Half Dome Trail Hiker Reviews

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 ·  Kansas ·  June 27, 2024

It was very fun and challenging. There was a fair mix of shade and sun, and short and long switchbacks. The cables were anxiety provoking but totally worth it.

Great experience
 ·  Berkeley ·  July 5, 2022

This is one of the most beautiful and well-maintained trails as well as the most challenging I have ever done. I hiked up two days ago with my husband and two friends (all had been up at the top by the cables prior). We didn't feel safe going up for some reasons including the wind factor and the missing steps going up. The views throughout the entire trip were fantastic. It was hard not to take more breaks, just to take in all the beauty everywhere. We started at 5:30AM and took the Mist Trail up, and the John Muir trail down to avoid the moisture on the many Mist Trail steps.

Some absolute necessities we brought were: food, sunscreen, hiking shoes, lots of water, water purifier and knowledgeable and compassionate friends! Collapsable walking sticks would have helped tremendously!

Going down was certainly harder, and it was more common to slip on the sandy rocks, also hard to place footing when exhausted.

Make sure to show your permit, give preference to those on the descent of the trail and communicate when passing, also just to say hello! It's amazing to see people on this trail from all over the nation and world!

This hike taught me I am stronger than I think I am. The soreness and blisters are definitely worth it!

Harder than I read
 ·  Riverside ·  February 3, 2022

This hike was very difficult. I was not prepared for two things. Firstly, I was not prepared for the actual trail(s). There was only one point of the trail that was level ground and it was sand. The rest of the 16.5 mile hike was boulders, steps, rocks, etc.. Secondly, I was not prepared for the emotional strength needed. I had done small hikes, I understand time frame and distance. I didn't understand the mental strength needed to complete something so intense. Glad I did it, do not regret it, even with a fall and injury.

Epic Half Dome Hike
 ·  New Jersey ·  July 16, 2021

Everything I read about this hike was true, best if you practice the length of a hike prior to doing this hike. The 17 mile round trip will batter your feet and legs. Good thing I added a rest day the next day. I'm a marathon runner and it still wiped me out a bit. Initial site of the cables freak me out but as I got closer to the actual climb it seemed less intimidating. Take the cable climb slow and steady and before you know it you're at the top. I started at 5:30AM and was on top around 9:30AM. Only 4 were on cables going up. When I started to go down it had about 25 so it took longer to go down than up. The view on top was awesome. I found the return trip harder. Had to concentrate more on not slipping on rocks at the same time I was getting tired and dehydrated. Probably should have taken more time after the climb on top to take a longer break. Took me about 9 hours round trip which I hear is quick. It's a hike I will never forget. Good luck!

Not a hiker.
 ·  Santa Rosa, CA ·  May 29, 2021

If I had seen a picture of the hike before I went on it I would not have done it. My dance partner at the time asked me to go and I said yes and bought my first hiking boots ever. I was in my mid to late 40s, now my late 70s. I was nervous and a little scared, but did it anyway. We started on the valley floor and about 13 hours later were back there. I've just come back from visiting Yosemite with a friend and saw the hike from Glacier Point and was amazed at what I had done. I remember most of the hike up, but coming down I was so full of adrenaline I think I walked down the cables facing out....it seemed so easy. It was a milestone for me, If I could climb the Half Dome cables, I could do anything life threw at me.

Be prepared and you'll be fine!
 ·  Venice ·  December 26, 2020

This was on my life's bucket list and for my 50th birthday, with Covid limitations on park numbers and a stroke of very good luck, I was able to climb the Cables portion in April of 2020 with my husband and 14 year old daughter. First off, if you are super fit and comfortable with heights, there should be nothing stopping you--just do it! It's the most rewarding and challenging hike I've done...you just can't believe that this kind of extreme climb with such an exposed face and element of danger is open and supported by the park service! Love you, NPS! For those of you who were very fit at some point in their lives, considers themselves athletic and an avid hiker now but nearing middle age, and worried about heights, read on because that was me.


Unless you're super fit, I wouldn't recommend doing this in a 12 hour plus single day! Get a permit to camp overnight in Little Yosemite Valley (LYV) so you can leave with fresh legs and some food/coffee in your system and only have to hike 6.4 miles before you hit the cables portion. Better yet, hire a guide, like we did, who could give us her invaluable expert tips and experience to help guide us up that last cables portion of the hike. We left at 5AM to beat the crowds coming from the valley and so happy we did. The scariest part for me was having to wait for people passing on the cables as we climbed down. The park service doesn't recommend clipping in (it causes delays and if there's a slip, harm to those around the clipped in--generally frowned upon). So, leaving early helps you not to face those crowds while on the extreme parts of the rock face as you go up, at least!

Two must have items-- Sticky "approach" climbing shoes and sticky gloves! Here are the ones I got--DEX FIT NITRILE WORK GLOVES and LA SPORTIVA APPROACH SHOES I was not prepared mentally to be sliding on the climb up--after a while, I just embraced the fact that I'm going to slide, even with those good climbing shoes. It was a terrifying aspect of the hike for me though! The steps are really steep in some parts, where you have to pull with all your might with your arms and are going vertically straight up, like climbing a ladder at 8000 feet. Then when you land in between the planks, you will slip, causing a bit of panic. Luckily, there are those planks (maybe 25 of them) spaced sometimes 5 feet apart, sometimes 10, and so even though you're sliding, the sweet feeling of your foot arriving on the plank (going down, you can't really see them but feel around for them), is pure relief. If you always have one hand on the cables, preferably both, you'll be fine. Someone came with fuzzy mittens in front of us and was having the worst time and causing a traffic jam. The guy in front of me was kind enough to take his nubby gloves off and give them to the lady and sacrificed his own safety to stop her panic attack and get moving. Also, if you leave from LYV, you have the added bonus of carrying a very light pack. All you need is water, sunscreen and food. The climb up took less than 30 minutes so you really won't be taking anything out of that pack on the way up (coming down, with major traffic on the cables, it took over an hour).

Mental strategy was super important for me! I recommend just focusing on those wooden planks. Take one wooden plank at a time. Once you're at the first one, you know you only have 24 or so more to go! The middle section gets really steep so it's easy to panic there. Just focus on one plank at a time. If I can do it, having a fear of heights, you can too! Just know that some of those wooden planks are loose but have faith, they won't bust on you. Oh, and don't look around up there on the steepest parts if you are afraid of heights like I did--the teeny trees below and steep grade were made more obvious when you have a moment to stare at your precarious state. Keep the sight seeing for the end, when you're up at the top!

If you're going with a child, this will likely heighten the sense of scary for you. Not only are you holding on for dear life, you're constantly worried about your kid slipping, getting scared, dying in front of you. My 14 year old daughter was physically fine, being much more capable than me, but told me afterwards that she panicked when we had to stop on the way down for a large group going up.

Once up at the top, the view is incredible--worth every ounce of energy and petrified feelings! Enjoy and take lots of photos. There is one iconic shot you should look up before going that makes you appear dramatically about to fall off a cliff. Research location before you go because I regret not getting that iconic "on top of half dome" shot! Our guide brought her camping stove and made pancakes for us up top. Once in a lifetime and incredible experience! ... of course, for me, thinking about having to climb down made the time up and all the spectacular views a little bit dampened since I was worrying about how we were going to get down. I kept telling myself it'd be easier going down since gravity is there to help... which was kind of true, but mentally more tough because of the traffic jams and not being able to see (going backwards was the only way I could do it!).

All in all, this was an amazing experience, although pretty scary, wouldn't trade it for anything. Good luck and look at the statistics before you climb if you're worried--not hardly any deaths due to slippage in good weather! That thought will carry the scared all the way, like it did for me!

Enjoy all the beauty of Yosemite while you're on that hike. Wishing I could be there now...

 ·  Belgium ·  October 10, 2019

Did it alone 2 years ago. Very tough but well worth it.

Strenuous hike plus less signs to ascend Half Dome
 ·  San Diego California ·  September 28, 2019

The only major thing that I can add up was the signage. Ascending Half Dome, especially at early as 3am, was difficult enough due to not enough signs to follow. People rely on the trail but sometimes you don't know which way to go. They need to put up more signs. Its for people's safety as well. We got lost cause there was no sign at all and we started at 3am. Lucky for us there were two couples ascending as well. and if not for them we would have gotten lost in the wilderness. I think they should invest more on the signage. That's not too much, especially if we are talking about people's safety here. All in all, I had fun climbing the Half dome. It's an accomplishment.

Happy I Did This - But Once Was Enough
 ·  Portland, OR ·  July 22, 2019

The entire way down my group kept expressing surprise that we had hiked all of it on the way back up (we did an out and back along the waterfalls). It was an amazing trip- happy I did it and I don't feel the need to do it again.


1. Start at 4am. It was awesome hiking under the stars and in the dark. No crowds (you'll get into them on the way down) and it was great not seeing how steep or long the steps were at Vernal Falls. By the top of it, we no longer needed our headlamps and were able to walk in the dawn. It didn't get really hot until we were on our way back (we felt sorry for everyone we passed still heading up at that point). And, finally, you'll get your pictures of the waterfalls on the way back when the sun is in a better position anyway.

2. Pace yourself. This is intense: lots of really big steps (from the book Rangers: Confidential, I think the best description was "300-ottoman sized steps" for the first part of the trail) and altitude, which plays havoc from a cardio standpoint. Plus- this is basically 7 miles uphill, followed by 7 down. There is a slight break after Nevada Falls, but for the most part, this is NOT a flat hike at all. My group did 15.64 miles in 6hours;56 minutes (26:36 pace)-- the entire day took us 12 1/2 hours because of stops along the way. We took lots of little (1-2 minute) stops, a couple of longer stops to eat or shift gear, and then 1.5 hours on the subdome (as a break and then giving one person in our party time to hike the cables and back). We were exhausted at the end but overly so.

3. If you are going up the cables, bring gloves, rope and a carabineer (use the latter two to hold you on). Yes, it is a pain to constantly unclip/reclip (64 times) but it gives you a sense of safety. We can't believe more people didn't do this or that more people didn't recommend it.

It is a beautiful hike and a long day but absolutely worth it. Good luck!

%$@#! YOU HALF DOME!!!
 ·  Fresno ·  July 8, 2019

First it was like what an amazing waterfall. Then it was like these views are majestic. Then it became are you %$@#!ing kidding me!!! Why does the trail keep going up? Once we got to the cables, 4 of our party of 7 chose to stay behind. One of them went up a few steps, looked up, said %$@#! this, and came back down. After this very strenuous hike, I knew I was never %$@#!ing returning so as much as I wanted to remain behind, I forced myself up the cables. My iPhone was fully charged for this very moment so I can take tons of photos at the top of the dome. Once I got to the top, I was only able to take maybe 4-5 photos because I was %$@#!ing exhausted. As I descended the dome, I was too tired to be afraid. I sat for a drink feeling tired and sleepy then realized I still had 9 %$@#!ing miles to go before I can actually rest. Who %$@#!ing said this was a worthy hike? I %$@#!ing hate you right now. Don't even %$@#!ing talk to me. My ankles are sore, my legs are burning, my feet are %$@#!ing killing me. As soon as I get home, I am %$@#!ing unfriending you on Facebook. We made it back around 9pm. It was dark but we had flashlights.


In all seriousness, the trail is breathtaking and will give you the true beauty of Yosemite. Once you have completed this trail, it gives you confidence that you can conquer anything. The only regret I have doing this trail is that... none. It was worth every minute of my time, every ounce of energy used and every pain I had endured. Don't put this trail on your bucket list, just %$@#!ing do it.

Half Dome less challenging
 ·  Virginia ·  April 17, 2019

Each time that I climbed it was from Little Yosemite Valley. These were prior to when permits were required. The hike being shorter from here means beating the crowds & being off the summit by early afternoon. This makes it a muliday backpack & permits are required. The hike is hard, but not dangerous if the weather is good & one is not acrophobic. Being in very good physical shape is necessary; I was over 60 the last time I did it. You CAN do it, if you are determined.

Not for those with fear of heights
 ·  45403 ·  April 4, 2019

Wish I had found this page before hiking it, but I always do research. Hiked it back in 2001 when I was 51 and am really glad I did. I've hiked the Grand Canyon 5 times (main trails) which I love, but this offers a different experience. My research told our group to camp at Little Yosemite and that's great advice, especially if you're not an experienced hiker and not in peak shape. And, from that camp leave EARLY in the morning. When we got to the cables the ladies left the 3 of us men to get to the top. It IS strenuous and while you don't have to be an Olympic athlete, it is still quite the challenge. I almost balked at how steep it is, but just didn't look back until I reached a point where I knew I would want to turn back. Not so bad really, once you get used to it.

BRING GLOVES. Many a pair left at the bottom, but better to get some light-weight, but sturdy gloves that fit well. Use a good steady pace - rule I learned in the Canyon was that if you are breathing so hard you can't talk, you're going too fast. The Canyon is obviously long with many outlooks but this is unique and I'd compare it with Angel's Landing in Zion (I actually did balk at that last portion of that hike, but went back twice and completed it) This hike isn't as terrifying as the last portion of Angel's Landing, but it IS steep and though you may end up balking once you get to the cables, the views on the way up and back are worth even getting to that point, IMO.

If you've got the time, definitely do this hike and I strongly advise camping at Little Yosemite. If you do plan on doing it in one day start VERY early. Thanks again for this great site - very well done and user friendly with nice illustrations. Happy hiking!

Great experience - ran most of it
 ·  Detroit area ·  February 27, 2019

Bucket-list type experience! I thoroughly enjoyed the hike/run and was thoroughly exhausted after I finished it. I started right at sunrise and made it up in just over 2 hours including stops for taking some pics/videos (I'm not bragging - just for reference I was in sub 1:20 half marathon shape but don't typically run on trails). Since it was early October, it was crisp and cool (around 40 degrees F). I was overdressed and didn't need too much water since it wasn't hot. If you're crazy like me and try to run it, take your time at the top and enjoy the view and the accomplishment. The way down hurt more than the way up, even though gravity was helping. There are a lot of gravel covered steps and I'm sure you could slip and twist an ankle pretty easily. I also had a bit of altitude sickness/nausea at the top. I thought coming down the cables was scarier and more slippery than going up. Also, I had problems staying on the trail going up the sub-dome, but no issues going back down it. I didn't see any bears, but I'm OK with that...I did see a mountain lion during the 5 a.m. drive into the park - thankfully I was in my car going 40 mph with the high beams on!

Amazing experience, Highly Recommend
 ·  San Francisco ·  August 30, 2018

I finished the Half Dome hike on a weekday in late August when the park was mostly empty compared to peak season. The hike itself was amazing and the sense of accomplishment from finishing it was truly fantastic. I will say though that it requires a good amount of planning to successfully summit to the top. It was extremely helpful to have the map of the trail downloaded to my phone so I could see how much further I had to go until the next waypoint. I also found hiking poles to be extremely helpful climbing up the subdome. For water I found a water purifier extremely useful in reducing bulk. The main thing which helped along the hike was researching each phase of the hike and knowing what to expect. Yosemite Hikes was extremely helpful for doing that. Overall I think many people can do the hike with enough preparation and training.

3 day trip with 6 year old son
 ·  August 14, 2017

In 1963 my son David and I each put on our backpacks at the Mono Meadows trailhead on the Glacier Point road. First night at Mono Meadows. Second night at Illilouette Falls. Next day we dropped our packs at Nevada Falls and hiked to Half Dome. I chickened out when he could no longer reach the cables. Then we hiked down to the valley - about 20 miles that day with packs on our backs most of the day - and this when he was only 6! But we didn't go all the way to the top. I had before and he has many times since.

Except for the climb out of the valley (up to Nevada Falls) and the last little bit up Half Dome, this isn't a very challenging hike - but those two exceptions easily make up for the ease of the easy parts. And yes - the view from the top was TERRIFIC! And the scenery in the valley of the Merced above Nevada falls was wonderful. I hope it's still true.

first hiking trip
 ·  modesto ca ·  February 12, 2017

I spent the night at the backpackers camp in the valley, then got up at 4am and started my hike. When I got to the bridge at Vernal Falls I took the JMT with the intent of reaching Nevada Falls at the top. As I was hiking I found a sign that read shortcut. I thought it was a shortcut to Nevada Falls but it turned out that the trail spit me out at the top of Vernal Falls (not much of a shortcut), so I ended up having to hike up the very steep and strenuous trail to Nevada Falls, which is what I was trying to avoid by taking the JMT. It was still a thrill to be so close to the falls as they were gushing next to the trail. As I reached the top there was a bridge that spanned the falls; it was a breathtaking view and very exciting.

I continued my hike to Little Yosemite Valley where I made camp, had lunch, and slept. I got up at 2am the next morning and started my hike to Half Dome, reaching the dome just as the sun broke over the horizon. I have to say that my first time seeing Half Dome up close was both exciting and intimidating. I opted to tether myself to the cables on my ascent to the top. The climb did require some upper body strength. The view from the top is breathtaking and inspiring and a lot larger than I thought it would be. This is a memory I will always carry with me and it inspired me to do more hiking.

The trail of a lifetime
 ·  Concord, CA ·  February 7, 2017

The Half Dome hike is not a case of false advertising. People say "you can walk to the top? Sheesh, that must be tough!" Or, "Wow, I gotta try this!" Ignorant people still have an accurate idea about how tough this trail is; it's almost a vertical mile from bottom to top, 15+ miles long, and that naturally weeds out those who just can't do it. And for those who can do it, it's a memory they'll take with them for a lifetime. If you make it to the top and back in one day, then you have really accomplished something.

Having done the trial - er, *trail* (in this case, the misspelling works too!), I divide it into five parts:

1. Happy Isles to the top of Nevada Falls. Either you go the Panorama Trail, with its gorgeous views but extra mile; or you go the Mist Trail, up-close and personal with two major waterfalls but it's steep and hard on the knees.

2. Top of Nevada Falls to bottom of Half Dome: starts as an easy jaunt, becoming steeper toward the end, and the views of the Yosemite wilderness push you on.

3. The toughest part. You climb a dome with gravelly, slippery steps, and you wonder if you're lost, knowing that one slip and you die. Then come the infamous cables, which are actually steeper than the pictures let on. After 100 feet, I looked to my right, saw Tenaya Canyon blocked by a 48-degree granite wall, and got even more sober about this climb. Each of my legs cramped twice on this part. The top? Breathtaking. 360-degree view. Worth it all. Great crowd, congratulating each other for making it to the top.

4. The easiest part. To go down the cables, I slid down, gripping the cable so that I felt it slip through my hands, ready to grip tightly to stop myself, aiming for the wood between the poles to stop the momentum and keep in control. Only took me 5 minutes to come down safely. DO NOT GO DOWN OUTSIDE THE CABLES. Then an easy walk for several miles, no exertion needed, all the way to the top of Nevada Falls.

5. The second-toughest part, from the top of Nevada Falls to the end. Now your legs don't want to move, and your knees give out, the waterfalls and view don't help, and only sheer willpower keeps you going. Happy Isles never looked so good.

My stats: Start at 7:00, end at 4:45, includes one hour at the top of the rock and no wait at the cables. Age 40, done on a Thursday in September before the permit system went in.

If you think you're up for it, then DO IT.

The Essence of what hiking is all about
 ·  Indiana ·  January 1, 2017

Four of us hiked from Lower Pines Campground on October 3rd. We left about 5:30 am with headlamps showing the way. It was cold, probably in the low 30's, but not a problem because you begin climbing steeply on the Mist Trail within 20 minutes or so and warm up quickly. Climbing up and around both waterfalls was strenuous but the scenery was spectacular by any standard.

After topping out above Nevada Falls, the trail becomes mostly flat along the Merced for over a mile, then turns left into the forest and begins ascending again virtually all the way to subdome. You will periodically begin to spot the brooding hulk of Half Dome high above, feeling a bit of excitement and perhaps a twinge of fear as well if it's your first time. We reached sub dome after 4 hours from the campground, rested for a bit and then continued on. The ascent of sub dome is very exposed in places, just take your time, watch your footing, and enjoy the adventure! At the top it's solid rock of course, but plenty of places to stretch out and rehydrate/eat before you tackle the cables. On our particular day it was cold and beginning to snow when we began the cable ascent. The cables are very straightforward and direct. Keep control of your mind and just keep moving upward. The reward awaiting you at the top is stupendous!! I walked over to the edge and peered over at Yosemite Valley 9,000 ft below! Good night what a hike and what an adventure!

The Half Dome hike and climb encompasses everything that a hike should be: great challenge, beautiful scenery, fantastic camaraderie, and a feeling of accomplishment when it's over that will last a lifetime. After researching and reading numerous reviews prior to our hike, I would say that the hike was less demanding than I thought it would be. I'm 60 and we could have been back in camp in 10 hours if we would have wanted to. Since it was cold I found I only needed about 2 qt. of water for the day, but gauge that according to weather on your attempt. By all means do this hike!

 ·  San Bernardino, CA ·  September 23, 2016

This hike is definitely hard, but so rewarding! You definitely feel like you're on top of the world, the views are amazing! I wore hiking boots and the rock was still slippery in some areas. Must have good rubber grip gloves. I would definitely say no running shoes in my opinion. I still can't believe I made it up there, as I am afraid of heights! The wood pieces definitely help you take breaks along the way. I strongly recommend this hike but it's not for everyone. It's an experience I will never forget! Ohh and we started our hike @ 4:00 am from half dome village in the dark, you want to get up there as fast as possible because the cables can get crowded and to me that makes it harder having to wait for people to move who are in front of you.

Difficult but Thrilling
 ·  Mill Valley, CA ·  September 4, 2016

I'm 12 years old and went all the way up. The cables are definitely doable for most people. One of the hardest parts is actually climbing the Subdome. You have to make your own trail for the top half. It should take at most 7 hours to get to the top. If it takes any longer you should turn around. If I had to rate the difficulty of this hike I would rate it 9/10.

emotional, challenging, thrilling, bonding, amazing
 ·  San Jose, CA ·  August 17, 2016

I'm hoping our group will get permits this year but if not we will hike other hikes. This will be my 7th hike and I really enjoy taking new people who have never been or wouldn't think to do this on their own.

My suggestions:

Start early, this hike is not for someone who is a couch potato because it is a long day. The average person takes 10-12 hours RT. Wear hiking boots/shoes with good tread, no tennis shoes because you will slip on loose gravel at the sub-dome and on the cables. Bring plenty of water and also partly electrolyes to replace the salt you will lose with sweating. It helps you not to cramp. Take breaks, it's not a race! Eat and drink when you take your break to give you energy and so you won't get dehydrated. {{ALWAYS}} pack a flashlight, head lamp and extra batteries!!! You never know what kind of accidents will happen and you need to be prepared, ex: sprain ankle... Bring a light sweater in case it gets cold, work gloves are the best for the cables, extra socks to change at the top, plenty of food to snack on and a lunch for the top of the dome. Take pics and video. I like to interview people along the way and ask them why they are hiking HD and where they are from. It makes it a little more fun along the way. If you have bad knees, bring a walking stick or two for the way down you will really feel it on your knees!!! Also, avoid Mist Trail. It will do a number on your knees like it did mine a couple of times. Pick up your trash people!!!! Nothing more annoying than seeing trash up there where it doesn't belong. :-/

Here's some words some of the ladies used to describe their Half Dome experience:

Half Dome

commit, friendship, goal, beauty, exhilarating

emotional, challenging, thrilling, bonding, amazing

monumental, spiritual, communal, inspirational, mother earth

peaceful, transcending, breathtaking, glorious, adventure

Have a great time and be safe!

The most rewarding hike you will ever go on. October 2015
 ·  Anaheim, CA ·  July 24, 2016

There are so many words to describe this hike. Half Dome Trail is the most incredible and rewarding hike I have done to date. From start to finish this hike is just the ultimate hike. I hiked in early October 2015 right before the Cables went down. It is an excellent time to go where obtaining a permit is much easier than in the summer time. As you climb higher and higher the views get more rewarding until suddenly you are looking down into Yosemite Valley thousands of feet below you. The Half Dome Cables are not the only incredible difficult part of the hike, the switchbacks at high elevation right before the cables are pretty demanding on the body. Overall an incredible hike and I cannot wait to get a permit again to climb up this beast!

1956 Memories
 ·  Vancouver WA ·  July 23, 2016

I did this hike with my father in 1956. We had a brand new '56 Chevy station wagon so I remember the date. But here it is: after we passed Nevada falls we were the only two on the trail. We were the only two on the cables. We were the only two on top until we were joined by 4 college men. Turned out they saved my father's life. He got violently sick above Little Yosemite Valley and got progressively worse as we descended. Near the bottom ov LYV the 4 men caught up with us. My father could no longer stand let alone walk. They picked him up and carried him to the parking lot. When he realized where he was he asked to be put down and stood up. He did not want my mother to see him in such condition. They did as he asked and vanished from view. I have no idea who they were or where they went, but I will be forever thankful that our paths in life crossed at that critical juncture for my father. We were not prepared in the slightest. Little food little water! Amazing he survived thanks to unconditional help.

July 14 climb: family of 4
 ·  Michigan ·  July 20, 2016

This was a 5 star hike- but for more personal reasons. There are better views in the park: think about it- every great viewpoint almost centers in Half Dome. At Taft Point you can dangle your legs off the cliff...Sentinel Dome is a short hike with a great view of Half Dome- heck even Glacier Point or Olmsted Point and Tunnel View are worth stopping and soaking up the scenery.

That said- Half Dome is different. It's a reward, an accomplishment, an "I Can do anything if I believe in myself" feeling you can draw upon for the rest of your life.


1. Start early: our family of 4 (including an 11 year old boy and 13 year old girl) started the trail at 4:30AM. If we were to do it again- we might consider starting at 4:00AM. Use a flashlight mounted to your head- and you are good to go. We actually enjoyed hiking in the dark- it was cool and we never saw the stairs next to Vernal Falls looming above.

2. Take a slow pace- you will feel great to start, but as the saying goes "it's a Marathon, not a Sprint". We stopped several times to take pictures and take a quick blow- we were thankful we did. We still arrived before 11:30 and had the cables almost to ourselves.

3. Drink more water than you think you'll need and carry even more. We took 12 liters with us- had a water filtrator, water tablets and a life straw. It was 57 when we started, but our return trip featured 98 degrees in the upper valley. Don't get caught without water. We helped a couple who under-estimated the amount of water needed by filtering some from the Merced River for them. I highly suggest a water-bladder that is carried in your backpack and allows you to drink while you go.

4. Have good hiking shoes or boots with traction. Half Dome was bone dry and not a single cloud was ever seen- but in the more steep sections of the cables the granite has virtually no grip. You will need some upper body strength to make it- but no steroids needed!

5. Wear rubber gloves- not garden gloves. You can get a pair for next to nothing and your hands will thank you. There was a young lady in her 20's that used her bare hands to get up- small cuts and blisters had already ruined her hands and she still needed to get down.

6. On the cables, be respectful. Stay to your right, move one board up or down at a time. It gives your feet a place to stand and your hands a break.

7. Eat lunch at the top, high five each other and know the world can be conquered by you.

Our kids did amazing. They were not scared and loved the cables- we all did. Know your limits, and if taking your kids as we did, listen to them. If they are skeptical- don't scare them or put them in position to fail. We watched several videos, by the park and others- so we knew what to expect.

8. The trip down the cables is MUCH EASIER- and you will find most go backward and look at their feet. This was the strategy we used.

You will be tired at the end and encounter heat (sometimes extreme heat) coming down. Have water and sunscreen- take breaks and enjoy your company. My family did- and we couldn't be happier.

Good Luck!


Did this walk in 1985, gonna go again in 2017
 ·  Arizona ·  June 4, 2016

I did this walk back in May of 1985... I started at Happy isles at 6 am... The walk up the falls was incredible... so beautiful... then things get smoother at Little Yosemite Valley. When you get to the cables, this is the appropriate time for your "panic attack", because half way UP is a really BAD time for "A Panic Attack" ( I was coming down after a fabulous lunch over the Valley, and a lady was panicking half way UP, she did have friends assisting. But really, make your choice at the bottom of the cables). I finished my walk about 7pm. My feet were sore, but my soul was ecstatic. The MOST beautiful WALK ever. NOT Easy, BUT Very WORTH THE EFFORT.

Best Hike in Yosemite
 ·  Winters, CA ·  December 24, 2015

Definitely a tough hike. Well worth it. Make sure you bring lots of water and food!!! The view from the top of half dome is the most beautiful view I've ever seen!!! Bring a good pair of gloves for going up the cables and on the way back it is nice to cool off your feet at the top of Nevada Falls (just be very careful as the granite is slippery). This is the best hike in Yosemite I have ever done.

The Video is right on point!
 ·  Dumfries Virginia ·  October 13, 2015

This video is right on point. You must be in decent (not superman, but not couch potato) shape, and plan for the full day. You must start as early as you can, the lower part of the hike is reasonable with headlamps and quality flashlight. You want to hit the falls in daylight, too dangerous in the dark, but the early start will set you up for success. We stayed in curry village and first warning, the snack bars do not open until 6 am. If you wait to eat breakfast there, you will not have enough time for the hike up and back, so plan to get a quality breakfast on your own, you will need the energy. Bring enough water, a gallon per person is recommended, but let me tell you it won't be enough. There are a couple of places to fill up, make sure you leave each of the full of water. Bring a good quantity of trail snacks and food. You can take a lunch break, but don't waste too mush time on the way up or you will be hiking down in the dark. There are discarded gloves to use to climb the cables, (gloves are a necessity!), but I recommend bringing your own gloves.

Watch your time on top, it is so beautiful it is easy to lose sight of the fact that it is a long way down. Plan to take at least an hour more on the trail back as you took on the trail up. You will be tired and the adrenaline from anticipating the summit will wear off. You can plan the last mile in the dark so headlamps and flashlights will again be needed. Once you get back to the village, watch the time there also as the restaurants used to close at 9pm, and you are going to want a nice meal. The lure of a hot shower will insure that you will miss chow! (The wife and I destroyed a large pizza between the two of us). Finally plan a good night's sleep before you try to drive any distance, you are going to be tired; very happy but tired!

Half Dome is a Whole Experience
 ·  Huntington, Indiana ·  August 29, 2015

My June 2015 visit marked my third trip to Yosemite. My family and I were only at the park for two days, but we managed to hike Upper Yosemite Falls the first day, followed by the unsurpassed hike to Half Dome on our second day. We all actually arrived without a permit, having failed to be chosen in the lottery back in March then again in the lottery two days before the day we hiked. My dad and brother ended up scoring two permits during our hike to Upper Yosemite (from hikers who decided they wouldn't go), and I got mine from a group at the top of Nevada Fall - on the way to Half Dome!

The Mist Trail is brutal on the knees and quads, yet the views are spectacular. Vernal and Nevada Falls were more sparse than they had been the previous years I visited due to the drought, but they were still beautiful. A stretch of trail after the top of Nevada Fall actually goes back downhill for a while until you come to Little Yosemite Valley. This stretch offers a nice reprieve from the granite steps, but it offers little shade. Be sure to keep your eyes open for the back of Half Dome on your left. It looks a little less intimidating from this side! After the valley, the trail continues for a while through wooded trails until you come to the subdome.

Here's where the panic set in. Leading up to the trip, I would Google pictures of the cables to desensitize myself from the fear that creeped in every time I saw that last stretch to the top. My palms are actually sweating as I type this. I was very unprepared for the ascent up the subdome. The trail here basically feels like granite steps were chiseled out of the side of the rock. If you fall here, it would be nasty. I took several breaks to hug the side of the rock, breathing deeply and psyching myself up to finish. Many hikers coming down offered great words of encouragement and explained that the subdome was the worst part for them too, and if you can get up the subdome, you would have no problem on the cables.

This was not the case for me. I finally got to the top of the subdome and walked toward the cables. There were several times that I thought about turning back. Ultimately, I knew that I wanted to finish. So I went up the cables, one 2x4 at a time. The wooden boards are placed approximately 10 feet apart, unless some are missing, which there were. I knew I'd need to use plenty of upper body strength to get up the cables, but I was unprepared for just how much strength was required. I would suggest bridling up strength in your triceps and back muscles before you attempt the cables.

It took a good half hour or longer for me to scale the cables. Once on top, the views continue to be spectacular. You get an opportunity to see just how large Yosemite National Park is. The mountains seem to go on forever. If you find yourself wavering between finishing the hike to the top or heading back down due to fear, take a deep breath (or 50) and get yourself up to the top. It is worth it!

Heading down, I would suggest going backward and holding on to both cables. Heading down wasn't as scary as heading up, but it still requires focus and strength. The rest of the trip down is quite jarring and hard on knees and toes.

I told myself that I was proud to have completed this hike but I'd never do it again. A few days later, I couldn't stop going through the pictures I had taken of the hike, and today I admit that I can't wait to go back and do it again.

Half Dome Review
 ·  Plymouth MN ·  August 10, 2015

The Half Dome hike was fantastic and as good as advertised! If you are pondering it, then go for it! Some of the reviews below really gave me pause, but in hind-site, I think some were a bit… um… emotional?

My stats:

1. Left Mist trailhead at 7 am with my 16 year old son (I am 48). We are in good shape but are not crazy health nuts.

2. Took lots of pictures and video on the way up.

3. Made it to the top of Half Dome by noon.

4. Left Half Dome at 1 pm and was down at trailhead (via Muir trail option) by 5:15 pm.

5. Even with the permit system, the cables were congested and we spent ~1 hour in each direction on them (mostly waiting).

6. Consumed 4 liters of water, 1 PB&J sandwich, and 3 Clif bars (my son was the same except he had 5 Clif bars).


1. Sub-dome “stair case” was not as treacherous as I thought. It was tough and you need to concentrate, but you were not staring down at crazy drop-offs. It was sane.

2. The “scramble” above the sub-dome was fairly obvious and was not difficult compared to the sub-dome.

3. The cables were the real deal – definitely took some getting used to.

4. I consumed 2 liters of water by the time I reached the summit. Surprisingly, I drank just as much during the descent.

5. There were plenty of people doing this in sneakers, but I fully recommend hiking boots.

6. Gloves are nice to have (I used leather work gloves) and they held up fine (no signs of getting beat up from the cables).

7. As I am sure most of us over 40 would agree, the descent is harder on the body that the ascent. For me, it is my feet and my proneness to blistering.

By far, the most enjoyable aspect of the hike was doing something this amazing with my oldest son. It will be a bonding experience with whomever you choose to do this with.



Top of my bucket List
 ·  Vancouver ·  July 24, 2015

I am now 50 years old. I did this climb twice, at 25 and 27.

There were no permits back then, just cables, a sign that warned not to climb if thunderstorms were in the area, and a small pile of gloves.

The first tIme I went up with a girlfriend. we stayed overnight on top. I was trying to figure out a way to get the park services to charter in an emergency helicopter to get me back down in the morning.

There were many pockets of rocks to set up camp in. In the end, I watched the sky move around me, like looking through a magic kid calideiscope glass. (spelled wrong I know)

Second time was with a mate of mine, also stayed on top. We had the whole place to ourselves. MUCH MORE relaxed. Ended up (after the cable section) RUNNING down the mountain. Used muscles not ever used, and couldn't walk for a week after.

