I often get inquires about tying off to the cables when ascending/descending the cables. Most seasoned domers agree that it is not necessary if use have good boots, gloves and stay away when the weather turns sour. Homemade systems can be deadly.
Homemade systems can actually be worse than none at all. A simple rope tied around your waist with one caribeener is not good. First you will be unprotected when you move the carabineer around the pipes. There are 64 pipe sets from bottom to top. VERY cumbersome. Worse is the possibility tht if you fall, the cord will instantly stop you with no give. Your 130-190 pounds will fall at a 45 degree angle with a lot of force. The sudden yank could snap your back.
There are only two firm rules at Half Dome. 1) You cannot camp on top. 2) You must have a permit. Beyond that, I encourage you to do whatever you feel is safe for you and your hiking mates. You can skip up on 1 leg, crawl on your belly or perform yoyo loop-de-loops while going up. If you plan to use a harness, please get a real mountaineering harness.
They have thigh straps as well as the waist support. You will also need two carabineers and shock cords. This systems is called a via ferrata. Go to a professional store and have them assist you. Learn how to use it and practice before heading up the cables.
But what if someone falls down the cables and takes out everyone below them? Yes, and what if elephants could fly? It hasn’t happened yet since 1919 when the cables were put up. Use good boots, rubber gloves and follow the advice in One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I’m taking it Step By Step, Bit by Bit, Stone By Stone, Brick by Brick, Step By Step, Day By Day, Mile by mile.” – Whitney Houston
MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com