Rick Deutsch is also known as Mr Half  Dome.

He’s the author of  One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome  –  the only dedicated guidebook for  this famous hike. It has sold over 13,000 copies and is also an e-book.
Having  topped  Half Dome 42 times, he is uniquely qualified to  write the definitive guide for all levels of  hiker.  His casual style of writing provides candid conversational guidance while insisting that you have fun! It’s a big hike. Be prepared and do it safely. Rick is also an enthusiastic speaker who can help your group or company get to the top of their mountain.  He is a captivating professional communicator and gives talks at outfitters, libraries, health clubs, museums, colleges, cruise ships and bookstores.

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65 Responses to About

  1. Sarah Bennett says:

    Hi Rick,
    I just purchased your book and am planning to attempt my first hike in summer 2019. What month out of the year do you suggest is the best for this hike? Also, what brands of gear do you recommend for boots/poles/gloves (hiking gear). I am a beginner and am going to give myself a full summer (next summer) to get conditioned and do long hikes in preparation. I am on the east coast (NC) and will hike The Smokies.

    Lastly, do you know how one can find a way to connect with other hikers? I do not have anyone who would be interested in this hike with me and do not want to attempt this alone. Are there leaded guides available or ways to meet new hikers to do this with?

    thanks in advance – and thanks for the awesome book. Very informative and inspirational

    • Sarah,

      Thanks for the inquiry. I appreciate your enthusiasm…..the HD hike is a goal AND a journey. But one of the hardest things you’ll ever do! Really

      Great Smokey is the most visited NPS…I’ve not been. How is it?

      Have you been to Yosemite before?

      The book will fill you in on most of your concerns.

      Summer 2019… 19???? Holy cow…why not ’18?? It will not take you 2.5 yrs to get ready.

      To answer your questions:

      1. June is the best—longest days, More daylight, waterfalls jamming, less crowds (than July/August) and less chance of thunderstorms. However….permits required – June is the most asked for. Weekends then get 5000+ applications for 225 daily permits.

      I do have a video with tips on how to improve your odds.

      It gets pretty hot in July and August. Actually I love September – after Labor Day. Cooler and crowds are less. It’s never “thin”. We get 5M a year.

      I love Vasque Breeze boots, LEKI poles and any rubberized gloves. I don’t mention brands in the book to keep friends at all companies. But I have a you tube channel where I did HOW TO for several companies.

      See ​YouTubeChannel

      I am a reseller for LEKI and if you watch my You?Tube for them, I give 15% off any pole they make. LEKI is the world’s largest manf of ski, hiking and Nordic Waling poles. Let me know if yo are interested. Poles are mandatory as are boots and a water filter (Katadyne Hiker Pro).

      You need to hike lots of hills. Real hills… that is the crucial thing.

      You may try my Facebook page. I have over 1,000 fans. You could be part of the community and drum up a partner. But 2019 is so far out, you will get NO commits. Can you join a hiking club there? many come out for this classic hike.

      Yes, I work with Lasting Adventures Guide service. They will get you permits and take small groups up. But there is a fee of course. Check out their website (see link on my page).

      We can telecon to talk to help you further.

  2. Kent says:

    Some friends hiked Half Dome with the cables down the weekend of October 28-29.
    Many of them used Prusiks and did fine. It’s not dangerous if you know what you’re doing. Wouldn’t want to do it when snow covers the cables though.

    I hiked Half Dome with the cables August 7 2015.

    • Thanks for the coment.

      ………​​ if you know what you’re doing.

      ​A big IF….most don’t

      Personally I would not do it even with a Prusik. Long way down ..and it HAS happened. ker Plunk – Splat. ​See Nov 2006 and Apr 2007. Two women bit the big one then.

  3. Lincy Han says:

    Hello Rick,

    I hiked Half Dome last year and was looking to do a sunset hike this year with friends (watch the sun set at the peak of Half Dome).

    This would mean I would need to start my hike around noon-ish. I secured a permit for Saturday Aug 19th. It looks like the weather will be in the 90s… Would you recommend doing so or not, since it’ll be extremely hot at the start of our hike and we will be hiking back in the dark (with headlamps)? If so, do you think we should go back via Mist Trail or John Muir trail? I’ve always gone with the John Muir trail but I absolutely hate the switchbacks and I believe it is a little longer as well?


    • Noon is bit too early. It will take you about 5-6 hrs to get to the top. Be ready for sunset about 7:30 pm. Yes, it will be hot – but welcome to summer! Hundreds do that hike in August.

      DRINK – filter as you go. Described in my book, Pg 98. “One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome”

      Stay up a while to see the stars.

      If this is your first time at night….hiking in the dark there is a bitch…meaning it’s hard to see where the switchbacks turn. I’d still go JMT since your knees will be yelling (use poles)…a bit safer to go JMT in the night, IMHO. Yes, it’s a mile longer…but it’s dark anyway so you won’t be able to see much.

      That said … if it’s moonlit…then the falls will be neat….moon-rainbows possible.

      It will get cold about 2 am….be prepared with a jacket. I used a down jacket to watch sunrise!

      Use a decent headlamp…2-4 AA FRESH batteries. You will be running it for 6 hours.

      Carpe Diem!

  4. Jessica Pfennig says:

    Hi Rick,

    Could you please comment about starting the hike from Glacier Point/Illilouette Falls to Nevada Falls? We did this hike a few years ago to Nevada only and then back down to Vernal Falls and the Valley. Overall it seems to be longer but less steep.

    • Jessica,

      I’m old school but I think driving up to Glacier Point and hiking HD is cheating. The real route is up the Mist trail to Little Yosemite Valley and up the forest switchbacks to the dome. Yes, your way is easier and you do get a lot of downhill. But are you going to hike back up to Glacier? Someone needs to drive you up there at 0-dark-30 – you still need an early start. OR – at the end of your hike and down the Mist or John Muir trail…

      I vote that you train on lots of hills, bring a water filter, use poles and good boots. AND, most important – read my book. I go thru A-Z on this hike. $10 on Ebay. :>)

      It’s a goal and a journey – well worth the pain. This will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But you will be proud you did it. You don’t want to apologize when you tell people…that you didn’t really do the whole hike.

  5. Dave Betancourt says:

    I think I found the video for the Glacier Point Firefall, ca. 1950. it was on the SF Gate Facebook page. Here it is, https://www.facebook.com/SFGate/videos/10158321439370594/

    BTW, thanks for your book. I used it for my 8/4/2011 trip up Half Dome.

  6. Janet Rolfes says:

    Hi Rick,

    Just a quick question – have you ever hiked the Half Dome route from the pass/cathedral lakes? Would love for your awesome advice in an e-book or supplement to the current book (which we own and have bought copies for friends/family!) We plan to hike HD this September, as well as a few other backcountry hikes that have been on list!

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Janet,

      Thanks for getting the book. I know it will help.

      Sorry, no I haven’t gone that route. Is this your first time? If so, I’d suggest you do it the regular route …JMT and up from Happy Isles. Going from the Cathedral Lakes area will be a giant long trip.

      An E-Book ??? Whew, it was a real chore getting the first one out…then doing the 2nd Edition. But I do have webinars stored that I used to give on most of the other YNP common trails. I just got back today from Yellowstone for snowmobiling….then I got a South America Cruise coming up…then a scuba trip to Fiji. Just been too busy to re-market them…..but talk to me. I do have the PowerPoints.

  7. David Mower says:

    Hi Rick, me and a friend are coming over from Hertfordshire, England to climb this fine peak on September 16th. We missed out on permits the in the season lottery so will try again for the daily lottery. We are coming a long way so are keen to go all the way. Do you have any tips to increase our chances or, failing the daily lottery, is there some way we can try on the morning of the hike?

    PS Great site and Facebook page!

    • I can help you on this.

      This is a hike…not the climb.

      I have a YouTube on How to improve your odds of getting a permit…made it for the March Lottery, but it still applies.

