Successful Half Dome hike

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

To request, trade or give permits, Click HERE.

** I will be out of the country Sep 18 – Oct 2 but will try to write the blog. I may be late in approving permit requests.*** 

Hear me now and listen to me later . . .  If you think you will be hiking Half Dome in 2012 – I suggest you book a tent cabin NOW. They are already getting filled for weekend dates in June. Really. You will be charged the first night’s fee but you can cancel within 7 days of arrival and get your money back. Join my June 23, 2012 hike! Permits?? We’ll deal with that once the Half Dome Stewardship Plan is approved.

Today I feature another Guest Blog. Not because I’m lazy, but because I think readers can get a lot out of hearing other hikers stories. I KNOW newbies are scared bonkers… but YOU can do this hike.   Let’s hear from John D. and his experience. Try to learn from it.

Nevada fall from Rock cut


Three of us made it up to the top of Half Dome on Sat Sept 10th.  It rained Friday afternoon (as forcasted) so we were pretty pessimistic about the weather prospects for Sat – there was a 35% chance of T-storms on Fri and 50% on Sat.  In an attempt to beat the weather we left camp at Crane Flat at 3:30 a.m. and were on the trail at 4:15.  We went up the Mist trail which was fine – no Mist so we stayed dry.  In the dark we lost the trail several times after leaving the top of Vernal Fall.  It was slow going because it was dark and despite losing the trail we made it to the top of Nevada Fall at around 6:15 at which time the sun was starting to come up and we shut off the headlamps.  We took your advice and pumped water along the way – we found the Little Spring and stayed hydrated.  We got to sub dome at around 9 a.m.  Sub dome scared the crap out of us.  Going up the stairs we couldn’t imagine how we were going to get down – but we were determined to get to the top.  Little did we know the granite stairs would end – we had no idea of our next move and how to get up the dome – at the time there was no one in front of us to lead the way.  Fortunatel,y an older fella came along with his wife – he had done the hike years before.  His advice to us was to “rely on friction and go up and keep going up”.  We were petrified but made it.  After sub dome, going up the cables seemed easy – we had something to hold onto.  It took us 20 min to go up Half Dome and the crowd was pretty sparse at that time.  We spent about 40 mins on top and got down because we could see weather was starting to develop and we still need to deal with getting down sub dome (which after all the fretting turned out to be alot easier than we expected).  The ranger at the bottom of sub dome was warning people not to go up due to weather – there were still alot of people going.  About an hour and a half into our hike down the rain and thunder started.  We could still see people on sub dome which seemed to me like the last place you want to be in the rain.  As far we know, everyone made it down safely.  We had a great walk back – we were all charged up that we made it.  The night before we had pretty much accepted the weather would stop us from making it up so we were extra excited we made it – this made the walk down alot easier and fun.  We finally made it back to the Happy Isles parking lot at around 4:30 – just in time for a shower, dinner and drinks at the Ahwahnee. 

Anyway, thanks again.  Your presentation at REI and your book were invaluable for preparing for and completing the hike.  The only thing I forgot was spare batteries for my GPS – everything else we had.  I may try it again someday.  I think I’ll enjoy the views on top of Half Dome knowing that there is a way to safely navigate going down sub dome! 

Editor’s note: Sounds like they didn’t use hiking poles. John had asked me a lot of pre-hike questions about using a harness (not recommended) and gloves (nitrile dipped are best). When you are at the ¾ point up Sub Dome, the steps end … so just keep going up to the highest point! EZ. I will clarify that in the 2nd edition. Fresh batteries and spares are a good idea.  Thanks John – good report.


Unrelated thought worth quoting:Oh, when the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roof. And your shoes get so hot you wish your tired feet were fireproof. Under the boardwalk – down by the sea, on a blanket with my baby is where I’ll be.” – The Drifters  

*MrHalfDome™ – 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
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Comment on Facebook

4 Responses to Successful Half Dome hike

  1. Dave says:

    I too was surprised about Sub dome. Everyone talks about how hard the cables are. They sould talk more about Sub dome. I think Sub dome is harder. It seems steeper and longer than the cables. Some parts are scary when the steps are too narrow for two people.

    • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:

      I totally agree. Other trail guides don;t even mention Sub Dome…’s a killer….and I think it’s easier to fall off than the cables at Half Dome.


  2. Tami says:

    I hiked Half Dome for the first time in June. Even though I had been warned about SubDome from a friend who has done it several times, it seemed overwhelming when I first saw it. My first reaction was “I’ve gone far enough” but with my husbands encouragement I hiked on. I too thought going down would be worse than going up but we were successful. Not sure I would have attempted SubDome without the benefit of poles. They made a huge difference. Now I’m really looking forward to another Half Dome hike next summer. Kudos to you for doing it late in the season. I’m sure I wouldn’t want to do any of the trail in the dark. We chose June for the longest amount of daylight, cooler temps and a slightly lesser chance of thunderstorms. We will shoot for June next year as well.

  3. Kathy says:

    John, Fantastic description of Sub Dome. I agree with you. On my first trip up Sub Dome surprised me and I found it much harder and scarier than the Cables (not that the cables aren’t a bit daunting). Also, Rick is right about poles. I used them because my knees started killing during my year of training for the 1st up, but not only did my knees survive Half Dome with no pain at all using poles, they REALLY helped on Sub Dome as well as the down hill. Hook them to your daypack or fanny pack for the cables so they dont get in your way there

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *