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Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
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From our studies last term we know that the cables on Half Dome were put up in 1919. We also know that George Anderson was the first man up top on October 12, 1875. We learned that his rope frayed and was replaced in 1884, then it was hit or miss if anyone could get up on other replacement ropes by unnamed individuals. A tip of the Cardinal hat to Harv Galic of Stanford who has done a superb research effort in documenting Yo Semite visitors who went up the rock in the early days. Turns out that the subject of yesterday’s lecture, reknowned photographer AC Pillsbury, took a groupup before the cables were erected. News accounts are sketchy and conflicting. Pay attention – this may be on the quiz.
On August 7, 1915, Pillsbury led a group of 17 young Stanford students (including 6 women) up the backside of Half Dome using the rope remnants, their own rope and a few of the Anderson spikes that were still present. Remember, the cables were not installed until 1919. AC took photos and motion pictures. He took several reels of film depicting the clouds and moonlight effects, as well as the vistas observed from the Visor. He reportedly was suspended by rope to take some of the photos. The students also carried wood up and at midnight lit a huge bonfire and shoved embers over the face, resembling the then-famous Glacier-Camp Curry “firefall.” This fuzzy photo is all that remains to document the day. Recall the huge 1927 fire that destroyed 70,000 images in AC’s warehouse?
The Half Dome movies were shown several times after the hike. They were shown at Camp Curry and at San Jose’s First Methodist Episcopal Church among other venues. Pillsbury called the show “Yosemite in Pictures and Story.” The 5-reel event featured colored views of Yosemite and the High Sierra. He also showed motion pictures of the climbing of Mt. Lyell. We know the above is true, but any tangible evidence has disappeared – just like storage box with the Holy Grail at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie. If you know of any postcards or maybe your grandpa’s story about this – let us know.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Every feature of Natures’s big face is beautiful – height, hollow, wrinkle, furrow and line.” – John Muir, 1902
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com