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Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

San Diego...
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Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

Hello

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.

Pics: https:/…

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.

Santa Clara...
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1. Re: Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

I am glad you are home safe. But you do realize you took unnecessary risks with going up without climbing gear, off season, AND no sleep. Glad you didn't fall off granite, didn't hit anyone else on your sleep deprived drives. Sleep deprived drivers are just ad dangerous as drunk drivers. Not wise.

I hope lurkers will realize this is not recommended on so many levels.

Edited: 14 May 2014, 03:27
San Diego...
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2. Re: Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

I understand your concern. But I took proper rests and slept for 4 hrs while going to Yosemite and slept for 2 hours on the way back while all the time driving under speed limits. Also, I know my limits and never drive while feeling sleepy.

So Cal
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3. Re: Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

I can't consider three hours (your original post gives three hours) or even four to be "proper rests" before a six hour drive begun at night after a normal workday, followed by that long and strenuous of a hike, followed by a six hour drive home, largely at night. Logically, if you were driving erratically enough to be pulled over, and if you didn't realize you were driving under the limit in a middle lane, then you actually weren't rested enough to be driving.

I'm glad it worked out with no bad outcomes for anyone. If any of my friends were to mention they were considering a plan like this, I would make every effort to talk them out of it.

***I know far too many people who were in crashes (some fatal) while making long journeys through the central valley to take this lightly.

Edited: 15 May 2014, 00:41
San Diego...
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4. Re: Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

Hello Jenazz

I have often driven for long hours and as there has been no bad outcome as of now, I was under the impression that what I was doing was completely normal. After getting some concerned queries from some of the elder folks and also from you and chinita415, I am going to reevaluate as to whether i should continue with these strenuous activities. I am going to try to make proper rests in future and also, I will be keeping both of yous advice in mind. It was on my wishlist for a long period of time and that was the reason to undertake this hike over the weekend.

SDK6
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5. Re: Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

Notwithstanding all the second-guessing from others, thanks for sharing your adventure! I went up with a group before the cables went up some years back. There'e certainly an element of danger to it - as there is going up with the cables or even climbing with full equipment. I'm fairly sure that many of those in Camp 4 were taking dicier risks than you were that day. I recall the difficulty of finding any information about being able to climb without the cables up, and your post is great information for others to help decide whether or not this is something for them.

Ventura, California
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6. Re: Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

Clearly a young man full of enthusiasm and energy which I admire and remember. I also remember taking some questionable risks when I was in my 20's. Thank God, I didn't harm myself or others when doing so. I only mention that it is probably best to take calculated risks, but "youthful exuberance" and poor judgment leftover from adolescence often make that difficult. I am more disturbed by the driving risks here than the climbing risks because on the road his actions may harm or kill an innocent family with children. But hey, "there has been no bad outcome as of now" so that must mean it is safe.

So Cal
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7. Re: Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

I'm betting the Camp 4 climbers get a decent nights's sleep before they head up El Capitan and after they come down. The lack of sleep is the part that really concerned me in this report, so I'm glad to read the OP is going to reconsider that in his future travels.

Danville, California
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8. Re: Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

Congratulations on realizing such an arduous accomplishment. You should be proud!

Also I commend you for telling the complete report, especially about being pulled over! You were very fortunate and hopefully you learned a lesson moving forward about fatigue and taking proper risks. You very easily could have fallen asleep and then who knows what or whom?

Your account brought back disturbing memories for me. At 18, I barely woke up in time around 2AM outside Phoenix before heading off the highway into the desert. I was forcing myself to reach my destination in Tucson after leaving Laguna Beach around 4PM after a full day of activities. 42 years later, I have never come close to anything like this again!

6 years ago, my then 19 year old niece fell asleep and rolled her car a couple times only 2 miles from her house. She had been snow skiing all day in Lake Tahoe. This was at 10PM at night, leaving for her day ski trip at 5AM from Danville just 200 miles from the slopes. Your distances and physical exertion were 3X her experience.

Hopefully live and learn? Again congratulations. I have climbed Half Dome a couple of times. It is truly spectacular!

Edited: 16 May 2014, 21:40
Medfield...
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9. Re: Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

We were hiking the Mist Trail that day and have pictures of about half a dozen climbers on the side of Half Dome opposite the side with the cables. Can't tell from the pictures if there are ropes or if they were doing technical climbing, going up or coming down. Any idea what was going on the SW side of Half Dome that day?

10. Re: Half Dome Hiking Report (May 10, 2014)

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