Archive for August, 2010

911 incident

August 31, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musings
Get or Give Half Dome permits<HERE>

    Blog Reader Scott M. sent me the story of an incident that a Yosemite Visitor alledgely experienced while hiking Half Dome. The facts are not totally clear and I assume it took place last year or before. I have no further info but am sharing. This info should not be orbiting the web, but the person should have informed the Park Management to voice his concern. I am only passing it on.
    “Mr. X was descending sub dome about 3 pm and passed Mr. M and his son. Turns out M and the boy were in the next tent cabin the night before so they recognized them. Though the boy looked peppy enough, Mr. M had looked utterly spent, crawling upward, bent over. He said he knew they had little chance of getting back down before dark. And if they kept going, odds were good they’d be spending the night somewhere unprotected on Half Dome.
     By 8 pm the M’s were not back at the tent cabin, so Mr. X began to worry, but he retired and was awaken at 4 am by the M’s alarm clock. It never went off, meaning the two did not make it back. X  got connected to the ranger dispatch, and gave a description of Mr. M and his boy and where they were seen last.
     About 11 am Mr. M and his son finally made it back to Curry Village. They said they had to spent the night on the trail since they did not have a flashlight. It became very dark and hard to see. They made it down to the top of Nevada Fall, where the boy became very cold. The dad decided against trying to hike down the Mist Trail in the dark. As he became more concerned about his son’s condition, he called 911 on his cell phone.
     The operator told him that it was not an emergency and she would not inform Search and Rescue. Mr. M kept asking for help. He was upset and told her, “my son is dying, he’s shivering and cold.” The operator said since nobody was dead or hurt there was no emergency. She told Mr. M to just keep the boy moving. Eventually, some backpackers came along and offered help. They heated some water and placed hot water bottles on the boy’s stomach. That helped. The hikers said they would inform the ranger at Little Yosemite Valley of the situation. But a ranger never came.  Mr. X suspects the rangers/911 operators get a call like that in Yosemite every other day.
”     Hmmmm
    I think this story sounds fishy. The YOSAR, 911 operators and wilderness rangers are top notch. Personally, I doubt someone in need got the blow off. Help is there to give help. End of tape.

    In other park news, last week 4 Korean climbers had trouble on the Nose route of El Cap. They got in over their heads and one had injuries. Recuers could not solve this due to darkness and in the morning a daring helicopter rescue was done. The remaining members of the climbing team were unable to lower themselves off the route due to their lack of experience and also had to be rescued. Two additional lowering operations were conducted to evacuate the Korean climbers. This was on the 24th  – with temps over 100 degrees. A tip of the hat to the rescue team!

     By the way, did you know that the Sports Basement stores in the Bay area offer FREE CPR classes? These are ASHI approved. You need to register and the wait list is a few weeks. Go to for info. Please  – take the class in case you find me bonked on the trail!!


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “In the whole Sierra there isn’t a sneeze, but I was quite unable to convince Emerson that this was so . . .  you can’t take cold if you keep your nose out of doors.” – John Muir 1911

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Book it

August 30, 2010

 Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Get or Give Half Dome permits<HERE>

    Hear me now and listen to me later. NOW is the time to get accommodations for your 2011 Half Dome expedition. Really. You can book non-camping beds a year and a day in advance.  So I just booked a Curry Village Tent cabin for May 21. I’m giving a talk at the LeConte Lodge on May 22 – and I don’t even have a 2011 calendar. But I know how tight things can get. I have no idea if the cables will be up that early so this is a gamble. But I can always do another hike – like to the Diving Board.  Plus I have no idea what the permit system will be for 2011. I predict we will need one every day based on the Mon & Thurs crowds this  summer.  Anyway, if you are going anytime before Aug 29, 2011, get on the horn NOW. 801-559-5000 or thru the WorldWideWeb <HERE>.

    We also have a Press Release out on my one-hour Half Dome presentation. It’s great if you just cannot make one of my talks. Go to  It got a good review on TMCnet. Click <HERE>.

    Anyone want to join me for a hike on this Tuesday or Wednesday? If you are retired, laid off or a night worker, at 9 am Tuesday August 31,  I’ll be doing St. Joseph’s Hill in Los Gatos (meet at the water fountain on Main St  – Hwy 17 overpass near trailhead) -or- Wednesday 7 am meet at the Ohlone Deli (43625 Mission Boulevard, Fremont) to do Mission Peak. If you are working, I’ll write you an excuse note. I go alone if no one shows. We’ll share ribald stories and then dine after. 

    In other news, if you are a fan of Death Valley, the restaurant at Stovepipe Wells had a bad fire in the kitchen last Thursday. The building suffered extensive structural damage but seems salvageable. Too bad. They had some good grub there. Death Valley is a superb fall trip. It was 117 when I was there in June.

     A tip of the hat to John L for sending this photo of a black bear in Little Yosemite Valley. Yikes! Those hungry furry omnivores are out there looking for you!!


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Rescue me, take me in your arms. Rescue me I want your tender charm. ‘Cause I’m lonely and I’m blue. I need you and your love, too. Come on and rescue me.” – Fontella Bass

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Parking tips

August 29, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Get or Give Half Dome permits<HERE>

    I’ve been getting some email questions about where to park when doing the Half Dome hike – if you are not staying near the trailhead at Happy Isles. The Pines campgrounds are close enough to walk, as is Curry Village. But if you are in Housekeeping it may be a bit far. If you bunk at the Yosemite Lodge or the Ahwahwnee  then you should take your car. Often there is room in the Curry lot, It fills up fast, so this is a gamble. Also, I suggest a car cover. The trees don’t drip sap, but a lot of dust and pine needles will cover your car. You could avoid a car-wash when you get back home. If you are driving in from outside the Valley at “O-dark 30” to do the hike, you can park at the Curry Village lot, or continue down a tad to the “Backpacker lot”.  

     It’s gravel, but usually has space. As a last resort, circle back to the Horse Stables, No one rides before sunrise so you should find a place. The walk isn’t bad to the trailhead.

    Success! Congrats and a tip of the hat to Amanda H.  She made it to the top on August 7. She “snagged” a set of extra permits I had off my blog. It pays to read it!

Unrelated thought worth quoting:  “It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. They’ve been going in and out of style. But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile. So may I introduce to you, the act you’ve known for all these years: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” – The Beatles
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

The Quarter Domes

August 28, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Get or Give Half Dome permits<HERE>

    Today we talk Yosemite nomenclature. When many people go up the final rise just before Half Dome, they look at Sub Dome and  call that hunk of granite by a variety of names.


    I’ve heard it called “the Shoulder,” “Devil’s Staircase “and  “Quarter Dome.” Makes sense…you go up the quarter to get to the half, right? The truth is that there are a couple of smaller domes between Half Dome and Clouds Rest. See the picture. The red star marks it.

    These domes were clearly under the glaciers and were carved by the action of the ice grinding slowly away at the granite. If you have a good topo map, this terrain is labeled “quarter domes.” They are hard to get to. The Tenaya Canyon is treacherous and not recommended for hikers. The smooth granite and steep banks make this a dumb move. When I wrote my award winning book (someday?), I queried the Wilderness Rangers on this. ”They call the 400 ft bump just before the cables: “Sub Dome”. But it isn’t labeled on any maps I’ve seen. Guess you can’t name every pebble in the park. It is important to be consistent, for emergency rescue if nothing else. Hate to send a rescue team to the real quarter domes because you thought the route up to Half Dome was called Quarter Dome. So spread the word – it’s Sub Dome, not Quarter Dome…or Devil’s Staircase…or the Grand Staircase…or the Knee Grinder…or ____________. If this is your first time up – many feel that long hot route up Sub Dome is harder than the cables. Hiking poles really help – especially coming down.
    In other news, on August 24th a raid on a pot growing operation in El Portal netted 3,657 plants up to 10 feet tall worth $14.6 million – cowabonga!! 2 Mexican nationals were arrested – one had a gun on him.
    Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Over, under, sideways, down; backward, forward, square and round; when will it end?” – The Yardbirds.
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


August 27, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

Get or Give Half Dome permits<HERE>

    Gang, I have finally bit the bullet and have a FACEBOOK account for Half Dome. If you are “into” it, please go to my page and “like” it.  The link to it is <HERE>. I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to this, so bear with me. 

