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Ascent of Half Dome on 2011-09-17

Climber: Daryn Dodge

Date:Saturday, September 17, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Half Dome
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:8840 ft / 2694 m

Ascent Trip Report

After feverishly clicking away on my computer trying to get 2 Half Dome permits when the lottery opened precisely at 7 am, I managed to get 2 permits after 15 minutes of trying. My 15-year-old son and I were going to Half Dome! Climbing HD was really my son's idea. This was the most stressful part of the trip...and the trip was still some 5 months away. Permits are now needed every day of the week, and out chosen day was a Saturday, making the whole lottery even tougher.

We started hiking at 7:15 am still a half mile from Happy Isles trailhead. The Park Service does not allow cars driving to Happy Isles anymore. Apparently too many hikers were getting hit by cars. This made what I thought would be a 16 mile day into a 17 mile day. The trail was well shaded most of the way and no huge crowds to deal with on the Mist trail at this time in the morning. Mostly all hikers heading for Half Dome or Cloud's Rest. After reaching Little Yosemite Valley, we ran into a number of hikers coming down from the Dome. Many of these people had camped in LYV the night before heading up to Half Dome.

Less than a mile from the cables, We needed to present our permits to a ranger, whereupon she marked us off her list of those scheduled to climb the peak this day. There were several hikers here asking everyone if they had an extra permit; they had none of their own. At the cables, I wrapped a thin short rope around my waist using a bolon-on-a-coil, put 2 biners on the free end of the rope (one hooked into a figure 8 on the end of the rope and another partway back in a butterfly knot), and put on my rock climbing shoes. I had been up the peak using the cables 5 times before and I wanted to try climbing it this time without direct assistance; only using a rope hooked to the cables for protection.

While my son climbed the cables, I climbed up beside him on the outside of the cables. Only a couple steep friction sections that really got my attention, giving it the class 5.0 rating it is in climbing it this way. Really a fun way to climb the peak. We reached the summit at 11:05 am and called my wife from the summit. She was down in the campground with friends.

After a relaxing lunch on top, we both headed down the cables the standard way. The rock face between the cables has become quite slippery with so many people climbing Half Dome over many years. Much more slippery than I remembered from the last time I was up here in 1985. I was sliding down in my rock shoes! I told my son to grip the cables tightly. It was a bit stressful squeezing over to the right when people going up wanted to pass you. The exposure is pretty huge with just a cable often the only protection. There are wooden slats every 8 feet or so on the granite providing some other protection too. I was very relieved to get to the bottom. Climbing Half Dome the standard way is rated class 2. I think it's closer to Class 3 now that the rock is so slippery.

We hit big crowds on the trail once back to Nevada Fall. Marcus did amazingly well for his first long hike. I couldn't have done this at his age. He ran the last half mile back to show off! Back at the parking lot around 3:45 pm.

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:5000 ft / 1524 m
    Grade/Class:5.0 without assist f
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Rope
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:5000 ft / 1524 m
    Distance:17 mi / 27.4 km
    Route:The Mist trail/Half Dome trail
    Trailhead:Happy Isles Parking Lot  3840 ft / 1170 m
    Time Up:8 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics



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