Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
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How high is Half Dome? Simple question, eh? Google it. But you can find 2 published numbers on official Yosemite maps. 8,842 and 8,836 feet. Huh? Why? I dunno.
When I’ve taken my Garmin 60CSx GPS and stood on the highest point it read 8,832. That’s with the unit on the rock. Now if I stand up and read it, I get 8,842. OK, so I’m 6’2” – that explains that difference, but why on official maps? If you have a theory, let me know. It should be what it is.
Along those lines, Nepal is in the process of ordering a new measurement of Mount Everest using GPS technology to determine the exact height of the world’s highest peak. I’ve not been there (and don’t plan to) but the height of the tallest surface on earth has historically been said to be 29,035 ft which is 8,850 meters. This is for the dry rock – not a layer of snow/ice to distort things.
The Nepalese government intends to ‘place a device on the peak’ to measure the exact height. Turns out there is an ongoing high altitude squabble over the correct height of the mountain between Nepal and China. The two countries once had agreed to recognize 8,848 meters as the correct height.10 years ago a US team used GPS technology to record a height of 8,850 meters, which is used by the US National Geographic Society, though not officially accepted by Nepal. To confuse things even further, shifting tectonic plates mean that the mountain is actually rising as India is pushed under China and Nepal. So, maybe the Sierra are also shifting upward and Half Dome is actually higher that even these numbers. By the way – has anyone found the USGS marker on Half Dome? I haven’t; they are all over most peaks at Yosemite. I’ve found them on North Dome, Clouds Rest and Sentinel Dome. Holler if you have a photo of such on Half Dome and tell us where it is.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “You get up every morning from your alarm clock’s warning, take the 8:15 into the city. There’s a whistle up above and people pushin’, people shovin’ – And the girls who try to look pretty. And I’ll be taking care of business, every day.” – Bachman-Turner Overdrive
*MrHalfDome(tm) – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com