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Half Dome hike, spring break


Original Post
Conrad Malinak · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Hey all-

New to MP and new to posting to online forums in general, so bear with me.

My gal and I are planning a spring break road trip from Spokane WA down to Yosemite and want to hike Half Dome. I called to check conditions and the ranger (or whoever answered the phone) wouldn't give me the time of day, I'm sure she thought I was a run of the mill tourist.

Our plan is to camp in Little Yosemite Valley CG, day hike to top of Half Dome, and then hike all the way out. Or, stay another night in LYV if needed.

Questions to some of the Yosemite Valley veterans- is this feasible during this year's late March? The innarwebz has provided a plethora of details about the varying inclement weather scenarios. Sounds like there's snow in the Valley. I'm wondering:

  • How deep will the snow be for the approach hike? Think it's possible for a beginner (my gal) and intermediate (me) backpacker with snowshoes?
  • Will there be snow/ice on top of Half Dome? If so, can it still be hiked?
  • Will the cables be iced over/inaccessible?


Perhaps there are questions I'm not even asking. If you have the answers to my questions, answers to questions I didn't ask, or helpful opinions please share!
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Conrad Malinak wrote:Hey all- New to MP and new to posting to online forums in general, so bear with me. My gal and I are planning a spring break road trip from Spokane WA down to Yosemite and want to hike Half Dome. I called to check conditions and the ranger (or whoever answered the phone) wouldn't give me the time of day, I'm sure she thought I was a run of the mill tourist. Our plan is to camp in Little Yosemite Valley CG, day hike to top of Half Dome, and then hike all the way out. Or, stay another night in LYV if needed. Questions to some of the Yosemite Valley veterans- is this feasible during this year's late March? The innarwebz has provided a plethora of details about the varying inclement weather scenarios. Sounds like there's snow in the Valley. I'm wondering: *How deep will the snow be for the approach hike? Think it's possible for a beginner (my gal) and intermediate (me) backpacker with snowshoes? *Will there be snow/ice on top of Half Dome? If so, can it still be hiked? *Will the cables be iced over/inaccessible? Perhaps there are questions I'm not even asking. If you have the answers to my questions, answers to questions I didn't ask, or helpful opinions please share!
I cannot comment on snow conditions, but the cables will not be up. The NPS removes the uprights and cross beams for the winter. The cables are still there, but may or may not be accessible or usable.
ROC · · Englewood, CO · Joined Feb 2003 · Points: 205
Conrad Malinak · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0
Marc801 wrote: I cannot comment on snow conditions, but the cables will not be up. The NPS removes the uprights and cross beams for the winter. The cables are still there, but may or may not be accessible or usable.
Yeah, we know they won't be up. That's the beauty of this hike in the off season... no crowds. With a harness and a couple klemheist knots it's supposed to be a great hike/climb still.

My accessibility question is tailored to whether the cables will be embedded in a ice/snow.
simplyput · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60

"I'm sure she thought I was a run of the mill tourist."

Are you not?

ParkerKempf Kempf · · atlanta, GA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 280
simplyput wrote:"I'm sure she thought I was a run of the mill tourist." Are you not?
my first thought exactly
AndrewArroz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

The rangers are NEVER going to tell you that you SHOULD go during the off season when the cables are down. So you need to craft questions accordingly. Key things I'd be asking them about would be conditions on the hike up to Little Yosemite Valley, which is quite steep, and how much snow is there in the shady sections. ONLINE INFO HERE: nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/…

You can also see from the "High Sierra" webcam that as of today there's still quite a bit of snow sitting on top of Half Dome. I would presume that the cables and that side of the dome are still quite icy. yosemiteconservancy.org/web…

So a lot would depend on when you are talking about Spring Break. If it's next week you might be out of luck. If it's in a couple weeks everything could be different.

If you strike out on HD don't be afraid to do the Glacier Point road on snowshoes or skis. It's a great trip.

Conrad Malinak · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Well, I'd like to think of myself as being outside the category of the average tourist. Kind of interesting to have a couple guys take a dig at me for something like that. I'm not a professional ultralight backpacker, or an extreme alpinist by any means, but I am certainly not the average day hiker. Thanks.

Yeah, I asked her about snow depth and she wouldn't give me a straight answer, just said that I would be camping in the snow. I had seen the webcams, just wanted to know if anyone had different/more specific advice. Not exactly a close up on the cable route from the cams. But I agree that it sounds like it won't be possible. Bummer. Thanks for the advice on checking out Glacier Point

Thanks for the help folks. Sorry if I wasted your time

Austin Baird · · SLC, Utah · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 95
Conrad Malinak wrote:Well, I'd like to think of myself as being outside the category of the average tourist. Kind of interesting to have a couple guys take a dig at me for something like that. I'm not a professional ultralight backpacker, or an extreme alpinist by any means, but I am certainly not the average day hiker. Thanks.
Bro. If you don't routinely put up sick 5.14 FAs or set FKTs on big mountains, you're literally no different than just the average overweight tourist that never walks more than a mile from their car. Seriously. Can't believe you don't know that.
AndrewArroz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Take a look at this Google Maps aerial shot of the trail going up there. Then compare the snow levels you see in it to the snow levels from the webcams. google.com/maps/place/Half+…@37.7472255,-119.5314296,703m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x8096f3ed4145417b:0x1f43b5027abbe048!8m2!3d37.7495807!4d-119.5242119

To be clear, this is just the trail up the dome, not the Vernal Falls trail, which you take to get to Little Yosemite Valley. My hunch is that the Half Dome trail slab is going to slippery wet with runoff from melting snow and likely to be a very dangerous thing to attempt casually.

