Half Dome fall thoughts

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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    Ryan Leeder of Los Gatos (west of San Jose), 23 yrs old, is the one who fell over the face of Half Dome on Monday. Circumstances are unknown at this point. We can assume that he got too close to the edge and slipped over. We may never know as the park tends to downplay deaths. It is very plausible to think that since the rock near the northwest face is very gravely he may have stumbled and fell. If one were to walk over to the edge and slip – that could explain it.  When I go near the edge, I lay down 10 feet way and crawl. It’s fun to look down at 2,000 feet. I often see climbers coming up. BUT – YOU assess the risk and deal appropriately.


    About 60,000 people do this hike safely a year. Please do not think poorly of this hike because occasionally there are issues. Did you know that until 2007 NOBODY fell off the cables when they were up for summer use! Really. And this fall was nowhere near the cables. So the rush to judgment was rather quick. I do NOT want to see this hike curtailed or restricted further due to rare incidents …if so, we should all wear helmets when we drive. 

    I live right next to Los Gatos. Ryan may have even attended one of my talks. Condolences go out. If anyone knows about a service, please let me know via private email. This is really sad – but remember, stuff happens. 

   I will be doing the hike Thursday with 2 friends. Carpe Diem


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again. Because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping and the vision that was planted in my brain – still remains. Within the sound of silence.” – Simon and Garfunkle

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com


9 Responses to “Half Dome fall thoughts”

  1. Joyce Says:

    Oh no. That is from where he fell? I wonder if people just don’t think that it is really dangerous and they need to behave differently than if on the level ground?

    My sincere condolences to his family and friends. That is a big possibility that he may have attended one of your talks. That would be nice of you to go pay your respects.

    I love the Simon and Garfunkle quote. That song is timeless and deep.

    I’d like to add~I have finally figured out that my husband went to see you do a talk at the Le Conte Memorial {is that right?} in Yosemite. We were staying there at Housekeeping Camp. It was that talk that made him want to go and do the hike, and, to do it prepared. He paid attention to your suggestions for water, training, weather, all of that.

    I can’t remember exactly when it was. Maybe Mother’s Day 3 years ago? Does this sound right?

  2. alaurente Says:

    I spoke to a ranger during my hike today. It is possible that it could be a suicide. Of course the park had to be politically correct and be sensitive to the affected friends and families by speculating first that it is an accident.

    Take Haley’s death for example. I have not seen an official report on what happened. The ranger said that as everyone were going down the cables, lightning struck. Everyone got zapped but held on except for Haley.

  3. Sönke Says:

    Al is right: at this point the circumstances what has happened are totally in the dark. I’ve posted a link to a “first hand”-account of two climbers a few blog entries earlier.

    A lot of controversial discussions are going on (e.g. @supertopo) but in my humble opinion it’s a waste of time to speculate as long as we don’t know what really has happened. But that could take some time just like Al already pointed out with Haley’s recent death.

  4. Madame Hardy Says:

    This morning’s Mercury News reports a lifetime of mental-health issues. No matter what they eventually determine, a tragedy.

  5. Jeri Says:

    The story is in our morning paper:


  6. Jeri Says:


    • Sönke Says:

      Thanks for the interesting article.

      After having read the read I don’t believe it was a “normal” accident because it sounds like Ryan Leeder had some issues.

  7. bbjk Says:

    I was on the top of Half Dome for about an hour on Monday (Aug. 24th from about 10:45 to about 11:45). The weather was beautiful with blue sky and a perfect temperature — a German family had a kite out that they were flying. I saw people crawl to the edge and lie down on their bellies to look over. I couldn’t stomach getting near the edge myself. The weather remained beautiful all day.

  8. Wendy Says:

    We met Ryan on the trail and hiked with him from vernal to nevada, we were summiting liberty cap that day, so we parted ways @ nevada. We were very heavy hearted to hear the news and then put it all together. Our sincerest thoughts and prayers to his family, very interesting time we spent with him.

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