Ascent of Half Dome on 2010-07-06

Climber: Michael Wanberg

Others in Party:Krystal Wanberg
Andy Brisky
Date:Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Half Dome
    Elevation:8840 ft / 2694 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a fantastic hike.
We started out from our hotel in Oakdale about 4am, drove to a parking lot near the Happy Isles bridge in Yosemite, and started up around 6:30am. Our route up was the John Muir Trail, which was a gradual, if circuitous, ascent to the top of Nevada Falls (where it was joined by the Mist Trail). We stopped here to use the restrooms before continuing up. We reached the bottom of the cables about 11:45am, and very slowly made our way up. I was surprised how busy the route was, considering we had started fairly early, and it was a Tuesday. Even so, there was still well over 100 people on or immediately around the cables!
We made it to the top about 12:30pm, and enjoyed the views (amazing!) and the rest for about half of an hour. At that point I noticed that the blue sky had become cloudy, and that those clouds were starting to become taller. I mentioned that we should be heading down soon to avoid what appeared to be developing thunderclouds. As we gathered our things and began to head back toward the cables I made out rain below the clouds to ESE and NNE. We made it down the cables uneventfully, and just before heading down 'the stairs' on the sub-dome we heard our first thunderclap.
We descended as quickly as our parties' tired legs would oblige, with the sky growing more ominous the entire time. We arrived at our vehicle before 6pm. Interestingly, it never did rain on us, and the clouds didn't appear to reach Half Dome.
The next day began clear as well, but the thunderstorm that developed most definitely soaked the top of Half Dome. It's not someplace you want to be in a lightning storm if you value your life.

1) This peak is best summited by 1pm, it seems (from experience and posted warnings) that storms are very common on summer afternoons.
2) I'd recommend going up the Mist Trail and down the Muir Trail, rather than vice versa
3) Bring gloves for the cables, and patience. Some sort of safety tie-in is a good idea too; my BD carabiners clipped onto the cables fine, and the two prussik loops I typically carry with me made a serviceable pseudo-harness.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:5040 ft / 1535 m
    Elevation Loss:5040 ft / 1535 m
    Distance:16.5 mi / 26.5 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Rope, Ski Poles
    Nights Spent:0 nights away from roads
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Clear early, thunderstorm in the near distance later
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:4940 ft / 1505 m
    Extra Loss:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:8.5 mi / 13.7 km
    Route:Muir Trail
    Trailhead:Happy Isles  4000 ft / 1219 m
    Time Up:6 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:4940 ft / 1505 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route:Mist Trail
    Trailhead:Happy Isles  4000 ft / 1219 m
    Time Down:5 Hours 

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