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Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use

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avatar Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 01, 2011 10:26PM
We had our Half Dome permits and were ready to rock! There were 7 of us, then 6, then three. The 13 year old with the harness was pulled after we did 4 mile and back. She was fine, but her parents were not. So it was only three adults and four extra permits. They will not accept these at the wilderness office nor is there anyplace to turn them in for others to use. Since we left at 4:45 am, we did not run into anyone on the trail until Nevada.

Used the Mist Trail up, and I used a poncho (99 cent one). I was already cold and get cold easier than others. The trail was more like a heavy mist this year (was like a monsoon last year when I was there). Saw the permit ranger at the restroom in Little Yosemite and saw him ask every backpacker he encountered on the trail up for their permit (for backpacking I assume). The hike was uneventful and we were at the ranger checkpoint before we knew it. Since we had the extra permits, there were two gentlemen waiting for someone like us to come by and we let them use what we had. The sub dome was as nasty as I remember, but I welcomed the challenge. We were at the cables and ready to rock! The sun was out and there was not a cloud in the sky. I had checked conditions with the rangers at the visitors' center before our hike just to be sure...

Two of us had been up before. The one who had not purchased a harness/caribiner rig from REI. The setup worked great for him and most people we encountered commented on how they wished they had thought of that. We were delayed going up, but not because of him. In front/top of us was a woman with rope tied around her body with a single caribiner at the end. Wow! It took forever to go up and she was gripping on for dear life. She would go up a plank and then wait five minutes (or so it seemed). The cables weren't crowded but the three of us didn't want to freak her out more so we were very patient.

The top was fantastic! Last time it was a rush job, so we took our time and explored the top. I think we were up there for two hours adminiring views, eating lunch, taking pictures. One of us picked a flat spot to eat our lunch on, and after a while we realized that we were getting cheers and interesting looks. One gentlman asked us if we would like him to take our picture because he thought we didn't realize where we were sitting. Well, we were on a ledge and had no idea that below us was nothing really. What a treat and we had no idea!

Going down was a little slippery. We all had great traction boots and still slippery. The great rubber gloves were much appreciated! At this point the cables were pretty croweded (more than I expected) and going down took longer than we had hoped. Without the traffic going up and down, we could have shaved an hour off our time.

I was very suprised that people are still bringing up leather gloves with no traction. There was a gloves pile, but it wasn't as nasty as I had previously seen. I gave my gloves to a young girl with the Stanley leather Home Depot gloves who looked petrified and relieved at the same time.

The wind kicked up on subdome, and rocks were flying everywhere. It was uncomfortable, but doable. Along the trail saw mama and baby grouse, Yosemite Expedition leaders, deer, mamots, and the typical trail creatures.

Our hiker with the harness/caribiner set up is a law enforcement officer. He felt that for his and his family's sake he was grateful for the setup. It did not hurt/damage the cables in any way, shape or form. And he was the envy of most hikers. We saw about ten others using a similar harness (minus the rope/caribiner setup).

We made it in 13 hours (including the two hours at the top and the extra hour on the cables). I personally trained for two months with bootcamp five times a week, and I hike 5-8 miles 4-5 times a week. My lats are still sore though smiling smiley but the rest of me was/is fine.

I had 24 ounces of Powerade before we hit the trail. I carried 48 ournces of bottled water (to add G2 to - powered gatorade) plus a two liter hydration pack. I also have a filter just in case. Gave one bottle away to a thirsty hiker and drank the rest myself. Ate two PBJs, protein bars, jerky, dried fruit and nuts, as well as some quench gum (just in case anyone is interested).

We encountered many people who looked in over their heads as well as one barefoot hiker and two in cheap flip flops (as previously mentioned in another thread).

Great hike (once again) and great experience! Wanted to do Cloud's Rest from Tenaya the previous week (as well as Waterwheel), but the spring conditions (and my current job search and lack of phone lines) prevented this. We had to cancel our Tuolomne reservation. But there is always next year!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/2011 09:31AM by robinjayp.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 02, 2011 09:11AM
Sounds like a fantastic trip. On all the occasions that I've used the harness set-up, I've had the same reaction from other hikers. They wish they had one too!

Thank you for taking care of those in need on the trail. I always bring a little extra for just such an occasion. I know you can't help everyone who is unprepared...but you did a nice thing in helping when you did!

On my last trip I stopped to pump some water from the last spring on the trail heading up from LYV, and I ended up sitting there for about 45 minutes letting the unprepared masses refill their bottles.

It's sure easy to make fun of the foolish things people do, it's a lot harder to take some pity and help out! Kudos!
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 02, 2011 10:07AM
I also think due to my lack of faith in other people's preparedness and ability, I would consider a harness set up if I decide to hike Half Dome again. I thought about for this trip, but dismissed due to my tough girl attitude. There were a few times that I slipped a little, but my death grip (as I called it) on the cables held firm. I just worry about the people who are lacking in the upper arm strength that it takes to hold on and about getting knocked down like a bowling pin.

Like I mentioned, the cables were more crowded than I expected. When we arrived at subdome (the super-hiker ranger passed us on the trail and gained at least 30 minutes on us) he had already checked off 40 people. I think it was around 10:00 am. At one point there were about 100 people on top, and then coming down we had there 40 or so on the cables with us.

I also found going down easier than going up. Our group went down facing forward. We received many comments afterward about that (I can't believe you did that!) but it worked for us.

Oh, and after our descent I was asked to take a picture of two women toasting the success of their Half Dome hike with a small bottle of champagne. Too funny!
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 02, 2011 04:44PM
Quote
robinjayp


Oh, and after our descent I was asked to take a picture of two women toasting the success of their Half Dome hike with a small bottle of champagne. Too funny!


My husband and I did that on our first time up Mount Whitney...he drank out of the little bottle and me, out of the sierra cup. What was really funny (?) looking back, is that I had pretty bad altitude sickness for awhile, laid out flat on the granite and puking etc...and later drank champagne up there.

We had to take our own pics toasting...there were only 7 people to hike up that day including us.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/2011 04:46PM by hikerchick395.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 02, 2011 05:05PM
Quote
robinjayp
.....The one who had not purchased a harness/caribiner rig from REI. The setup worked great for him and most people we encountered commented on how they wished they had thought of that....

Can you provide a picture of the assembly or describe the equipment more fully? Are the caribiners connected to the harness with a leash or directly? Do you use two? If so, are they one side or both sides?



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 02, 2011 07:52PM
Quote
robinjayp

Two of us had been up before. The one who had not purchased a harness/caribiner rig from REI. The setup worked great for him and most people we encountered commented on how they wished they had thought of that.

...

Our hiker with the harness/caribiner set up is a law enforcement officer. He felt that for his and his family's sake he was grateful for the setup. It did not hurt/damage the cables in any way, shape or form. And he was the envy of most hikers. We saw about ten others using a similar harness (minus the rope/caribiner setup).


I think you might have already explained it before, but exactly what type of harness/carabiner rig did he end up using?



Leave No Trace
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 02, 2011 09:48PM
Well, I am not at home and do not have access to my camera. I don't even know if I got a good picture of it or not, but it was the Black Diamond Alpine Bod Climbing Harness from REI.
http://www.rei.com/product/699550/black-diamond-alpine-bod-climbing-harness

There were two leash/extensions from the front with a heavy duty spring loaded locking carabiner attached to each. An additional carabiner was attached in the front to connect the leg straps to the belt loop (many of the harnesses we looked at actually were attached here, but for some reason this set up was not). I remember he told me that the person at REI was very helpful and knowledgeable about the Half Dome hike which helped with his setup.

This is the same set up that was recommended to the 13 year old who was originally set to complete the hike with us, just a smaller size. However, the associate at REI was not very knowledgeable about the hike and even said something like, "Someone told me we weren't supposed to recommend harnesses for Half Dome". I asked her about that statement, and she told me it was a friend of a friend (or something like that) and not a company policy. Her attitude changed after she realized I had more knowledge about the hike than she did (having never done it herself) and ended up being very helpful in the end.

When I first arrived in the Valley, I went to the Mountaineering shop and asked about harnesses for Half Dome. They said they don't recommend them for most people, but if someone wanted to use them there were no issues. He advised against using a rope and carabiner system (like the one we ended up stuck behind) and that you need to make sure it is a secure setup that won't break bones if you were to fall. He said any of their harness systems would run $100 and up(similar to REIs prices). I also asked him if he had been on the hike and he said no. I believe his set up was around $100.

The other recommended harness was the Black Diamond Couloir Mountaineering Harness, but they didn’t have it in the extra small size we needed for the 13 year old.
http://www.rei.com/product/807460/black-diamond-couloir-mountaineering-harness

Hope this is helpful to someone out there! I think it was a smart decision to use and would consider using myself next time (if there is a next time that is).
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 02, 2011 11:58PM
Quote
robinjayp
Well, I am not at home and do not have access to my camera. I don't even know if I got a good picture of it or not, but it was the Black Diamond Alpine Bod Climbing Harness from REI.
http://www.rei.com/product/699550/black-diamond-alpine-bod-climbing-harness

There were two leash/extensions from the front with a heavy duty spring loaded locking carabiner attached to each. An additional carabiner was attached in the front to connect the leg straps to the belt loop (many of the harnesses we looked at actually were attached here, but for some reason this set up was not). I remember he told me that the person at REI was very helpful and knowledgeable about the Half Dome hike which helped with his setup.

This is the same set up that was recommended to the 13 year old who was originally set to complete the hike with us, just a smaller size. However, the associate at REI was not very knowledgeable about the hike and even said something like, "Someone told me we weren't supposed to recommend harnesses for Half Dome". I asked her about that statement, and she told me it was a friend of a friend (or something like that) and not a company policy. Her attitude changed after she realized I had more knowledge about the hike than she did (having never done it herself) and ended up being very helpful in the end.

When I first arrived in the Valley, I went to the Mountaineering shop and asked about harnesses for Half Dome. They said they don't recommend them for most people, but if someone wanted to use them there were no issues. He advised against using a rope and carabiner system (like the one we ended up stuck behind) and that you need to make sure it is a secure setup that won't break bones if you were to fall. He said any of their harness systems would run $100 and up(similar to REIs prices). I also asked him if he had been on the hike and he said no. I believe his set up was around $100.

The other recommended harness was the Black Diamond Couloir Mountaineering Harness, but they didn’t have it in the extra small size we needed for the 13 year old.
http://www.rei.com/product/807460/black-diamond-couloir-mountaineering-harness

Hope this is helpful to someone out there! I think it was a smart decision to use and would consider using myself next time (if there is a next time that is).

We discussed this before at this link: http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,42063,42164#msg-42164

There are two things being discussed here. One is the attachment to your body. Any rapelling or climbing harness will do for that. The other is how you attach that harness to the Half Dome cables. You can use a pair of ordinary slings and carabiners (A pair, so that you always stay clipped in as you move past the cable supports. While you are climbing between supports, only one carabiner is clipped to the Half Dome cable. The other is clipped to your belt, with its line slack. When you reach the next support, you clip in the unused one on the other side of the support, then unclip the first one and hook it to your belt.), but I prefer a via ferrata rig like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Via_ferrata#Via_Ferrata_Set

The reason is that a via ferrata rig is designed so that if you fall while only one end is attached to the Half Dome cables, there is a braking action when its line comes suddenly taut. Its attachment point to the body harness contains a brake bar that softens the impact.

If you were actually climbing something very steep, a real via ferrata rig would be essential, because a fall using ordinary slings would end with an injurious shock. However, if you are just sliding too fast down the cables, the impact would be much less, and ordinary slings might suffice. And ordinary slings will serve for the other purpose of this thing, which is to let you clip in at a resting point and let other people get by. In any case, you can probably borrow a harness and slings from your rock climbing friends, but a via ferrata rig is rather rare among climbers.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/25/2014 01:13PM by wherever.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
July 16, 2017 09:32PM
Hope nobody minds if I resurrect this ancient thread, because I have questions related to it that might be useful in the same place for someone searching this topic in the future.

I'm hiking Half Dome later this month, and I plan to wear a harness on the cables. I work in a safety-conscious industry so it just seems like a reasonable safeguard. I bought one (Black Diamond Primrose) at REI today, after talking with an employee with climbing experience. But we're on the east coast and she hasn't hiked Half Dome, so I'd love some expert input on the best setup for clipping in. She showed me how she clips a carabiner to the loop that connects waist and legs when she's belaying (and acknowledged she couldn't give Half-Dome-specific advice). But the harness's pictograph instructions appear to say that carabiners should not be used to clip to a rope, only for belaying or (if I'm reading this right) dangling underneath a helicopter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Instead the instructions show a rope going through the attachment loops on waist and legs (parallel to the harness's nylon loop that already connects them, NOT through that nylon connecting loop).

So I'm gathering that maybe the idea for clipping into the cables is to put the slings through those loops (looks like you use a girth hitch for that) and then only use carabiners at the other end, clipped around the cables. That makes sense with the descriptions I've read of using 2 slings and 2 carabiners (not 4 carabiners). I bought 2 different slings, this regular sling and this "personal anchor system" that has loops like a chain.

I thought the looped one might be convenient because I might want less slack, so I could clip through a different loop instead of the end. Then I realized maybe I could just use this one looped sling and use different loops to clip on adjacent sections. I'd have one carabiner through the first loop (or another loop close to my body) and one through the last loop. I'm picturing that even with 2 slings, it wouldn't be possible to put my weight on the sling while clipping to the next section, because I'll be on the uphill side of the span of cable, so there's nothing for the carabiner to pull against. (Therefore I assume when people use a harness to rest, the carabiner goes on the uphill side of the pole they're resting at.)

I see that people only clip one sling onto each section. If there were a benefit of clipping both on, then using two loops of this personal anchor system wouldn't work for clipping onto the same section, because the closer-to-me carabiner would always catch my weight first. But it appears that clipping both in is not helpful anyway...am I right? (Also more fatigue on my fingers, safer to minimize number of clip in/out repetitions.)

I bought both twist-lock and screw-lock carabiners to practice with and decide between. I find the twist-lock easier with the gloves I'll be using, so I'm planning to keep those and return the screw-locks.

Can anyone describe what it's like as you reach a pole and clip around? I see a video where someone is standing on the plank holding the uphill section, which means clipping is closer to you and unclipping requires reaching downhill. I also see a recommendation to not clip in where there's no plank...if I did clip in, how likely is it that I could hold myself still with one hand and clip in/out with the other (assuming I'm comfortable with one-hand carabiner operation in my living room)?

