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#14324 - 05/22/11 05:46 PM Half Dome with Cables Down
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
The Cables are Down on Half Dome!

I called the Yosemite wilderness info number a week ago to say I was thinking about climbing Half Dome soon, and was warned that they "did not recommend" hiking to Half Dome. The ranger repeated that phrase several times, telling me there were several feet of snow with icy sections on the route.

But I went anyway. I was prepared with crampons and ice axe, and planned to hike with Brent N. Brent phoned me Thursday night, telling me he had spoken to hikers who had been up and back on Thursday. They said the crampons and such weren't necessary, that the snow was not bad. So I left the technical gear home. On Friday, we met hikers coming down who also said the snow was not bad.

So... here are some pictures...




Wagga and Steve at the Trailhead parking lot, about 7:30 a.m. That SPOT on my shoulder was on and working, but a signal never got out until 9:45! frown (Now I am thinking maybe I turned it on but not the Track mode.)








The Mist Trail was wet, but not as misty as I remember other times... I think it was due to the early morning and recent cooler temperatures kept the snow melt rate lower.


Brent was waiting for me at the top of Vernal Fall. He spotted me coming far below, with the bright red/pink "Freak Flags Flying".











We saw few people on the trail that morning... I passed one group, and one trail runner passed me. Then met Brent, and here is Sara, on holiday from England. We talked with her, and she said she was disappointed due to the lack of access to more remote areas due to the deep snow. She's coming back next year to explore more of the PCT. We invited her to visit WhitneyZone. cool

From the start to the top of Half Dome, we must have met only 6 or 7 groups, no more than 20 people! There were more on the way down, but the crowds had stopped at the top of Nevada Fall.









Brent had spoken to hikers on Thursday who said this tree fell just as they passed, missing them by about ten feet!











Here's a coyote who trotted by as we rested at the Half Dome / Clouds Rest trail split.













Bear tracks!  














The last half mile before the sub-dome, this is all there is of the trail.










Brent on the ridge before the sub-dome, Half Dome beyond. All snow here.  










Heading up the steepest part, the beginning of the sub-dome.










Near the base of the cables, hikers had left a backpack and jacket here. Squirrels were tearing into both!





  Cables and cross-planks still stored for winter.








Climbers on the cables  






  Brent climbing.















Here's a video of Brent climbing, near the bottom of the cables.




One near the top. Cables get heavy here as the slope becomes less steep, and the cables are being pulled from below due to their own weight. They would be especially tough if there were several climbers below pulling on it.




Here's Brent descending the snow field of the sub-dome.











Berry Bear on the summit.


There are more pictures with captions here:   2011-05-21 Half Dome, Cables Down

Vernal Fall video:


Edited by Steve C (05/22/11 10:32 PM)

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#14332 - 05/22/11 09:06 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Steve C]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
Can't wait for the rest of the pictures Steve. Last two with the climbers and Brent on the dome is very cool.

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#14336 - 05/22/11 09:35 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Steve C]
Burchey
Unregistered


Nicely done - that looks amazing. Can't wait to see the rest of the story.

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#14356 - 05/23/11 09:34 AM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: ]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Nice!!!! Looks like the best time to go to avoid the crowds.

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#14360 - 05/23/11 10:42 AM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Steve C]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Cool TR Steve! I'll have to give that a shot some day (if the whole permit thing ever becomes something other than it's current free-for-all). It looks like it would be a fun day, especially without the summer crowds. So how did you guys descend?

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#14361 - 05/23/11 10:43 AM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Rod]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Steve is a fantastic hiking partner. Steve and I saw a very tall avalanche coming down at least 1,000 feet off of Cloud's Rest, and unfortunately, an avalanche hit my desk at the same time while I was gone. I'm trying to dig out now, but I hope to post a narrative and a few of my own pictures as well.

Brent N

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#14366 - 05/23/11 12:35 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Brent N]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 246
Loc: SoCal
Congrats on what looks like it was a heck of a good time guys. This makes me want to do HD again next year before the summer opens up. Great TR!
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#14367 - 05/23/11 01:46 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Bulldog34]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
Cool TR Steve! I'll have to give that a shot some day (if the whole permit thing ever becomes something other than it's current free-for-all). It looks like it would be a fun day, especially without the summer crowds. So how did you guys descend?

I see I left out some details.... Sorry!

It took us about 30 minutes to climb the cables, taking pictures and videos, along the way.

It only took 5 minutes going down. I put on some leather gloves, grabbed the cable, and just walked backwards, sliding the cable through my hand. I only stopped once or twice on a ledge to rest to give my forearms a little rest. I used smooth-leather work gloves, but in the past, used rough-side-out split leather. I think the split leather type are the best to get the right combination of sliding ability and friction safety. My smooth-leather grabbed at times.

Others down-climbed by holding and releasing the cables in a hand-over-hand mode. I think the cable sliding through the gloves is the best.

By the way, if you aren't intimidated by the cables being down, or the lack of the cross-bar (wooden 2x4s), I highly recommend climbing in May. It was a very nice experience.

In fact, I'd have to say, the best time to visit Yosemite Valley is in May, before Memorial Day weekend. I saw so many new waterfalls, and all the foliage is so fresh. And the dogwoods! Truly the best time!

I should say, though, that the next day, my back was sore due to the strain of bending over and holding the weight of the cables. The strain completely disappeared by day 2. But the sore quads are still with me (due to all that descending on the trails)



Edited by Steve C (05/23/11 01:50 PM)
Edit Reason: A little gushing :-)

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#14369 - 05/23/11 02:23 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
By the way, check out this bear print!


