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Re: Half Dome Death

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Half Dome Death
July 31, 2011 06:13PM
Hearing rumors on facebook that someone, a woman, was killed on Half Dome this morning by lightning. Sources are credible. Very sad, though it was very obvious that there was danger for lightning today in the park.
Re: Half Dome Death
July 31, 2011 08:54PM
Confirmed it. A woman was struck by lightning on the cables at around 12:30 today. She subsequently fell towards the Valley where she was found, or spotted, rather by the park helicopter. Don't know about a body recovery or any closures at this point, but I think the cables are still open.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
July 31, 2011 09:13PM
Other sources are reporting that people kept climbing after the incident?! I'm sorry, but stupidity like that...come on!

I wonder how much of it is the "this is the only day I have a permit/the only time I'll visit yosemite/I must push on!" mentality vs just poor decision making/ignorance/inability to read. People didn't seem to have a problem turning around on Whitney this weekend when conditions deteriorated.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
July 31, 2011 09:52PM
Quote
calipidder
Other sources are reporting that people kept climbing after the incident?! I'm sorry, but stupidity like that...come on!

Maybe they figured that lightning doesn't strike the same place twice. Embaressed

Quote
calipidder
I wonder how much of it is the "this is the only day I have a permit/the only time I'll visit yosemite/I must push on!" mentality vs just poor decision making/ignorance/inability to read. People didn't seem to have a problem turning around on Whitney this weekend when conditions deteriorated.

Reading some of the first-hand reports, it appears that some people did. A couple of people reported on WhitneyZone about a family with two children that kept pushing on while others had already turned around and were heading down the mountain. And a couple of the reports where from people who pushed on initially, then later regretted that decision.
Re: Half Dome Death
July 31, 2011 10:10PM
Well, this is off topic, but the most recent report on the family on Whitney described them with three kids -- two around 4-5 yrs, plus a 1 year old in a carrier. Apparently, they were still heading up to the summit on Friday when folks coming down were reporting direct lightning hits on the summit shelter, and electricity in the air was making hair and poles sing. (Later that day, they were seen at a stream crossing right before Outpost Camp, at which point their kids were described as zombie-like and hardly moving.)

Huh?

A surprising combination even on a sunny day. How does a 1 year old say "I have AMS and if you don't take me down it may progress to HACE"? Or do those flexible infant skulls protect them from such things?

Maybe this belongs on the "most stupid things I have ever seen" thread? (Or at least "ever heard".)
Re: Half Dome Death
July 31, 2011 10:05PM
Quote
calipidder
Other sources are reporting that people kept climbing after the incident?! I'm sorry, but stupidity like that...come on!

I wonder how much of it is the "this is the only day I have a permit/the only time I'll visit yosemite/I must push on!" mentality vs just poor decision making/ignorance/inability to read. People didn't seem to have a problem turning around on Whitney this weekend when conditions deteriorated.

"Lightning couldn't possibly strike twice" must be part of the thought process also. Imagine the anguish for those that paid $50,000 for a sherpa & bad weather hits while summitting Everest.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 12:51PM
I'm not at all surprised at all those who continued on towards the top of HD. One only has to look at some trip reports of peak baggers and mountaineers to understand how poorly even some supposedly mountain savvy enthusiasts are about lightning. In almost all such cases people understand thunderstorms with lightning are threatening but are apparently clueless due to ignorance of the phenomenon, how much danger that means. Much like some golfers out on a golf course during thunderstorms carrying a bag of lightning rods in their hands that "gamble" they can get still their game in and will be lucky enough not to get struck. As to that arguably stupid behavior, consider all the times you've seen impatient speeders on turny rural highways gamble that they can dangerously pass out some other vehicle even though there is a real though low probability another car in the opposite lane COULD coincidently be just now approaching the out of sight top of the hill or the back side of the curve and make a collision certain.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 01:20PM
Quote
DavidSenesac

In almost all such cases people understand thunderstorms with lightning are threatening but are apparently clueless due to ignorance of the phenomenon, how much danger that means. Much like some golfers out on a golf course during thunderstorms carrying a bag of lightning rods in their hands that "gamble" they can get still their game in and will be lucky enough not to get struck.