So that leaves me with this planned setup:
- climbing harness
- "personal anchor system" of nylon loops, girth hitched to the loops on waist and legs, parallel to the existing connection loop which is now slack because the girth hitch is pulling the two loops together
- two twist-lock carabiners, through different loops of the personal anchor system

Questions:
1. Am I correct in interpreting that it's not safe to put a carabiner through the harness? Instead I can attach slings directly?
2. Is a girth hitch (through waist loop and loop that joins legs) the right attachment for this personal anchor system?
3. Any safety concern with clipping in through a closer loop, leaving less slack?
4. Any opinions on whether using separate loops in the personal anchor system (instead of 2 slings) would be difficult to maneuver around the poles? What do I not know about the cables/poles that could affect my plan?
5. Is there a benefit to instead using identical slings and clipping both carabiners onto each section?
6. Any color commentary on the process of clipping around each pole?

Measurements, if needed:
- first and last loop have 22" distance between them (if pulling carabiners away from each other, to opposite ends of their respective loops) - should be enough to work around pole
- carabiner in first loop is about 18" from my waist
- carabiner in last loop is about 36" from my waist
- my waist is about 39" from the ground (not sure how close it will be to the cables but I assume 18" is long enough to reach)

Thanks!
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
July 17, 2017 02:48AM
I'm not going to tell people what they should or shouldn't do. If you are going to try something like this, I would recommend researching the engineering behind the product you are using instead of relying on advice from this board. As you've noticed, some of the things people have used aren't designed for the application and could have resulted in death or injury to themselves, and more importantly, could have resulted in death or injury to others. A lot of people have been going up half dome without harnesses for a long time with very few incidents (especially if you exclude wet weather incidents and people not using the cables). It would be awful if one of these improper devices took out innocent people during a fall.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
July 18, 2017 01:50PM
Adding a bit more color to the previous reply:

* above all else, use your own judgement and be responsible for and accept the consequences. It's all you...
* IMO, the cables are not *that steep* - meaning, simple hand-over-and (up and down) works fine for many people (on dry granite)
* if I understand what you've described, realize that by always being clipped to the cable, you will prevent your body from falling off the dome. However, it may or may not be happy/healthy/alive. If you do have a fall when clipped just below a stanchion, you will slide down the granite until stopped by the next one. It may be a long shot, but when bouncing down the granite, you could hurt a knee, joint, etc - or if you hit your head just right (meaning wrong) it could be worse.
* to avoid the possible long slide down the cable, consider a Prussik. I'd describe it more as a knot & technique than a piece of equipment (it is just a rope loop/sling tied in a specific way such that it can be slid along the cable but will tighten and arrest a fall when put under tension). The literature indicates that correct selection of rope diameter based on cable diameter is necessary to achieve a ratio that promotes this tightening under tension.

I am not an expert, just offering things that I've been considering if/when I go up in the winter months when the cables are down and the granite is more slippery. Use your own critical assessment and own your decision.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
July 18, 2017 09:00PM
I'm very familiar with Prussik knots and their use. I have used a pair of manila Prussik slings to free ascend 150 feet out of Hellhole Cave. But using such slings to go up the Half Dome cables, which would involve tying and untying them at every support post, will drive you and everyone behind you nuts.

Clip onto the cables, or don't, but do not tie yourself to them with knots. By the way, the friction of these knots on steel is much less than it would be on a climbing rope.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/18/2017 09:00PM by wherever.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
July 18, 2017 10:47PM
I wanted to be clear that I've not tried them, just was sharing what I was learning during the research.

I'm not surprised that the grip is less on steel cable than on rope. I am surprised that it would be much of a problem (delay) getting past the stanchions. I figured (but - didn't try it myself yet) that they could be kept somewhat loose and pushed up the cable (with your hand in a fist wrapped around the cable). If you have two loops, I have practiced a triple-bind Prussik and it's pretty fast and easy to do.

In any case, a simple 'biner (or via feratta) seems like it may give a false sense of security. It will prevent you from going over the edge; it may not prevent you for possible serious injury before hitting the first stanchion below you.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
July 19, 2017 10:44PM
I suspect that you have a mistaken impression about what the likely falling event is while on the cables. This is not like a via ferrata or vertical rock climb, where you literally fall free until caught short by your protection. This will be where your feet start slipping and your grip on the cable is inadequate, so you slither down to the next post, while holding on for dear life. In that case, what you are worried about is whacking your head on the post, or your hands then getting jammed, or your sliding outside the cables altogether because you were stupidly out there grabbing for a loose hat or camera. The safety sling will prevent such a mishap from becoming a deadly tumble. Until recently, no one had ever actually fallen off the cables in good weather. But I have seen people whining and complaining as they descended to the next resting place faster than they wanted to. The several recent deadly events did not start with a free fall, but with some sliding that a sling would have caught at the next post without injury if they had been holding on to the cable.

I'm assuming that you aren't purposely trying to do a swan dive.

Anyway, a loose Prussik knot will not tighten itself as it slides down a steel cable. It will just keep slipping, unless there is some significant friction to make it pull back and tighten. Remember, you will be focused upon your feet on the rock slab and your hands on the cable. If you are also tending to the knot while moving, you will need a third hand to do so. And like I said, you will be so slow that your companions will get fed up and embarrassed and leave you.

One of the reasons that we used Prussic slings that we made ourselves from manila rope is that it doesn't melt, like nylon does, if there is slippage Just saying....

