Monday, November 16, 2009

Half Dome -- Reprise

About ten years ago I read the gripping and harrowing account "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer, which chronicles the experience of a couple of climbing teams during their ill fated attempt to climb Mt. Everest. In some strange way, in spite of the descriptions of death, injury, and intense sufferings, this inspired me to climb some mountains, including Mt. St. Helens, South Sister, Mt. Hood, and, in a reprise of my teen experience, Half Dome.

We were having a family reunion of sorts at Yosemite, and each visit there we always planned some hiking excursion. I convinced my brothers, Glade and Kevin, to join me in a hike/climb of Half Dome. We knew it would be a long day, and we wanted to avoid the Saturday crowds, so we camped in Yosemite valley and were on the trail at dawn. Of course, in the fresh, cool morning with the excitement of adventure fueling our legs the early part of the climb was very enjoyable. To avoid the rubbery legs problems of a steep descent, we chose to climb the steep stairway of the Mist Trail, with plans to descend the regular trail down the waterfall area.

I thought I was prepared for the fearful view of the cables up the final side of the dome, but, as with my first climb of Half Dome, I was terrified looking up the steep route. But, I knew I could do it and pressed on. The trick is to keep moving and don't look down. (My palms are getting sweaty right now just thinking abou it!) Here is a picture of my brothers coming up the final section of the cables.

It is a dramatic view on top.

We were glad for our early start, as the cables were so crowded as we worked our way down.

It is such a long hike, and we were so tired coming down. But we made it, and all in one piece!


  1. Reading this reminded me of something -

    When we got to the cables, there were piles of gloves that were left there from previous climbers. We figured they were there for a reason and used them to protect our hands while using the cables.

    Some time after getting home, I was reading on the internet that the piles of gloves are a health hazzard. Animals will use the gloves for shelter and leave all kinds of diseases in them. They suggest you bring your own gloves and pack them back down the trail.

    Luckily I didn't get sick, nor did I hear of any others getting sick.


  2. My recollection regarding the gloves was that they reduced my sense of firm grip on the cable, so I tossed them. Lucky me!

  3. I love this hike. I think this was my third time and I'd love to go again if could ever get back in shape. I didn't know this about the gloves. I got sick after the hike, but I think it was from drinking too much Gatoraid.