    A tip of the hat to Ron L. of San Jose who helped plow the through the process with me. If you need similar help, let me know and I’ll connect you.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “So baby, don’t  expect to see me  with no double martini, in any high-brow society news. ‘Cause I got them steadily depressin’, low down mind-messin’ Workin’ at the car wash blues.” Jim Croce

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

The Great Boot explosion of 2010

August 26, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Get or Give Half Dome permits<HEREJust posted:  I have 4 extra tickets for 8/27/10. Hit the button and snag these!!!

    Today’s tale of mystery and imagination is about a friend of mine. We’ll call him Al of Burbank. (Although his real name is Jerry of Pleasanton.) On a glorious late June day, Al began his first hike up Half Dome. An early start of 4:30 was to ensure that everyone made it to the top before the mob. All went well up the Mist Trail then up the switchbacks. When we arrived at the Sub Dome, Jerry … er, I mean Al,  was amazed at how high it was. He shot out ahead of us with his excitement fueling his body. When I arrived at the top of Sub Dome I found a perplexed Al hunched over his boots. Both of his soles had come almost 40% off his boots. They just said, “the warranty is up – I’m quitting.”  There he sat with soles that were flapping in the wind. BOTH blew out at about the same time. Now that’s weird. He quickly confessed that he should have gotten new boots as these were well over 10 years old.  Now what to do? He wrapped them with some adhesive tape (a good idea to pack some). What a hoot. 

     Well, there was no way he was going to trust them going up the cables. So he sat and waited for the rest of us to head to the top and return over an hour later. The message is that boots can die.  I figure maybe 300-400 miles or 5 years of use is max. The rubber molecules and glue just won’t last on a trip to Mars. Even if your boots look good, the innards might be going. Invest in a good pair of boots – the best your budget can afford. Of all the things to have go wrong – your boots need to be good. You can go one with a broken backpack strap or a torn pair of shorts, but refresh your footwear periodically.

    Oh, Al told me he is going to have his boots mounted on his office wall.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body.  I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

The Hiking Nun – trip report

August 25, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Get or Give Half Dome permits<HERE>

    Following is a guest blog from Kathy L, “The Hiking Nun.” She really is a religious and had a goal of doing Half Dome a couple years back – and now has done it 3 times. It think hearing her recent experience might help folks who are going up for the first time. Note the comments on the permit process at Sub Dome.
    “On Saturday, August 21, I completed my 3rd hike up Half Dome.   I noticed that the PSAR rangers were in place at the trailhead. T they spoke to people as they were starting out, but folks all seemed prepared and all were now aware of the permit system etc.  The hike itself was good, the weather was cool, an awesome day to repeat this hike.  Most of the hike didn’t seem any different than the ones I have done in the past, but my past hikes have been on Thursdays pre permit system. So, yes, there were a lot of people but you leap-frogged familiar faces all day, and it wasn’t too crowded. 

     What I did notice was that for a Saturday, there were very few people who looked like they weren’t up to the hike, I saw proper shoes and water more often than not.  When I arrived at The Check Point, there were some people looking for permits.  No one had turned in any to the ranger at this point. One of the people looking for a ticket was a fourth girl in a party of three who did have permits. She was asking if anyone had tickets, and a stranger handed her one.  We came across a guy who wanted to do this hike for his 37th birthday and did not have a permit.  He took a chance and had made it to Sub Dome. We were able to give him the one extra permit we had.  The ranger commented to him: “You sir, are lucky – you only had to wait 15-minutes.”   

     The cables themselves were a “thrill” as always.  I reached the cables at 10 am, which is earlier than I have ever been there. There were many people on the cables, but not the lines as in the past. There were actually fewer people than even my previous weekday experiences. I wasn’t sure if it was the time or the permit process or both.  After about a half hour on top, it was time to come down.  There was a back-up on the cables as we came down, but it wasn’t due to crowds. There were two people who freaked and were having difficulty moving on the cables. Unfortunately, one coming up and one going down and it made it hard for people to move around them. There was a snag as people talked them through it.  This was near the top, so once we were past this, it was a nice and easy descent down the cables.  Several  hours later, we were back at Curry for showers and pizza.”