However, I am always happy to be proved wrong. Some people are much more dexterous than I am....I remember a 12 year old girl who whizzed up the cables, though she could hardly reach them in places. She certainly left me in the dust. If you try using a Prussik sling, please post a trip report here....



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2017 01:31PM by wherever.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
July 20, 2017 01:23AM
My son and I climbed Half Dome via Snake Dike last week. Because we already had our harnesses on, we used protection. We used two 120cm slings girth hitched to our harness belay loop. We clove hitched a wire carabiner to each sling to keep the carabiner from sliding on the sling. As we went down, one carabiner was attached to the cable while the other dangled. When we would reach a post we would clip in the loose sling on the next section of the cable before unclipping the one already attached. We used the belay loop to girth hitch the slings because it was fastest. You can definitely girth hitch the 2 hard points of the harness (waist and leg loop). We used the 120 cm slings because we already had them on our harness. You can use your PAS just as well. Here's a picture of our setup. Keep in mind we had 2 slings girth hitched to the belay loop.





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2017 01:39AM by DantheMan.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 05:07AM
Quote
robinjayp
Well, I am not at home and do not have access to my camera. I don't even know if I got a good picture of it or not, but it was the Black Diamond Alpine Bod Climbing Harness from REI.
http://www.rei.com/product/699550/black-diamond-alpine-bod-climbing-harness

There were two leash/extensions from the front with a heavy duty spring loaded locking carabiner attached to each. An additional carabiner was attached in the front to connect the leg straps to the belt loop (many of the harnesses we looked at actually were attached here, but for some reason this set up was not). I remember he told me that the person at REI was very helpful and knowledgeable about the Half Dome hike which helped with his setup.....

Thanks. The harness to carabiner connection (lanyard, leash, or rope) was my primary question. I have been up Half Dome 6 or so times since 1970. The granite trail has become noticeably more slick due to the uncounted numbers of feet over the years. For that reason alone, the climb has become a different project than it was even 20 years ago. I suspect that if I make the climb again with others, I will plan to use some sort of apparatus similar to the suggestion mostly for defense against other climbers falling upon me from above than as a method breaking a fall. I don't pretend to have experience in climbing equipment, but it seems like the ideal latch to the cable would be an ascender type device with firm control against gravity. It appears that simple carabiner or the via ferrata assemblies would not provide locking, active control against unwanted descent while attached to the cable as the stopping with the carabiner depends upon dropping to the next lower "baluster" pole.

As I recall from my last climb, there was much better traction outside the cables and for some sections, it was easier to avoid the polished areas completely.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 02, 2011 11:57PM
So you are saying the harness setup used in your group did not delay the ascent and did not cost additonal power and strength?! Very hard to believe.

From my experience HD is not a technical hike at all and should be done without the use of a harness (even though the Black Diamond harnesses are very good in general). In fact I think the use of a harness is wrong and should not be encouraged in any shape or form. Total overkill and unnecessary. Just my two cents...

However it's good to hear that you had a great trip. smileys with beer
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 12:44AM
Unnecessary.....except for that one time when it is.

I haven't done this hike but, necessary or not, how could it hurt if it sets a person at ease and allows them to enjoy themselves more?

More importantly, how can it be described as "wrong"?
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 07:14AM
It's "wrong" because the proper use of a harness (or the carabiners to be more precise) requires a stop at every pole. This will lengthen the time of your ascent, it will require extra power and it could cause a "pile up" for other hikers. Don't make the cables more complicated than they are. Proper preparation is all you need.

I think it's total overkill to use a harness and as I've done HD plus I spent many, many hours technical canyoneering I think I know what I'm talking about.

Obviously you are right that some people might feel more comfortable using a harness.

I don't have any problems if a climber (I'm not) uses a biner as they usually know what they do and are way more fit than the average joe like me so the exrra power can be neglected.

Anyway...we all make our own choices....
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 08:18AM
Yes he had to stop at every pole to clip on/off. Without a harness I had to do the same thing. I had to pull myself up every plank, and secure my hands and feet and feel safe before proceding to the next section. I also feel that without the rope-tied person in front of us that I would have been the one holding up the line not the person with the harness.

I know most people don't "need" a harness setup but who is it hurting if they use one? Each individual knows what is best for them (and each minor's parent).

I will add that I did have a pretty nasty slip in one section and a week later my elbow is still suffering the effects of grasping onto the cables in order to not slip and fall. One foot slipped out from under me and I was able to hold on to the cables and not fall. But I was jerked around a bit.

The descent was more slippery than I remembered from last time. When I returned to the campground I did hug the 13 year old and told her I was glad she was not able to come because I wanted to keep her safe and around for many years to come and I didn't think she had the upper arm strength to support herself on the cables.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 08:57AM
Quote
robinjayp

I know most people don't "need" a harness setup but who is it hurting if they use one? Each individual knows what is best for them (and each minor's parent). .
It's not hurting anyone. You don't have to defend your choice to this forum.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 05:42PM
Quote
robinjayp
I know most people don't "need" a harness setup but who is it hurting if they use one? Each individual knows what is best for them (and each minor's parent).

I've wondered what would be the consequence if someone tethered to the cable falls and is arrested by the setup. I've suggested that the tether could possibly knock other people (or their hands) off the cable who might not be tethered in.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 06:13PM
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y_p_w
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robinjayp

I know most people don't "need" a harness setup but who is it hurting if they use one? Each individual knows what is best for them (and each minor's parent).

I've wondered what would be the consequence if someone tethered to the cable falls and is arrested by the setup. I've suggested that the tether could possibly knock other people (or their hands) off the cable who might not be tethered in.

As long as people keep their space between each other (which should be easier to do with the new permits limiting the amount of people on the cables), then I would assume the sling attached to the harness will break the fall of the person before he strikes another hiker that's below him.

In contrast, a hiker not hooked in could in theory act like a bowling ball and knock down several other hikers on the way down (though I don't recall if that has ever happened in real life).
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 09:16AM
People frequently talk about how the cables are packed with people who "shouldn't be there". That makes some sense to me when discussing folks with known phobias, inappropriate shoes, no water, etc. However, I'd rather have those people progressing slowly and steadily from top to bottom than freezing up and having to be passed along the way. I'm sure that in some people's ideal world those people wouldn't be there at all, but, I don't think that's realistic.

That said, a (possibly) slightly over-prepared, fit hiker, using a harness doesn't seem like they'd be the rate limiting factor on the cables given what I've read about them.

I also agree w/robin. I'm a fan of applying technology to allow a person to exceed their comfortable boundaries a little bit.

Anyway, its not such a big deal. I just bristled at your use of the word "wrong".
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 05:28PM
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Scogg
People frequently talk about how the cables are packed with people who "shouldn't be there". That makes some sense to me when discussing folks with known phobias, inappropriate shoes, no water, etc. However, I'd rather have those people progressing slowly and steadily from top to bottom than freezing up and having to be passed along the way. I'm sure that in some people's ideal world those people wouldn't be there at all, but, I don't think that's realistic.

If I say "people who shouldn't be there" I mean the drunken jerkoffs, or people with extreme amounts of @##holeness, who shake the cables around and generally make ashes of themselves while others are trying to not fall off the dome in their wake.

Sick of those people. They don't just go to Half Dome, alas.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 05:40AM
Most climbers on HD descend via the cables. It is not unusual for them to clip in on the way down.
(They also tend to prefer not being on the cables when hikers are using them.)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/03/2011 05:49AM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 07:07AM
No, the harness use did not slow down the flow of traffic on the cables, but the person with a rope wrapped around them with a single carabiner did. And so what if it had? People freeze on the cables and become immobile frequently, some people just don't have the arm strength to pull themselves up and need to rest frequently, and others just go super slow. He clipped in one carabiner for each section and would clip into the next section before unclipping the last.

Last time I did the hike I was lacking in upper arm strength and was passed up by many people (some very rude about it). This time I hit the weights and it was still a challenge. Some people and many women just don't have the upper arm strength tham many men have. Does this mean we shouldn't be allowed to attempt activities such as Half Dome? I know my own limits and am happy with my choices to complete the hike on two different occasions.

And I will say that quite a few people mentioned that they wanted to descend after "that guy" who was my friend with the harness. If they slipped and fell they would have had something additional to try to fall on/hold on to.

Half Dome was super slick and my footing slipped four or five times and that was after being warned by my husband and friend wearing the harness who descended in fron of me.

Sorry if I am coming off to defensive or cranky. Perhaps I need some caffine this morning. Just very passionate about safety, especially my own. smiling smiley
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 08:47AM
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robinjayp
Just very passionate about safety, especially my own. smiling smiley

So am I, so am I. winking smiley

I'm glad you made it. Don't worry about your upper arm strenght. In fact I even think women have a slight advantage on the cables. smiling smiley
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 10:24AM
I've been up the cables about half a dozen times, and down the cables a few more than that (after climbing Snake Dike). I've never clipped into the cable, and never felt the need (maybe because I was young and foolish). HOWEVER, I am planning to go up HD this coming weekend with my 12 year old son (his first time), and I will have him fully rigged with harness, slings, and carabiners. If someone knows how to clip and unclip, they aren't going to slow down the line on the cables much, and as people have noted, the line up/down the cables often comes to a stop for all sorts of reasons (fatigue, fear, to name just a couple).

Thanks to those who have pointed out that the cable route seems slicker than in the past. We'll be paying close attention to that!
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 02:59PM
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Half Dome Hiker
In fact I think the use of a harness is wrong and should not be encouraged in any shape or form. Total overkill and unnecessary. Just my two cents...
I imagine that you would have a hard time convincing Hayley LaFlamme's friends and family of that. Ken
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 03:27PM
After not getting one for my wife I wished I had one for her when we hiked Half Dome. It would not have slowed her down at all. She needed the rest at each "stop". And, we were waiting on those ahead of us almost the entire way up, so...

I think anyone that feels the least bit insecure about the cables should be encouraged to use a harness. And I did so to one young guy who was a little embarrassed putting his on. grinning smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/03/2011 03:35PM by Hitech.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 03:28PM
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traildad
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Half Dome Hiker
In fact I think the use of a harness is wrong and should not be encouraged in any shape or form. Total overkill and unnecessary. Just my two cents...
I imagine that you would have a hard time convincing Hayley LaFlamme's friends and family of that. Ken

Although I have no knowledge what was the cause of her fall/death I stand by my comments and will continue to do so. I don't expect people to agree with me and it's fine with me if you see things differently.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/03/2011 03:30PM by Half Dome Hiker.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 05:40PM
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Half Dome Hiker
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traildad
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Half Dome Hiker
In fact I think the use of a harness is wrong and should not be encouraged in any shape or form. Total overkill and unnecessary. Just my two cents...
I imagine that you would have a hard time convincing Hayley LaFlamme's friends and family of that. Ken

Although I have no knowledge what was the cause of her fall/death I stand by my comments and will continue to do so. I don't expect people to agree with me and it's fine with me if you see things differently.

I heard conflicting reports of whether or not she was on the cables. However - some reports were that she was about halfway down and slipped.

I'm sort of wavering on whether I think it's a good idea. I sort of imagined a rope or long tether attached to a harness, and wondered about the possibility that a slipping and falling person might clothesline other people on the cables. Some descriptions are of a shorter rig. If someone falls and is on the same section as another person, isn't there the chance that the sliding carabiner/tether will knock away someone's hands off the cable? I remember that some of the stanchions were rather loosely in place, and I could see enough force to knock one out of the hole with interesting results. It might seem more reasonable to me if everyone is required to be tethered, although that could get interesting if the lines get crossed up.

I've heard of people being harnessed when the cables are down. That doesn't sound like a bad idea, and typically a group will have the cables all to themselves.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 09:24PM
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y_p_w
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Half Dome Hiker
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traildad
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Half Dome Hiker
In fact I think the use of a harness is wrong and should not be encouraged in any shape or form. Total overkill and unnecessary. Just my two cents...
I imagine that you would have a hard time convincing Hayley LaFlamme's friends and family of that. Ken

Although I have no knowledge what was the cause of her fall/death I stand by my comments and will continue to do so. I don't expect people to agree with me and it's fine with me if you see things differently.

I heard conflicting reports of whether or not she was on the cables. However - some reports were that she was about halfway down and slipped.

I'm sort of wavering on whether I think it's a good idea. I sort of imagined a rope or long tether attached to a harness, and wondered about the possibility that a slipping and falling person might clothesline other people on the cables. Some descriptions are of a shorter rig. If someone falls and is on the same section as another person, isn't there the chance that the sliding carabiner/tether will knock away someone's hands off the cable? I remember that some of the stanchions were rather loosely in place, and I could see enough force to knock one out of the hole with interesting results. It might seem more reasonable to me if everyone is required to be tethered, although that could get interesting if the lines get crossed up.

I've heard of people being harnessed when the cables are down. That doesn't sound like a bad idea, and typically a group will have the cables all to themselves.

I don't see that someone tethered to the cables could knock down more people that free falling. Unless you figure that without the tether they would fall outside the cables and miss everyone on the way down. I would expect a tether to be 3 or 4 feet long. Ken
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 03, 2011 10:42PM
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traildad
I don't see that someone tethered to the cables could knock down more people that free falling. Unless you figure that without the tether they would fall outside the cables and miss everyone on the way down. I would expect a tether to be 3 or 4 feet long. Ken

All of the recent instances I've heard of people falling off the cables, the result was that the victim eventually ended up outside of the cable area, with those who perished ending up around Tenaya Canyon or thereabouts. I've never heard of anyone being knocked off or injured by a person falling down.

I don't know exactly what the tether might do, but what I'm pretty sure would happen would be that 120+ lbs (depending on the weight) linked to a carabiner via a tether and harness (and coming down in an uncontrolled fashion) would probably be enough to rip someone's hands off the cable. If there's enough spacing, then perhaps that isn't a problem. I went up with very light traffic, but even then there was often more than one person between each set of stanchions at times. If it's mandated that everyone be hooked up, then I could imagine nobody would fall all the way down even if knocked off the cables.

Remember when the guy fell off in 2009 in bad conditions? Yosemite SAR went out to take care of people who weren't prepared for the conditions. They brought harnesses with improvised dual carabiner rigs for everyone to get down.

http://www.friendsofyosar.org/rescues/2009/6-13-09_HalfDomeFatality.html

Looks rather interesting. The first photo looks like it's rather packed. The later photos were near the end of the rescue, with greater spacing.



avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 04, 2011 11:04PM
A lot of people in these pics seem to be wearing rain gear and in the second picture to 2X4s seem to be wet. Could it be that people were on the dome in the rain??
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y_p_w
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traildad






Old Dude



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/04/2011 11:06PM by mrcondron.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 05, 2011 12:04AM
With the tether system discussed above has there been any thought of incorporating an energy absorption system (Yates screamer or Kong kisa)? This would help minimize impact forces. Also has there been any thought about a very short leash turning the cables into an awesome zip line?

