Duck and cover

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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      I confess to wanting live on the edge of the envelop – but am basically a chiken so I only get halfway there. One idea I had was to walk up to the base of 3,000 foot El Captitan and just gaze up. Seems like that would be cool.  Well, it’s not a real good idea. Why?  What’s so wrong? It’s legal and it would be fun to at least touch El Cap, even though I have no intentionof ever going more than 20 inches up the wall.  I just read an alarming story about why NOT to do this.

Last Monday (May 2nd), I and a friend N climbed at the base of El Cap. I present the  liberally “edited for space” story about a man who is a REAL climber but went up without a helmet. I took out a lot of  the climber jargon so it reads better. Buckle your seatbelts and hang on.
I just finished going up Sacherer Chracker. We decided to TR head up a chimney starting in the middle. The climb looked ok on rappel, though I was concerned about the jaws of the chimney more than anything else. I was on belay while Joe got to try it out. I distinctly remember thinking: “I gotta move the rope in case there is rock falling” Then, I thought “Oh no, I should keep away from that area and maybe put a helmet on”. Just a minute later I heard my friend, 35 feet above, yell: “Rock!” If I remained where I was, nothing would have probably happened. But I started to move away from the wall, looking up. I saw a football sized rock going at me! I was not sure if it was going hit me. I just drew my left hand over my head instinctively. Next I knew was a hard hit on my hand against my head, near my right ear. I moved sideways along the wall and yelped.

My head appeared to be whole, except I felt little sore spots above my ear. My hand was definitely bad. After checking with Joe, I lowered him down. We pulled the rope, hiked out, and drove to the Yosemite clinic. I felt my hand might be broken, though the pain was not extreme.

Analysis: I do not deserved this 2nd life. I should have worn the freaking helmet! Especially at the base of El Cap and in the Spring in Yosemite. I probably should wear it everywhere I go climbing outside religiously. 

His later advice is to NOT be at the base of El Cap or Half Dome without a real helmet. Rock shards are flying off regularly. That’s how Half Dome got to be – exfoliation.  Too see what I mean, here’s a video of the May 27 rockfall off of Half Dome above the Death Slabs area (taken by le_bruce). Ouch!  No one hurt. Click <HERE>.

Unrelated thought worth quoting:Hiking is the best workout … You can hike for three hours and not even realize you’re working out.  And, hiking alone lets me have some time to myself.” – Jamie Luner

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

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