George Anderson was the first person to ascend Half Dome on October 12, 1875. This singular feat opened up a whole new era of mountain exploration. Today, over 60,000 people per year enjoy the experience of hiking to the top of Half Dome. Working alone, Anderson forged approximately 40 steel spikes that he perilously placed into holes he hand drilled as he ascended the 400+ vertical feet to the summit. (Over 600 feet at a 45+ degree angle.) He installed a pilot rope into eyelets on the spikes and set up a substantial rope with knots as the first method for others to reach the top. John Muir is believed to have been the 9th person to the top. His system lasted several years until weather took its toll.
When the Sierra club installed the cables in 1919, a plaque was placed at the base of Sub Dome honoring him. It read:
The plaque has long been gone. Anderson’s ascent was especially noteworthy for two reasons: First, no one climbed Half Dome unaided by Anderson’s method of fixed ropes and bolts until 1919; and second, this climb marked the debut of extensive bolt placements in the American climbing scene. He even had plans of building a wooden staircase to the top, a steam elevator and then a hotel at the base. Additionally, Anderson himself built the trail we use today from Happy Isles to the current Vernal Fall Bridge.
You will find no mention of him at the Valley Visitor Center or the Museum. He died in of pneumonia in 1883 and is buried in the Yosemite Cemetery under a nondescript stone.
On this day, share this blog with others so the man gets his deserved recognition.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com