    In other news, KCBS, San Francisco featured a news story on the Yosemite Falls iPhone app that we talked about last week. You can hear the segment <HERE>. Give it time to load the MP3 file.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Walk a mile in my shoes, just walk a mile in my shoes. Before you abuse, criticize and accuse  – then walk a mile in my shoes.” –Joe South
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

The Half Dome arch

August 24, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Get or Give Half Dome permits<HERE>

    Today’s lesson in your Half Dome 101 class will focus on the early days of the cable system.  As you all know from your studies, George Anderson put up a rope system to get to the summit in 1875.  The rope came and went with the snows until Hall McAlister ponied up the dough to have the Sierra Club build the cable system in 1919. In honor of the accomplishment, a small wooden arch was erected at the base of Sub Dome.

    You can still see the remnants of the base of the arch. It is right where the rangers check for permits. A few blocks stacked up is all that remains. Being made of wood it didn’t last long in the harsh winters of the Sierra.  To remember Anderson, the following plaque was erected at the arch. It’s gone also.


    There was a 2003 project by the NPS to consider building an interpretive piece to hark back to those days. Nothing has been done. Next time up there, imagine what it must have looked like in person. It may be time to honor George Anderson.  Class dismissed. Don’t forget your papers are due Friday.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I hate to wake you up to say goodbye. But the dawn is breaking, it’s early morn. The taxi’s waiting, he’s blowing his horn, Already I’m so lonesome I could cry.” – “Leaving On A Jet Plane”, Peter, Paul and Mary
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Muir Ramble Route

August 23, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Get or Give Half Dome permits<

    Did you know that John Muir WALKED from San Francisco to Yosemite in 1868?  He was 29 when he arrived in San Francisco from New York, via Panama (before the canal). When he got off the boat, he was overwhelmed by the masses and asked how to get to someplace wild. He was told to go to Yosemite. OK, he could not walk across the bay, so he rode a ferry to Oakland THEN started his walk. Down the east bay to San Jose, over Pacheco Pass (now Hwy 152 before the San Luis reservoir) and across the Central Valley and into the wild.  He did it in March accompanied by an Englishman named Chilwell and loved it. We complain about the 4 hour drive! 

    If you want to try this adventure, I recommend a new book by 2 Santa Cruz residents who replicated John Muir’s walk – as close as one can with new roads, private propery and malls in his original path. The book is by Santa Cruz residents Peter and Donna Thomas as is titled Muir Ramble Route. It’s $17 but goes for $13 on Amazon.


   They give step by step directions and include any warnings on the surroundings. You can also do it via car or public transportation. They talk about what hotels or camping areas you might use. The entire 300 mile trek is broken down into 7 sections. It took them 4 years of extensive research to put this trip and book together. A tip of the hat to the Thomas’ – good job and thanks!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “To ask me whether I could live without friends is absurd. It is easy enough to live out of material sight of friends, but to live without human love is impossible .” – John Muir, 1873

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

The Early Days

August 22, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

Get or Give Half Dome permits <HERE>

Soon after the 1864 signing of the Yosemite Grant, a group of Commissioners was appointed to oversea things. Check out some of these names: F. Law Olmsted, J. D. Whitney, William Ashburner, I. W. Raymond, E. S. Holden, Alexander Deering, George W. Coulter and Galen Clark. Many now have parts of the park named after them. Clark’s official title was Guardian of the Grove and Valley. He lived year-round near Wawona. In 1865, $2,000 was set aside to pay Clark and to begin some improvements. A lot of the Guardian’s work was dealing with the many “squatters” who had verbal claims to tracts of land in the new “park” confines. They also set out to discourage trespassing and prevent logging. Surveys of the park began in earnest to improve the rough work done to support the movement to have the land set aside. From June to October of 1866, a team of geologists did a detailed exploration and mapping of the region near the heads of the Merced, Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers, (the High Sierra). The final product was published in the spring of 1868 and is believed to be the first accurate map of any high mountain region ever prepared in the United States.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “My pappy said ‘Son you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop driving that Hot Rod Lincoln.’”  – Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airmen

 *Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –