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The Cables on Half Dome


TollerMom
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Has anyone hiked the cables on Half Dome? My friend and I are hoping to get permits to hike it this summer and I'd like some perspective. I have been watching youtube videos of the climb and alternately reassuring myself and freaking myself out!

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Aaron Zagrodnick

TollerMom,

I haven't hiked the cables, but it does indeed look fairly intense. From what I've seen and read it looks like having the presence of mind to call things off if the weather turns and being in good physical condition to make the hike in, hike the cables, and hike out are key. If I were to climb them I'd try to time it to miss the crowds (As best as possible) and would probably pack a pair of climbing shoes with sticky soles for traction...gloves... Have you considered a via ferrata setup? You don't have to clip in if you don't want to, but you'd have the option.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42P1-Dfc4go

It's pretty hard to get a perspective from pictures and YouTube though, you could always check it out with the option to turn around... But hopefully someone who's made the hike and climb can chime in!

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Aaron, I talked to some climbing friends and one said all I'd need (if I want to clip in) is a basic climbing harness, two 3-4 foot long nylon "slings", and two locking carabiners, with a wide gate. He said unless I were in Europe and climbing Ferrattas with any kind of regularity, to save the money on a Via Ferrata set up. I did ask about shoes and he suggested approach shoes if we're so inclined to wear them. I think, to feel more confident, I'll wear the climbing belt...whether or not I actually use it will be decided at the base of the dome. I will for sure strap the sticky approach shoes to my pack to change into once I'm on the granite of the dome. And gloves, yes, rubber palmed gloves!! Super excited. Now to just cross out fingers we get the lottery dates we request.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I grew up in Yosemite and first climbed Half Dome when I was 10. If I may, I would add a few thoughts. First off, it is not as hard as it looks. The cables are stout and there are wooden planks every 10 feet or so to stop and stand on. I once did Half Dome wearing teva sandals; extra shoes are not necessary. Gloves are nice though, as the cables can get hot or hands sweaty. Most of all, DO NOT bring any sort of via ferrata set up. You would have to unhook it and then reattach it every 10 feet to get past the cable anchors. As annoying as this would be to you, it will annoy other climbers even more. I can't say how many frustrating trips I had up the cables that suffered slow downs and stops from freaked out members. The annoyed climbers will be more worrisome than any exposure you might encounter on the cables. Once you start just stay the course, stay steady and you will do fine.

I don't mean this as discouragement. Quite the opposite. The cables are not as bad as they look. Anyone can handle it. Personally, I think Angel's Landing in Zion is scarier, but that is not too bad either. Just stay steady and use common sense and you will be fine.

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Thanks for the feedback Bsuess..I've nixed the idea of any harness. Looking forward to the trip. We've made reservations for Curry Village and will hope to get our permits on the dates we prefer. Just hope we don't get rained out. Wet granite will keep me off the dome for sure.

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  • 11 months later...

Did you do HD TollerMom? It's nice to have gloves on the cables. I've always seen a few prs of leather gloves left at the starting ascents/descents of the cables for community use. IMHO, I think more care, especially patience, is needed coming down than going up. STAY within the cables! When people get hurt or even die it's often because they were outside the cables and/or impatiently rushing down. And, as Bsuess says you typically are in a line of people on the cables with some folks going up and some coming down between the same cables. I'm with Aaron I'd aim to be on the cables when there's less of a crowd. Personally, I stay away from anyone on the cables who are acting impatiently.

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Yes Dogwood, I did do Half Dome. Check out my trip report under Trip Reports section. I now have my sights set on Mt Whitney!

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