Yosemite Half Dome

Sept 2003
Half Dome

Justin and I started out on Thursday night and spent the night in Stockton to save a few extra hours for sleeping the next day. The only sites available now are on a first come-first serve basis, so we wanted to make sure we could get a campsite if we failed in a back country permit. Reserve campsites are taken 24 weeks in advance. Also backpacking permits (reserves are all taken) are taken 24 weeks in advance, the remaining 40% are on a first come-first serve, 2 days before. We started out at just past 5:30 AM from Stockton. We arrived at the West Park gate at 7:30 AM having made excellent time driving from Stockton. The ranger station opened promptly at 8:00 for back country permits. I was successful in obtaining one for Little Yosemite Valley. The campsite FCFS sign-up doesn't open until 9:00 am.

With our permit hot in hand, we headed on down to the valley. We started out from the parking lot near Curry Village around 10:30 and made the top of Vernal Falls by High Noon. We reached Little Yosemite Valley around 3:30 in the afternoon. We cooled off in the lake, and there were plenty of campsite available. After a good night dinner (beef stew) we took a hike around the valley.

The next morning I cooked breakfast, and then we headed up the mountainside toward Half Dome around 7:30 AM(see links below). This is a 10 miles strenuous hike, 5000 ft elevation gain, with the last 500 ft up the cable stairway. Many people have reached the cables and turned around-refusing to climb the last 500 ft to the summit. We reached the base of the cables about 10:30 am. Justin, showing his disregard for reason and safety again, only brought along 1 small pint of water. Which means he was mooching my water from me. Those who know me, knows that I carry lots of water (up to a gallon).

Justin made it swiftly up the cables. I had to stop and rest because I used my arms too much, and my hands were swollen, making it hard to grip the cable. I found a spot to sit and brace my foot again the cable support. I can say that at a few spot, I almost gave up and turned around, not trusting my ability to grip the cables and a little fear of the climbing angle. At the end, I made it to the top about 20 minutes after Justin.

Coming down, we took the outside of the cables because the interior was filled with climbers. I used my rapeling experience and literally ran down the side of the cliff. I would guess that it only took about 10 minutes to come down the cables.

About 15 people were originally schedule for this car camping/back packing trip. Because of various reasons, most could not make it on this particular date. I will plan a car camping in May 2004 and see what happens.

Links to Itinerary Planning and other informational Sites

  1. Route Map - The trail map from Yosemite village up to Half Dome
  2. TrailHead - Final Preparation prior to starting off
  3. Vernal Fall - First look at the fall from the bridge crossing

  4. Vernal Fall - View of the fall up close
  5. Vernal Fall - Another view of the fall
  6. Vernal Fall - Closeup view of the base of the fall with a rainbow

  7. Vernal Fall - On the top watching the water flow over the edge
  8. Vernal Fall - A trail sign depicting the area behind the fall
  9. Vernal Fall Trail - Justin taking a break before the next leg
  10. Vernal Fall Trail - Looking back toward Emerald Pool and the Silver Apron Area
  11. Vernal Fall Trail - Looking up the rive away from the fall toward Nevada Fall

  12. Nevada Fall - A view of Nevada Fall from the distance on the trail
  13. Nevada Fall - Jin at the base of Nevada Fall
  14. Nevada Fall - Close up of Nevada Fall
  15. Nevada Fall - Taking our lunch break at the trail junction above Nevada Fall. Take a good look at the great food we are enjoying

  16. Little Yosemite Valley Camp Site - Justin cooling off his feet in the Merced River
  17. Little Yosemite Valley Camp Site - A modern outhouse - This is roughing it
  18. Hike to Half Dome - Trail Sign showing distance to key points. The bottom near our campsite, the other about a mile above.

  19. Hike to Half Dome - A view of the distance mountain range

  20. Hike to Half Dome - Justin with our goal in the background
  21. Hike to Half Dome - A 1500 ft climb still to go
  22. Hike to Half Dome - The last 500 ft climb; approaching the cables. This is the tip of the previous picture. Click for a close up look at the cables. Notice there are only a few climbers on the cables
  23. Hike to Half Dome - Justin starts up the cable

  24. Half Dome - A view of the rock formation on the edge of Half Dome. Notice the slab that is just barely connected.
  25. Half Dome - A view of the main valley floor
  26. Half Dome - A view toward Tenaya Valley-Mirror Lake Area
  27. Half Dome - Justin at the tip with Quarter Dome & Clouds Rest in the background

  28. Half Dome - Hikers recovering from the long climb up to the top
  29. Half Dome - Walking past the "Duck" farm to look out over Glacier Point
  30. Half Dome - From the Western edge looking back at the tip of Half Dome

  31. Panoramic View - 180 degrees to the West, Looking across Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point

  32. Panoramic View - 180 degrees to the East, Looking past Mirror Lake toward Tenaya Valley

  33. Climbing Down - Hikers backed up waiting on the cable
  34. Climbing Down - Climbers nearing the peak
  35. Climbing Down - Notice the steep angle of the climber, Also Justin is on the outside of the cables
  36. Return trip - Looking back - the cables are crowded and its taking the climbers over an hour now to climb the last 500 ft.
  37. Return Trip - taking a water break


    ©Copyright 2004 by jkjue, all rights reserved
    last updated 01/31/2004