Half Dome

Why you shouldn’t go up the Half Dome cables

I’m not afraid of much. Not spiders, or snakes, or heights, or being lost, or getting punched in the face.

I realize this makes me sound like a hard, emotionless dude, which isn’t the case.

So when you’re planning a trip to Half Dome, one consistent theme you’ll encounter throughout is the dreaded cable discussion. Will you go?  Will you stay back, wishing you could muster the courage?

The hike up is beautiful, no doubt.

Behold! The sacred Half Dome cables!

To the left of the cables? Death. To the right? Death.

My wife and I sat at the base of the cables for a good hour, watching one fatigued, but determined cable-goer after another tackle the route like pros.

“Oh, come on, you must go up!  You hiked all this way just to quit now,” they said.

Thing is, we didn’t mind “quitting” below the cables. Getting there was inspiring enough. This portion of the hike resembled an amusement park ride.

We saw people walking on the outside of the cables, people slipping on the rickety 2x4s “bolted” into the rock, people gripping the cables for dear life.

At this point, I can officially say I was scared contemplating my next move. I really wanted to see the top like everyone else. And after much debate, we finally decided to give it a shot. I went up first, with my wife right behind me.

Blood pumping, head spinning, muscles acting funny.  A board slips out of the rock, and I’m thinking “to hell with this” but I press on.

Then a petrified lady wearing a fanny pack working her way down the cables clamps onto me for support. She’s mumbling something, and I’m wondering if I’m to die here on this blasted rock. I am now officially freaking out.

That’s it. We’re done. We made it not even halfway up before turning around. Maybe if we had the cables to ourselves and a chance to contemplate the scene in silence, we would’ve made a different decision. But a long lunch and a sunny nap below the cables wasn’t so bad either.

If you have conquered the Half Dome cables, I want to hear from you. Was it worse going up, or coming down? Do you value your life? Do you think I’m overreacting?