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First time Half Dome..

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First time Half Dome..

Postby Tollermom » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:00 pm

My friend and I are hoping to climb the cables on Half Dome this summer for her 60th bday. Assuming we win the lottery, what advice do you have for us? I have been watching YouTube videos and alternately reassuring myself and freaking myself out. Here are some questions and observations I have been pondering.
1. On your first trip up the cables, what was harder than you anticipated, what surprised you? What delighted you? What did you learn for the "next time"?
2. I plan on clipping in...not concerned how dorky I might look. Better a safe dork than a dead dork. Also thought I'd put some approach shoes in my day pack for better footing on climb up and down the dome.
3. I know it's 14 miles. What are the distances between minor and major trail points. (Might not have stated that correctly).
4. Really, where's the last spot to pee before the dome?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.... :-k



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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby tomba » Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:01 pm

Bring some non-slippery gloves for the cables. But if you forget them, you may be able to find some at the bottom of the cables. Don't leave your gloves there - rangers have to remove a pile of rotting gloves regularly.

Shoes with decent grip help. Regular hiking shoes are fine.

Clipping is not necessary. Few people do it, I think below 5%. Rangers walk outside cables.

It is a long way to go on a day hike from the valley, which is felt especially on the way back.

Start early, at daybreak. Pay attention to the weather (forecast and actual weather), and especially whether thunderstorms are going to develop. I would try to be on the top before 10 (this may mean starting in the dark, with headlamps) if typical afternoon storms are in the forecast. Or you may have to not go. I was lucky both times I went - this was not an issue.

The last spot to pee - when you see you are coming out of the forest to an open area - is a good spot. You should be able to find some place off trail later if you really need a spot closer to the dome.
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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:05 pm

It's more like 16 miles, if you do the JMT instead of the Mist Trail. For me that was a toss up - the steps and hot granite switchbacks on the Mist are not my favorite place to be in the afternoon, going down is a knee-buster and the tourists are thicker than flies on horse apples in the late afternoon so you're running the gauntlet of a thousand elbows on very narrow steps.

I am sure you will have a better time with the new limit of 300 per day. I hated the solid line of people sprawling across the subdome and down the switchbacks. It used to be miserable.

I don't think you need approach shoes, or to clip in. In winter clipping in makes sense as the stanchions are down. If it makes you feel better so be it, tho. I've seen people clip in their kids, but most walk up it fine. As far as I'm concerned, the real danger are the cable-shaking jerks and flying stuff - one of the deaths was related to someone automatically reaching for a dropped camera, which of course meant letting go of the cables.

If you mean a restroom, that would be the one in Little Yosemite Valley, near the campground. There are bushes all the way up to the base of the sub dome. Only trail on the planet with that many restrooms - I just go 100 feet off the trail and find a place sufficiently distant from any water source.

Take lots of water, sunscreen, snacks, and good shoes and socks. Don't dip water straight out of the Merced.... treat it if you need to re-up your supply at the river before going the last couple miles.

I can't tell you what delighted me, frankly all I remember is all the misery I witnessed on the trail. I remember lots of other peaks in Yosemite that were delightful and fun. My first trip one of my companions had a knee go out of whack. My second hike to half dome, the group I was with ended up so badly blistered and wrecked that it took them nearly 20 hours to complete the round trip as a day hike. I'm never going again unless it's with people who can reliably do the miles without that kind of misery. Never again with people who merely claim to have prepared - it would have to be people I've hiked with and know well.

Train and get your feet used to the friction and the miles, and hydrate very well. Make sure your shoes fit you and will be comfortable for that distance without pinching or blistering. The elevation shouldn't be a consideration as it's not that high. If you don't succeed in getting a permit - Clouds Rest, Mt Dana, Mt Hoffman, Mt Conness, North Dome, El Capitan and other walk-up high places are well worth it and should not be considered a less worthy hike. Even the two mile walk to Sentinel Dome is more than worth it - it's a mere five hundred feet shy of the same elevation as Half Dome, and the views as stunning. The only thing that makes Half Dome "the hike" is the publicity.
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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby maverick » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:07 am

AT is right HD is nice but CR for example is much better. Also to add to the
comments above, if you can make this an over night or two your experience
would be even better without being wasted. If you either of you have any fear
of heights the decent from the top can freeze you from the fear.
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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby markskor » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:50 am

Tollermom wrote:My friend and I are hoping to climb the cables on Half Dome this summer for her 60th bday... what advice do you have for us?
1. On your first trip up the cables, what did you learn for the "next time"?
2. I plan on clipping in...
3. I know it's 14 miles. What are the distances between minor and major trail points.
4. Really, where's the last spot to pee before the dome?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.... :-k


Still remember my first time –
1) The first look coming from the saddle, the cables look straight up…they aren’t. Maybe 50 – 60 sets of poles with wood slats – ample places to rest…take it slow, one or two at a time and relax…not really that steep. Coming down face first was easier than backing down.
2) Not needed but HYOH
3) Kudos to you for attempting this…hope not doing this all in one day. Nevada Falls is only about half way in elevation gained and less than half in distance.. After that it levels out for a mile or so, then the hardest section - after LYV and up. My worst section was those 1½ miles getting up the dry switchbacks and obtaining the ridge crest…levels a bit – Quarter Dome becomes steep again, over the Saddle and there you are. Suggest two days or more…Tenaya, Glacier Point, or Happy Isles are available trailheads to consider.
4) It may not appear so but the top HD is huge…plenty of (hidden/secluded) places to pee but carry out your TP.
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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby Vaca Russ » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:21 am

Tollermom,

I posted reports on climbing both Half Dome and Cloud's Rest last summer.