This IS the bucket list climb. I have promised my 8 year son that in 10 years (me 60) we will do this together.

I can't wait.

Half Dome I love you.

Shawn Dewar

My Half Dome Hike
 ·  Palos Verdes, California ·  July 1, 2015

In the past two score of years, I have visited Yosemite National Park numerous times. My initial visit was back in 1975 when I first came to this country as a foreign student. I always admired the ancient giant sequoias, the towering waterfalls, the tranquility of the High Sierras, the variety of wildlife, and the great number of species living in their natural habitats nurtured by the grand meadows and vast wilderness acreages in Yosemite.

Looking up from the Yosemite valley, rising 8800 feet above sea level, lies the gigantic and majestic granite, the Half Dome of Yosemite. Every time I visited Yosemite, I would gaze at this enormous granite statue carved by nature and look up at the peak of Half Dome. I made a pledge that one day I would look down from the peak of Half Dome to have a panoramic view of the Yosemite Valley and High Sierra 5000 feet below.

Forty years had passed by since my first visit to Yosemite, and my obsession to get to the peak of Half Dome grew stronger. After months of physical training to fine tune my aging body, I was ready to challenge myself to conquer this strenuous 16 mile, 12 to 13 hour round trip hike to the peak of Half Dome. On June 29, 2015, I, along with my daughter and two friends, woke up at 4:45am, drove to the trail head of Mist trail at Happy Isles at 6:25am. We hiked to Vernal Fall, passed Nevada Fall, merged to John Muir Trail and arrived Sub Dome at noon. I had hiked to the peaks of Mount San Antonio, Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio in the past several months, but none of these hikes prepared me enough for this physically and mentally challenging Sub Dome hike uphill struggle. Right after the Sub Dome, in front of us was the 400 foot famous (or infamous) Half Dome Cable. After hiking these exhausting 8 miles for 7 hours, with 4800 feet of elevation gain and the Cable climb, and also after tens of memorable moments and picturesque scenic images were captured, we reached the Half Dome summit at 1:25pm. We had a spectacular bird's eye view from the peak looking down at the Yosemite Valley for the very first time. The view was so magnificent and breathtaking that I wished we could've stayed for hours to embrace ourselves in the beautiful scenery and the harmony of nature upon the summit, but our return hike back to the trailhead was still 6 grueling hours away, miles of slippery steep down hill granite slopes and steps ahead, and there was a thunderstorm approaching, so we had to move on. Before we left, I posted a picture at the Diving Board of Half Dome, as a reminder that I was here.

The Half Dome Hike left me with many beautiful memories and wonderful experiences, it rejuvenated my consciousness that persistence and commitment, nature and beauty, wilderness and adventure have a place in my life.

 ·  San Francisco, CA ·  June 22, 2015

This hike is beautiful and breathtaking, to say the least! Although it has been over 20 years since I did this route, it was congested back then and no permits needed but you do have to fight the crowd! Start very early before the sun rises and the eight-hour hike up is well worth the trip and going down only takes two hours!! You do need to do this before you die!!! Hopefully I can get on the raffle to get the permit this time so I can go again! Not much changed in the valley but the bus and certain kiosks, since Yosemite has been here for over 100 million years!!

newbie 2014
 ·  Modesto ·  June 22, 2015

2014 was my first time doing Half Dome. I hiked from the valley floor to Little Yosemite Valley, stayed the night and got up at 2 a.m., ate breakfast and was on the trail to Half Dome by 3 a.m. I have to say that once I got to the cables my adrenaline started to really flow. Once at the top I felt as though I had accomplished something. My next trip is in 2 days, June 24th, 2015, with 2 friends from work who have never hiked before but have been training for the hike.

Things I wish I fully understood before doing this hike.
 ·  Cardiff ·  June 21, 2015

1. This is NOT a normal hike. I have hiked a lot. I like challenging hikes and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing them. This is MORE than that. The Half Dome Cable Hike is on just about every "Most Dangerous Hikes in the World" list that you can find. Had I thought to Google that, I would have known.

2. You need a permit. I am accustomed to permits being required for overnights on a trail . . not day use. You always need a permit to hike Half Dome and I'm told this is done by a lottery and all spots are gone in a hot minute.

3. If you don't have a permit, Go anyway. This hike is SO challenging and SO terrifying that many people just drop out en route. Ask groups along the way if they have space . . eventually you WILL find a free spot.

4. Start early. Like at Yosemite Valley Trailhead well before 7 am. 6 is good. 5 would NOT be too early.

5. Oh yeah, "Mist Trail" is dangerous too. This is 1 of the 2 ways to get up to Half Dome (you can skip most of it by going up John Muir trail before the 2 trails merge) - and it is ALSO on many lists of "Most Dangerous Hikes" in the world. It's beautiful to hike alongside Vernal Falls on this trail . . but it's also steep and wet and slippery . . including a ledge shimmy that is only slightly muted by a metal railing. We took a group of kids some as young as 7 up this trail before we understood what was entailed.

6. Bring as much water as you can carry. For full day hikes I normally bring 2 liters. 4 wouldn't have been enough for this. As much as you can carry. You will need it.

7. Bring more food than normal. 3x whatever you would normally bring. You'll need the extra fuel. Quick energy stuff. Nothing hard to digest.

8. Reapply sunscreen often. 2x was NOT enough. You are sweating off more than you think. Even if it claims to be "sweatproof". And you are VERY sun exposed out on that granite . .

9. Wide brimmed sun hat is essential. Not a baseball cap. Wide brim. You won't win a fashion contest but you will be more comfortable. Read #8. It's almost impossible to fully protect face/neck without it.

10. Hiking Boots can mean difference between life . .and not life. The granite is very smooth and slippery. If anyone has spilled their water bottle, forget about it. You need all the tread and traction you can get when you are clinging for dear life on to those cables.

11. Granite Staircase at Quarter Dome??? Before you even reach the cables you have to complete the stairmaster from hell on an extremely vertical and sheer granite stair case. Could be the most physically difficult part of your day. NOT a good place to get dizzy . . if you know what I mean.

12. Staircase ends . . . and then what?? Good question. There is a dome of slippery granite that you need to ascend like spiderman on a route that is not altogether obvious. Once you scramble up the top of this, you can see the start of cables below.

13. Cables are VERY STEEP. I watched videos of the cables many times. It did not capture how very very very steep the cable ascent is. Upper body strength is a must - if your arms give out it would not end well.

14. Cables are mentally terrifying. There. I said it. I did NOT appreciate this at all until I was in the middle of it. You are literally clinging to the slick slide of a mountain and everything better go exactly to plan. Anything can happen if you panic. What if someone else panics? What if you slip. What if someone else slips? There are many variables that can not be controlled for. Go there knowing this.

15. Cable Gloves are essential. Don't repurpose other gloves. Need special cable gloves. Bought mine for less than $4 at Yosemite store. On those cables you are not infrequently relying on those gloves to hold you.

16. Don't look to right or left on way up/down. This is terrifying as you get the full sense of how perilous your situation is if something goes wrong. Look straight in front of you and up on the ascent - in front of you and below on descent.

17. Poles seem shaky. Metal poles hold cables. 2x4s are laid across metal poles every 10 feet or so. You rest on these 2x4s between poles. The 2x4s are shaky. You can move them. The metal poles can be pulled out of the granite entirely I think. I have no idea how likely this is but if you let yourself think about it too much you can really undermine your mental toughness . . and you need to stay mentally tough to do this.

18. After all that work, you'll want to leave the top of Half Dome immediately. Maybe not everyone. But I certainly did. I was unnerved to say the least.

19. Descending facing mountain (like going down a ladder) was easier for me.

20. Once off the Cables, nothing else on the Mountain scared me anymore. Not the steep granite staircase, not slippery vernal falls portion of hike. Nothing.

21. Take John Muir trail back (not Vernal Falls). Its longer but not as steep and slippery and just basically easier on your fatigued body.

22. DO. NOT. TAKE. CHILDREN. ON. THIS. HIKE. I say this having done this hike with my almost 13 year old who was not afraid at all and had no physical problem on any of the hike. That said - my anxiety was off the charts having him with me. My 10 year old wanted to go and I am SOOOO glad I did not allow her to come along. There are just too many judgment calls to be made that could be so dangerous.

23. You will be immensely proud of yourself for having done this . . .and you probably will never ever want to do it again.

Long Day Hike - Start Early
 ·  Glen Ridge, NJ ·  June 14, 2015

Fantastic day hike. It took us 11 hours round trip on a hot (95+) late July day. Wear a hat and sunscreen! We took the Mist Trail up and the John Muir Trail down (OK, we were tired). The Muir Trail was easier, but longer and at a time of day when we wanted to be done. I would describe our speed as average. We passed some people, and some people passed us. No prolonged stops. Just snacks, water, take in a view etc. I found the sub dome (lots of steps) to be visually challenging going up because the rock slopes away from you to the right, left, and ahead. Where does it end? But it ends soon enough and the cables await. Take your time and wear decent gloves. Cheap cloth gardening gloves really won't cut it. Leather palmed work gloves with good grip were perfect. Don't go crazy on the gloves. The trip down the sub dome was a piece of cake. We each went through 2.5 liters of water on the hike. It's great fun to return to the valley floor after having been to the top of it all. So I went and bought a Half Dome tee shirt.

 ·  Florida ·  December 23, 2014

The short of it: bring as much water as you can, and then plan on filtering more from the river. The top of Half Dome is like nothing else, but the slog up (in some parts) may very well kill you if you're not in top shape.

We applied for the permit lottery and didn't get it, but did get the very first daily lottery we tried for (and this was in the middle of July, so not exactly off-season). I'd highly advise booking the trip even if your main goal was to hike Half Dome but you didn't get the yearly lottery.

We stayed in Curry Village, which tacked on a mile or two of walking to the start and end of the hike, and left just before sunrise. Everything was largely fine and beautiful until we hit the top of Nevada Falls. Just know this: the horse trail merges for a bit with the hiking trail and it can get smelly. That, along with the sandy part of the trail along the river in Little Yosemite Valley, were unexpected. The only part of this hike I wasn't fond of was the switchbacks in the forest after making a left past the campground. Not very exciting, but in some parts (like where the trails forks for Clouds Rest) beautiful.

Be warned: Time is not your friend once you reach the subdome. It's rough going just to get to the top of the subdome, and that's before you hit the cables. Even later in the day, it still took about 1.5 hours from starting the cables to getting back to the subdome, and that's with an absolute minimum of time spent at the top. Another warning: thunderstorms. I was almost to the top of the cables when I heard thunder. I finished the ascent, took a couple of photos and immediately turned around. The rain started falling just as I hit the bottom of the subdome, and there were still many, many people on Half Dome and the subdome when I left—you don't want to be near either in rain or thunder. The slick granite on both makes for treacherous conditions even in nice weather. Another tip: buy rubber gloves for the cables. I saw people with leather and gardening gloves struggling, but I had no issues on the cables with rubber grip gloves ($10 on Amazon) and some sturdy hiking boots.

We took an hour or two longer than the average to make the hike, both of us being from coastal regions and not wanting to push it too hard on the biggest hike of the trip, but still made it down in time to eat at Curry Village's pizza deck. Wouldn't trade this hike for the world, but maybe next time I'd like to skip the hike down and paraglide off the top and down to the Valley meadows...

Hike of a lifetime, BUT BRING WATER
 ·  Seattle ·  October 1, 2014

I did this hike on August 2nd, 2013 at the tender age of 17, and I am almost certain that it was the peak of my life. The mix of adrenaline, satisfaction, and bewilderment is nearly unmatchable. I, being young (stubborn), did not start the hike until 10:00 am. I reached the top at about 1:00 pm. The subdome is no joke. Steep, narrow, granite stairs lead you up the perilous face and onto the home stretch before the cables. That stretch is terrifyingly slick and steep, so be careful. I also made the mistake of only bringing five water bottles, all of which I consumed on my way up, making the cables somewhat hellish, and my left leg was cramping. I made it down at 5:30 pm. Lesson is: Bring water and shoes with grip, and prepare for the time of your life.