      Ship over $5 US via PayPal to


      to help buy dog food and I’ll send you the link.

      Sept is great….sun sets about 7 and weather is nice. Way less people.

      I hope you have a place to stay.


      • Elizabeth says:

        Hi Rick – Thanks for the informative website (and book)! Do you provide the youtube link for people who have purchased your book? Of course I can send over the purchase receipt from Amazon. We tried for the lottery last March (with several applications) and didn’t get one date. i’m going over Columbus Day weekend and will try for the lottery on Saturday and Sunday, but would like to increase our odds of getting a spot 🙂

        • Elizabeth,

          The YouTube is available for anyone. … but thanks for buying the book. It should really help.

          The You tube link on “How to improve your odds of winning a permit” is a $5.00 bill sent to my paypal account to get our dog some food. :>)

          Send to ricky.deutsch@gmail.com

          Here is the link:


          I just went last week using the “sub-division” method. Plan on being real cold and daylight is sparse.

          My other info – Blog and FB are at the bottom of this email.

          You may also want to view me going up the cables with a Gopro….in 12 minutes. It’s got close to 300,000 views.

          Holler if I can help further.

  8. Marty Buchanan says:

    Hi Rick,

    Thanks for the amazing website. Everything is super helpful. Some friends of mine and I will be in Yosemite for one day on Labor Day weekend. I know it’s terrible timing to get a last minute permit, but this is the only day we can get there and won’t have another opportunity for several years. Half Dome has been high on our list for a long time and we’re desperate to climb it. I’m about to buy your book tonight and we’ve been training for months. Can you please email us some tips to improve our odds? Any help
    would be greatly appreciated. You the man!

  9. Cindy Alfaro says:

    Hi Rick

    I am not sure if my other message went through or not. I am trying to hike half dome however I got denied for 6/22/2015. I am going up with my boyfriend and we both applied as trip leaders. We are still going to apply for the permit for 6/23 or 6/24, just need to figure out if there is another way besides the lottery system to possibly get a permit. We can show up super early somewhere if need be!

    Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

  10. Michael Boomershine says:

    We’re doing the hike on July 6. We’ve got three boys (ages 12,13,14) in our group and are trying to decide if we need to wear harnesses and clip in. Thoughts?

  11. David says:

    Hi Rick, We got registered for half dome hike in August 2016. Do you offer any training or coaching programs in San Jose area? Me and my wife signed up but wondering if we shall be able to prepare for it. Thanks a lot for inspiring.

  12. Greg Hill says:


    I’m one of the lucky ones with a permit for June 17. Our group will be camping and I was wondering what you think of Indian Flat in El Portal. Some of the reviews are pretty bad. Also, we’re going to have 2 cars, so we’re thinking of starting at Glacier Point instead at the bottom of the Mist Trail. It seems like it’s a bit longer, but less elevation gain and an extra waterfall. Is this a good route to go?



  13. Andrea says:

    Hi! I was granted 6 permits for early September and hoping to find a place to stay nearby without showing up at the crack of dawn for possibly getting a campsite. What is your best suggestion? We are willing to drive a short distance morning of hike but prefer to be close!

    • If you want of only CAMP, it’s tough to get into the park….but there are first come sites (Camp 4, for example). People line up at 4 am for slots as people checkout. You are free to wait inline…but get there REAL early. The Curry camping reservation site in the park….east parking lot of Half Dome Village has a sign up list for unclaimed reservations

      Offsite….try Indian Flat in El Portal….small camping – motor home site…..make resv.

      For a motel …Yosemite View and Cedar lodge are El Portal with a ton of rooms.

  14. Hiya,
    thanks for this great website and the insights on this special hike.
    I’ll be visiting the Yosemite National Park in june 5+6 2016 with 2 or 3 hikers and we’d be intersted in doing 2 hikes, clouds rest on sunday and half dome on monday. I noticed that there is the permit-system and that we need to apply within the next 2 weeks or hope for the lottery 2 days before we’d like to hike. I’m definitely going to download your book once I’m back on wifi also just to support your great work.
    we’re foing to rent a car, so we might be mobile, but whats your recommendation on accomodation and can we drive to the trailheads by our car or do we have to take the bus? and this bus, doenls it leave early enough? can those 2 mountains be done within 2 days and is early june a good time for this?
    I live in Holland and grew up hiking in the Alps, where june is far too early for mountains of that hight, but I know the climate in the bay area is rather moderate and it might allow for early ascents onto mountains higher than 2500m.
    greetings from Europe!