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=7755

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=8330

The big problem with the Half Dome trip was waiting on the cables for the people ahead of you to move. Check out the line of people.

Cables2[1].JPG


Cloud's Rest wasn't that crowded and you actually look down on Half Dome.

20Noble%20Heights[1].jpg


Train hard, drink a lot of water and HAVE FUN! :D

-Russ
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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby Tollermom » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:13 pm

Thanks everyone. I appreciate the feedback. We plan on being at the trailhead at 5am. I do like the idea of the JMT, at least on the way down. I carry a little Sawyer for water refills. We will be doing it in one day as we'll stay in regular lodging in the valley for creature comforts sake. I agree 14-16 miles is a long one, but I've done a few 13 milers last summer...and while yes, the end is tiring, it's doable. I can train for a couple more miles. My friend is heart-set on climbing the dome for her 60th so if we don't win the lottery, we'll keep trying for alternate dates. Maybe I'll just keep the climbing belt at the ready...just in case I get jelly legs. I can't say I have a fear of heights but you sure won't see me on the edge peering over...in the event all the atoms in my body suddenly decide to whoosh to one side and throw me off. Really looking forward to this. Will make for a nice 57th bday celebration for me too!
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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby mibars » Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:08 am

I'm not a mountain hiker nor I do any sports (imagine me as a computer geek :) ) and I've been to Half Dome last summer. So what I've learned from my experience:
-It's a long hike and you should worry more about walking all day up and down on rock covered path than of cables. It's a short section and you may even find it relaxing compared to rest of the trip since you go up and down rather slow because of crowd.
-Good gripping shoes and rubber coated gloves is all what you need to climb on the cables. On a steep section even those good shoes might slip so aim for cracks and any other objects that might give you some extra grip. Do not force yourself down to increase traction as you may pull the poles holding ropes from it's holes as happened to me :)
-Clipping might give you some extra safety, but not that much - There are wooden planks every few meters that may stop you from falling all the way down and in case you ever slip and go outside cables there is much more rough granite surface thay you may grip. Rangers even walk on it without grabbing cables :)
-Carry lots of water even if you have water filter - We've missed one stream and ended up walking without water for a mile or two
-Walking sticks are a must!
-Last "natural toilet" is few hundreds meters before permit checkpoint (where steps begin). Last part is preety exposed without trees.
Greetings from Poland!
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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby Tollermom » Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:44 pm

I do have rubber palmed gloves and approach shoes on my shopping list. I'll wear my regular Keen hiking boots for the long hike, but will strap the approach shoes to my pack for the dome climb. My camelback holds 100oz of water and will have that baby filled up.

In the event we do get the permit, and if the weather decides to have other ideas, would Clouds Rest be safe to hike..or no hiking at all?
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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:06 pm

If the weather is bad, stay off high and exposed places. All peaks and exposed granite get struck by lightening.

Hike other, lower places, like Bunnell Cascades or around the valley floor. There is no place that's absolutely completely safe from lightening but you are at more risk when you are on high and exposed places.
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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:19 pm

Not sure exactly what you intend to do if you "Clip In". Unless you have the proper climbing gear (dynamic line and locking biner of adequate strength, climbing harness, etc) "clipping in" is actually dangerous. If you insist on doing this, get some training and the proper stuff.

Honestly, if you feel you need to "clip in" you probably should not do the route. A good pair of shoes (sticky rubber soles) and good fitting grippy gloves would help you a lot more.

I have done the route very early in the morning with very few people. To do this, camp at the Clouds Rest trail junction and get up early, stash your pack at the Half Dome trail junction, climb Half Dome, and pick up pack and return. A 2-day trip makes it a much more enjoyable trip and you do not have to worry about thunderstorms. It is easier to get a "pass through" permit than one to Little Yosemite Valley. Check regulations to see if it is still legal to camp just past the Cloud's rest trail junction. There is water in the stream there most of the time, except late season of a dry year.
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Re: First time Half Dome..

Postby Tollermom » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:36 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:Not sure exactly what you intend to do if you "Clip In". Unless you have the proper climbing gear (dynamic line and locking biner of adequate strength, climbing harness, etc) "clipping in" is actually dangerous. If you insist on doing this, get some training and the proper stuff.

Honestly, if you feel you need to "clip in" you probably should not do the route. A good pair of shoes (sticky rubber soles) and good fitting grippy gloves would help.


This is the set up I would use...a basic climbing harness, two 3-4 foot long nylon "slings", and two locking carabiners, with a wide gate. I did mention bringing along approach shoes and rubber palmed gloves. My 'intention' for clipping in would be to prevent myself from becoming a bowling ball should the 'pins' above me start to tumble. I disagree that I should not climb simply because I have worries. Surely not everyone who climbs half dome is without a care. I just wear my cares on my sleeve for all to see. If I let my fears override opportunity, I'd probably never leave the house. Thank you for your feedback. Much appreciated. =D>
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