Ascent of Half Dome on 2013-06-26

Climber: Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach

Others in Party:Nate
Date:Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Half Dome
    Elevation:8840 ft / 2694 m

Ascent Trip Report

It's been a few months in the planning - but our summit day for Half Dome finally arrived! Yea!!

Our original group of 5 had increased to 6, and after unsuccessfully attempting to get a permit 48 hours before our planned ascent, we planned to follow the Ranger's advice and ask for a permit on the way up. With only needing one permit, our group figured that one of the adults could join up with someone else's group. As it turned out, it was easy to do, and I joined with another group checking in with the ranger at the base of the subdome.

The morning started bright and early - as in 3:45. While unlocking the car, I commented that I felt "spunky" - a comment that my buddies didn't let me live down for the rest of the trip. No worries - it was a spunky sort of day! We rolled out of Hogdgon Meadows just before 0430, and were hiking up the Mist Trail by 0520. We only needed headlamps in the very beginning, but as the first 1/2 mile was totally flat along the road, and then the first bit on the Mist Trail was also flat, the lights were a bit superfluous .

We made good time - the girls (ages 11 and 15) were in good spirits and everyone in our little group was in a good mood and hiking strong. LOTS of stairs on the Mist Trail - but with beautiful views, it wasn't that bad. Very slippery though, and I was happy that we decided to descend via the JMT. Up to the top of Nevada Falls in 2 hours and we made a final push along the river towards the HD turn off. It was during this segment that we met another group who had an extra spot on their permit. We waited 20 or 30 minutes for the permit-holder to catch up and eventually we made it all past the ranger. I probably wasn't in the best mood at this point - nervous that the ranger would not let me pass, slightly freaked out that the girl whose permit I was jumping on had forgotten her photo id (seriously, seriously????), and a bit freaked out about the cables. Nate and I exchanged some heated words - (ugh) - but eventually we were on the steps on the sub dome and climbing up up up.

Got to the cables and took the obligatory photos (tons of photos!), pulled on my harness and climbing gear and mentally wrapped my head around the Cables.

It actually wasn't that bad. There really wasn't a line at all, because we had arrived before 10:30 am and were climbing before the big big groups arrived. Once i was on the cables, I got into a really good rhythm of clipping and unclippling into the cables. I would always have one carabeaner clipped into the cable - when I got to the next post, I would clip in with the other beaner, and then unclip the first. It was a good cycle to be in - I even found it enjoyable. Hard moment was to see the 11-yo panic and have to descend with Jack - I felt bad for them both. But they made it 1/3 of the way up, and I figured that she would be in good hands with him at the base. Hillary kept climbing with the 15 yo, and Nate was a champ right behind me. I tried to not worry about him and H, as neither of them had climbing harnesses - but they both did great.

Made it to the top without any major problems and spent the next 30 minutes taking pictures and looking for the bench mark. Never found the BM, but had lots of close encounters with Marmots. Nate set up his radio and tried to make contact via SOTA (Summits on The Air) - but after a long LONG time, it was clear that something was wrong and wasn't working. At this point, Hillary had descended and Casey and I were waiting for Jack to appear. After 2 hours on the summit, we decided to descend - Nate was upset that he didn't get his SOTA contacts or points, but both Casey and I were tired of waiting and had given him plenty of time to get his work done. Oh well.

Descending was fine for me - and Nate and I decided to sandwitch Casey between the two of us. I had seen her nerves on the way up the Subdome and I knew that Hillary had done a lot of work with her to make her comfortable.... so.... even though it took a LONG time, and there was a major bottleneck behind us on the descent - I talked Casey down post-by-post. It was hard watching her legs shake -but she did a great job!

Off the mountain by 1:15 and hiking back - pace started off slow, but after one too many photos on my end, we upped the tempo and Jack set a blistering speed back to the parking area. From the top of the Nevada Falls and down the JMT, it was constant hard and fast - but at this point, we had been up for 12 hours and hiking for 10 (with a 2-3 hour summit break for everyone). But still - a LONG day. At the cars by 5:15 and standing in line for pizza and beer by 6.

Overall - it was a great day.... got to summit an epic peak with some of my best friends! Hooray!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5200 ft / 1584 m
    Round-Trip Distance:17 mi / 27.4 km
    Trailhead:3640 ft / 1109 m
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:

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