  15. Veda Loca says:

    Was there water at Little Spring when you went in August?

  16. Mihir says:

    Hi Rick,

    We are a group of 6 people trying to get the daily lottery for Aug 28th – 30th. We tried this past Fri – Sun and didnt get through for any of the three days. Any insider tips on having better luck with this week’s lottery applications?

    • Have all 65 apply with YOU as alternate. Also have them get their parents to apply with YOU as alternate….put more “chips ” on the table. If they win…they won;t go…but You as the alternate can.

      Yes, it will cost $4.50 per application and if more than one wins…you will be charged $8 for ech of your 6……expensive but how bad do you want to go??

      last week we had 7 applications with me as alternate and won one….for 2 people. No guarantees. If you don’t win…hike Clouds Rest!!

      Oh, be sure to get my book…everything you need to know is in it….Amazon for $10. Go to my website and hit the STORE link.

      Everyone should have their own copy!!!

      • BW says:

        The NPS website is explicit that multiple applications from the same leader will result in cancellation of all lottery requests from that person. So the intent is clearly to discourage gaming the system. On the other hand, if there is this Alternate loophole, and it’s allowed, well – yes – Rick’s comment ‘how badly do you want to go’ applies absolutely. And you would be at a disadvantage if you didn’t exploit it. Still, if there is a human looking over the daily lottery applications and not a computer, they could cast a cold eye on it if they noticed. We are planning to go soon before the season ends and we are wrestling with lottery ethics.

        • BW – Thanks for the comment. The tips I give are suggestions and are perfectly legal. There is nothing unethical. I respect the permit system – it’s a much better day. Of the 350 possible permits, reality shows that only about 25-ish are actually used. You should have no trouble getting permits in the 2-day mini-lottery. Look at reccreation.gov for the number they expect to put out on the day of your chosing.

          Carpe Diem!

          • BW says:

            Follow-up: We planned to get to the park late Monday 9/21 and thought we would try for Wednesday lottery. But on Monday morning I thought maybe try for Tuesday, so we did, and hit with my one application. And Tuesday: started in the dark, perfect day, up we went. For Wednesday we had entered 2 (turned out to be superfluous) applications and did not hit on either. So go figure. BTW, no ranger on Tues, after all that angst. Rick thank you for your terrific book and website – indispensible!

          • BW – I appreciate the feedback. Congrats. Sometimes (rarely) the rangers are needed elsewhere and they are pulled off Sub Dome. Honestly, it’s been a great season with no falls or fatalities that they are mellowing out. It’s a roll of the dice. They can ask you for your permit anywhere along the 2-mile trail to Half Dome. There is no other reason you would be on the trail. However, you CAN do the hike all the way to the base of sub dome. They will not let you go up “just to watch” – so there you have it.

        • BW – Glad you navigated thru the system. A water cooled 512 Terrabyte mainframe runs the HD permit system….actually 2 chimps draw the names.

  17. Bhanu Cherukumille says:

    Hi Rick! Sorry, am posting the same question again. I am looking for permits for 2 on Aug 27th / Aug 28th. Recreation.gov always says there are no permits available. Are there any insider tips to get the permits for 2. How sure are we get a permit when we ask along? Really hoping we will get the permit next week. Please share if there any insider tips to get them. Thanks a lot!

    • B hanu,

      Hi back.

      I’ve been at Yosem ….hiking HD! Just got back. The rec.gov will not allow you to get permits now…so it says – none. You need to wait until the 25th (for a 27th hike)…etc…i.e. 2 days in advance.

