Archive for April, 2010

1 more on Harnesses

April 30, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
    To answer a couple of email inquires … here is a photo of the shock corded carabineer set you need to attach to your mountaineering harness.

    A straight strip of nylon cording could snap when your body weight pulls abruptly upon a fall. Climbers use shock cords that gradually applies the force on the nylon. All this means you just down walk into the Big Box sport-a-rama and pull some stuff off the shelf. Seek out a true mountaineering store or outfitters that employ seasoned climbers. A part-time high school kid will not be the most reliable clerk in most cases. You need to talk to sales people who have actually worn the gear you are seeking. 

Here‘s how it’s all worn:


I will be at Yosemite Fri-Sat and unknown if I will be able to write a blog. I need to stay in El Portal at the Cedar Lodge and their wifi / internet capability is Spartan. Have fun and carpe diem – until that time. If you are at the park. I’ll be giving a talk at the Le Conte Memorial Lodge (across from Housekeeping) Saturday at 8 pm.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “A man in his books may be said to walk the world long after he is in his grave.” – John Muir 1873

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Permit needed July 4

April 29, 2010  needs a Jul 4 weekend permit. If anyone can help contact her driectly:

I’ve been planning this halfdome climb for a couple of years now, and I finally snagged a campground in upper pines over July 4th. For those who have snagged campsites over the summertime, I’m sure you can sympathize how chaotic and competitive the process is. Unfortunately, I just realized (2 months after I booked my campsite) that they’ve implemented a permit type system to climb halfdome. I’m sorely disappointed and would like to reach out to others that would possibly have an extra ticket or two for that wknd. We’ll be in Yosemite from July 3 through July 5. Would really greatly appreciate any feedback or tips of other places I could search for tickets. Thanks so much and best regards! I’m also willing to switch campsites or dates (from July 3-5 to late Aug or Sept) for halfdome tickets and our site (204 upper pines). Many many thanks!!!

To Harness or not?

April 29, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

I often get inquires about tying off to the cables when ascending/descending. Most seasoned domers agree that it is not necessary if have good boots, gloves and stay away when the weather turns sour. Homemade systems are deadly. There are only 2 firm rules at Half Dome. 1) You cannot camp on top. 2) You must have a permit on weekends & holidays.  Beyond that I encourage you to do whatever you feel is safe for you and your hiking mates. You can skip up on 1 leg, crawl on your belly or perform yoyo loop-de-loops while going up. If you plan to use a harness, please get a real mountaineering harness like the one shown.



Note the 2 thigh straps as well as the waist support. You will also need 2 carabineers and shock cords. Go to a professional store and have them assist you. Learn how to use it and practice before heading up the cables. REI is selling the Black Diamond FOCUS model for 50% off – making it a steal at $33.93. The woman’s version is called the IRIS.  

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “We dream of bread; a sure sign we need it.” – John Muir

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Permits –LAST CALL

April 28, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

    If you have any intention of hiking Half Dome this year – on a Fri, Sat, Sun or Holiday, the last time they go up for grabs is May 1 for September and October trips…THIS Saturday. Circle this on your calendar, put yellow stickies everywhere, tell your mom to call you and set your alarm. I suggest you page back on this blog to Jan 30 and the few days after that where we talked extensively about the permit system and how to get one. Really it’s worth it to learn the tricks of Mr Half Dome. I got 35 permits to date and have been giving out most of them at my talks. They were gone in 9 minutes after the gates opened at 7 am on March 1 and  April 1. I have no inside connections for permits – just the  No excuses if you miss out.
    I’m at Delta College in Stockton tonight (Tues) to teach my 4 hour in-depth Half Dome hiking class. Gee, the class takes 1/3 of the time it takes to do the hike! If you want a private session for your group, let me know. Will teach for food.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Turn that music down!” – My mom
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Gym workouts

April 27, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

I get a lot of inquires about what kind of gym workouts I recommend to help get in shape for the Half Dome hike. The first question is “what do you do now?” Doctors recommend 3 to 5 days per week of strenuous exercise for 30-45 minutes. Strenuous means a heart rate about 80% of your maximum calculated heart rate and “grunting” when you do strength training. Always split your time into Cardio, Weights and Stretching. 30 mins each is a good goal. Then shower (phew). Today we visit the Stair Stepper or its cousin, the Stairmaster.

After a 5 min jogging warm up, work up to a level 10 for about 20 mins. Stand up straight and don’t hunch over putting all your body weight on your arms. Lightly hold onto the bars for balance – not support. But remember this will do nothing for your shins – you need the downhill workout that only reality hill hiking can give. But this is a good workout.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “We want to pump YOU up.” – Hans and Franz, Saturday Night Live skit.

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

A spring day at the park

April 25, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
I took out-of-town relatives to Yosemite on Saturday.  A long one day up and back from San Jose. There is snow on the banks of  the Big Oak Road at the upper elevations.


The Valley was about 70 degrees and the falls were huge. So was the crowd – it was a free day.


I ran into a friend – you may recognize him.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “The man who said, ‘The harder the toil the sweeter the rest,” never was profoundly tired.’” – John Muir – 1897
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

John Muir Symposium

April 24, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Friday I attended the John Muir Symposium at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. About 150 people attended. UoP obtained 70% of Muir’s writings in 1970 when the family donated them. Many of Muir’s great and great-great grand kids went to UoP. Many of the “Hanna” family (his daughter’s married name) were present. It was a full day of high level presentations from seasoned Muir devotees. They covered his life from his intense love of botany and penchant for collecting flora samples to his glacier deductions and mountain climbing. A big hit was Dick Shore’s hour long impersonation of Muir – complete with period garb and Scottish accent. A high point for me was sitting at book signing sitting next to Royal Robbins. He’s a very nice guy and we chatted for about an hour. More with photos in future blogs. The event goes on Sunday but I will be giving out-of -own relatives a one-day tour of Yosemite. Perfect weather for it. 

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Roll up. roll up for the mystery tour. The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away,.Waiting to take you away.” – The Beatles
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Scouting 100th Recap

April 22, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
     Last weekend was the NorCal Boy Scout celebration of their 100th year. I gave a Half Dome presentation to over 200 pairs of ears. My room was right next to the Guitar Hero competition. It drew a lot of folks to my talk – and they turned it down.  It was a fun day.  Nearly 18,000 people were in attendance. There were tents everywhere at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds.

I go to the Fairgrounds a lot to see car shows and this was as big. It was a seamless undertaking. I could see no glitches. I heard they had a $2M budget. This was the only massive Jamboree anywhere outside of the national one held in Virginia. A tip of the hat to the organizers. I was never a scout (I was in Civil Air Patrol as a youth) but I admire their ability to teach young men about self reliance and confidence to get by in the world. In these stressful times it was good to see so many having a jim-dandy good time. Carpe Diem boys!! Carpe Diem. Be prepared!!!
    I’ll be at Yosemite on Saturday giving never-been relatives a one day quickee. Holler if you will be there.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter. Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say it’s all right.” – The Beatles
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Training Hikes-Big Basin

April 22, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
The best way to prepare for your Half Dome hike is to hike! The Stairmaster is great for your uphill muscles – but does nothing for the downhill. Biking, running, roller blading, etc. are all good workouts, but you should think of the Half Dome hike as a marathon of hiking. 16-miles RT and with close to 10,000 feet up and down. Today I joined a few friends for a 5-hour hike through a drizzly Big Basin State Park, home of giant Redwoods. It’s in the Santa Cruz mountains near Boulder Creek.  It’s through training hikes like these that you get to know your water/food requirements and start to build up those legs. Our trip was led by Jayah Faye Paley, the Trekking Pole Guru. She has 2 nice instructional DVDs and conducts training classes on how to get the most out of your poles. They save your knees on the Half Dome (and other) hikes. See her website <HERE>. 

Rick and Jayah on the trail

Berry Creek Falls

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Most people are born into the world remain babies all their lives, their development being arrested like sun-dried seeds.” – John Muir, 1873
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Dribs and drabs

April 21, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
     Welcome to all the new readers. I spoke at the REI in Saratoga (San Jose) last night. 132 heads counted plus the ante area was full. Cool. What a fun crowd. I think we just made the hike even more crowded as folks got motivated. I handed out three sets of 4-permits for hikes. And a fine bottle of Carpe Diem wine. A good time was had by all.
     The Tioga Road is being plowed now. Snow depth is still at 6 feet. Only 4 miles have been done. Glacier Point Road is also being plowed but only a third of a mile is clear from Badger Pass; average snow depth is 7 feet. When they get done, it will be open Saturdays and Sundays only until May 27. It will also be open on May 21 – the target day for the Half Dome cables to be up. 
    The bears are waking up. There has been $8K in damages from 26 bear incidents this year. Compared to the same period last year when there were 46 incidents YTD. And one bear has been killed by a car. SLOW DOWN! Bears are extremely active in Yosemite Valley. They are emerging from their winter dens and are very hungry. Bears have been seen in all areas of the Valley including the meadows where they are currently foraging on grasses. A young bear has been active in the west valley in the picnic areas and around Bridalveil Falls.
     The Yosemite Lodge is opening  two GREEN rooms featuring automatically controlled energy-saving cooling and heating systems, insulation made from 85% recycled newspaper, toilets using just over one gallon per flush, and 100% organic cotton sheets produced in a solar-powered factory.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I escaped from a heap of uncordial kindness to the generous bosom of the woods.” – John Muir, 1867
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –