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Climbing Half-Dome with Cables Down

Discussion about hiking to the top of Half Dome, planning the trip, and when the Half Dome cables are installed in Spring or removed in Fall.

Moderators: Wickett, dan

Climbing Half-Dome with Cables Down

Postby from_mars » Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:50 am

Hi Everyone,

About 3 weeks ago I tried climbing half-dome with the cables down. My arms got pretty tired after about 60 feet of climbing. I came back down, but a gentleman came along who in the blink of an eye just seemed to walk up the cables. On the way back down the mountain, he gave me a few pointers on how to navigate the cables. Turns out he has a bit of mountaineering experience. I was wondering if anyone else out there has gone up with the cables down. The guy who went up seemed to think (assuming it's dry) that it shouldn't be a problem for most people except for the confidence factor, which I know causes alot of problems; i.e. people will drown in water they could walk out of, and others will fall off mountains under the best of circumstances. My question is whether anyone out there has done this? Would clipping in with a simple harness (Alpine Bod from Black Diamond), sling and caribiner be overkill?
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Postby Ninthgen » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:07 am

Bumping topic.

I'm interested in the HD hike in early May when the cables will be down. Is this permissible? What extra gear is needed?

I've done the hike before, but that was 30 years ago and the cables were up. I am aware of the difficulty, but I'm not a mountaineer. I can get some training if needed and borrow equipment; but I'm not wanting to do something way beyond a seasoned hiker's abilities.

Your thoughts?
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Postby sierranomad » Sat Apr 10, 2010 4:57 am

Except for mountaineers who KNOW that they can do it - if the cables aren't up, DON"T go up.

This is not Disneyland. People can, and have, died hiking up Half Dome.
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Postby Wickett » Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:01 am

People die with the cables up, let alone down. I would have a harness and clip in if you must go when the cables are down.
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Postby zafferano » Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:19 pm

I'd like an answer to this question too. Please don't offer warnings without reasons. I know it's dangerous and discouraged and difficult. I would appreciate hearing from someone who's done it or tried to do it so I can understand in why. How difficult is it? How long does the climb take? How wet/cold is it this time of year? What is different about climbing with the cables down and being harnessed in? Thank you.
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Postby bill-e-g » Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:14 am

Sigh.

Ok. I'll say some stuff.
I've done it with the cables lying down with only gloves. No harness
or anything. The two cables are just lying on the granite. Since
they are not stancioned in they flop over to the side. This means
that you are not climbing in the same worn spot that 200 bazillion
people climb it in. It also means the granite is stickier.
As you are going up there are a couple of places where you
can rest. Looking at my picture timestamps it took me < 15 minutes
to climb up and way < 10 minutes to climb down.
I go a lot so take that for what it's worth.
The subdome itself holds snow much later so you will more than
likely have to climb the subdome with snow on it.
When I did it last year many people didn't even go up the subdome
let alone the cables.
Should you do it? That's your call. If I did it again I would wear a
harness because even though I didn't think the climb was much
of a challenge, lifting the cable itself became very tiring.
The cable is HEAVY, and you have to lift it off the granite, or at least
I did in order to ascend.
People have died going up with the cable down, yes. Of course
don't even think of going up if it's wet, etc.
I was actually pleasently surprised at how many people either got
to the subdome or to the base of the cables and didn't continue.

I mention some stuff here:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php ... #msg-12525

Can't find where I posted the pict.... so let's try this:
Image
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Postby sierranomad » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:46 am

zafferano wrote:Please don't offer warnings without reasons.


Last year a woman died on the cables (up). Someone else fell, and fortunately survived because his fall was arrested.

From watching the people going up HD, I'm surprised more people don't die.

If under-prepared, under-experienced people falling and dying from the cables isn't "reason", I don't know what is.
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Postby bill-e-g » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:15 pm

btw... I really wish they would somehow unhook the lowest cable
section when they take the stantions out.
This would eliminate nearly anyone going up with them down
since the first section you definitely need the cables to climb up.
(or at least 99.99999% of people do) (me included)

Be Safe
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Postby zafferano » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:33 pm

Thanks for the info bill-e-g.
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Postby sierranomad » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:34 pm

That is a beautiful shot, Bill. Not only because of the subject, but you also managed to frame it ideally while holding on for dear life.
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Postby Ninthgen » Tue May 04, 2010 6:10 am

As of May 01, the sub dome had too much snow to traverse. I got about one-third up and had to turn back. The switchbacks were under 4 to 5 feet of snow and each step involved sinking up to one's knees. Not only tiring, but potentially unsafe since it was easy to get off trail. It may be another two or three weeks before enough snow melts that an attempt could be made without mountaineering equipmnet. Or just wait until the cables go up! Thanks for all of the feedback, guys!
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Postby breakfastburrito » Thu May 06, 2010 9:44 am

I've only gone up half dome twice, both times in late spring with the cables down. I have zero mountaineering experience. The first time at the top there was a group of 3 young European travelers including a young lady who hiked the entire thing in high heels. If it's dry and you're in reasonable condition, it's very doable. Of course there's the very obvious visually identifiable risk involved, but there's no spot that's particularly steep or would require any type of expert skill. It's not even close to one of the riskier things I've done in life.
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Re: Climbing Half-Dome with Cables Down

Postby danteswave » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:39 pm

Thanks Bill-e-g and Breakfastburrito for sharing. You're contribution to this thread is very much appreciated!!!
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Re:

Postby danteswave » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:46 pm

breakfastburrito wrote:I've only gone up half dome twice, both times in late spring with the cables down. I have zero mountaineering experience. The first time at the top there was a group of 3 young European travelers including a young lady who hiked the entire thing in high heels. If it's dry and you're in reasonable condition, it's very doable. Of course there's the very obvious visually identifiable risk involved, but there's no spot that's particularly steep or would require any type of expert skill. It's not even close to one of the riskier things I've done in life.



I like! Thanks!!
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Re: Re:

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:14 pm

danteswave wrote:
breakfastburrito wrote:I've only gone up half dome twice, both times in late spring with the cables down. I have zero mountaineering experience. The first time at the top there was a group of 3 young European travelers including a young lady who hiked the entire thing in high heels. If it's dry and you're in reasonable condition, it's very doable. Of course there's the very obvious visually identifiable risk involved, but there's no spot that's particularly steep or would require any type of expert skill. It's not even close to one of the riskier things I've done in life.



I like! Thanks!!


You like it because it confirms what you want to do is possible. It may not be possible for you.

This is the #1 reason I think the cables should be torn down entirely. It encourages people who do not know what they do not know to take risks they do not understand doing something that they probably would never do if it weren't "Half Dome" - there are so many more interesting, less risky hikes to take, and all the tourists do-or-die to get to the top of one rock.

I hope you are not like most of the people I see on that trail who are limping, crawling and suffering to get there no matter what - and I certainly hope you don't prove to be one of those who ignores safety in the quest to do something that 70+ people have died trying to do. Granted, some of those people died of natural causes, and many died on the way by falling in the water. But too many have died trying to do that dome.

Don't go up if it's slippery, icy, raining, cloudy, or if you have trouble hanging on to the cables. It's not worth your health, or your life.

The lady with high heels was probably wishing she had real shoes by the time she got back to the trailhead. She wasn't the first, won't be the last - I've seen them, painfully and wincingly limping down the Mist Trail like their legs were on fire and the slightest pressure on their feet was killing them. Only proves the dumbness of folks who think "it's not that big a deal." 16 miles is a big deal to anyone who doesn't hike a lot. Most folks who try Half Dome don't really hike much at all.
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