 ·  San Francisco, CA ·  September 30, 2014

Half Dome has been on my RADAR for few years. It appeals to the outdoor ENTHUSIASTS and adventurous SOULS.

From the valley floor, it looks like a big DOME spliced in half, leaving an exposed face GAZING down at Yosemite Valley. This glacially-polished GRANITE dominates the park's skyline. A 16 to 18 miles roundtrip hike, from the valley to the top, with STRENUOUS 4,800 ft. elevation gain, 8,800 ft. above sea level.

We had missed the early window for the summer. So we had to settle for the late season EXPEDITION, before they take the cables down.

We started before DAWN to minimize our sun exposure and be back before dark. The anxiety coupled with excitement was palpable. A mile hike from HAPPY ISLES trailhead is a paved ramp that leads up to the VERNAL FALLS Footbridge.

We chose the longer, scenic JOHN MUIR trail, rather than the steeper and notoriously slippery MIST TRAIL. Every bend in the trail produces a new, yet majestic sight.

"Slow and STEADY wins the race..", my friend said. I enjoyed the relaxed pace and used it to my advantage to snap photos. The trail turned steadily steeper and our boots heavier, until we finally reached the NEVADA FALLS.

After taking a little snack and rest, we proceeded to the sandy flats along the LITTLE YOSEMITE VALLEY for about a mile, before reentering the forest. You will spend about 2 miles switchbacking your way up to the granite. At this point, you will emerge from the forest onto a small SLAB of granite and continue hiking a little farther until you reach the SUB DOME.

This is a little hump you go over to get to the BASE of the cables. The Sub Dome hike is probably the most GRUELING part of this uphill battle. It's a slap in the face. Totally exposed in the sun, no shade.

Pushing ourselves up the granite was one LABORIOUS step after another. Each step became an AGONY. Its brutally uneven stairs are extremely difficult if you have any fear of heights.

I hiked the INCA trail in Peru in 2013 and reached the highest peak. I thought Half Dome would be easier. I was wrong! This was more MENTALLY demanding.

I can only shake my head at this point. I am supremely DISAPPOINTED, that after all the preparation we did in visiting Yosemite, nowhere did we see information that suggested about Sub Dome SCRAMBLE.

Its set of narrow granite switchback stairs, surprisingly END near the top. And there seemed to be no indication of where to go. You are basically expected to scramble up a ~40 degree granite ROCK, that seems a lot more dangerous than half dome, which has cables to GRIP on.

I had a moment of clarity about it, a quiet MURMUR in my head. "What in the world am I doing here? One false step, GAME OVER!" I never doubted my tenacity. But our body is a powerful intuitive communicator.

When you've weighed all the options and there is no obvious rational choice, INTUITION is really all you've got. It's uncomfortable to spotlight your weaknesses when you're here to sell yourself. Bottom line, I "CHICKENED OUT".

It's difficult to work so hard for a GOAL, see it so close, and shut down your ADVENTURE. This left me with a BURNING DESIRE to return and complete the mission I have started. Seeing other hikers that successfully did it further CEMENTED my desire to tackle it.

Two weeks later, together with my ADVENTURE BUDDIES, I returned to my CONQUEST of Half Dome.

Sometimes all the planning and preparation can't prepare you for what MOTHER NATURE has in store for you. We had almost bailed on the hike. We ascertained the weather outlook for the week. Rainy and a thunderstorm was FORECAST. Critical role in any hiker’s plans.

I had been looking FORWARD to the hike for years. It would be better to have a miserable hike and turn back, knowing we TRIED. Rather than to stay on the valley floor and see the sun come out..

We woke up at 3:30am. Hit the trail by our cabin at CAMP CURRY using headlamps at 5:30am. As soon as we began walking, I was like, this is DÉJÀ VU! Here I am again, retracing my footsteps.

We took the same PATH up, past Vernal Falls Footbridge, John Muir Trail, Nevada Falls and Little Yosemite Valley. Being with endurance RUNNERS made the climb so much easier and enjoyable. For me, going to Half Dome in another way would not have been the same.

This time, I did not have moment of DOUBT at the Sub Dome. Life is not a DRESS REHEARSAL. Time is PRECIOUS. It might be the only time I will be there. I just imagined the granite steps as some MYTHICAL staircase into heavens. I'm gonna die someday and I know it won't be today.

Finally, the sparkling granite dome and GRAVITY DEFYING cables towered above us. Pictures don't do the cables justice. Absolutely stunning! Framed together with bright BLUE SKY and PUFFY CLOUDS above it. This is it! The final push to the summit.

Two parallel lines of galvanized POLES 10 to 12 ft apart are placed into holes in the granite. CABLES are strung pretty tightly through them. Pieces of 2x4 wooden board are put across as resting shelves. The 400 ft. climb is a 45 degree VERTICAL rise.

Steps took my last bit of STRENGTH. But I got my REWARD, 360 degrees of SPECTACULAR view, that is beyond my vocabulary.

But what I wanted MOST of all was a photo of me standing at the tip of what's called the DIVING BOARD. It is a narrow projection of rock, overhanging on the valley below. It is where ANSEL ADAMS took his photograph, "MONOLITH". Gives acrophobes an absolute nightmare.

John Muir said it best, "In every WALK with nature, one receives far more than he SEEKS."

I had expected the feeling of ACCOMPLISHMENT at the summit. But, the sense of pride was replaced by BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES.

It's the whole JOURNEY that moves me. It was my ADVENTURE BUDDIES that added sense of WONDER and RICHNESS to the experience.

For me, that's the HIGHLIGHT of my conquest of Half Dome. I realized that, for the rest of my life, whenever I stood at the BOTTOM, I would know what it felt like to stand on TOP.

An Experience You Won't Forget
 ·  Maryland ·  August 31, 2014

Like many of the other people posting reviews on the hike to Half Dome, nothing you read online fully prepares you for the experience. We were on the trail by 5:00 am and were at the base of the subdome within 3 hours. We were moving quick. I found that being an endurance runner made the climb so much easier. I was able to just keep going even though it was tough. I suggest taking the Mist Trail up and the John Muir trail back down. Climbing next to Vernal Falls was pretty incredible, but I wouldn't want to come back down those granite stairs when I'm tired at the end of the hike. I definitely thought seeing the cables would cause me to panic and not finish the climb; however, I totally underestimated how tough the subdome would be. If you're scared of heights (like me) you need to mentally prepare for this. There are granite stairs, but eventually they end and you just keep hiking up a granite slab until you reach the top. You will need the right type of shoes and gloves, but even with those items, the cable route in incredibly slick (think: polished marble). Overall the experience was incredible.

Happy Hiking!

Grip Gloves Are a Must!
 ·  SF Bay Area ·  August 17, 2014

Despite watching the NPS video, despite being in good physical condition, and despite buying new grip gloves and having decent hiking boots, this hike was the most difficult and scary thing I've done. The actual hike up to the cables was not that bad, although the Sub Dome was a little tough. I must have been watching the video through different lenses, because when I arrived at the cables, I just about chickened out. I had no belays, no climbing shoes, and for most of the climb up the cables I had to rely solely on my upper body to pull me up. I almost gave up, thinking, "If I fall, I will die", but a couple right below me encouraged me, so I found more strength and determination to get up there! If I had not heard from some people finishing that it was easier to get down than up (even though the ranger in the video said the opposite), I'm sure I wouldn't have embarked. I did a rappel type of descent, using primarily one cable. I think that would have helped me on the ascent. I had a friend right below me helping to guide me down. Without those grip gloves, I surely would have died, as I had 100% of my weight on those cables close to 100% of the time on them! I could have benefitted from newer boots, but that granite was slick, and it was bone dry! That was my first and last time up Half Dome. Be in good shape, and work on the upper body strength, and just keep focused on the cables.

Fantastic, and a huge mental and physical challenge.
 ·  Denver, CO ·  July 7, 2014

Wow. Well I read all the reviews and everything on this website but it still doesn't prepare you totally for the Half Dome. 3 of us (50 yr old guys, all fairly fit) did this setting off from Glacier Point at 5.30am on July 5th 2014. Arrived at the bottom of the stairs at about 10.30am. Back down to the bottom of the stairs at 12.30. Then all the way back to Glacier Point by 4.30pm.

For me going up the stairs was the worst bit, one false step and that's it. Also the stairs disappear near the top and you have to put super glue on your shoes and just hope you don't slip. Then you get to the top of the sub dome. I think if you spend too much time looking at the cables going up vertically you will never do it. Going up (depending on traffic you maybe hanging on those cables for a while) is worse than going down and you do have to wear gloves and you do need to have some upper body strength. Going down backwards holding onto one rope was easiest for me.

If I did it again, I would start closer so less hiking, and get to the cables earlier so not as hot or as many people.

An amazing experience!
 ·  United States ·  July 6, 2014

I hiked to the top of Half Dome in the summer of 1987 with my boyfriend. We were both in college and very fit, yet it was still a strenuous hike. When we got to the top, we saw storm clouds in the distance, and static electricity started making our hair stand up, so we didn't spend much time at the top and hurried back down to avoid getting struck by lightning. It was scarier going down the cables than up because then you could look down and see how high you were! I'm so happy I was able to do this! It was a very cool experience, and it's fun to be able to say "I climbed Half Dome."

Everything I imagined & more!
 ·  Strandhill, Ireland! ·  January 18, 2014

I was looking forward to the HD hike for almost 2 years! Living at sea level with only small 1000 ft mountains nearby, preparing was a mix of sets up & down nearby mountains along with the occasional hike up a 2500 ft Croagh Patrick.

We did the HD hike towards end of Sept 2013. It was a cool but sunny day.

But the HD hike was everything I expected, and more! It's fabulous! It's long, strenuous and what I found the hardest was the slog through Little Yosemite up to the sub dome...it's never ending! Every other section of the hike has great views to keep you interested!

I'd read about the subdome, but really didn't find it tricky except for when the stairs end before the top! Then the cables! I super enjoyed going up them, but didn't like coming down them! My wife felt the opposite! We didn't get to spend long on top because of a wind storm that was due to push in (it didn't in the end). But remember, when you're at the top, you're only half way done!

We went up & down the Mist Trail, which I found fine, I'm tall. It took it out of my wife's knees though. In total we did it in exactly 12 hours.

What we brought: 10 clif bars each and got through about 7 or 8. 2 litres of water in a backpack style each. I fitered in the Merced at Little Yosemite Valley using a Sawyer Squeeze, before going up the Dome and then again coming down. Gloves...do not go up the cables without some! We had some very cheap gardening gloves that were perfect...they were light but the grips were rubbery...they had great grip but when we got down mine were ripped up from gripping so tightly!

Layers...it was cold in the morning at the end of September and the sun didn't rise until we got to Little Yosemite. We were glad of the layers we had.

Insanity on Half Dome Cables
 ·  December 28, 2013

A hike of a life time! A very hard hike with the misty Mist Trail and spectacular Vernal and Nevada Falls. The trail after that is in deep wilderness with long tough switchbacks and amazing views of Clouds Rest and Half Dome. The subdome is challenging with amazing views. The cables are fun but scary going up but going down is insanity. At the top of Half Dome it's so amazing it feels like you're on another planet! Going down feels like forever but we got to see the sunset. It took us 15 hours. Half Dome is a hike that you will never forget.

Extreme Day Hike
 ·  Honolulu, Hawaii ·  October 11, 2013

I did this hike July 2004 with my brother. It was my first time in Yosemite. My brother lives in the bay area & had already done Half Dome a couple of times. Half Dome is a very challenging day hike with incredible views. It's one of those memories that last a lifetime. I hope I'll be able to do it again someday.

