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Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby HikeSierraNevada » Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:52 pm

rlown wrote:probably a good thing there isn't good cell reception on that side of the rock. hard to text and descend at the same time but i would imagine some would try.

And some would even try sexting. :eek: With that many people year after year, just about everything you can think of will happen eventually.



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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby maverick » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:02 pm


HikeSierraNevada wrote:

And some would even try sexting.


That would be even more dangerous than texting. :lol:
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby Tollermom » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:29 pm

I just got back from climbing the cables a couple weeks ago. This might be when HYOH applies. Yes, I had a length of webbing and a carabineer around my waist...but had the end tucked into my pocket 'just in case.' I didn't end up using it at all because I was so focused on pulling myself up the cables. I was surprised how much arm strenght is required. In Vibram soles, my feet still slid a few times. I had a blast but might not do it again, given the potential risk of someone ahead of me crashing down.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby Tollermom » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:35 pm

We started heading out from Curry Camp at 4:40 am and were at the base of the cables at 9:30. Didn't break any land speed records for hiking but we were pleased there were only about 6 people ahead of us on the cables. However, there were over 20 people aready on top when we reached the apex. After eating lunch and taking the obligatory pics of the circus marmot n top, and dangling our feet over the edge, we headed down. Once at the bottom about 11:30, there was a parade of people on the cables. Glad we got there 'early.'
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby Tollermom » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:42 pm

and lastly, I thought the sub-dome was scarier than the cables. I wasn't diggin when the steps ended and all that I was faced with was wide open steep granite, no hand holds, no obvious route and drop-offs. Yikes
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby LightRanger » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:02 pm

longri wrote:A factor 5 or 10 is definately possible.


Sorry. That is simply incorrect. The maximum fall factor is 2:
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:48 am

Where and what you feel is difficult on the Half Dome Cable route has a lot to do with your knowledge of climbing techniques. It would be helpful for novice climbers to read up on friction climbing technique and practice. Tuolumne Meadows is a great place to do this. There are many domes easily accessible where you can practice walking up "blank" slabs with increasing steepness to practice our balance and foot placement techniques. Counter-intuitively, do not lean into the rock- get weight over your feet which on a low angle slab means moving your center of gravity out- away from the rock. On the cables you should climb mainly with your legs - hands should just provide balance points. No need to grab the cables and pull up on them.

Vibrum soles do not stick as well as "sticky rubber" soles. Vibrums, however, do well on wet rock. A very flexible sole is better for friction climbing than a stiff sole. If you had a stiff vibrum sole shoe you may have had trouble. My Merrell hiking shoes are the softer stickier rubber, and yes, they wear out faster, but they are great for off-trail rock hopping and scrambling.

The biggest danger I saw on the cable route was stupid people and horseplay/ showing off - adolescent behavior. Too bad they cannot screen out the idiots! The second biggest problem I saw was someone taunting another person who should not have been on the route (really some folks are just too afraid of heights to be comfortable on the route regardless of how they do it), -making them do it when they should stay at the base. Typically a guy who "takes" is girlfriend on this "hike". The hike to the base also does some people in. If totally exhausted at the base you should not continue. And of course, those who ignore all signs of incoming storms and go for it anyway.

The problem with psychological "crutches" is that they make people do things that are beyond what they feel solidly comfortable with. If the sling allowed you to "lean back and enjoy the scenery", then you are not sufficiently paying attention to the task at hand. Actions you do on the cables DO affect others - so it is not just "why not let them do it, HYOH." Climbing is very different in that regard from "hiking". The cable route is a climb, albeit by artificial means. It is not a "hike".

One use of a sling/caribiner that I see would be valid/safe, is that have it in your pocket and then take it out and clip (to a solid part- nothing that allows you to slide) once on a step, for an extended rest. Or clip in if stuck on a step for 10 minutes waiting for those ahead of you.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby longri » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:46 am

LightRanger wrote:
longri wrote:A factor 5 or 10 is definately possible.


Sorry. That is simply incorrect. The maximum fall factor is 2:

That article you referenced (http://www.rockandice.com/lates-news/fa ... ned?page=2) is correct in the context of running belays where the length of the fall is limited to twice the length of the rope in the system (fall factor = length of fall / length of rope out). But in a via ferrata higher fall factors are possible because the rope is not held by a fixed point. It can slide some distance before catching on an anchor. So the fall can be much larger than twice the length of the rope (or lanyard) that is out.

This should be intuitively obvious.