This reminds me of one of my favorite golfing jokes:

Q: If you're out in the middle of a golf course when a thunderstorm strikes, what should you do?

A: Swing a one-iron over your head, because even God can't hit a one-iron!

grinning smiley
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 01:28PM
Hi,

I went up Half dome with a friend yesterday. At the permit checkpoint, a ranger made us aware that the weather forecast predicted thunderstorms later. He also adviced us to us to use good personal judgement before we go up. We arrived on top at 11:13 AM, stayed for less than 5 min and went down immediately as the weather got worse and worse. By the time we went down a first storm passed half dome and a second one was over clouds rest, which is about 3 mi NE of half dome. 2 people ( a father and his younger son) were still on top of half domewhen we went down.

On our way down 2 male people passed us who hiked up.

About 1/3 way down we passed a group of 1 male and 2 females - one of them had lots of trouble to go down and was very very scared - I did not realize that they where stuck. The man was helping one of them to slowly climb down, the other one was waiting above them. The weather got worse and worse very quickly every minute and it started to rain, so the rocks where slippery.

My guess is that the cables charged up due to static electricity when the storm approached, and that one of them got an electric shock which threw her hands off the cables and she slipped.

The cables on half dome are serious, and you have to be confident with yourself - you also need the correct equipment for this. Getting a permit does not mean that you can hike up there. Actually I think that hiking down is far more intimidating as you only realize how exposed you are when you look down.

I think that this can happen to anyone - if you hike up and there's someone on the cables who has difficulties to go down, and the weather worsens, you're stuck behind them.

Here's a pic of halfdome 07/31/2011 11:33 AM http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/819/dsc1815z.jpg/

I'm very sad about this death, especially for the friends who hiked up with the person who slipped.

j.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2011 02:37PM by jansfbay.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 12:16AM
Where did you hear these rumors? I can't find anything online
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 08:44AM
It must be true. It's in wikipedia already.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Half Dome Death
July 31, 2011 10:35PM
From the NOAA web site:


Can lightning strike the same place twice?

Lightning does hit the same spot (or almost the same spot) more than once, contrary to folk wisdom. It could be simply a statistical fluke (i.e., with all the lightning that occurs, eventually lightning will strike somewhere near a previous lightning strike within a short period of time). It could also be that something about the site makes it somewhat more likely to be struck. Typically, when lightning strikes something on the ground, the object that is struck sends a faint channel upward that joins the downward developing flash and creates the connection to the ground. Taller objects are more likely than shorter objects to produce the upward channel. But it is also possible that something that locally affects the ability of the ground to conduct electricity (such as the salt or moisture content of the ground at the time, the presence or absence of rock, standing water, pipes or other metal objects in the ground), the terrain shape, the shape of leaves or twigs, or something else might make a particular location more likely than another nearby location to be struck.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 12:25AM
Captain Hindsight here.
I'd like to point out that I, a person who sometimes criticizes others in my position of 3rd person hindsight (like criticizing those who continued to climb HD)-- am the same person who also praises people when they push forward in the face of poor odds, and succeed.
I'm just identifying the contradictions here.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 12:30AM
Quote
herosemblem
Captain Hindsight here.
I'd like to point out that I, a person who sometimes criticizes others in my position of 3rd person hindsight (like criticizing those who continued to climb HD)-- am the same person who also praises people when they push forward in the face of poor odds, and succeed.
I'm just identifying the contradictions here.