Half Dome hike
 ·  Montgomery County, MD ·  September 20, 2013

If you are in above average shape the hike should take 3.5 hours from the trailhead near Happy Isles utilizing the Mist Trail to the top of Half Dome. The hike back is all downhill and therefore the total hike of 15 miles may be done in under 7 hours. I spent over 1 hour on the top of the dome and decided to take the longer Muir Trail back (picking it up at Nevada Falls) to save wear and tear on the knees by avoiding the Mist Trail's granite steps. Although the Muir Trail does offer an outstanding view of Nevada Falls, due to the trail being utilized by horses, the resulting dung and insects made me regret taking it. Recommend trekking sticks, gloves, quality shoes with soft, rubbery grip, sunscreen, 132 oz of water, and 12 oz of trail mix. The cables are only 1/16 of the hike, yet they taxed my triceps and upper body more than any other part of the hike, use two hands, and stay focused on holding onto the cables.

Definitely worth the effort
 ·  Cleveland, OH ·  September 12, 2013

We had a group of 15 friends and family, ranging in age from 30's to late 60's. 12 of us made it to the top. My husband and I (ages 60 and 54) did a fair amount of training over the summer to get in shape, hiking as many stairs and hills as possible, which definitely helped. The trip up was fine, and the cables were easier than I anticipated. The view at the top was spectacular, and we spent a fair amount of time enjoying the view. The crowd was particularly light because a lot of people had been scared off by the threat of smoke from the Rim Fire, which turned out not to be a problem at all. The trip down was the hardest part for me, although a swim in the river in Little Yosemite Valley revived us for a few miles (the water in early September was very low, otherwise I guess this is not necessarily advisable). The last few miles were definitely the hardest part for me, particularly the switchbacks on the John Muir trail, but that's pretty much what I expected. We started at 5:30 in the morning and finished at 6 pm - a long day, but definitely worth while.

Amazing and Awe Inspiring!
 ·  Ceres, CA ·  August 22, 2013

I have been hiking in Yosemite National Park for many years but this is by far the most demanding day hike I have done, including Clouds Rest & Upper Yosemite Falls. It was exhausting, inspiring and amazing! We started up on the Mist Trail and made it to the sub dome at about noon, with clouds starting to roll in. We took the chance and began the ascent of the sub dome, the clouds were few and white and puffy but the chance of rain was about 50 percent for the day. We kept going and no big rain clouds had appeared, no sounds of thunder, so we got to the cables and began the climb up. It was the most unique experience I have ever had. Once you begin up the cables you're pretty much stuck, there are people above and people below so you really just have to keep going. Honestly, the height didn't scare me, the view was amazing, but it was a little nerve wracking to see all those bodies above me and not one person using a sling. I was just praying that no one lost their grip and slipped because it would be like dominoes falling! My family all had slings and I can't begin to tell you the peace of mind that gave me. I passed so many people who were literally shaking and holding on for dear life looking at me with envy over my sling. Once we got to the top it was just surreal, I don't think I fully realized what I had accomplished until the next day!! It was truly spectacular and I would recommend this hike to anyone who is adventurous and not afraid of heights and in good physical condition. It is something I will never forget and if I ever attempt it again I will definitely stay overnight in Little Yosemite Valley so I can really enjoy the top longer without being in a hurry to get back down before it gets too late.

 ·  Seattle WA ·  August 16, 2013

The feeling of accomplishment after completing this hike is incredible. We brought more than a gallon of water per person and needed every drop. Every hour we stopped for 5-10 minutes to rest and eat. We started before dawn to minimize our sun exposure. (We hiked on a sunny, hot mid-August day.) The older people (over 40 yrs old) took some tylenol at the top of the dome in order to decrease the knee pain going 7+ miles back. Saw lots of wildlife, lots of beauty, and only a few people on the way to Half Dome. Going back to the Valley from Vernal Falls was packed with people. Leaving early in the morning was hard but well worth the effort. Good luck to everyone planning their hike to Half Dome!

 ·  California ·  July 18, 2013

I completed this hike on Monday, August 20th, 2012 at age 43. It took literally everything I had on that given day. Some background on me - I was paralyzed (C5/6 spinal injury) in September of 2001 and told I would never walk again. I was very fortunate in my recovery and did indeed walk but was left with some residual deficits. My right side is nearly 100% but my left is probably 50-60% of my pre-injury strength and my left hand has difficulty opening and closing. Grip is fair but not strong.

I've become stronger over the years but Half Dome was not on my radar until Memorial Weekend 2012. A friend had permits through the lottery and invited me along. I said "why not?" because I can walk and hiking is just walking on dirt up some hills, right? Then I googled the hike and saw the cables and the reviews - holy crap.

I bought hiking boots and trained for 10 weeks with weekly hikes escalating in intensity and gym sessions to increase my upper body strength. My last hike the week before Half Dome was Mt Baldy in Socal which was about 12 miles and 3,200 ft elevation gain.

Finally, the hike. I felt as prepared as I could be though I did have knee pain from all the training hikes. We left approx. 6AM (still dark) and reached the cables about 10:30AM while traffic was still light. Scenery on the way up was epic at every turn. Unbelievable. The view of the cables as you leave sub dome almost stopped me in my tracks. It looks almost completely vertical! I was in a good deal of pain by then and I had no idea how my grip would hold up on the cables. I figured I came this far so I would start my way up and likely turn around very soon. At least I could say I tried. I had a whole bunch of excuses I could fall back on after all. Then the adrenaline kicked in! I was getting confident and comfortable so I kept going. I could use both cables since it was quiet and it seemed to work for me. I got a rhythm and made it to the top!

We celebrated for an hour and I realized I wasn't done. The hike down was torturous. I had to half step all 8 miles due to not being able to put weight on my right knee (my stronger side) and I nearly collapsed somewhere near the Vernal Fall foot bridge on the way down. We finally reached the shuttle about 5:30PM. I made it!

This was a life changing event for me and reaffirmed that anything is possible if you set your goals and prepare. I'll be back in Yosemite with my 2 sons this August for 3 days of hiking. Hopefully, they'll experience the same enjoyment that I've found!


LOTS of water and a filter - I had a 3 liter hydration pack and 2 Gatorade bottles and still needed to filter water at Nevada Falls on the way down.

Hiking poles - I absolutely would not have made it without them.

Be prepared - This hike is no joke!

Gloves - I brought my own gloves. Having confidence in your grip in huge.

Excuses - There are none. Good luck!

B-R-U-T-A-L But Worth It
 ·  Minnesota ·  July 1, 2013

Easily the most difficult hike of my entire life....it is more than a hike, it is also a climb and test of your courage. For me, a once in a lifetime experience because I will NEVER, EVER do that again!!

By the time I got to the cables I had been hiking at a steady pace for 3.5 hours and my legs were a little tired from climbing the sub dome. So looking up at those cables made me pause and rethink if this was a very good idea.

I had the same moment of clarity about one third of the way up the cables...what in the world am I doing here, if I slip I die. I HIGHLY recommend a harness and clipping yourself to the cables, at least you will be sure to return alive (at least almost sure anyway).

At the top of the Dome the views are almost indescribable. You can see for miles and the scenery is beautiful. After a couple PB&Js and an hour on the Dome we headed back down. The descent was FAR, FAR easier than the climb. Go down the mountain backwards holding only one cable, as if you are rappelling. Piece of cake.

Also recommend the John Muir trail on the way down to save on the knees. The hike down was easier than the hike up, but my knees definitely ached on the hike down.

Cheating death
 ·  Manassas, VA ·  June 17, 2013

My husband and I were really looking forward to our Half Dome hike. I wasn't particularly looking forward to all the vertical even though we were starting at LYV backpackers camp (only 3 miles without all the Mist Trail steps) but the view from Half Dome would make it worth it. That was until we realized - about 1/4 of the way up the cables - that this was the DUMBEST thing we could possibly do. We have 3 beautiful boys at home and families we love - why would we put ourselves in danger as if we were extreme sports folks? This is NOT your ordinary hike and it's not just because you use cables - it's because of the angle in which you walk the cables, it's because of the upper arm strength you HAVE to have to pull yourself up the cables, it's because there are no railings - ANYWHERE - up the uneven twisting stairs and granite slabs. Nobody sweeps these stairs - surprise, surprise - and one gravelly step could be your last.

I am supremely disappointed that after all the preparing we did in visiting Yosemite that no where did we see information that suggested this was a "death-cheating" hike. Visit once and you'll agree. One cannot NOT agree, even if they enjoy it. Think twice and then five more times before you try this. Yosemite is gorgeous and you can get beautiful vistas many other places without risking your life.

Half Dome hike
 ·  Minnesota ·  February 12, 2013

Great great hike. Insanely strenuous, long, and scary.

Good for thrill seekers. You must be in good condition to attempt to finish. Bring lots and lots and lots and lots of water and food, you will need it!! Good luck!

best hike of my life, so far
 ·  Derby in England ·  February 2, 2013

Well, what can I say, I was on a long holiday in the USA 2006. It started off in Yellowstone Park, which was great, then we travelled across to Yosemite and the good old Camp Curry. A few small hikes to start, then Half Dome. It was a fine cold but sunny October morning and we set off early because we were doing Half Dome & Glacier Point, 20 miles round trip. It was fantastic: lots of water on the waterfalls, wildlife round every corner - we came across a bobcat and watched it for several minutes, then it just walked straight by us within 15 feet like we weren't there. It was incredible, and the day just got better and better.

We stopped at Little Yosemite for a break then on and up, a long, gentle climb from there to the back of Half Dome where you meet the infamous cables, which are not for the faint hearted. Luckily for us we had good weather so off we went. It was fine until you meet someone coming down, and then you sort of do the cable dance with great care because one slip here and it's game over. At last the top and WOW it's then you realise how great mother nature truly is. You may be tired, out of breath and light headed but all you can say is WOW. The view is totally out of this world, I have walked/hiked for most of my life, 40ish years all over the world, and count Half Dome as the best one so far.

On the way down it's the same dance on the cables and mostly down hill. I was so glad we decided to do the long hike as nearing the end of the day it felt like we had achieved something more than just a quick up and down. Well let me tell you this: my legs knew a new level of pain that day and I slept like a log. A few tips - do listen to the rangers, don't attempt it if there's any chance of bad weather, as the cables will kill you, and, finally, take plenty of water and enjoy one of the best hikes in the world. I did and plan to return to do it again.

Half Dome
 ·  San Fernando Valley ·  December 27, 2012

What a hike!! Things to take - camera with video, gloves for the cables, light rain jacket for the mist trail, snacks and a lot of water or a filter. Get used to climbing stairs because are a lot of them. Plan on leaving early in the morning and spending all day (taking pictures, video and just enjoying the view). What's the hurry? Like they say - it's the journey, not the destination. The sub-dome before the cables is brutal but you are almost there. For the cables, just hold on and pull yourself up. Of course if the weather looks bad - do not go up the cables.

 ·  Wisconsin ·  September 30, 2012

The hardest and best hike I've been on in my life. The cables though, Holy Crap.

Still the One
 ·  Nebraska ·  September 26, 2012

Q. Where's the rest of Half Dome?

A. Inside the mattresses at Curry Village.

On Sept. 17, 4 1/2 hours after starting, I made the summit of Half Dome for the second time. Some thoughts:

-NO Yosemite employee checked for permits, going up or coming down. Maybe they were handing out hauntivirus info leaflets in the Valley.

-Many gloves await hikers prior to the final ascent. This is a much happier sight than a pile of limbs and skulls left behind by those who over estimated their abilities to navigate the cables.

-Bottom fourth of the cables is the toughest. Loose poles and jagged terrain will peg the clench-o-meter needle.

-No offense, but many hikers seen going up the trail had no business being there. This is not the place for fat guys. Someone will die here again; don't be that guy.

-Total strangers going up/down the cables are very good about making room, communicating and even encouraging their fellow hikers. This gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling.

In Yosemite Valley or the vast backcountry, many hiking trails and hike options abound. Regardless of your hiking ability or the type of scenery/terrain you favor, this park has something for you. But, make NO mistake, the Half Dome hike is the prom queen. And, as long as the cables make the summit possible for non-climbers, it will remain that way.

Half Dome
 ·  Fresno ·  September 24, 2012

This is the best day hike everyone should do! Me and my buddy started out at 6 am from the parking lot near Happy Isles and summited 6.5 hours later. Not record time but so worth it. The hardest sections for us were the stairs leading up to Vernal Falls and the Sub Dome switchbacks (my opinion far worse than the cables). The cables were a trip! It wasn't that exhausting to go up the cables as the pace was slow for those who couldn't find O2 at the altitude. But the slickness of the Granite, the realization of just how steep it is (we saw a gatorade bottle slide down next to us from up above) was just amazing! After spending about 30 minutes on top we realized we were only half way done! We descended slowly and took a break at the Merced River to cool off. It wasn't until we were back on top of Vernal Falls that I hit the wall. The last 2.5 miles to the parking lot was a slow go. Other than having some very sore calves for the next few days, everything went perfect. I highly reccomend this hike to everyone.

Only for the strong minded and the athletic type
 ·  San Mateo CA ·  September, 2012

Don't even attempt this hike unless you work out regularly. This hike is gruelingly hard and extremely difficult if you have any fear of heights. The mist trail is beautiful but I thought the hardest part. If you accomplish this you can be confident you will make it to the top. If you have any problems doing the mist trail, call it a day and a beautiful hike and go back down.

The stairs just before the cables are equally as hard as the mist trail and more exposed. Take a sun hat. If you make it this far, you will then be challenged more than ever before by the cables and the slippery rock. The rock is worn down so it is very slippery, must have good upper body strengh. It does get steeper at the top so if you are having a hard time at the bottom, go back while you can. Most difficult hike I will never do again.

Would do this again in a heartbeat!
 ·  Emeryville, CA ·  September 18, 2012

Before I start the review on the Half Dome hike, I want to sincerely thank the guy who runs this site. His advice and humor are much appreciated, and if it weren't for this site I wouldn't have done the best hike of my life (so far)!

It is SO, SO beautiful up top. But it's not just the destination, but the entire hike that is epic. This hike will test you physically and mentally, make you appreciate all of the beauty of mother nature and remind you of all the IMPORTANT aspects of living and being human... such as: the best things in life are not things!

Anyway, I decided to do this hike on a whim, on 9/11 actually. I'm a native New Yorker and after 11 years it is still hard for me. So, inspired by this site and my love for NYC, I got in on the daily permit lottery and embarked on a solo hike up Half Dome.

I drove in around 5:30am, started on the trail at 6:15am and it was still dark. I'm a woman and hiking in the dark by myself is pretty scary... especially since I encountered a bear on my way in. But this trail is SO popular I quickly found some people to hike with. I really enjoy long solo hikes, but it is NICE to have people to talk to and hang out with on this trail... because it is effing DIFFICULT!

Prior to hiking Half Dome, I did Clouds Rest (Labor Day), 4 Mile Trail + Panorama Trail in one day during Mid August. Both are good training hikes, and especially Clouds Rest. It's beautiful on its own, but the altitude will test your lungs. I have mild asthma and am very sensitive to altitude, which is something you need to consider when doing Half Dome.

It took me 11 hrs total, from 6:15am to 5:10pm. Went up on Mist Trail and came down on John Muir. Stayed on top of Half Dome for an hour. I'm in pretty good shape, especially after the prior long hikes in Yosemite. But this trail is NO JOKE! It just feels like nonstop uphill, and once I hit 6,000 ft my lungs hurt. So I had to stop often to prevent an asthma attack.

But the 'best' part is the cables. You have to STAY CALM!!! Do yourself a favor and borrow a climbing harness, get two ropes and CLIP YOURSELF IN! It makes coming down so much better. The granite is sooooo polished by all that foot traffic that you're basically SLIDING down the whole way. Several people freaked out and it took an hour+ just to come up and down the cables. I went on a Monday when there were much fewer people. So imagine what would happen on a weekend! On the way up you need upper body strength and determination to pull yourself up, but on the way down gravity really tries to get the better of you! And if you're not clipped in you'll either tear the skin off of your hands from gripping the cables or curl into a ball.

I followed this guy's advice to the tee, only thing I messed up on was getting fingerless cycling gloves. On the way up it was ok, but on the way down I had to really grip the cables and that hurt my hands a lot. Also consider switching to climbing shoes on the cables, they have MUCH better grip than regular hiking boots. I will do that next time!

So I had a 3 liter water bladder and carried up another 1 liter bottle of coconut water. DRANK IT ALL! Ate about 6 larabars and had some trail mix at the top. Ate pasta the day before and drank plenty of water before and after the hike.

Seriously, DO THIS HIKE! Follow ALL of the advice on this website, you'll be happy you did! Plus:

- Do training hikes

- Get moleskin for your blisters

- Hike with COOL people

- Get a harness and clip yourself in on the cables

 ·  Fresno, CA ·  September 18, 2012

I climbed Half Dome with my 41 year old mom, 62 year old grandma, and my nine year old brother on August 2, 2012. I'm 21 and they actually hike more than I do so they were definitely in shape to do this hike!

We started at Glacier Point at 5AM, got to Sub Dome around 1PM, took about 40 minutes to climb Half Dome, then got back down Half Dome around 4PM, and got to Yosemite Valley at 10PM.

We used harnesses for the climb. I HIGHLY recommend doing this. We were the only ones on the mountain who had them, but my confidence level boosted way up while using them. If you're going to take young children, then I think it's only common sense to bring them. My mom had my brother attached to her the whole time up. This really didn't slow us down. People stopped at every 2x4 and prepared themselves for the next 10 feet anyways.

Another thing is bring PLENTY of water. Even if you think you have plenty, bring more. We had about 4 liters each when we started the hike, then filled up again when we got to the stream. We also had bandanas that we soaked in the streams which kept us cool. In my opinion, Sub Dome was a lot harder than Half Dome so don't get discouraged when climbing it. The view is nothing like you've seen before.

One more thing, take the next day off from work. You won't be able to walk and you will feel pain in places you never have before.

Half Dome: A Must Do
 ·  Central Valley, CA ·  September 2, 2012

During the summer of 2012, my buddy and I decided on a whim that we would go to Yosemite, as both of us were very much into the outdoors. We both hadn't had any experience with hiking, but we figured "carpe diem" and we also factored in the fact that we were both 17 years old. He was a cross country runner, but hadn't run in quite a while. Both of us did not physically prepare for this hike in any way. I highly suggest that you prepare for this hike at least a month beforehand.

We packed up the car and drove our first day to the national park, and slept that night in the housekeeping camp. At 0400 we woke up, and packed up our stuff, then departed for the Happy Isles trailhead parking. It was pitch black, but we found where to park. At 0500 we left for the trail. I didn't keep track of time as we passed Vernal and Nevada falls, but I do remember stopping for a big break after topping out on Nevada falls. The trail up to Nevada (via the mist trail) was very intense, much like an endless stair stepper. The trail was guarded with a guard rail in some points. As the trail nears Little Yosemite Campground, it gets flat. Shortly after, the trail starts to ascend a hill, with many switchbacks. After a grueling hill haul, you reach the sub-dome. When we reached the sub-dome, there was no ranger at the base, as we arrived before 1000. Because we were so early, we didn't experience any bottlenecking on the cables, and were on the summit on Half Dome by 1030. We spent about an hour at the top frolicking and taking pictures and playing with the local Marmot (the marmot will steal your food out of your pack).

At 1130, we started to head back down the cables. Going down the cables was definitely harder than coming up. We opted to take the John Muir Trail down to the Happy Isles, as we heard it was easier on our legs. After a big rest break at Nevada Falls, we started out to the trailhead. After a whole day of hiking, it was bout 1400, and we were very, very tired. Cliff Bar Shot Bloks were barely keeping us going. As we neared the parking lot at 1630, I yelled out in joy and got in the car and drove off to our next stop in the trip...

This hike is a must do for any hiker, however please consider these points:

1. Acquire a permit to summit Half Dome. It is not worth walking all the way to the base and not having a permit, just because you thought you would get lucky. (In our case, a ranger checked our permits when we came down the cables.)

2. Prepare for this. If this is going to be your first real hike (like it was for us), then choose another hike. The only reason we were able to barely pull this off was because well, we were both pushing each other. I recommend spending about a month improving your cardiovascular system. Jogging outside is a good way to improve that. Hiking some challenging hikes around your area is a good idea too.

3. Water. I was carrying a 3L bladder, and I ran out while topping out on HD. Luckily my friend was carrying an extra liter that he gave me. To do this hike, a hydration bladder is absolutely required. I believe that 4L is the right amount to carry for this hike. Remember to drink during the hike.

4. Have fun!

Conquering Mighty Half Dome! August 25, 2012
 ·  Vallejo, CA ·  August 30, 2012

My boyfriend and I completed this hike Saturday - August 25, 2012. We have been hiking with meetup groups and have been hearing about Half Dome. So we decided to train and hike it this year. We took the Mist trail route as it is, we thought, the most scenic. We started the trek at 6:05 am from Curry Village. I hiked the Inca trail in Peru last year and reached the highest peak for that trail, "the dead woman's pass", at almost 14,000 ft, so I thought Half Dome would be easier. Boy was I wrong. This is longer and more physically demanding due to the drama created by the use of cables. This took us 13 hours to do and we were in good shape and have trained for this. Going up the cables requires upper body strength to pull yourself up, and by the time you reach the top of sub dome, you're exhausted. Reaching the top, though, makes all the pain go away (for a moment anyway). The endorphins are on overdrive at this point so the feeling is undesirable. Lots of water and food is essential along with the sense of adventure and the spirit of goodwill. You and your fellow hikers will cheer each other on while maneuvering the cables and you feel the camaraderie that you all have the same goal. The views from the top were magical, totally awesome and just beautiful. I met a hiker once in one of my meet up groups who said that she did this hike once and thought it was a boring hike. Now that I have done it...there's nothing boring about it, she just has a totally different view. It was the hardest hike I have ever done but so worth all the pain, the fear and the risk associated with it...Just Do It...it will not disappoint!

Scariest and BEST hike I've ever done!!
 ·  Gilbert, AZ ·  August 18, 2012

I did the Half Dome hike in September of 2004, about a year and a half after I suffered a major brain injury. Guess I needed to prove something to myself! After I made sure I was in excellent health, and really worked hard on my upper body strength, we made the trek. Hiked from Backpacker's Camp to the top of the Dome and back in one day. Was hiking back in the dark the last couple of miles, using flashlights to guide us. It was definitely the MOST exhilarating experience I ever had the guts for!!! I was terrified to climb up the last 400 feet of sheer stone face of the dome, and if it were not for the two men I was with, I don't think I could have made it. They cheered me on the entire way!! The views were FANTASTIC, and I recommend this hike for the brave of heart. Simply the scariest and most fantastic thing I have ever accomplished, short of childbirth!!

Half Dome puts the OW back in WOW
 ·  El Cerrito, California ·  July 25, 2012

Definitely the most difficult hike I've ever done. If you're really in shape, you'll do fine - out of shape like me, and you'll be in misery most of the way back down. Getting to the top took me 7 hours from Glacier Point, 4 of them in the last 5 or so miles uphill from Nevada falls. That's far slower than the average bear. The subdome hike is probably the most grueling part of this uphill battle - the cables were easy in comparison, and exhilarating! though still difficult. I was glad I'd purchased a great pair of gloves (mountaineering, open fingered) - that really helped, especially for the way back down.

