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The Old Stagedriver’s Yosemite Yarns (1962) by Laurence Degnan and Douglass Hubbard


THE FIRST CLIMB UP HALF DOME

George Anderson climbing Half Dome
[click to enlarge]
George Anderson on the lip of Half Dome; Yosemite Valley below
[click to enlarge]
GEORGE ANDERSON ON THE LIP OF HALF DOME, YOSEMITE VALLEY BELOW.

MOST OF Yosemite’s cliffs have been climbed now,” said the old stagedriver as he pushed his Stetson back with one thumb— “been up a few myself. But one they said could never be climbed was Half Dome, up yonder. Today there are a couple of sturdy steel cables to help you up the last thousand feet or so. But when George Anderson’s curiosity got the best of him back in 1875 and he decided that he was going to have a look at the top, the rocks on the backside were slick as glass.

“Anderson was a good blacksmith and he had plenty of grit. He forged eyebolts out of iron. Then by drillin’ a hole in the rock and drivin’ in the bolt, and then threadin’ a rope through it, he was able to inch his way up. I say he had grit because it often meant hookin’ one big toe over a bolt to help hold him up while he drilled the hole for the next. One slip or loose bolt and he would have gone to his death on the rocks below. Took him about a week to work up to the top but he finally made it. Know what he found on top? A level spot big enough to have a stagecoach race! Captain Anderson’s old cabin is out at the Pioneer History Center at Wawona and he’s buried in the Pioneer Cemetery, almost in the shadow of Half Dome.”



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