By the powers vested in me by the Council of Elders,
I hereby declare October 12 as George Anderson Day.
George Anderson was the first person to ascend Yosemite’s signature landmark, Half Dome on October 12, 1875. This singular feat opened up a whole new area of mountain exploration. Today, over 40,000 people per year enjoy the experience of hiking to the top of Half Dome.
Working alone, Anderson forged approximately 50 seven-inch steel spikes that he perilously placed into holes he drilled as he ascended the 400 vertical feet of the backside and up to the summit. He then stood on them and created a “ladder”to the top. He attached a rope into eyelets on the spikes with knots to allow people to pull themselves up and reach the top.
Anderson’s accomplishment is noteworthy for two reasons: First, he was the first human to reach the top; and second, this climb marked the debut of extensive bolt placements in the American climbing scene.
Soon after, park guardian Galen Clark made the ascent. Sally Dutcher was the first woman. It is believed that John Muir was the ninth person up the rope system in November 1875. Muir wrote about his experience. Anderson’s achievement opened this mountain to tens of thousands for over 130 years. In 1919, the Half Dome trail was constructed and today’s cable system erected near his original route.
In 1882, Anderson constructed a trail from Happy Isles to Vernal Fall for the State of California. Part of this trail is now in use as far as the bridge below Vernal Fall, the rest of it having been abandoned. He died in 1884 of pneumonia and is buried in the Yosemite Cemetery.
*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com