By the way, the ranger at the subdome was strongly advising people not to ascend, as there were clouds, some ominous looking. Many of us chose to press on and take our chances that the weather wouldn't change - which is human nature - it's difficult to work so hard for a goal, see it so close, and turn back. I'm glad that nature gave us a pass - but it still wasn't particularly smart.

I'd used all of my reserves getting to the top, so slogging back down to the valley (even via the John Muir, skipping the knee killing mist trail) was not much fun.

I made it to the car around 6pm - remember that I started hiking at 4:30 am. I'm still a mess, stiff and sore, more than 24 hours later. Worth it? Totally. Would I do it again? If I was in better shape, absolutely. It's an exquisite hike, and truly an amazing experience.

To make it fun and safe

- get in shape! It's a lot of heavy lifting, and it just keeps coming

- gloves and hiking poles really helped

- decent boots, ankle support, good treads - critical.

- bring 4 liters of water + filter to make more - I'm serious.

Half Dome rocks!

One of the most exhilarating hikes ever!!
 ·  Bakersfield, CA ·  July 22, 2012

This is a hike that was crossed off my bucket list! I didn't even mind starting at the trailhead @ 4:00am.

Greatest Hike of My Life
 ·  Arizona ·  June 19, 2012

Half Dome is......... how should I put it? A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!!!! It is by far the greatest hike I have ever been on (and I have done my share of 14'ers up in the Rockies). The scenery is unmatched by anything that you could see just driving around Yosemite Valley and the fresh air is to die for...... literally. While the views are amazing and mind-blowing, the hike is very hard and very dangerous. The first mile is a paved ramp that leads up to the Vernal Falls Footbridge. After the bridge you start on the Mist Trail up past Vernal Falls where there is a lookout point over the fall. The mile from the bridge to the top of Vernal is well over 300 steps of the wettest, slickest rock you can imagine, with the waterfall's resounding roar pounding in your ear. After Vernal Falls, you make your way up another couple hundred steps to the junction that takes you one way up to the top of Nevada Falls and the other way to Little Yosemite Valley. There is a latrine there, and if you hike on the right day, you can meet the mule train that carries the waste off the mountain. At this point you can turn around and see Glacier Point in the distance and both of the waterfalls you passed on the way up. Just to this point is a little over 3 miles with just over 3000 feet of elevation gain.

After taking a little rest, you proceed to the sandy flats along the Merced River for about a mile before reentering the forest, where you will spend about 2 miles switchbacking your way up to the granite. At this point you will emerge from the forest onto a small slab of granite and continue hiking a little farther until you reach the Sub Dome. It is at this point that permits are required to continue on hiking. The next 1/2 mile is nearly vertical steps up the Sub Dome that are almost as brutal as the cables. BE AWARE there are lots of rattlesnakes on the Sub Dome. Once you have reached the top of the Sub Dome you will see a pile of gloves next to the anchor bolts for the cables. This is where there usually is a traffic jam and you then proceed up the cables. For those of you that are scared of heights and/or have no upper body strength, the trek ends here because the cables at points are nearly vertical and you will spend a half hour hanging from them in open space. Luckily for me, I was hiking with a climber who was familiar with Yosemite (he had scaled Half Dome, El Capitan, all of the Cathedral Spires, and hung Gumby over Yosemite Falls) and he brought some climbing harnesses so that we could clip ourselves into the cables.

Finally, we reached the top at just after 2 in the afternoon. We spent an hour at the top before descending. We reached the bottom just after 8 o'clock and then proceeded to eat our weight in pizza down in Curry. Overall it was an amazing hike, and I would definitely recommend that everyone do it sometime in their lifetime. Also, THIS IS A VERY VERY VERY DANGEROUS HIKE!!!!!!! DO NOT ASCEND THE DOME OR THE SUB DOME IF THERE ARE ANY CLOUDS IN THE SKY!!!! The granite is very slick when dry and even slicker when wet. Please be safe when climbing this incredible piece of nature.

Not your grandma's hike
 ·  Sacramento, CA ·  February 28, 2012

My husband and I did this hike and it took us about 12 hours. We have done many of the other hikes at Yosemite and thought we were up to the challenge. It was the toughest, most strenuous hike we ever did. Every time we thought we were close we were hours away. Once we made it to the top it was invigorating and wow what an accomplishment. Would I do it again? Probably not. My husband is hooked however. He has completed the hike 2 other times since. I would suggest staying the night at/near Yosemite the day before and the day of completion to be well prepared for the pain!!

The Best
 ·  Sacramento, CA ·  January 28, 2012

I did this climb many years ago and it was fantastic. Once I was on top of the dome I couldn't believe what I had done. I thought going down was easier than going up but both directions were unique experiences.

do not miss this hike!
 ·  Nevada ·  October 14, 2011

This hike was strenuous, difficult, extreme, and one of the most rewarding I have ever done! It's pretty much a ball buster all the way with the exception of a small flat area near the backpackers campground. However, once you are standing at the top of Half Dome all that work is more than worth it. This hike can be done by people with even a modest fitness level, but the fitter you are, the more likely you are to see the top as turning around and going back down is mighty tempting at several places along the way. Carry lots of water/gatorade etc...and some food. You'll want to eat on top of Half Dome while you sit and stare at the valley nearly 5000' feet below you. Good hiking shoes should be required by law for this hike. I didn't bring gloves because I had heard there was a pile at the base of the cables...lo and behold, there was. Make lots of friends at the top because you are part of a select club :). I've been hiking all over the world, Half Dome is easily in my top three. It's that amazing!

3 hikes in one
 ·  Nebraska  ·  October 10, 2011

Hiked Half Dome in Sept., 2011. It turned out to be 3 hikes in one:

1) Mist Trail - Steep, scenic, crowded. Many places to die. Highly recommended.

2) Up to Subdome - From the top of Nevada Fall to Subdome was fairly routine & not nearly as scenic as below. The calm before the storm.

3) The Domes - Guarding the final prize is a 200ish foot high granite basketball called Subdome. Steep, nearly treeless and an ominous portent of things to come. Lose it here, and it's not going to be good. After Subdome is the cable route to the top of Half Dome. After nearly 100 years of use, cables are rickety at best. Route contains several "steps" which add to the difficulty. Steep! We're told that it's 45 degrees....if it's not steeper than that, I'll kiss your Half Dome. Danger potential is off the chart. If you fall, you'll get to Yosemite Valley WAY ahead of schedule. If somebody above you falls, we're talking human dominos. All things considered, it is hard to believe that Yosemite still lets people do this.

Anytime I see a photo of Half Dome, I can say "been there". But, is the reward worth the risk?

Took More Mental Stamina than Physical
 ·  Encinitas, CA  ·  September 19, 2011

Did this for husband's 60th B'day (why couldn't he have just wanted a cake!). So glad we did it. Our 15 yr old daughter did it also. Passed a man who gave great advice for the cables.."just try the first 20 feet, if you can do that you can do the whole thing". Surprised I didn't see more commentary on various websites about the "sub-dome" or "quarter dome" portion which we all thought was the roughest. Also saw a man on the climb who was 68 and it was his 22nd time to summit half dome from Happy Isles. He used hiking poles for the first time and said he would never go without them again. This website was great...gave great advice and encouragment. I know we won't do it 22 times but we may do it again someday...maybe for my husband's 70th?

Gotta tick this one off your bucket list...
 ·  Escondido, CA  ·  August 22, 2011

We started out from Little Yosemite Valley Camp Ground at 6:00 a.m. There were 5 of us. By the time we reached the cables and were ready to ascent, there were 2. The other 3 were suffering from a fear of heights. They just couldn't shake it. So, the 2 of us went up. I was about 3/4 the way up the cables gasping for air. I looked up and I looked down. I was closer to the top than the bottom. My boyfriend, who was down at the bottom of the cables, yelled out "come on sugar, you can do it". I almost started crying when I heard his voice. That was it, I pulled myself up the rest of the way to the top! Yes, I went out on the diving board and had my photo taken. It was an amazing day!

The Hike Itself
 ·  Sacramento  ·  August 12, 2011

The hike itself is killer! Once you get to the Dome, you'll be exhausted, but the climb up is totally worth it! Don't give up! Personally, I thought the cables weren't that bad. It looks scary, but over in the blink of an eye. The long hike, on the other hand, took forever. Each step became agony. If you decide to do it, don't overpack anything but water!

Amazing hike that tests your mettle
 ·  Boston  ·  August 2, 2011

I just completed this hike last weekend and although it was probably one of the most strenuous things I have ever done, it was absolutely invigorating.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Bear Scouts
 ·  Mundelein, IL, formerly of Chicago  ·  July 26, 2011

In 1996, my buddy John and I were doing a 3 day hike, starting from Tuolumne Meadows. We had no real plan on where to end up. But we started heading west on the John Muir trail and spent the night at Sunrise campground. That hike was a killer, since the very first thing you do is climb Cathedral Peak, a rise of 5,000 feet in elevation. And the night at Sunrise was entertaining, if you like bears poking their noses at your tent.

The next day we are heading west again when we meet a man and his son of 10 years old. Dad is limping, twisted his ankle on the trail. Then were heading out the quickest way, down the Nevada and Vernal falls. We took pity on them, carried as much of their camping gear as we could and followed them out. On the way the Dad told us that we could stay at the Little Yosemite Campground and do the Dome the next day. Since it was all downhill for him and his boy, he didn't mind. So we agreed, and said our goodbye's that afternoon.

We got to Little Yosemite, had our dinner, washed in the river (snow melt) and got ready to sleep. Just next to us, a group of about 10 Boy Scouts were sleeping out in the open, no tents. Just a campfire in the middle. We said our hello's and went to bed.

Around 10 PM, we hear "Bear!" All these flashlights go on, you can see them swinging back and forth in the trees. I ask the Boy Scout troup leader what's going on. "A bear and a cub came into our camp, and the kids went to chase it." They're chasing a bear and her cub? Isn't that dangerous? "Oh they won't catch her." I thought that stupid, but the boys did get back, alive. We go back to bed.

10:30 PM. "Bear!" Same thing all over again. Not just the Boy Scouts, all the flashlights and lanterns go on. What would they do if they caught the bear?

11:30 PM. "Bear!" Same thing. We hear a voice (not a Boy Scout voice) yell out to the campground. "God damn it! Will you leave the f***ing bears alone? I gotta climb Half Dome tomorrow and I gotta get some sleep!" Silence. We hear nothing else the entire night. That guy was my hero.

Next morning, we are up early heading for the Dome. We get there, and find a big pile of cloth gloves in a box, left by people who did the climb before. Very nice of them. We leave our big backpacks at the base, and just take a little one with water and camera stuff. Up we go.

We were in pretty good shape, and I didn't find the workout all that hard. But, if you have any problem with heights, don't do it. Looking down is NOT recommended. And it does get crowded. We were starting before 8:00 AM and it was still a bit tough to get around people who were resting, pausing for the view, or to break down. About that...

This Girl Scout troup was on their way up as well. One of the girls was clinging to the cable, refusing to let go, move up or down, etc. Her fellow scouts were trying to encourage her, but she was in tears. She never made it up along with her companions, and she was gone when we were going down. I hope she found the courage to do it again.

At the top, the view is all wonderful, etc. But looking over the edge still gives me a feeling of vertigo, after all these years. And I was on my belly crawling to the edge.

I'm doing it again next year. I'll be 50, and it will probably be the last time I can do anything like this. Oh to be young and unemployed again!

all you want in a hike
 ·  Pleasanton, California  ·  May 29, 2011

My son and I have done Half Dome the last two years. The first year as a day hike, we did it and it was difficult. I was very happy I accomplished this feat. It was huge for me. The second year we went with a group and stayed in the backpacker campground. We left at 3 am and got to the cables a little after sunrise. It was lots of fun with a group. We had the top of Half Dome almost to ourselves, it was very cool. My 72 year old brother in law came along that was very special for me. Standing on the diving board looking out over the valley is not a sight you will ever forget. Everyone needs to do this hike.

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