How the cables get up

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

To request or give permits, Click HERE.

** Put your contact info on the request. **

    Yosemite is a mess – heavy snow and downed trees. The hamsters are spinning in their cages to run the generators. Not a good time to go. Read a Muir book instead. 

    First my tale of woe. I spoke at REI Brentwood last night. An hour and a quarter drive in heavy rain, overturned truck on 680 and huge puddles. Fine. This is the newest Bay Area REI and they have a sweet Community Room. Many of my talks are given in back warehouse areas. Had a nice group of anxious hikers. (20% off sale now.) The10 pm  ride home was easy but I got a low tire pressure light. Crud. Had a screw in one tire but was able to pull into a Valero and change it using the tinker toy Honda kit under full lights. Whew – I could have gone flat on the freeway.

   Each spring the Yosemite Trail Crew gets the green light from management to erect the pipes and 2×4 boards up the cable route. This is targeted for just before Memorial Day weekend. The HD trail needs to be clear enough for them to retrieve the 136 pipes and 68 2×4’s from their hidden storage area that they were placed in when the poles come down each October. They will not tell me where they are hidden. They do not want people messing with them. 

    They have to haul the material up to the saddle and then begin the assembly process. The pipes are put into the 4 -nch deep holes that were drilled in 1919. The top of the pipe has a screw-off lid.

     That is removed and then the cable is lifted and inserted into the slot that was cut back when the world was in black and white. The lid is then screwed back on top. They need to be careful not to drop anything down, down, down. You can imagine how hard this must be. There are 68 pole sets that need to be placed. Then the 2 x 4 boards are strapped to the pipes.

     Whew. All they way to the top. While doing a balancing act 8,000 feet above sea level. Don’t forget the Pizza Hut delivery at noon.

      I’ve wanted to film this, but the timing just hasn’t worked out. This blog is spurring me on to meet the trail crew and get more info. I need to put this into the Book’s second edition – now targeted for Spring 2012. We have to let the cables permit process settle.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Rainy day, dream away. Let the sun take a holiday. Flowers bathe and see the children play. Lay back and groove on a rainy day.” – Jimi Hendrix Experience

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

6 Responses to “How the cables get up”

  1. andy Says:

    That would be an interesting video. But can you hike up the Sub-dome without a permit? 🙂

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      If you can get up to Sub Dome on open trails….you can do whatever you want…permits req’d when cables are UP. Suicide in my opinion if you just rappell up with the cables that lie there.

  2. Dean Says:

    Hooray our California 2011 trip is confirmed and booked!

    Will be in Yosemite Sun21-Wed24th August…still not decided if I’ll skip Half Dome and tackle Clouds Rest instead.

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      I faced that dilemna for years. Gee, since I am up there, I’m gonna hike HD. Then over the last 5-8 years I started doing the other big hikes…Got most of them done now.

      You can do both on your trip…do HD first…..then drive up Tioga Rd to Tenaya Lake…Cloud’s Rest is only about 7 hrs RT…and not that hard. Of course you have an hour drive to get to Lake Tenaya.

      Lemme know your flights to SFO..I may be able to meet you at the airport.

  3. Maureen Lahiff Says:


    hope you do get your Half Dome Permits on May 1!

    if you and your hiking companions are in excellent shape, it is possible to hike Half Dome and then hike to Clouds Rest (for some reason, the NPS says apostrophes in peak names is a no-no) and back out to Happy Isles for something like a 25 mile day.

    Hiking to Clouds Rest after descending Half Dome will add 4.3 miles each way from the junction of the Half Dome Trail and the John Muir Trail, which is a good bit less extra hiking than doing the Happy Isles to Half Done and back and then Clouds Rest from Tenaya Lake, which is something like 13 or 14 miles round trip.
    You can find accounts of doing this all over the internet, of varying quality. I would strongly suggest doing the Half Dome Summit first and then Clouds Rest if you’re feeling up to more. Clouds Rest would be just as dangerous in a thunderstorm as Half Dome, so you might lose it if there are clouds building up.

    Another thing to check would be water availability on the way to Clouds Rest. I’ve never been on this trail, but it seems there is a tributary of Sunrise Creek in that 4.3 mile trek.

    Other folks describe a one way hike from Tenaya Lake/Sunrise Trail head to Clouds Rest and then to Half Dome and down to Happy Isles. If you have two cars, which you probably won’t if you’re all flying to SF, I suppose you could leave a car at the Sunrise Trail head the night before and hike it one way from the Valley to Half Dome to Clouds Rest and then out. There is a hiker’s bus up to the trailheads on the Tioga Road, but I think you’d want a much earlier start.

    • Dean Says:

      Hi Maureen,

      I have been considering the logistics of doing both Half Dome and Clouds Rest in the one day, starting and finishing at Happy Isles…it’s a possibility and would be quite an adventure. I’m fit enough but at that time of year it’s likely to be pretty hot which I’m not used to.

      We only have a couple of days and I’d like to hike North Dome the next day so I don’t want to be too tired…we shall see.

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