‘Scuze Me – Coming Down Half Dome

 Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing

We’ve been talking about the “coming down” part of the Half dome hike. This is an aspect that most don’t even mention. The focus is always on the “getting up” struggle. I am not trying to scare anyone, but I’m trying to honestly portray what it’s like. If you are indeed bothered by heights – reconsider before you get in over your head. You are responsible for your own safety. Here’s a shot of what it really looks like about half way down.

Some things to notice. It is a 2-way route. Folks going up meet those coming down head on. The protocol is for uphillers to lean to the right to allow the downers to get down. Generally, those going up should defer. The logic is that they can use the rest and those going down have momentum and stopping may be harder – but whatever works. I find most people are very courteous. That said, let’s dig deeper into the photo. Going down is pretty scary – no kidding – you have to look down to see the abyss before you. To the right lies oblivion and the left is infinity. Hang on tight! Depending on the time of day there may or may not be people on the saddle. After 4 pm it is pretty thin, but it’s still 7 miles back to camp and darkness looms. Also note the folks wearing gloves. The stickier and tighter the better. The strategy I prefer for going down is to face uphill and rappel backwards. As shown in this photo.

Also note the large backpacks some are wearing. Be cautious, when they turn and rotate, the packs could womp you. It’s pretty hard to practice the cables. You just gotta go for it. Remember 50,000 people do it a summer – unlike you, most have no clue.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com


2 Responses to “‘Scuze Me – Coming Down Half Dome”

  1. Dean Says:

    My first time up I was just about the only person on the cables on a Wednesday at 11.30am early September…felt a bit exposed on my own up there!

    Last year, same time of day, same time of year, there were about a dozen or so folk heading up same time as myself, same number coming down. I can only imagine how tricky and frustrating the weekend, high summer crowds must make things.

    As for coming down I found it much easier than going up and am comfortable facing forward…this way I can see where I’m putting my feet, and I can plan my route…I saw a few folk coming down backwards straining to look over their shoulder for their next foothold, though they were holding both cables…looks a bit easier to look behind with Rick’s rappel technique.

  2. BellaBike Says:

    Um…how much $$ did you say the rescue helicopter costs?

    Just kidding.

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