As the area might be considered wilderness, my opinion does not matter all that much (part of the beauty of the freedom of the hills) but you are going to get it anyways. If you believe you will need to rely on a harness you may want to consider training a bit more before taking on this hike.

Y P W - "I've heard of people being harnessed when the cables are down. That doesn't sound like a bad idea, and typically a group will have the cables all to themselves."

I've known people who had good success tethering into the down cables using prussic knots. They say the prussic gripped the cables quite well. With the cables down and just carabineers you are looking at a potentially long fall/slide. Tying and untying prussic definitely slows things down, but if you have the cables to yourself this is not a big issue.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 05, 2011 05:32AM
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shiro16
As the area might be considered wilderness, my opinion does not matter all that much (part of the beauty of the freedom of the hills) but you are going to get it anyways. If you believe you will need to rely on a harness you may want to consider training a bit more before taking on this hike.

Don't all technical climbers bring equipment that is not really absolutely necessary-- until it is suddenly needed?

The discussion is less about relying upon a harness-tether system, than about whether such a system would provide additional security and balance that equipment use against the cost and risk that it might pose to others on the cables. To my mind, a supplemental system (beyond hands,feet, and cables) is merely a backup that in the vast majority of situations would not be needed--- similar to seat belts in a vehicle or a helmet while cycling.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 05, 2011 07:19AM
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Frank Furter
Don't all technical climbers bring equipment that is not really absolutely necessary-- until it is suddenly needed?

The discussion is less about relying upon a harness-tether system, than about whether such a system would provide additional security and balance that equipment use against the cost and risk that it might pose to others on the cables. To my mind, a supplemental system (beyond hands,feet, and cables) is merely a backup that in the vast majority of situations would not be needed--- similar to seat belts in a vehicle or a helmet while cycling.

Well said. I feel it important to consider not just the obvious factor such as strength, endurace, prepareadness, and ability but to think about the outside factors, such as "the other driver". Good analogy.
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 04, 2011 07:52PM
Coincidently, a conversation came up on the BAMM meetup list. Perhaps some of y'all are involved?

Anyway, not a bad time to talk safety IMO

http://www.meetup.com/mountaineering/messages/boards/thread/14481831
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 04, 2011 10:31PM
I am fascinated at the response this topic has brought and appreciate everyone's honesty and candor. Who would have thought a simple question on the cable width (from a previous post) would provoke such strong reactions and opinions on safety (along with certain unfortunate cicurmstances of course).

I suppose we can all agree to disagree on this topic, but I have seen some very good suggestions on how to improve on the initial harness setup proposed for hikers in my group by REI, especially the ferrata rig mentioned . I have taken a look at the various links and forums that have been posted, and I know I will definately reference back to this topic if in fact I do hike the Half Dome trail again. It has been a week, I am in EXTREMELEY good shape (according to my trainer) and I am still suffering the effects from my slip and almost fall on the cables. I suppose it is time to see my doctor about my elbow that won't lift/handle weight at all.

I will add that when we did our ascent and descent, we were spaced quite far apart and no one was sharing a plank or space between the poles. And speaking of the planks, they sure look like the same planks have been in place for 20 years (except the ones that are missing of course). That was actually kind of scary to think about.

Thanks again to everyone on this forum. I have received such great advice from many of the regulars (except for the lemon eucalyptus repel that is) and I enjoy reading and reseraching new places to go and things to see.
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 10, 2011 12:50PM
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robinjayp
Going down was a little slippery. We all had great traction boots and still slippery. The great rubber gloves were much appreciated! At this point the cables were pretty croweded (more than I expected) and going down took longer than we had hoped. Without the traffic going up and down, we could have shaved an hour off our time.

I was very suprised that people are still bringing up leather gloves with no traction. There was a gloves pile, but it wasn't as nasty as I had previously seen. I gave my gloves to a young girl with the Stanley leather Home Depot gloves who looked petrified and relieved at the same time.

Can you link me to the best type of gloves to wear for the cables?
avatar Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 10, 2011 02:01PM
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clankfu
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robinjayp
Going down was a little slippery. We all had great traction boots and still slippery. The great rubber gloves were much appreciated! At this point the cables were pretty croweded (more than I expected) and going down took longer than we had hoped. Without the traffic going up and down, we could have shaved an hour off our time.

I was very suprised that people are still bringing up leather gloves with no traction. There was a gloves pile, but it wasn't as nasty as I had previously seen. I gave my gloves to a young girl with the Stanley leather Home Depot gloves who looked petrified and relieved at the same time.

Can you link me to the best type of gloves to wear for the cables?

I used these:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Midwest-Quality-Textured-Rubber-Work-Gloves/16778774
Re: Half Dome Hike report/Harness Use
August 14, 2011 10:22AM
I used a harness when I went up on Thursday. In hindsight, I would say I didn't need it, but I am glad I had it. I would use it again, just like I use my seat belt and bicycle helmet.
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