Can you climb the Half Dome cables when they are down??? : LUSENET : Mountaineering : One Thread

5/2/01 I wanted to take my 14 year old daughter up the back side (cables) of Half Dome next week. I am a very experienced climber, but my daughter climbs about 5.6 and is not ready for Snake Dike. The Park says that the cables will be back up "maybe" on Memorial Day, but we will be visiting Yosemite next week. I heard that the cables stay on the rock, but the posts are taken down. Are the cables safely or easily climbable? Any other easy routes up the b

-- Aaron (, May 03, 2001


The cables are in place without the posts, and should be easily climbable if you are up to it... It would most likely be a hand- over-hand climb using the cables, but the route is still pretty steep and very slick in places.. Might want to devise a way to tie into the cables as a safety harness....

-- Jim Leininger (, May 04, 2001.

I downclimbed the cables when they were "down" after climbing Snake Dike. A fair number of non-climbers go up and down th cables when they are "down" so it shouldn't be a problem. One think you may want to consider is wearing harnesses and girth hitching a sling with a carabiner to it. Then you and your daughter can clip into the cables. The cables are anchored to the rock every so often, so if you slip you wouldn't go all the way down. Using a harness would also make it easier to anchor off to rest.

You could also consider taking a rope and TR'ing your daughter up the cable route...

-- Chris Jain (, May 10, 2001.

take your daughter on snakedike!!! It's the coolest route around. I've climbed it several times. 2 easy 5.6 moves in the first 2 pitches 1 layback and 1 smear. If you can handle the runout on the easy 5th and 4th class sections she will be safe as a babe in her mothers (fathers?) arms. The most difficult route finding is getting to the base, but it's not too bad. Depending on your fitness level you may want to bivy in Little Yo area and retrieve your gear on the way out. It will be one of the best experiences of your daughters life. Jah Guide!

-- eric pepito (, May 15, 2001.

It's too late to answer the original question but for others that are wondering about decending the cables when they are down - don't hesitate. Lots of folks just batman down the cable but I've always kept my harness on and attached a 5-6mm sling via a prussik. Gravity is one thing, but lightening is the real objective hazard here.

-- Eric James (, May 22, 2001.


If you are going to climb the cables when they are down, I'd recommend first quickly yarding them back and forth real hard, then running away fast and watching what comes down.

Seasonal ice and nonseasonal loose rock etc. can get hung up in the cables. It's possible nobody's climbed them in weeks, especially in winter. When you lift the cables to batman, the debris could fall right then from directly overhead, when you're 1) very exposed on slick rock 2) pretty much stuck in place 3) probably not tied in or even wearing climbing shoes and 4) definately looking at the mother of all slab rides.

Getting beaned at such an inopportune moment is NOT GOOD.

After you've "proofed" them by shaking them, then carefully ascend while still keeping an eye out because you probably didn't clear the very top. Good luck.

PS I don't know if it's legal or not.

-- Joe Astier (, June 27, 2001.

I took a lady up the downed cables on her very first hike! We camped on the summit so we had full backpacks. The hardest part going up is that the cables are DOWN. That means you have to lift them UP off the rock face as you go, which can get tiring. They are heavy. Wear gloves. My friend "freaked out" about half way up. I was glad I had a 'biner to tie off our packs so I could "talk her up". After I got her up I went back (twice) for both packs [it was easier helping her up without me having a pack on].

Having a sling on your waist, with a biner to go on the cables is a good idea. The pipes that are there to hold the cable up, AND the wood "steps" are missing when the cables are down. You can only "rest" on ledges or where the downed cable is now and then attached to the rock face. GO FOR IT! (It's really nice to be up there with NO PEOPLE!!!!!).

-- Bob Gelman (, August 15, 2002.

I believe the suggestion to "wearing harnesses and girth hitching a sling with a carabiner to it" is a bad idea. Falling on a static sling, hooked to a static cable could generate a serious shock load. Better to use something like the Petzl Zyper - a dynamic sling designed for protecting via ferrata climbs - to lessen the impact load.

-- Mike Y (, November 23, 2003.

My friend and i climbed up this weekend. Even though the cables are bolted into the rock, the bolts are around 50-70 apart. We wore harnesses with slings and locking biners and a "Screamer" in between (a shock-absorbing draw so to speak). It would be a really harsh land otherwise. Only one small patch of snow along the route which was easily avoidable when descending. The cables are heavy to pick up but there are good resting points along the way up. If you have a fear of heights though, I wouldn't recommend it. It's a tiring enough hike to the notch where the cables start. Get a good rest there and then go for it. The steepest section is the first half, after that you're home free. It's great having the summit all to yourself and no lines of people trying to charge up! Cheers, Laura

-- Laura (, December 01, 2003.

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