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Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby John Dittli » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:47 am

Here I thought this thread was about "clipping the cables", preferably where they attach to the rock, once and for all. This would solve the entire issue(s)! ;)
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby longri » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:19 pm

polemonium wrote: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.

I disagree with this. Lumping the Half Dome cables into the broader category of via ferrata is naive. The cables route on Half Dome is relatively low angle and interrupted by slats of wood and usually lots of soft people. So the fall will not likely be injurious to either the falling person or their carabiner.

I have taken more than one vertical fall onto a static daisy chain and find the myth busters pronouncement a bit of a myth itself. It's more complicated than they make it seem.

Using a safety system that isn't perfect may promote a false sense of security but assuming that it will do so isn't fair to those who use them.

Every death on the Half Dome cables would almost certainly have been prevented by such a system.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby longri » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:22 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote: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.

You should at least quote the guy (Ken M).

Ken M wrote:Static lines are not being used for long distant falls, we're talking a short distance, sliding on rock.

Remembering that ALL top ropes at commercial climbing gyms are static, with similar fall distances and stresses, this should be quite safe.


I think his point is valid. You're not taking a vertical fall on the cables route.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby longri » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:24 pm

John Dittli wrote:Here I thought this thread was about "clipping the cables", preferably where they attach to the rock, once and for all. This would solve the entire issue(s)! ;)

It would at that!

But I've been up Half Dome by many ways numerous times. I've had my share of it. I think it would be selfish of me to now deny that adventure to many people. I've seen people stoked to be going up there and it's no different than how I feel when pushing whatever my meager envelope is.

Besides, if the cables are taken down Clouds Rest will be overrun.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby John Dittli » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:00 pm

longri wrote:
John Dittli wrote:Here I thought this thread was about "clipping the cables", preferably where they attach to the rock, once and for all. This would solve the entire issue(s)! ;)

It would at that!

But I've been up Half Dome by many ways numerous times. I've had my share of it. I think it would be selfish of me to now deny that adventure to many people. I've seen people stoked to be going up there and it's no different than how I feel when pushing whatever my meager envelope is.

Besides, if the cables are taken down Clouds Rest will be overrun.


I'm not convinced Clouds rest would be overrun if the cables were removed from Half Dome. People have to "tag" 1/2 Dome because it's iconic, not solely for the view. If it were ultimately the view they were after, they would realize the view is just as good or better from other summits nearby and those summits would already be just as busy.

No, like Whitney, it's on most everyones "bucket list". Removing the cables doesn't deny access to Half Dome!!!! It simply makes it more difficult. If we are to use ease of access as criteria to manage iconic landscapes, then perhaps we should just put a tram up the thing....
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby longri » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:09 pm

John Dittli wrote:No, like Whitney, it's on most everyones "bucket list". Removing the cables doesn't deny access to Half Dome!!!! It simply makes it more difficult. If we are to use ease of access as criteria to manage iconic landscapes, then perhaps we should just put a tram up the thing....

You're probably right about Cloud's Rest. But I don't agree that removing the cables "simply makes it more difficult". Doing that would exclude a huge class of people who would otherwise derive great satisfaction from climbing Half Dome. I'm no different than them. I've climbed Half Dome because it's Half Dome, just like all of the tourista bucket-listers that we're so fond of denigrating. My motives are not more pure. The only difference is that instead of only hiking up I can also climb it in rock shoes... well, at least provided nobody decides to clip all of the bolts.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby John Dittli » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:13 pm

[/quote] Doing that would exclude a huge class of people who would otherwise derive great satisfaction from climbing Half Dome. [/quote]

It would only exclude them if they were unwilling to learn how to climb low angle slab or unable to have a friend or guide take them up there. Again, using that criteria, we are "excluding" all those that can't do the cables by not having a tram. As well, we are "excluding" people from all the summits that don't have cables or trams. Should all the peaks have cables and trams? If not, why should Half Dome be any different?
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby Steve_C » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:37 pm

This is a very old thread ...but I'll bite.

John D, have you climbed the "low-angle" slab of Half Dome without using the cables or any technical gear? If you have, then you have a chameleon's grip.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby John Dittli » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:59 pm

If you call sticky rubber "technical gear" then no I haven't, if not, then yes. I would say that virtually anyone that can do the cables, could climb the slabs on top rope.

But that's missing the point. All peaks that don't have cables or trams or other aids, have a certain degree of difficulty. We don't put handrails on those peaks, why should Half Dome be different?
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby longri » Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:17 pm

John Dittli wrote:It would only exclude them if they were unwilling to learn how to climb low angle slab or unable to have a friend or guide take them up there. Again, using that criteria, we are "excluding" all those that can't do the cables by not having a tram. As well, we are "excluding" people from all the summits that don't have cables or trams. Should all the peaks have cables and trams? If not, why should Half Dome be any different?

It's exclusionary now because the cables already exist.

Ultimately it's about drawing lines. One could draw them more or less restrictively, including or excluding different groups with different skills, aptitudes and lifestyles. What is the purpose of the National Park?

I'm sure there are plenty of hikers who could learn to climb Snake Dike or a route next to where the cables used to be but not all of them have the inclination or the time. They could hire Yosemite guides but the numbers that could be accommodated each day would be restrictive. And the cost would be prohibitive for some.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby John Dittli » Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:23 pm

longri wrote:It's exclusionary now because the cables already exist.

Ultimately it's about drawing lines. One could draw them more or less restrictively, including or excluding different groups with different skills, aptitudes and lifestyles. What is the purpose of the National Park?

I'm sure there are plenty of hikers who could learn to climb Snake Dike or a route next to where the cables used to be but not all of them have the inclination or the time. They could hire Yosemite guides but the numbers that could be accommodated each day would be restrictive. And the cost would be prohibitive for some.


Just because something "already exists", doesn't make removing it "exclusionary". Precedence have already been set regarding the removal or discontinued use of many such facilities throughout the Sierra. Closing the Tunnel air strip in the Golden Trout Wilderness, closing of roads over Morgan Pass, Mt Gibbs and elsewhere. Really the list goes on.

The fact that people can't fly their planes or drive their cars into these places does not inherently "exclude" them (as long as they are able to walk or ride a horse). The same of course can be said of removing the cables on Half Dome.

To answer your question about "What is the purpose of the National Park?" The Organic Act was drilled into me every spring for over a decade during seasonal training, I still remember it: What is the purpose of the National Park?

"to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife
therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such
means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

But that's just the NPS mandate, on top of that is The Wilderness Act that overlays much of Yosemite including Half Dome, it is much more restrictive.

As far as excluding "different groups with different skills, aptitudes and lifestyles", those are for the most part personal choices, as are "have[ing] the inclination or the time" to gain the skills to climb mountains. For example, I have chosen not to learn to scuba dive, so I won't be exploring the underwater world of Virgin Island National Park. Nor would I expect an "atmospheric tube" allowing me to walk down there.

Of course there are some exceptions, specifically those that are physically impaired, and there are special programs to assist those truly in need. But even then, there has been paraplegic: assents of ElCap, trans Sierra skis and a winter descent of the Bloody Couloir to name a few. So no, sorry, removing the cables doesn't "exclude" anyone. If you can get up there via the cables, you can get up there without if you have the incentive.

Would removing the cables decrease the numbers? Yep. Are the numbers already being decreased through "artificial" means by the NPS? Yep. Do the numbers need to be reduced to comply with the Organic and Wilderness Acts? Yep. Do the cables need to be removed to comply with the Wilderness Act? Arguable.

National Parks and Wilderness Areas, cannot be, nor should they be, everything for everybody. But they should and do, offer something for everyone.
Last edited by John Dittli on Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why not Clipping to Half-Dome Cables

Postby BrianF » Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:55 am

Well Said John. I agree 100%
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