Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
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Is Half Dome getting more dangerous? It’s one of the largest true monoliths of granite in the world. It has been there tens of thousands of years. Unchanged. No one got up it until George Anderson did at on Oct 12, 1875. Going up using his knotted rope was a challenge and a badge of accomplishment. Records are meager from then but we think John Muir was maybe the 9th person up. Anderson’s rope frayed and was replaced in 1884 by Alden Sampson and A. Phimister Proctor. Their rope frayed and was replaced off and on until Hall McAllister funded the installation of the cables in 1919. This landmark event opened up the top to a HUGE number of ordinary people.
According to my research, when the cables were up for summer use, no one fatally fell from the cables until 2007. Since then we’ve had 2 more. So why the uptick in accidents? The cable system has not changed. The cables were replaced with fresh steel in 1934 and 1984 but it’s the same system. OK, the path is getting worn smooth and up to 80,000 hikers had gone up each year by the mid 2000’s, so it has changed.
We love this rock. It’s a goal and a journey. It’s our Mt. Everest. I believe anyone in reasonable health can complete this hike with 3 things: Education, Preparation and Motivation. Think about those. This is an extremely strenuous hike. A marathon run. A century bike ride. A triathlon. It’s big. It’s hard. It’s rewarding. Let’s do it safely so everyone can reach their goal.
Without any reference to specific incidents, I highly recommend these tactics. Wear hiking boots with good ripple soles. Use hiking poles to aid you. Drink lots of water – use a filter. Use rubberized gloves on the cables. Use sound judgment. Check the weather. Keep away if the rock is moist or rapidly changing mountain weather is arriving. Education, Preparation and Motivation. Let me know how I can help you.
Carpe Diem – Seize the day.
Below is a webcam photo that captured a lightning strike on Half Dome on July 31. I enhanced it via Photoshop so you can clearly see the bolt. THis may have played a role in Hayley LaFlamme’s accident.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “We live with our heels as well as head and most of our pleasure comes in that way.” – John Muir
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com