      Go to the site and keep going…to FIND AVAILABLE PERMITS…there are 152 for Aug 27!!!!

      Tip — have both of you apply as Leader….name YOU as alternate. Your Odds are VERY goos for Thurs ans you can see…..but no promises.

  18. E says:

    Hi! I’m planning to bring a group to do a Half Dome. We have 1 permit for 6 people, but the group has grown to 18 of us. We’re going to try to get two more permits through the 2 day permit system, but any advice for us? It’s also labor day weekend. It would be such a bummer if we hiked to the sub dome to be turned away. Please feel free to email me. Looking for some guidance.

    • 12 more is a hard nut to crack… 2 more sets of 6. the 2-day mini-lottery is opening up a LOT more that the 50 promised…but Labor Day is VERY popular. Call me and I’ll share insider tips.

      • Bhanu Cherukumille says:

        Hi Rick! I am looking for permits for 2 on Aug 27th / Aug 28th. Recreation.gov always says there are no permits available. Are there any insider tips to get the permits for 2. How sure are we get a permit when we ask along?

  19. Bruce Thompson says:

    Where can I find a fanny pack with a wide support belt that also fits over my via ferrata gear?

    • Bruce – Timely question. I plan to write up a blog on the topic of fanny packs soon.

      I do the hike with a fanny pack and my High Sierra one died of old age. They no longer make them. Few do. Camelbacks killed them. I have been looking and looking for one to use now. The problem is the bottle holsters now don’t accommodate 1 qt Nalgene bottles. Most have smaller slots for tiny bike bottles.

      That said, I now use a North Face “”Sport Hiker.” It is perfect … but the holsters are a tad tight. I can jam one Nalgene in and I use a 28 oz thinner bike bottle in the other. The 28 oz one goes in/out easy. But the Nalgene is a bitch…but can get in. Only losing 4 oz this way.

      So I do my regular drinking out of the bike bottle and use the Nalgene for “storage.” When the bike bottle is empty I stop and pout the Nalgene water into the bike bottle. When filtering I use the Nalgene. It works fine. .. has plenty of room and lots clips, hooks and gadgets. 9 liter capacity — $85 list.

      It does have a large support belt. Should work for you. Go to REI and play with it.

      $53 here:


      • Bruce Thompson says:

        Thank you.

        I reviewed your comments and bought the $53 North Face hiker. It arrived from London very fast via FedEx for $21 shipping. It holds two 32 oz. Nalgene bottles just fine, and it has two half-inch wide adjustable straps that go around the top of the bottles (i.e., on the “shoulder” of the bottle,to hold the bottles in their storage pockets). I’m very happy with the pack. Thanks again.

        • My sport hiker is a real tight fit for the 1 qt bottles. TIGHT. I can jam one in, but then I have to use 28 oz bike bottle. The first is for storage that I will pour into the smaller one – it goes in/out nicer. LONDON??? You a Brit? maybe they made diff models?? Do you have HIKER or Sport Hiker??? I didn’t see a HIKER on their website.

          I might take the Mtsmith TOUR on my next one…bigger….may take my Sony Video cam along and need room.

          You be lucky

          • Bruce Thompson says:

            I’m pretty sure I have the Sport Hiker…I used the hyper text transfer point in your first email (i.e., “$53 here”) and was taken to Fitness Footwear and I found the pack…they called it a bum pack…and it cost $53 plus $21 shipping. The REI website has a Sport Hiker for $85 and free shipping and it looks exactly like mine…The REI Sport Hiker has two stretch pockets for bottles and you can see the two adjustable straps (the straps could also hold extra gear to the outside of the pack, but I use them to hold bottles in their storage pocket…it’s as if the straps were made to do this.) The picture in your book on page 166, top, does not show these straps on your pack…and the straps in question do not hold your trekking poles (in the photo). I just re-visited the Fitness Footwear website and cannot find the pack and they do not mention London anymore but are now in the United Kingdom (see “Contact”). Also, I’m not a Brit…I’m in Phoenix.

