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Ascent of Half Dome on 2013-08-15

Climber: Peter Stone

Others in Party:Twm Stone
David Stone
Date:Thursday, August 15, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Half Dome
    Elevation:8840 ft / 2694 m

Ascent Trip Report

Planning a summer vacation in California we were fortunate to be successful in both Whitney and Half Dome lotteries.

We made a dawn departure from our tent in Curry Village to the Happy Isles Trailhead and after the initial common portion up to the Vernal Fall bridge (with its potable water fountain at which to fill up) we decided to ascend on the John Muir Trail for a gentler gradient than on the more direct Mist Trail. Beginning at dawn really helped with temperature control as the day heated up because the walk in is quite a distance. After having our permits checked by an NPS Ranger at the base of the sub-dome we donned our rubberised builders' gloves and hauled our way up the cables to the top. I was expecting a queue at the cables (having seen many a YouTube video), but in fact it was pretty clear all the way - an advantage of getting up early and the permit system. If one had proper sticky rock boots then an unaided ascent might be possible but given the state of the polished granite I wouldn't fancy it and was grateful for the aid climb. The summit area is as wonderful as you might imagine in such a location with stunning views, although Clouds Rest is clearly the highest point on this ridge and I wish I'd been in the Park long enough to climb that as well. There were no signs of thunder-clouds brewing so we spent a long time up there savouring the experience. By the time we descended the sub-dome at 13:00 the Ranger had left, so an ascent without a permit might be possible in the afternoon.

We descended via the Mist Trail for a change of scene but the seething mass of humanity present later in the day nearly removes the pleasure one gets from viewing the waterfalls close up: in retrospect I think we should have ascended via Mist and descended via John Muir rather than vice versa.

17 miles and 4,800 feet of ascent - what a glorious day in the Sierra Nevada!
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Half Dome from Glacier Point (2013-08-16). Photo by Peter Stone.
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Summary Total Data
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble, Aid Climb

Other Photos

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Looking down the famous Half Dome cables towards the sub-dome (2013-08-15). Photo by Peter Stone.
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