Half Dome Safety

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

To request, trade or give permits, Click HERE.

FREE Half Dome Hike app <HERE>


    Is Half Dome getting more dangerous? It’s one of the largest true monoliths of granite in the world. It has been there tens of thousands of years. Unchanged. No one got up it until George Anderson did at on Oct 12, 1875. Going up using his knotted rope was a challenge and a badge of accomplishment. Records are meager from then but we think John Muir was maybe the 9th person up. Anderson’s rope frayed and was replaced in 1884 by Alden Sampson and A. Phimister Proctor. Their rope frayed and was replaced off and on until Hall McAllister funded the installation of the cables in 1919.  This landmark event opened up the top to a HUGE number of ordinary people.

     According to my research, when the cables were up for summer use, no one fatally fell from the cables until 2007. Since then we’ve had 2 more. So why the uptick in accidents? The cable system has not changed. The cables were replaced with fresh steel in 1934 and 1984 but it’s the same system. OK, the path is getting worn smooth and up to 80,000 hikers had gone up each year by the mid 2000’s, so it has changed.

    We love this rock. It’s a goal and a journey. It’s our Mt. Everest. I believe anyone in reasonable health can complete this hike with 3 things: Education, Preparation and Motivation. Think about those. This is an extremely strenuous hike. A marathon run. A century bike ride. A triathlon. It’s big. It’s hard. It’s rewarding. Let’s do it safely so everyone can reach their goal.

      Without any reference to specific incidents, I highly recommend these tactics. Wear hiking boots with good ripple soles. Use hiking poles to aid you. Drink lots of water – use a filter. Use rubberized gloves on the cables. Use sound judgment. Check the weather. Keep away if the rock is moist or rapidly changing mountain weather is arriving. Education, Preparation and Motivation. Let me know how I can help you. 

Carpe Diem – Seize the day.     

   Below is a webcam photo that captured a lightning strike on Half Dome on July 31. I enhanced it via Photoshop so you can clearly see the bolt. THis may have played a role in Hayley LaFlamme’s accident.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “We live with our heels as well as head and most of our pleasure comes in that way.” – John Muir 

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com


9 Responses to “Half Dome Safety”

  1. Maureen L Says:

    Thanks for the info and the photo.

    This is the Yosemite Conservancy’s Sentinel Dome webcam, right?

  2. Tom Says:

    I think I heard that bolt down by the spring. Of course I was descending at the time.

  3. Mason Harrison Says:

    Thanks for all the great research!

  4. Janet Says:

    Great photo.

  5. Roberto Hernandez Says:

    California Governor Jerry Brown is visiting Yosemite to assess safety issues first hand. He climbed to the top of Nevada Fall, and witnessed some “kid” resklessly perched right on the edge. He thinks the signs give plenty of warning, and that the people that got hurt perhaps are not the type of folks who are helped by signs. “I read the sign, but I didn’t need to read the sign!” Did he stop at NF, or continue up to Half Dome? Anyone have pics of him in Yosemite?

  6. Scott Baines Says:

    Roberto, here’s a story with a picture of the Governor and the First Lady:


    • mrhalfdome Says:

      Looks like she’s carrying the water!! But note, they have Hiking Poles!! Bet they stayed at the Ahwahnee!!


      • Roberto Hernandez Says:

        Wow, Governor Jerry Brown also hiked to tje top of Yosemite Falls! I bet they went up the Mist trail to the top of Nevada Fall, relaxed a bit, then went right down John Muir Trail.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: