom-cruise-climbing-shoe-rubber-mi6

The rubber is called Stealth MI6, and it is interesting in that it is “the softest hard-rubber out there,” according to Nancy Bouchard, communications director and athlete advisor at Five Ten. “It is an entirely new class of rubber. It has a crazy soft durometer but with durability.”

In short, the rubber is gummy and extra sticky — enough to even get some purchase on sheer glass — but it’s also resistant to wear. The rubber is resilient, smearing and then popping back to shape after it’s stretched.

** **

What’s the secret sauce? We pressed Five Ten, but the company said it can’t share any chemistry. But Charles Cole, the lead developer, did offer some explanation, citing that while most rubber types bounce back immediately once compressed the MI6 type has a structure that “twists back on itself for a slow rebound.”

Cole’s explanation continued, “When MI6 moves it rubs against itself, which gives you slow rebound and some generation of heat.” That slow rebound is what gives the rubber its “stick.”

I've got Vibram soles on more shoes than I can count, but they're all molded/glued and don't have a model name for the soles (or at least they're not marketed with one). I think most of what they sell is custom made for particular shoe companies like Merrell, Vasque, or TNF. Their climbing rubber and some of their rubber (especially Norwegian welt soles that have to be stitched on) have model names.
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
May 08, 2014 01:44PM
Thanks! I'd missed the video link above (love the cat and the dog checking out the "stickiness" test in the video, btw!). I've not had a huge urge to do HD for a while (my wife and I started going up a few years ago...when they had permits on the weekends but not yet during the week). We got as far as the sub-dome when we started seeing heavy clouds and hearing thunder so we turned around (of course, no storm ever DID come in but better safe than sorry). She's got a major birthday coming up soon (won't say which one but it's got a zero at the end!) and wants to celebrate making it to the top in her x0'th year. Some of the u2b videos I've watched of folks going up the cables had me realize just how slippery that rock face has become so I've been feeling a bit nervous about going up so something like these soles is of great interest to me!

I'm not clear from the video though...since it's titled "Testing the grip difference between Stealth Mi6 and Stealth Phantom," one might assume that the first shoe he tests is the Mi6 but, based on the discussion above, it sounds like the insanely sticky one is the Mi6. Is that right?
avatar Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
May 08, 2014 02:10PM
Quote
DavidK42
Thanks! I'd missed the video link above (love the cat and the dog checking out the "stickiness" test in the video, btw!). I've not had a huge urge to do HD for a while (my wife and I started going up a few years ago...when they had permits on the weekends but not yet during the week). We got as far as the sub-dome when we started seeing heavy clouds and hearing thunder so we turned around (of course, no storm ever DID come in but better safe than sorry). She's got a major birthday coming up soon (won't say which one but it's got a zero at the end!) and wants to celebrate making it to the top in her x0'th year. Some of the u2b videos I've watched of folks going up the cables had me realize just how slippery that rock face has become so I've been feeling a bit nervous about going up so something like these soles is of great interest to me!

I'm not clear from the video though...since it's titled "Testing the grip difference between Stealth Mi6 and Stealth Phantom," one might assume that the first shoe he tests is the Mi6 but, based on the discussion above, it sounds like the insanely sticky one is the Mi6. Is that right?

It was the Stealth MI6. I have a pair of Guide Tennies with the Stealth C4 rubber (I think their biggest seller) and those are sticky but not "like glue" sticky. I've tried to see if I could stay planted or climb objects, and it would typically slip and more often than not leave a black mark (I wonder how much of this stuff is left behind by climbers). It tends to be hard. I think a lot of people going climbing or bouldering in approach or climbing shoes tend to use the rand for "edging", which may not be effective if the rubber isn't hard enough. This sort of runs counter to the conventional wisdom that climbing rubber has to be hard. Of course perhaps they could use a combination of the harder rubber and then a softer one on the sole.

This is supposed to be how they were used in the movie that was referenced:





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2014 02:11PM by y_p_w.
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
May 07, 2014 08:34AM
Can anyone comment on the weight of the cables when they are down? We will be out next week, and my wife's only hesitation on a harness/prussik trip up HD is the reference in some reports of the cables being heavy. Is it just tiring after a while, or are is there actually a meaningful heft to the cables as you go up?
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
May 07, 2014 09:06AM
Other than the obvious physical dangers, what are the legal/financial risks to climbing half dome before the cables are up? It would appear that officially it is not allowed, but I see a lot of people who do it. If was to be out there, what would the penalty be? How often are they even out there pre-season.

Hypothetically speaking, if a group of guys were going to be out there say... next week, hiking from Tenaya to the Valley I'm wondering if we should lug some climbing gear along :-)
Re: Short trip to LVY, Half Dome
May 07, 2014 10:01AM
I suppose it is relative, but I don't think the cables are too heavy. I am figuring about 15-16mm thick. You tend to think about steepness and footing rather than the weight of the cables. You'll feel tired because of the approach hike and from the altitude. With the cables down, there are only a couple of good places with footing to rest. If you know how to use a harness/prussik, then you probably won't think the cables are too bad.

As for the legal/financial risk of climbing when the cables are down... it's wilderness, you are on your own. A rescue is a rescue. When we got our wilderness permit, we were "warned" not to go up Half Dome; "the cables were down, there was snow, and some ice". (all true btw). On the way, we ran into a guide (but no rangers) who was leading a group up to Cloud's Rest. He said that they are not allowed to take clients up when the cables are down.
Conditions will probably be better than when we went (it had snowed earlier in the day). Since I was taking my urban-raised kid on his first time up we prepared for the worst, and ended up climbing half of the ascent away from the cables. The irony is that I think if you have your own gear, you probably won't need it, but if you don't, then you might feel comfortable having it.





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/07/2014 10:19AM by OL.
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