Last time, I went to Yosemite back in January and I was able to hike Four Mile trail along with Panorama trail. During that time, I saw some posts on Facebook page of Yosemite National Park about people hiking Half Dome outside of permit season while cables were down. I applied for Lottery permit but I was not able to get it, so I decided to hike Half Dome before permit season comes into effect. I researched on internet and talked to one of the guys who did it in February and he advised that it is easy as long as one is not afraid of heights. So, over the weekend, I decided it is time to go.
I left office at 7PM on Friday Night and after packing my hiking stuff, I left for Yosemite at 8:15 PM from San Diego. I had dinner at Gorman and I was getting tired after crossing Bakersfield. So, I stopped at one of the rest areas at 1:15 AM (Saturday morning) and slept in the car for 3 hours. I woke up at 4:15 AM and after some light stretching, I drove to Yosemite and reached there at 7:45 AM on Saturday morning. The park was full of people and all the campgrounds were taken. I parked my car at Trailhead at Curry village and started my hike. Mist Trail was very wet because of very strong flowing Vernal falls. I was able to make it to the top of Nevada falls by 10 AM and took a small break. After that, it was Little Yosemite valley and slow flowing Merced River. I reached Half Dome/Clouds Rest intersection by 11 AM and Half Dome was two miles away. After crossing the tree line, I reached steps of Sub Dome. Climbing it felt like exercising a very brutal staircase on hard mode. There were people coming down who were telling that it is easy to climb Half Dome if you are not afraid of heights. I reached the Cable section at 12:15 PM and took some rest and some snacks. There was one individual going up and other one coming down at that time. It looked really tough and I was getting nervous. And, then I saw fellow hikers who had bought proper mountaineering gear with all the harness, ropes and the clip and I had nothing of that stuff. But, I was confident that I can climb it and I am not afraid of heights.
I was the first one among the group of people assembled at Half Dome at around 12:30 PM to climb it. I left my bag down and I started climbing, It wasn’t very difficult as it looks. I took proper rest while holding onto rope (and my life…). The beginning is steep, but at the top, holding on to rope is tough as there is weight of people holding the rope down. I was able to make it to top in 25 mins and I was treated to a very spectacular view. There was one more guy already at the top. I looked towards Glacier Point and High Sierra. The views were worth the effort. I spent close to an hour at the top and then decided to come back down. Some people coming up after me told me that they were inspired after seeing me go up without any harness. These words of encouragement were somewhat unexpected, but it felt nice. After that, there was a line of people coming up. So, I waited for them to come up and then I made my way down. I went down backwards and I took step by step. It is mentioned at the bottom of Half Dome that you go up on left rope and down by right rope . I followed that, but some people didn’t. Some people were nice enough to acknowledge that and they shifted to the correct rope, but some didn’t. So, I had to make changes at certain better areas where ropes were close enough to make the exchange. A Park Ranger who was going up told me that not many people follow that and it is chaos. It took me 45 mins to make my way down as I was going down very slowly. Some people while going up were praising that I did it very well, while others were saying that they were so scared watching me and told me how can you do it without harness which in turn made me nervous. After, I reached down, I had a small talk with fellow hikers and had my lunch and started the down journey.
It was pretty smooth and there were huge crowds down from Nevada Falls to the trailhead. This time, I stayed on the trail and took no unnecessary detours. I made down at 6PM and after soaking in the achievement and the beauty. I started driving back. I had dinner in Fresno and a 1 hr sleep after crossing Bakersfield at a rest area on I-5. I got pulled over in LA by a cop told me he saw my car weaving and just wanted to check on me. He told me that as I was driving slowly (60 mph in 65 mph zone), I should not keep it in the middle lanes and should stick to right lanes as there are many drunk drivers who drive fast at this point of the night. I reached my house at 4:45 AM (Sunday morning) and slept after taking a hot bath.
Hiking Half Dome was a wonderful experience.
Video at Top: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1hnZk66oj4
Warning: I would definitely advice everyone to do their own research and take all extra precautions while hiking half dome. It is dangerous as one slip while going up/down can lead to grave consequences. One needs to wear shoes which provide good traction and under NO circumstances, should this hike be attempted when the weather conditions are not good (raining or lightning). Weather on Saturday was fine (Sunny, no strong winds). I would not have attempted it under any other conditions. I waited until May for this reason only and checked the weather forecast daily.