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#14373 - 05/23/11 03:33 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Steve C]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
I'm still trying to figure out how to post pictures, so here goes. Two paths diverged in the woods . . . I chose both. On Friday, my good friend Parag and I fulfilled a long held dream for him to make it to the top of Nevada Falls. We took the JMT. This was my first trip on this leg of the JMT and found some beautiful views. Notice all of the overflow cascades next to Nevada Falls:


Can anyone help me identify all three formations? Half Dome on the Left and . . .

The JMT also gave us this breathtaking view of Upper Yosemite


Near the end of our hike at the Vernal Footbridge, this is was achieving a dream looked like for Parag. A well earned smile:



Day two, I went up the Mist trail. It was wet, cold and breathtakingly beautiful. Steve already covered the trip up to the cables, so I will throw in just a few more pictures.

Getting up to the cables was riskier than we expected based on a couple of trail reports from people coming down. Once on the base of Half Dome, however, most of the snow was gone. Here was a view looking up the cables. Those clouds would begin to get moving very quickly, and off to the left were some very dark clouds which appeared to be moving in our direction which prompted me to retreat when I was about 20 yards from the top of the cables. Nothing more than a few drops fell, but to this relatively inexperienced hiker, fast moving clouds + afternoon in the High Sierras + a steel cable in my bare hands convinced me to retreat.


Here is Steve C on the cables about 1/3 of the way up. As my teenager daughter said, "He is really buff for an old dude."

Sorry, Steve. Anybody over 40 is old to a teenager.

This trip was just extraordinary for me. Yosemite is and will remain one of my favorite places on Earth. I always get a sense of just what God meant when he saw the Earth and called it good.

Brent N

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#14378 - 05/23/11 05:37 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Brent N]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
"...favorite places on earth..."

Yes, that silly grin on my face pretty well describes the way I feel heading up those cables.

And I almost DO qualify for one of those "Old Dude" passes to the parks. Of course we slipped in and out without needing wagga's -- in at 7 a.m., out at 9 p.m.

As for retreating: You know what they always say -- the mountain will always be there. Now that you know how it is with "cables Down", you can head up next year again.

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#14436 - 05/25/11 09:15 AM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Steve C]
James Offline


Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 66
Loc: CA
Great TR and photos, thanks for sharing. What is the rock like going up with the cables down? Pretty much the same as when they are up? Meaning you go over the same path as when they are up?

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#14437 - 05/25/11 10:57 AM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: James]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
> What is the rock like going up with the cables down? Pretty much the same as when they are up? Meaning you go over the same path as when they are up?

The rock was better! All washed clean of the dust of a thousand hiking boots, so I definitely noticed the better grip. I looked for the polished effect between the holes for the posts, and it was just not bad at all.

As for the path, without the posts you can move laterally a few feet, so you can pick an optimum path. I used that to move left or right to find a little ledge/step to rest once in a while.

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#14440 - 05/25/11 12:05 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Steve C]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Agreed. You had more lateral choices. A disadvantage is that you don't have the wooden slats to rest on. However, having shared the cables with a couple hundred people before, I vastly prefer the hike with the cables down. Now, if only you can time your hike so that the cables are down and the snow is melted . . .

Brent

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#14441 - 05/25/11 12:49 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Brent N]
James Offline


Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 66
Loc: CA
Exactly what I was hoping to hear, clear of dust, better grip, and possibly some lateral movement. Looks like you timed the trip well.

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#15240 - 06/17/11 10:56 AM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Brent N]
lynn-a-roo Offline


Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 627
Loc: OrangeCounty
Steve C.,

Great photo of you on Half Dome - - you look like you're really enjoying your climb. Hey, who is holding the camera? That person seems to be a long way from the cables. I thought Zoners were suppose to set good safety examples, YIKES, I'd sure hate to slide off Half Dome just for the sake of getting your happy face on Kodachrome................just kidding.

Looks like you all had lots of fun and enjoyed some beautiful views. Thanks for sharing.

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#15241 - 06/17/11 11:47 AM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: lynn-a-roo]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7235
Loc: Fresno, CA
> Hey, who is holding the camera? That person seems to be a long way from the cables.

Remember, there are two cables. And without the posts, they can be used to move safely laterally.


Here's an update from Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Day Hike page:
Quote:
A permit is required to hike to the top of Half Dome every day when the cables are up.
Snow melt over the past week has been significant, however hazards still exist along the upper sections of the trail. The Half Dome Cables are not expected to be in place before June 22. Installation of the Half Dome cables is scheduled to begin Wednesday, June 22 and we anticipate the cables will be in place and ready for access to permit holders by late afternoon, conditions permitting. The cable route will be closed early on the morning of June 22 in order to allow trail crews to work unimpeded during the work day. Once the cables are in place and the trail crews have completed their work, the cables will be open for the public holding valid permits for that day.

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#15405 - 06/21/11 02:25 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Steve C]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
"Hey, who is holding the camera? That person seems to be a long way from the cables."


I guarantee you I was holding onto the cables. I am a belt and suspenders kind of guy.

Brent


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#15927 - 06/30/11 07:47 PM Re: Half Dome with Cables Down [Re: Brent N]
dethMarch Offline


Registered: 06/30/11
Posts: 18
Loc: SLO
Awesome!

The last time I climbed half dome with the cables up, there were so many other people there, and it was so crowded, I think it was way MORE dangerous. Just hanging there, "waiting in line", wondering if any of the 2-300 or so people above you might lose their grip and fall, taking you and a few dozen others with them. It's pretty scary.

It's an amazing place of natural beauty, but a bit TOO accessible - if you know what I mean. To tell the truth, 10 years ago, this is the "attraction" that got me hooked on hiking to begin with, though.

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