The whole notion of fall factor exists because to first approximation it is the fall factor, and not the length of the fall, that determines the maximum force. So if the weight of the person and the elasticity of the rope are the same, a fall of 50 feet and a fall of 100 feet will produce the same maximum force as long as the fall factor is the same. It's easy to show that for a via ferrata the force can be much higher than what a factor 2 fall would produce. That's why specially designed energy absorbing lanyards are used for via ferrata. If the Half Dome cables were steeper you'd want one there.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby sogladiclipped » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:00 pm

In preparing for my recent Half Dome hike, I encountered many commenters on bulletin boards saying it is unnecessary and even dangerous to use a harness on the cables. I have to strenuously disagree and advise anyone who intends to ascend the cables acquire gear for clipping in and familiarize themselves with that gear. While the cables can be climbed without any safety gear, I found it greatly comforting to have the backup of a solid connection to the cables.

I have been climbing for several years, and am comfortable with a harness, clipping, and basic anchor principles. The gear I chose was my climbing harness, a pair of 24inch dyneema slings girth-hitched to my belay loop, and a pair of carabiners to connect the slings to the cables. As I ascended, I kept one biner clipped to each cable. When I reached the next rung, I unclipped and clipped each biner. If someone had to pass or when I descended, I clipped both to one side. In this way, I was never without an anchor point.

I want to counter some of the various arguments I have seen on the bulletin boards about using a harness on the cables.

1) It is too slow and you'll upset people: First of all, when engaging in a life-threatening activity, safety should always take precedence over convenience. Next, the traffic on the cables is such that I did not feel any slower than the unclipped people ahead of me, especially being familiar with my equipment. Also, I personally felt that having the safety-net of the harness allowed me to be more comfortable and move more quickly. I can tell others felt similarly: one young woman I saw on the way up was clearly scared, but moved slowly and consistently with her harness. Another woman I saw on way down was not harnessed, and became terrified and panicked, endangering herself and others. She caused a half-hour backup on the cables. So who was really more inconvenient?

2) The cables are not designed for gear and your gear may break and prove useless: Climbing gear, even static webbing and carabiners, is designed to withstand much greater forces than would be present in a standing fall. It's true that a dynamic via ferrata cable would have been ideal, and it may be possible that a long, fast slide resulting in the contact of carabiner and pole could break a biner. However, it is hard to imagine how being clipped in could make the situation of losing your grip and sliding quickly worse.

3) You could slide down the cable, knocking others down, whereas without gear you would fall to your death all by yourself: This is ludicrous. Nobody that I saw stands between the poles. It is very uncomfortable to stand without the planks for support. Thus, if you fell clipped in to the next pole, you might bump one person.

4) You could become distracted with the gear and do something more dangerous: This is a fair point. That's why anyone intending to use climbing equipment should take it upon themselves to be competent and practiced with that equipment. I saw too many people who bought a quickdraw at the mountain shop and clipped it to their backpack and thought they were safe.

5) The cables can be ascended without gear so you shouldn't use gear: This is a fine thing to say from the ground, but I can tell you that nearly everyone I passed on the way down wished they were clipped in, and said so. Competently using safety gear adds a level of comfort to the experience that cannot be described in words. But if you are the kind of person that wants to do something the more dangerous way just to say you did, go right ahead.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:22 pm

Hi Sogladiclipped (fitting name to this thread),

Welcome to HST! Thanks for your input on the subject matter. Hopefully you'll
post some of you climbing adventures in the future. :)
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby polemonium » Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:55 pm

sogladiclipped wrote:2) The cables are not designed for gear and your gear may break and prove useless: Climbing gear, even static webbing and carabiners, is designed to withstand much greater forces than would be present in a standing fall. It's true that a dynamic via ferrata cable would have been ideal, and it may be possible that a long, fast slide resulting in the contact of carabiner and pole could break a biner. However, it is hard to imagine how being clipped in could make the situation of losing your grip and sliding quickly worse.


Excuse this being my first post: The problem with using static webbing on a via ferrata isn't just that your carabiner or other gear might break, but that if you fall, the fall factor can be very high (see above) and it could severely injure you. Climbers have tested even short falls (couple of feet) on static webbing and it hurts a lot and puts a lot of force on the gear. See myth 6 at . Some might argue that having the clip in is still better than nothing; I don't really agree because I think safety gear that doesn't properly protect gives a false sense of security. If you want to clip in, the right thing would be to use a load limiter like in a via ferrata set.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:06 pm

Previously in this thread, someone said that climbing gyms use static ropes (true) and that is why a static clip is OK. Climbing gyms use static ropes for "top roping", the climber is always below the rope and a fall is limited to inches or maybe a foot or so. If you "lead climb" at a gym, you bring your own DYNAMIC rope for that because a fall is a leader fall, from above the protection point.

You may be "glad you clipped", but all that is a false sense of security. Had you fallen your tune may be different.

I will stand by my comment that if you feel you need to clip, you SHOULD NOT be on that climb! If you DO clip, use a dynamic system clip.
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