Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
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On July 31, Ms. Hayley LaFlamme of San Ramon was pursuing her goal of hiking to the top of Half Dome with her sister, and two friends. About 20 others were on the cables also. Soon after noon the four descended down the cables. The rock was damp from a brief morning rain. About halfway from the top, she somehow lost her grip on the cables, slipped and tumbled down. To my knowledge only 2 people have slid down the rock and are alive today. (See my website accidents page.) Hayley was 26. San Ramon is a small town in northern California’s Contra Costa county. Basically, it’s near the Interstate 580 and 680 junction 40-miles east of Oakland. A nice middle class community not too far from my global headquarters in San Jose-by-the-sea. I can bet she trained in the same mountains I do: Pleasanton Ridge, Mission Peak and Mt Diablo.
Half Dome warning signs
My condolences to her family and friends. I do not know if she attended one of my talks or read my book for Half Dome information. The park requires permits, so if she was the person who got the permits she had to check off to acknowledge that she read the safety precautions. To their credit, there are pages of information on the NPS webs – and even a video. It was reported that the ranger checking permits at Sub Dome (400 feet below the cables) warned visitors to avoid the treacherous climb. There are many signs telling hikers about the dangers of being on Half Dome when it’s wet. Click to enlarge.
Details of the incident are still sketchy and the park usually does not say much more than was on the Press Release. We may never know, but it looks like she slipped on the wet rock and went under the cable.
If you have gone up the cables, you know how slick the path is – it’s been there since 1919 and up to 60,000 people a year rub it smooth. Tennis shoes are bad, bad, bad. I recommend real hiking boots with fresh ripple soles. I recommend rubberized gloves. I recommend heading down if weather is coming in. The park provides a forecast each day. It was a 20% chance of precipitation yesterday. 20% hit. R.I.P Hayley.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Then it seems to me the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light.” – John Muir 1890
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com