Ascent of Half Dome on 2003-07-01

Climber: Patrick Shannon

Date:Tuesday, July 1, 2003
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Half Dome
    Elevation:8840 ft / 2694 m

Ascent Trip Report

From my Pacific Crest Trail journal ( When peak bagging or at anytime when I am coming back to the same point, I can take the top of my pack off and use it as a fanny pack. This is what I used to climb Half Dome. It is such a cool feeling hiking without the weight of my pack on my back. For the first few minutes, it feels almost as if you are going to float right up into the air with every step. Even after that feeling disappears, it still feels like you can walk forever, even after a 25-mile day.

The Half Dome summit trail works its way up to the base of the actual granite dome for the first mile and a half. Then for the last half-mile, the trail is merely two cables, which you use to pull yourself up a basically vertical rock. It is tough work to climb, but a very cool experience.

Sunset was a great time to do this hike. Half Dome is the most popular hike in the valley. I have heard you can wait as long as 45 minutes to climb up the cables. That's horrible! I would feel more as if I were in an amusement park waiting for a roller coaster ride rather than in a national park. By sunset, though, all the day hikers are long gone, so the trail was practically empty. It was a very similar experience to being at a deserted Devils Postpile a few days ago at around the same time of day. It was almost surreal.

There were two other people going up to see the sunset on Half Dome as well. They were Mel and R.J., a young couple that worked at the park. They climbed the cables right behind me. Mel was a little scared of heights and did not particularly enjoy the vertical climb, but she made it up with the support of her husband. It was quite humorous and cute to hear them talk. They had been married a year. They ended every sentence to each other with "honey:"

"I'm scared, honey."

"Just take it one step at a time, honey."

"You think someone could die falling off this thing, honey?"

"No, you wouldn't die. I'm right behind you, so you would only fall into me, honey."

If you think I'm exaggerating, think again. The conversation continued in this manner for 15 minutes. I promised them I would write about this, so I've kept my promise! In all seriousness, though, it was very cool to watch them work as a team and to see the amount of trust she put in him to help her get up.

At the top, I watched a beautiful sunset. I could see the Yosemite Valley, still several thousand feet below me for the first time. It was a very cool introduction.
Summary Total Data
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Part of Trip: Pacific Crest Trail 2003

Complete Trip Sequence:
1San Jacinto Peak2003-05-09 
2Mount Baden-Powell2003-05-22 
3Mount Jenkins2003-06-09 
4Owens Peak2003-06-09 
5Mount Whitney2003-06-182898 ft / 883 m
6Half Dome2003-07-01 
12Mount McLoughlin2003-08-20 
14Mount Thielsen2003-08-25 
15South Sister2003-08-30 
Total Trip Gain: 2898 ft / 883 m    Total Trip Loss: 2898 ft / 883 m

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