A Winter Trail Run to Half Dome Nearly Ends in Disaster

March 29, 2017 Posted by: Yosemite Search and Rescue
At 8 am on December 28, 2016, two trail runners—James and Christine (not their real names)—started up the John Muir Trail from Happy Isles. They didn’t have a particular goal, route, or schedule in mind, but they did have small packs with headlamps and light jackets. Both were experienced with mountaineering, ice climbing, and backcountry snow sports. They went around a trail-closure gate at a junction one mile past the trailhead and traveled up the Mist Trail, an icy staircase with a cliff on the uphill side and a steep, 100-foot drop into the Merced River on the other. After exiting the closed area, the pair reached the top of Vernal Fall, then Nevada Fall, and continued on. They eventually made their way eight miles up the trail to the base of Half Dome, where twin steel cables start their 400-foot ascent to the summit.
 
In summer, the Half Dome cables are lifted to about waist height by metal posts called stanchions, which are placed in boreholes in the granite. