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Kids on Half Dome?

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

Kids on Half Dome?

Postby TigerFan » Mon May 17, 2010 12:04 pm

I have a 5-day hike from TM to the Valley planned for July. I'll be hiking with my 11 year-old son. I had planned to hike Half Dome one of the mornings of the hike (on a Thursday.)

I was just in Zion and hiked Angel's Landing and it's made me question whether letting my 11 year-old hike Half Dome is such a great idea. I'm not scared of heights and I have a lot of confidence in his hiking/athletic skills but, still, I think I would have been scared to death if he'd been with me on Angel's Landing.

Has anyone hiked both (Angel's Landing and Half Dome) and can give me an idea of how they compare in terms of risk, fear factor, etc.? Do you see many kids on Half Dome?
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Postby Wickett » Mon May 17, 2010 3:01 pm

I have seen plenty of kids on Half Dome. If they start to freak don't push them. Take your time and go slow. I would recommend a harness and clip into the cable if you are nervous. That way you have piece of mind. I would make my boys clip in, they are 3 and 4 so a little too young yet.
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Postby AlmostThere » Mon May 17, 2010 4:02 pm

I saw a six year old do it. Parents had her in a climbing harness and two biners so one could always be attached as she moved past each pole going up.

The things that make Half Dome dangerous are the number of people and the weather - people are determined to head up regardless of weather because they came from someplace far away and will never get back to do it again. Be willing to turn around and leave if it looks stormy will decrease risk. I am nervous about the cables because of the people on them, in all kinds of shoes and all sorts of stages of excited terror - I don't like being on the same path as a bunch of nervous people.

Hopefully a Thursday attempt will mean a lot fewer people on the cables.

I would not miss Clouds Rest. If given a choice between the two, I would do Clouds, hands down.
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Re: Kids on Half Dome?

Postby dan » Mon May 17, 2010 9:08 pm

I've seen kids up on the top of Half Dome. I've also seen kids and adults scared and crying on the ladders. I strongly recommend using a harness to clip onto the cables. It's a good idea for adults, but especially kids with their shorter height and less strength.

Go early to beat the crowds. I would start at 6am. You also beat possible afternoon thundershowers.
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Postby TigerFan » Tue May 18, 2010 5:57 am

Thanks for the feedback.

Our plan is to camp at LYV the night before, so we should get a good early start. We'll leave our packs at camp and just have lightweight reservoir packs -- no loose bottles, etc. and hands free for the cables. We'll have gloves. We'll definitely keep an eye on the weather.

I'm going to look into a harness or line to clip him in.

One question -- how about shoes? I have some sticky-soled trail/rock shoes that I think would be perfect. Is it worth carrying different shoes just for HD? I prefer hiking in boots when I'm carrying a full pack, so it would mean almost 2 extra pounds...
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Postby hotrod4x5 » Tue May 18, 2010 6:19 am

I've done Angel's, but not HD, but I have seen lots of photos of the cables on HD and it sure looks scarier to me than Angel's landing. Total exposure the whole way up. I know I saw lots of folks on Angel's that would have no business doing HD. (this is probably because the access is much easier for Angel's)
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Postby TigerFan » Tue May 18, 2010 7:14 am

hotrod4x5 wrote:I've done Angel's, but not HD, but I have seen lots of photos of the cables on HD and it sure looks scarier to me than Angel's landing. Total exposure the whole way up. I know I saw lots of folks on Angel's that would have no business doing HD. (this is probably because the access is much easier for Angel's)

Well, that's basically why I asked for feedback from those who have done both because, like you, I've done Angel's Landing but not HD.

I agree that HD "looks" scarier in photos but, for what it's worth, people who have done both consistently say that Angel's Landing felt riskier in terms of loose rocks, being closer to sheer drop-offs, etc.

I think HD is more strenuous but that's not really my concern. We hiked in the Grand Canyon last fall and my son practically sprinted from the river to the rim with a full pack. We're also not going to do this as a dayhike.
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Postby dan » Tue May 18, 2010 7:55 am

Boots should be fine, if they have Vibram-type soles (patterns), not smooth. I've seen people hike HD with sandles!--they are crazy though.
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Postby bill-e-g » Tue May 18, 2010 8:59 am

I really don't think your boy will have much issue with Half Dome.
As others said I'd worry more about other people than him.

Looks like your getting the beener... good idea for peace of mind.

I've done both Angles (once) and HD (many times)...
I really thought the bus drivers at Zion almost don't want u to
go up there they make it sounds so bad. I didn't think it was
bad at all. Lots of chains to help you along...

I took someone up HD once and they didn't even make it up the
subdome... freaked out there...

My guess is that when he makes it up the subdome he's gonna be
stoked to go up the "ladder".

Have a great time... I'd be v. surprised if your boy didn't love it!

I agree w/ Dan. I look for Vibram on the sole. If it says that
I buy it (I usually backpack/hike in trail runner type shoes).
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Postby Vlado » Tue May 25, 2010 6:44 am

I am planning on doing HD with my 11 and 9.5 yo boys on a Wednesday at the end of July 2010. We'll go there with a 6 people hiking party (camp at LYV - I got a permit :) , hike HD early next morning) so my plan was to get up to the base of the cables and then split the party - so that either my wife or I wait there with the boys. I wasn't expecting them to be able to do the cables... but the harness suggestion is giving me ideas :wink:

We'll go the Angel's Landing a week after that, but from what I saw online (I have done HD twice without kids) AL look less dangerous, so I think the boys won't have problem with that one.
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Postby hotrod4x5 » Tue May 25, 2010 7:03 am

I saw all kinds of people on Angel's Landing that I would doubt would ever try HD. But people have fallen off it, so be careful.
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Postby Vlado » Tue May 25, 2010 7:07 am

hotrod4x5 wrote:I saw all kinds of people on Angel's Landing that I would doubt would ever try HD. But people have fallen off it, so be careful.

I was reading about Angel's Landing yesterday and the latest fatality there was a month ago...
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Postby TigerFan » Tue May 25, 2010 8:52 am

My gut feeling is that because the approach to Angel's Landing is easier -- paved and only 5 miles roundtrip -- you're going to see a lot more seemingly "non-hikers" on it. I saw everything from flip-flops to groups where no one seemed to be carrying any water. Just the distance involved in getting to Half Dome is going to scare off a lot of people.

Just my impression but falls at Angel's Landing seem to be "mistakes" (i.e. someone slipped, took a mis-step, etc.) while HD incidents seem to be more weather/condition-related (wet rock, etc.)
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Postby Vlado » Tue May 25, 2010 9:52 am

@TigerFan: This is exactly what I was thinking... I think my boys will go to the top of Angel's Landing without any problems. We'll see about Half Dome. I've learned from my two times at HD that there is a very fine line after which you shouldn't be pushing people to go up the cables because later on you'll be the one stuck with being responsible for figuring out how to get them down...
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Postby TigerFan » Tue May 25, 2010 11:11 am

Vlado wrote:...there is a very fine line after which you shouldn't be pushing people to go up the cables because later on you'll be the one stuck with being responsible for figuring out how to get them down...

And that's why my husband won't be going up because I don't want to be responsible for trying to get a 6'-2" 250lb man down... :lol:
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