And there's a lot to be said for knowing when not to continue on. I looked at the webcams this morning and it was not a day to be on Half Dome or any other peak.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 01:32AM
Contrary to popular belief and straight up bullshit, this morning was BEAUTIFUL for going up half dome. In fact, I and another guide led a group of 10 up and down the cables before 930am. The thunder clouds rolled in at about 1030am. We were camped about 300 yards below the spring on the HD trail. We didn't see lightning before 1130 (granted it doesn't mean it didn't strike before then). I advised any and all still trying to go up the trail that they should at the very least wait for the clouds to pass before even attempting to go near the dome much less the cables. We saw three very serious and rushed rangers going up towards the dome from just beyond the bathroom in little yosemite valley at about 1215ish and we heard the helicopter at around 1230. Not sure if my time frame was right, I'm going off memory and its been a long couple of weeks. We actually got mixed stories from a number of rangers we saw later on the John Muir trail, just beyond the top of vernal falls. They were carrying out a climber who had successfully ascended the face of the dome, then broke her leg on the muir trail (what a bust). One ranger said it was two separate incidents, a lightning strike and another who fell, one said that it was in fact a woman who had been struck while on the cables and fell, and two more who said it was a male who fell and a woman who was struck... From exp. the only ranger who seemed like they were confident in their version was the woman getting struck on the cables. hope that helps.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 04:35AM
Quote
KtothemGuide
Contrary to popular belief and straight up bullshit, this morning was BEAUTIFUL for going up half dome. In fact, I and another guide led a group of 10 up and down the cables before 930am.

Don't see anything where anyone suggests it was anything but beautiful - I was hiking in the rain Sunday out there. But because we are S-M-A-R-T and pay attention to the fact that people die of lightening strikes on high exposed places, guess where we didn't go hiking when we saw the NOAA warnings that there were increasing chances of thunderstorms?
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 09:04AM
Tha woman with the broken leg was in my party. She slipped on the JMT in the rain on Sunday. We climbed Snake Dike on Saturday. I'm astounded anyone would have ventures up those cables on Sunday. There is absolutely NO WAY we would have gone on to Half Dome on Sunday. Obvious rain clouds present first thing and the thunderheads were building very early. I'm happy that there were not more injuries or deaths. It's not Dinseyland folks.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 08:04AM
Guides? Half Dome? The group of ten couldn't find it by themselves?

Seriously, I'm glad to know that there are at least some tourons out there that realize that they are incompetent and go with someone that knows what they are doing.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 08:21AM
You're assuming they know what they are doing?

btw:
You and eeek are signed up for "Chick-on Adventures - Loch Tablae"
(you know where you can send the insecurity deposit)

Our Motos/enticements:
- We'll get you there alive - good luck getting back
- A free compass (sewing pin) with paid insecurity deposit
- Yes, we can get there this way! Now shut up and get up!
- Just use the shrub to break your fall, you'll be fine
- Those nicks on your legs are simply badges of honor



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 08:30AM
Quote
chick-on
You're assuming they know what they are doing?


Obviously.
Difficult to imagine that they could be as bad as the typical touron, esp. if they do an overnight camping trip.
( Unless, of course, if they also happen to be Boy Scout "leaders." )



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2011 08:51AM by szalkowski.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 09:26AM
KtothemGuide was guiding a 4 day 3 night backpacking trip that ended on Sunday with a 7am HD summit with BLUE SKIES. He would have NEVER been anywhere NEAR HD had there been foul looking weather. Please don't assume.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 11:20AM
I wouldn't assume.

Here's a link to the webcams. Click on the day and cam and you can see how quickly the storm came.
http://archives.halfdome.net/archive

I personally have run into guides before, here's a recent example:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,40408

Have a nice day



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 11:50AM
Quote
chick-on
I wouldn't assume.

Here's a link to the webcams. Click on the day and cam and you can see how quickly the storm came.
http://archives.halfdome.net/archive

Impressive.
BTW, dial in July 29, 2011 and scroll past halfway for a rainbow seemingly between Glacier Point and Half Dome.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 06:52PM
Quote
chick-on
I wouldn't assume.