          • Pg 166 shows my brother and the pack….we use the same stuff….brothers, you know. It is from High Sierra. Huge bottle holsters, with a bungee strap to hole them. But they stopped making them 4 years ago….mine is dead…duct tape to cover mouse holes. Thus my quest for a replacement. I cannot see how you got Nalgene bottles in there……I have to stand on a chair and shove them in.

            You order often from UK??? $21 shipping kills any tax/shipping you’d pay here.

          • I just got back from HD 41….VERY hot…..I used the MtSmith DAY pack…hated it….the sides kept cutting into my pelvis…and it kept drooping despite pulling the cinch cords all the way tight. It’s too large and even made my lower back sweat.

            So far the North Face Sport Hike is winning.

  20. Adele Armann says:

    Hi Rick – Your guide and website are the best – I’m hiking the cables in Sept – I only read about your 6 week training guide today but I cannot find it. Can you help with that? Also, I don’t seem to be able to download the everytrail ap. The error message says correct all errors but I don’t see any errors.
    Many thanks for all of your writings!

    • Adele,

      I don;t have a 6-week trainng program. I have the only book on how to hike Half Dome. Go to my site and click on STORE…About $10 from Amazon. To get the app, go to
      http://www.everytrail.com/…..then click on the Half Dome hike icon. Then hit DOWNLOAD TO PHONE. Also runs on tablets and PC’s.


      • Adele Armann says:

        Many thanks Rick. Both purchase and download were successful. (I think I mis-read an earlier post regarding the 6 week training program). On a couple of other notes: I am wondering if staying at Yosemite’s Wawona while on this trip is a bad idea – would we be better off to stay outside the park at the east entrance? I can still change reservations and will be coming in through Reno. It is very likely that I will have 2 extra hiking permits available. (Wednesday September 9). Finally – do you have a Plan B hike that you would recommend in the event it is raining or lightning is in the area? Again, many thanks for all of your writings!

  21. Cynthia Murdough says:

    I am a 62 year woman who has never done any athletics at all. I have done Classical Ballet class all my life, loved Bikram Yoga until I injured myself with that false sense of flexibility you get, and at one time walked (not hiked) almost 7 miles at a time 3-4X a week. I also have a lifelong fear of heights which I am determined to overcome. My daughter climbed Half Dome by cables when she was in college and overcame her own fear and will be joining me on this adventure in August. I am determined. Any suggestions? I’ve printed out a 6 week training program that specifically cites Half Dome, Mt. Whitney, etc. as the goal and am watching youtubes of Half Dome Ascents. Would appreciate any insight surrounding my particular challenges. Thanks so much!

  22. Bhanu Cherukumille says:

    Hi Rick, I’ve read your book on Half Dome Hike twice now and cannot wait to do the hike. Am planning to get the La Sportiva Rock Climbing shoes (http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ.....6QEDZDPFVD) to do the cable hike alone. Do you suggest these shoes? I will wear other shoes like Merrell for the trail. Any advice?

    • VERY good question. In fact, I was considering the exact same thing….did lot of research and changed my mind. Rock climbing shoes are for just that – CLIMBING. They are very stiff – tight – and made for sticking the toe in tiny cracks. Very uncomfortable. So I got “approach shoes” instead. They are used by climbers to get to the place they are going up. Look kinda like running shoes, but with a good sticky sole. They were on sale, so I went for it.

      However – I thought more and did not want to wear my boots up…and carry the shoes…just to go up the cables. Good boots with healthy soles are fine. Everything you put in your pack has to go up 400 feet with you. Weight – think minimal. So I’d say definitely keep off the climbing shoes. I use Vasque Breeze boots (ankle high) and your Merrell’s should be fine.

  23. Trish Thompson says:

    Hello. My new husband and I will be in Yosemite Wednesday, June 6/10-6/13/15 (we leave early Saturday am) from NM. We are trying to get two permits to climb half dome on Thursday, 6/11/15 but website states these days are not available? I understood that you could apply for a permit two days prior and if there were cancelations that there was a chance you could get picked for a permit?
    The site will not allow me to even apply? Any advice?

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