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 546

Most people don't hike up there until the snow has melted, so I don't think you are going to get very good beta. Also the weather has been extremely erratic, so I don't think anyone can predict what is going to happen. Its suddenly very warm out here, so things will change rapidly. Keep in mind another snow storm could easily roll in anytime, covering everything again.
Having been up there a bunch of times here are my thoughts :

If there is snow on the slab, its going to be a death trap. You absolutely should not climb that slab if its wet. Yosemite granite is SLICK even when its dry.
If there is snow, the cables might be buried, they just lay on the slabs.

If its clear, I would recommend approach shoes for the cables while they are down.

My advice - check the webcam right before you go, pack snowshoes and micro-spikes. Hike up to the shoulder - if the slabs have snow, call it a day, go get some beer, enjoy the waterfalls. If they are clear head up

Michael McNutt · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 5

Does anyone know if crampons and an ice axe would make this go? Or would you be worried about the icy slab breaking and taking you with it?

mat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 5

Possible rain and snow in the forecast for the end of this week and beginning of next.

Forecast

You'll have to judge for yourself if you can handle the conditions.

You may be able to get some pictures or information on relatively current conditions on the YosemiteNews.info forums. In the past there have been a few active members over there who might not be considered average day hikers.

Anyways, this time of year it doesn't hurt to have a backup plan. There are many great hikes in Yosemite that don't involve the top of Half Dome. Is this the first trip to Yosemite for the both of you? Hope y'all have a good time.

AndrewArroz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
Michael McNutt wrote:Does anyone know if crampons and an ice axe would make this go? Or would you be worried about the icy slab breaking and taking you with it?
No, it wouldn't make it a go. Because the real hazard is water runoff on incredibly polished, glaciated granite. Crampons and ice axe aren't going to help with that.
Jim H · · Pasadena, CA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 930
Austin Baird wrote: Bro. If you don't routinely put up sick 5.14 FAs or set FKTs on big mountains, you're literally no different than just the average overweight tourist that never walks more than a mile from their car. Seriously. Can't believe you don't know that.
Austin is a troll.
t.farrell · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 60
Conrad Malinak wrote: With a harness and a couple klemheist knots it's supposed to be a great hike/climb still.
I'd read up on VF before you show up. I wouldn't use a klemheist. Other people will have a different opinion.

If you view this in Google Chrome and have Google translate it, it may be insightful. (Node = knot, Railway = Via Ferrata)
itsportmontagna.org/ism/Tec…
King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 420

#1 You won't be able to get to the base of the cables w/o skis.

SHIT TON of snow right now (and no, not a few feet, more like 20-30' in a North Facing spot at 8000').

All trails in Merced River Canyon dangerous/impassable snow, ice, tons of run off (mist/illouette trails). NPS should be able to tell you if the Mist Trail is open (it isn't right now) and this is thousands of feet below the shoulder.

You'd have to ski from Badger Pass and skirt the Merced canyon (one long and hard day to base, maybe 10+ miles or more, full snow camping gear needed).

Half Dome up the cables right now?

L O L.

nps.gov/yose/learn/photosmu…

More snow this weekend and next week (like feet more). Those "patches" of snow on the summit are 20' deep. The summit snowfield will be there until July.

It is not easy to get there at any time in the winter so if anyone did the photos from the base of the cables would be rare and epic....and the start is buried under 10' plus of snow and who knows, probably a huge stack from avalanching. The cables may pop out eventually, so you could free solo up a 45 degree monster slab avalanche waiting to happen to get to ice encrusted cables and more icy death above.

IOW, ur gonna die. :P

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Conrad Malinak wrote:Well, I'd like to think of myself as being outside the category of the average tourist. Kind of interesting to have a couple guys take a dig at me for something like that. I'm not a professional ultralight backpacker, or an extreme alpinist by any means, but I am certainly not the average day hiker.
You're an "average tourist" because you asked about hiking the cables route on Half Dome in March during a huge snow year in the Sierra.
DanielHart · · Carpinteria ca · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 5

Last I heard mammoth had over 45' this year. Yes that is feet not inches. I think even considering this marks you as not experienced enough to consider yourself not a tourist.

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 546

This thread turned toxic. The guy was just asking for beta.

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 420

Here you go, bro.

This is a link to the Kirkwood base webcam that shows about 20' down in the meadow at 8600' feet, base of HD cables is about 8000':

kirkwood.com/mountain/web-c…

So, you may not be a fat ass tourist from Kansas visiting the park in August...but the fact that you don't realize how much snow is in the Sierra right now is pretty strongly noobish. :P

ps don't get annoyed at us. us old AF crusties just like going off about a great snow year. Its been epic and has to be seen to be believed....last I heard 70 roofs have collapsed in Mammoth, evacuations of condos etc...and that base is lower altitude than HD.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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