How to get down the cables

CIMG8864CIMG8863Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

Yesterday we talked about how to get up the cables. Now we have to get down. The only person I’ve heard of who has gone down Half Dome’s “cable route” without touching the cables is Royal Robins. I haven not confirmed this, but I do not doubt it. Royal was the first man to get up the 2,000 ft vertical face of Half Dome in 1957. (His wife was the first woman  in 1967.) Word is he descended down Half Dome without using the cables – but he did have on the sticky shoes on that climbers use. Anyway, my feeling is whatever method you want to get down – do it! This even counts sitting on your toucas and holding the steel cables above your hear. As long as you get up the rock and ring the bell – it counts! Seriously, most people go down facing the saddle. They grab both cables like a banister. The downside is that their center of gravity is leaning downward – just asking to roll them forward. Second, all their body weight is on their wrists – again not a position of strength. Finally, you have to look down that scary view for 400 vertical feet.  Not me. I prefer to face up hill as shown. Get on the downhill side of the cables (right looking down) and stay on that side. Get down like Groucho again and rappel down. I slide the cable on one of my bike gloves with one hand facing up and the other facing down. These act as brakes when I push the palms into the cable. Slide and move down. Many times. Yes, it will be crowded with late comers going up, but they will be really tired and happy to let you go down. I just say: “Excuse me – coming down.” And people move so you can pass. They enjoy the short respite. Give this method.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Another pleasant valley Sunday. Charcoal burning everywhere. Rows of houses that are all the same and no one seems to care.” – the Monkees

*Mr. Half Dome -Rick Deutsch –

About Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch

Mr Half Dome. Has written the only half dome hiking guide, One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome. Has hiked it 31 times to day. Lives in San Jose, CA Available for presentations. Carpe Diem Experience, LLC
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3 Responses to How to get down the cables

  1. Pingback: Great links from the hiking blogosphere

  2. Rick Deutsch says:

    I attach my shrunken poles to the fanny pack diagonally. Put one Velcro strap up top right…anther bottom left, so they are not sticking out. And yes, you need to be aware so you don’t jab the foks behind you. I showed this in a blog a couple months ago… will redo when I get lean on material.

    If you use one cable – on the right going up, the tips will be towards the inside and should not catch the support poles.

    Your fanny pack seems marginal. Mine has elastic straps to hold the bottles in. And yes, do what you must to secure them. Caribeeners work fine.

    We’re not doing a 2nd edition until 2011, and I will add photos of this process.

    Rick D
    Mr Half Dome

  3. Bill says:

    I noticed Rick has his walking sticks attached to his belly pack. I also prefer the belly pack to a back pack. When I retract the poles and attach them to the pack horizontally I found myself either poking others going the opposite direction, or even a few times they got caught on the cable poles. Has any one experienced that and if so have suggestions?

    I also found that I had to carabineer my water bottles to the belly pack or they had a tendency to want to fall out of the holders on the side of the pack during the steep part of the cable climb.

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