Here's a link to the webcams. Click on the day and cam and you can see how quickly the storm came.
http://archives.halfdome.net/archive
Have a nice day

If you pause at the 12:01 pm mark you can actually see a lightning strike. I imagine that is the one that struck the cables and/or this woman. Very sad.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2011 07:11PM by campgirl333.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 07:36PM
Quote
campgirl333
Quote
chick-on
I wouldn't assume.

Here's a link to the webcams. Click on the day and cam and you can see how quickly the storm came.
http://archives.halfdome.net/archive
Have a nice day

If you pause at the 12:01 pm mark you can actually see a lightning strike. I imagine that is the one that struck the cables and/or this woman. Very sad.

12:01:46 and the strike is on the left side of the top.



Old Dude
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 07:43PM
Wow. Amazing eyes you have -- I see the strike. (I think the girl slipped a half hour earlier though.)
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 12:50PM
I'm wondering if the rangers checking for permits were recommending that people not make the climb with clouds visible.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 07:43PM
Deaths on Half Dome are a distressingly frequent occurrence & tend to follow similar patterns.
I feel that certain improvements might save some lives.
If people were able to overstay their permits in the event of inclement weather then maybe fewer would be tempted to push ahead during an approaching storm.
Also, those cable posts are rather easily pulled out (up), & if you fall & start to slide it is really hard to grab the cable. Pretty unforgiving.
Perhaps a two row cable with posts which don't easily come loose would be feasible.
Just some ideas.
avatar Hiker Fatality on Half Dome Cables in Yosemite National Park
August 01, 2011 12:15PM
Hiker Fatality on Half Dome Cables in Yosemite National Park
Date: August 1, 2011

At approximately 12:00 p.m. Sunday, July 31, 2011, Yosemite National Park’s Emergency Communication Center received a 911 phone call reporting a fall of a hiker on the Half Dome cables. Hayley LaFlamme, a 26 year old female from San Ramon, California, had gone to the top of Half Dome and was descending when she fell 600 feet off the cables. National Park Rangers pronounced her deceased upon arrival on scene.

A severe lightning, thunder, and rainstorm was present in the area of Half Dome for several hours in the morning and early afternoon yesterday. This type of weather can make for hazardous trail conditions and the granite slopes become very slick. Half Dome trip planning and safety information is available through the Yosemite National Park webpage at http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm

The cause of the fall is currently under investigation.

The last hiker who died on Half Dome was Majoj Kumar, from San Ramon, California, on June 13, 2009.

Additionally, on June 16, 2007, Hirofumi Nohara, slipped to his death on the cables. 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.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 12:21PM
I suppose residing in San Ramon, then visiting Half Dome is a bad idea.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 12:26PM
Quote
herosemblem
I suppose residing in San Ramon, then visiting Half Dome is a bad idea.
no, stop, enough! stay home
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 12:54PM
Hopefully working here doesn't count...
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 12:23PM
AP is reporting it:

Woman dies at Yosemite park on Half Dome
http://www.sacbee.com/2011/08/01/3809039/woman-dies-at-yosemite-park-on.html
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 01:47PM
The news article says there have been 14 deaths so far this year in Yosemite. This Half Dome death and the three over Vernal Falls make four.

What were the other ten? Seems like a much higher count than most years.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 01:49PM
Quote
Mom
The news article says there have been 14 deaths so far this year in Yosemite. This Half Dome death and the three over Vernal Falls make four.

What were the other ten? Seems like a much higher count than most years.

At least two at Hetch Hetchy. One guy suffered from a heart condition and died on the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail. There was another guy who fell into the Merced River from the Mist Trail:

http://www.friendsofyosar.org/rescues/rescues.html
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 02:34PM
Plus a teen that died in an accident on Tioga Pass Rd the same day the three hikers were swept over Vernal Fall.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 10:16PM
There have been 10 deaths since May 13 that have had some publicity:
Man who slipped and fell of the Mist Trail on the way up to Vernal Falls
Man who had a heart attack on the Upper Yosemite Falls trail (on the same day as above)
Man who went missing on the Upper Yosemite Falls trail while hiking with his church group, still missing, presumed dead
Two men who were swept off Wapama Falls bridge along Hetch Hetchy dam and drowned
The woman and two men who were swept over the edge of Vernal Falls
Teenage girl killed in a vehicle accident near White Wolf apparently on the same day as above incident
Now this Half Dome death
That accounts for 10 people. Anyone know about the other incidents?

It's kind of interesting how many deaths never get reported in the national park news bulletin.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 05, 2011 11:19PM
Quote
Echidna

It's kind of interesting how many deaths never get reported in the national park news bulletin.

I don't think most medical related deaths (i.e. heart attack while staying at the Ahwahnee, etc.) ever make the news (nor should they, IMHO).
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 08:12PM
Is there any reliable way to get up to date weather info if you are hiking Half Dome from the back country? I am thinking about asking someone to text me weather updates in the hope I can get reception before making the climb. What time do the rangers start checking permits?
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 08:22PM
Perhaps an old reliable: the transistor radio? Although there has to be newer techs that are compact.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 08:29PM
Quote
traildad
Is there any reliable way to get up to date weather info if you are hiking Half Dome from the back country? I am thinking about asking someone to text me weather updates in the hope I can get reception before making the climb. What time do the rangers start checking permits?

I rely on the National Weather Service, and follow the forecast daily, for several days, before heading out; and then check forecast as I can once on the trail:
http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=37.88108620012162&lon=-119.3228530883789&site=hnx&unit=0&lg=en&FcstType=text
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 08:37PM
There's always the old 'clouds by 10, storms by 2'...clouds before 10 that start seeing vertical development (as in the sequence chick-on posted) amount to 'forget it' (I'm now thinking of an attempted trip to the Ionian Basin cut short by T-storms over Muir Pass at 10:30 AM...every day of a 5 day trip). Flat stratus in the early AM that burns off == overflow from the Bay Area. But by 10 the sky should be clear.

My $0.02.

Edit: Just noticed you were specifically asking about HD...my answer is general to the Sierra (I've never been up HD). But it seems reasonable enough.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2011 08:47PM by ttilley.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 09:08PM
I had five bars in LYV Saturday.

But I thought as we hiked in that it smelled like rain, and it did - the clouds looked about right for it too. They do start to develop in the late morning, and it did start to rain on us after lunch. Was crazy how much water was sheeting down the granite into the trail, all filled with pine pollen.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 09:11PM
Quote
AlmostThere
I had five bars in LYV Saturday.

Yogi, Booboo and three others?
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 01, 2011 09:27PM
Rolling on floor laugh
Quote
eeek
Quote
AlmostThere
I had five bars in LYV Saturday.

Yogi, Booboo and three others?

Rolling on floor laugh



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2011 09:28PM by Bee.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 02, 2011 10:02AM
Quote
eeek
Quote
AlmostThere
I had five bars in LYV Saturday.

Yogi, Booboo and three others?

Yogi and Booboo did sneak up on us while we were on the phone eating sandwiches.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 02, 2011 10:13AM
For those who didn't see the strike here it with a bit more contrast.

This is at 1201

avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 03, 2011 06:19AM
An interesting, more personal, story from United Kingdom:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2021501/Yosemite-Climber-Hayley-LaFlamme-falls-600ft-Half-Dome.html



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 03, 2011 08:35AM
Here's the most recent San Francisco Chronicle news article about the Half Dome death. The victim, according to the article, was around the midpoint of the cables when she slipped and fell. She had hiked to the top of Half Dome with her sister and two friends.

San Francisco Chronicle: Half Dome climber from San Ramon falls to death

I'm wondering if people were required by the Park Service to wear suitable helmets before climbing up or down the cables, would that help save the lives of people who slip and the slide down the side of Half Dome to their deaths? I presume (though don't know for sure) that a lot of these Half Dome deaths are caused by head injuries when the body stops at the shoulder of the dome. Wearing a suitable helmet might make the slide and tumble off the dome more survivable. Any thoughts?



Leave No Trace
Re: Half Dome Death
August 03, 2011 08:44AM
Quote
plawrence
Here's the most recent San Francisco Chronicle news article about the Half Dome death. The victim, according to the article, was around the midpoint of the cables when she slipped and fell. She had hiked to the top of Half Dome with her sister and two friends.

San Francisco Chronicle: Half Dome climber from San Ramon falls to death

I'm wondering if people were required by the Park Service to wear suitable helmets before climbing up or down the cables, would that help save the lives of people who slip and the slide down the side of Half Dome to their deaths? I presume (though don't know for sure) that a lot of these Half Dome deaths are caused by head injuries when the body stops at the shoulder of the dome. Wearing a suitable helmet might make the slide and tumble off the dome more survivable. Any thoughts?
Of course, I am not a doctor, but somehow I doubt anything less than a motorcycle helmet could protect in a 600 foot fall, and then I'm still not sure.

Bottom line, when you get to the sub dome, about to ascend the cables, look at the weather. Those people should not have gone up that day.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 03, 2011 09:01AM
Quote
hotrod4x5
Quote
plawrence

I'm wondering if people were required by the Park Service to wear suitable helmets before climbing up or down the cables, would that help save the lives of people who slip and the slide down the side of Half Dome to their deaths? I presume (though don't know for sure) that a lot of these Half Dome deaths are caused by head injuries when the body stops at the shoulder of the dome. Wearing a suitable helmet might make the slide and tumble off the dome more survivable. Any thoughts?

Of course, I am not a doctor, but somehow I doubt anything less than a motorcycle helmet could protect in a 600 foot fall, and then I'm still not sure.

I doubt that any helmet could realistically protect someone from a 600-foot free fall (like going over a cliff), but at Half Dome, if I recall correctly, most people who slip off the cables don't go on a free fall to their deaths. Instead, they slide and tumble down the steep slope of the dome and come to a sudden stop at the base of the dome (on the subdome or a bit below the subdome). In that scenario, I think that if they had worn a helmet that it might have prevented the traumatic head injuries that cost them their lives.



Leave No Trace
Re: Half Dome Death
August 03, 2011 09:14AM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
hotrod4x5
Quote
plawrence

I'm wondering if people were required by the Park Service to wear suitable helmets before climbing up or down the cables, would that help save the lives of people who slip and the slide down the side of Half Dome to their deaths? I presume (though don't know for sure) that a lot of these Half Dome deaths are caused by head injuries when the body stops at the shoulder of the dome. Wearing a suitable helmet might make the slide and tumble off the dome more survivable. Any thoughts?

Of course, I am not a doctor, but somehow I doubt anything less than a motorcycle helmet could protect in a 600 foot fall, and then I'm still not sure.

I doubt that any helmet could realistically protect someone from a 600-foot free fall (like going over a cliff), but at Half Dome, if I recall correctly, most people who slip off the cables don't go on a free fall to their deaths. Instead, they slide and tumble down the steep slope of the dome and come to a sudden stop at the base of the dome (on the subdome or a bit below the subdome). In that scenario, I think that if they had worn a helmet that it might have prevented the traumatic head injuries that cost them their lives.
Possibly. But in my mind, when I picture someone tumbling and falling down a steep slope like that, I see their head snapping back and forth. I wonder how many of those people have broken necks when they get to the bottom. Helmet can't prevent that.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 06, 2011 01:29PM
Quote
Bee
Quote
plawrence
I'm wondering if people were required by the Park Service to wear suitable helmets before climbing up or down the cables, would that help save the lives of people who slip and the slide down the side of Half Dome to their deaths? I presume (though don't know for sure) that a lot of these Half Dome deaths are caused by head injuries when the body stops at the shoulder of the dome. Wearing a suitable helmet might make the slide and tumble off the dome more survivable. Any thoughts?

600ft= 60 story building. Whether you "tumble" down or fall down, there is going to be significant inertia apon impact, so you better add a kevlar body suit to that helmet, as I am sure that internal injuries play a major role in the fatality.

I remember reading somewhere that an unobstructed 3 foot fall to the head onto a hard surface could potentially be fatal. An uncontrolled slip on a banana peel on the sidewalk has the potential to be fatal.

I would venture that rolling down could cause some nasty injuries. However - I do remember that lucky guy who slipped off the cables and ended up lying spread eagle at an angle until SAR arrived to retrieve him. Now - falling further down might be even more dangerous as there are trees that could stop or redirect someone with tremendous force.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 06, 2011 01:56PM
Quote
y_p_w
Quote
Bee
Quote
plawrence
I'm wondering if people were required by the Park Service to wear suitable helmets before climbing up or down the cables, would that help save the lives of people who slip and the slide down the side of Half Dome to their deaths? I presume (though don't know for sure) that a lot of these Half Dome deaths are caused by head injuries when the body stops at the shoulder of the dome. Wearing a suitable helmet might make the slide and tumble off the dome more survivable. Any thoughts?

600ft= 60 story building. Whether you "tumble" down or fall down, there is going to be significant inertia apon impact, so you better add a kevlar body suit to that helmet, as I am sure that internal injuries play a major role in the fatality.

I remember reading somewhere that an unobstructed 3 foot fall to the head onto a hard surface could potentially be fatal. An uncontrolled slip on a banana peel on the sidewalk has the potential to be fatal.

I would venture that rolling down could cause some nasty injuries. However - I do remember that lucky guy who slipped off the cables and ended up lying spread eagle at an angle until SAR arrived to retrieve him. Now - falling further down might be even more dangerous as there are trees that could stop or redirect someone with tremendous force.

Is going 'spread eagle' (if you can) the best way of maximizing the odds of survival during a slide of such magnitude? For the Japanese hiker, he slid and bounced down while on his butt in an upright position. His feet then went into a cracked granite layer (like to the right of the lucky guy: http://www.hikehalfdome.com/images/fall_best.JPG), which caused him to somersault wildly. Too much speed. He also had his backpack on, unlike that lucky guy.
Re: Half Dome Death
August 06, 2011 11:08AM
I'm wondering if people were required by the Park Service to wear suitable hiking shoes before setting foot on the Mist Trail... Would that help save the lives of the people who slip and slide down the side of Half Dome to their deaths? I presume that a lot of these Half Dome deaths are caused by traumatic falls when people slip due to inappropriate footwear. Wearing a suitable shoe might make the slide and tumble off the dome more preventable. Any comments?
Re: Half Dome Death
August 06, 2011 11:30AM
Quote
herosemblem
I'm wondering if people were required by the Park Service to wear suitable hiking shoes before setting foot on the Mist Trail... Would that help save the lives of the people who slip and slide down the side of Half Dome to their deaths? I presume that a lot of these Half Dome deaths are caused by traumatic falls when people slip due to inappropriate footwear. Wearing a suitable shoe might make the slide and tumble off the dome more preventable. Any comments?

