Half Dome
July 12, 2014
17 miles, +6,500’
I had scored an elusive Saturday permit to climb the cables route on Half Dome in the summer of 2014. I was able to make a weekend adventure out of it by adding a campground reservation at Crane Flat the Friday night before. We planned to drive up, camp at Crane Flat, get up early and dayhike the cables, and then drive all the way home. A lot of adventure packed into ~30 hours or sure, but probably manageable.
When we arrived at Crane Flat at 11PM or so, we found someone parked in our site spot, and a tent pitched on the tent pad. Ah, the joys of camping in Yosemite! At least they had stored their food correctly. Figuring that they would have more time to enjoy it than us, and that these campsite poachers deserved to be woken by our early morning departure, we set up quietly and went to sleep. At 3 or something the next morning, we got up, made breakfast, packed up, and hit the road into the valley.
We hit the trail out of Curry Village around sunrise, around 5:30 or 6:00, not needing headlamps. The trail was nice and quiet, with just a few people heading up and down. Mostly photographers and other more committed hikers.
Before long we were above Vernal Falls and headed towards Nevada Falls.
And then across the bridge below Liberty Cap. We continued on through Little Yosemite Valley, up Sunrise Creek, and on towards Half Dome.
First views of Half Dome from the east. The subdome is in the foreground.
The cables and crowds from below. A ranger checked our permit just below the sub dome. No issues for us, but a couple of people were standing around just before asking if anyone had an extra space. We couldn’t help them.
A conga line up the cables.
We put our gloves on and headed up the cables, mostly just waiting for people ahead of us. The cables are supported by metal beams that go into holes in the rock, and there are 2x4 boards supported by those beams as well. The 2x4s were just far enough that it was a couple of steps apart, so we would wait until the next one was clear and then take 2 steps pulling up on the cables to the next board.
About halfway up we slowed to a crawl behind a troop of boy scouts, one of whom was panicking. One of the parents was helping him up, but that basically involved a motivational talk between each step and the parent stepping up immediately behind him. It was really slow and the kid was panicked enough that he wouldn’t let go with one hand to let anyone pass. Because of this, it took 45 minutes or an hour to climb up the cables. I guessed it would only have been 10 or 15 minutes without the crowds.
Eventually we made it to the summit and enjoyed some nice views of Clouds Rest, the Cathedral Range, and Mount Conness to the east.
And Yosemite Valley to the west. The little rock in the foreground is “The Visor” and is quite a popular spot to pose for photos.
After spending about an hour on the summit taking some pictures and having snacks, we headed back down. We tried to give the boy scouts enough time to get all the way back down, leaving about 30 minutes after they headed down. But unfortunately they hadn’t made it off the cables by the time we started, so we got stuck waiting behind them again. It was taking long enough that we sat down on a few of the 2x4s. Eventually we made it back down to the subdome.
View of the cables in the middle of the day. After getting back down to the subdome, we made our way back towards the valley.
We stopped for a snack and water in Little Yosemite Valley and almost stepped on a rattlesnake who was sunning on the river bank. I chased it around a bit and took some pictures from as close as I could muster the courage to get.
I guess it wasn’t a huge snake, maybe 3 or 4 feet long, but it was definitely a rattlesnake!
After all of the fun with the snake (well, I’m not sure the snake had fun), we had our snack and filled up water from the river before heading down the trail.
Vernal Falls and the little lookout point from the trail above.
We walked back to the car, quite content with the big hike we had done. I think it was the longest I had ever hiked in a day at the time. After a snack at Curry Village, we drove up to Glacier Point to watch the sunset over Half Dome and the mountains.
And then after enjoying the lovely sunset, we headed back home, arriving at some very late hour and sleeping in the next Sunday.