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 –


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