I'm not sure footwear is the main problem. Truth is majority of people (if not all) in flip-flops, tennis shoes, regular sneakers, etc, have completed the Half Dome hike. Bad weather is the bigger factor IMO. From what I've read, that is when the accidents have occurred. The only one that happened in "regular" weather conditions was when the Japanese hiker slipped. I'd say that was fatigue (from hot weather) and too many people on the cables (causing longer than usual stationary periods) - poor guy. sad smiley

A couple of photos from that ill-fated day below:

https://picasaweb.google.com/103970263062889562312/June_07_HalfDome?authkey=Gv1sRgCJnX75-ey4ftNw
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 06, 2011 12:12PM
Quote
Ohnivy-Drak
Quote
herosemblem
I'm wondering if people were required by the Park Service to wear suitable hiking shoes before setting foot on the Mist Trail... Would that help save the lives of the people who slip and slide down the side of Half Dome to their deaths? I presume that a lot of these Half Dome deaths are caused by traumatic falls when people slip due to inappropriate footwear. Wearing a suitable shoe might make the slide and tumble off the dome more preventable. Any comments?

I'm not sure footwear is the main problem. Truth is majority of people (if not all) in flip-flops, tennis shoes, regular sneakers, etc, have completed the Half Dome hike. Bad weather is the bigger factor IMO. From what I've read, that is when the accidents have occurred. The only one that happened in "regular" weather conditions was when the Japanese hiker slipped. I'd say that was fatigue (from hot weather) and too many people on the cables (causing longer than usual stationary periods) - poor guy. sad smiley

You don't really need supportive footwear to do the cables. Good grip would be pretty nice though - especially if it gets wet. I could imagine something like a leaking bottle or hydration bladder could make thinks interesting. I can't understand flip-flops though. You'd at least want something that you know will stay on securely. I remember the time I went up, a group leader was clear that everyone was to examine their laces before going up, and had to double-tie them.

I've heard some people suggest that perhaps real climbing shoes (or at least approach shoes) can make for better grip going up the cables.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 06, 2011 06:18PM
Quote
y_p_w

You don't really need supportive footwear to do the cables. Good grip would be pretty nice though - especially if it gets wet. I could imagine something like a leaking bottle or hydration bladder could make thinks interesting. I can't understand flip-flops though. You'd at least want something that you know will stay on securely. I remember the time I went up, a group leader was clear that everyone was to examine their laces before going up, and had to double-tie them.

I've heard some people suggest that perhaps real climbing shoes (or at least approach shoes) can make for better grip going up the cables.

While I don't recommend hiking barefoot all the way to the Half Dome Cables, I wonder if climbing up the cables barefooted on the smooth granite might be better than many types of shoes. I would think it would probably better than trying to climb the cables with flip-flops. Bare feet tend to have pretty good traction on wet surfaces, especially compared to some types of soles that are on some types of footwear. I also wonder how effective deck shoes (used on boats) might be in providing a good grip on the granite, especially when it becomes wet.
avatar Re: Half Dome Death
August 06, 2011 07:31PM
Quote
plawrence
While I don't recommend hiking barefoot all the way to the Half Dome Cables, I wonder if climbing up the cables barefooted on the smooth granite might be better than many types of shoes. I would think it would probably better than trying to climb the cables with flip-flops. Bare feet tend to have pretty good traction on wet surfaces, especially compared to some types of soles that are on some types of footwear. I also wonder how effective deck shoes (used on boats) might be in providing a good grip on the granite, especially when it becomes wet.

Deck shoes work because they have those cuts (sipes) into the rubber. Some of the type uses gum rubber. I'm not sure how well it would do on an incline though. They're really good at dealing with standing water, which I don't think would be an issue if it rained at Half Dome. I don't think they necessarily grip that much better when dry, but the sipes help a whole lot when it's wet.

I'm still thinking that real climbing shoe rubber is the ideal material. Here's a video piece on how the company Five Ten makes their special rubber compound:





They have some conventional-looking shoes that use some variation of their "special sauce" rubber compounds. They claim that it still grips when wet (there's a photo of a shoe used on a wet shoreline) and they mention that someone inquired about using it in a kitchen with a greasy floor.

Seems rather interesting. They also have DIY resole kits. They don't have a whole lot of different tread shapes - flat for climbing, dots for approach shoes.
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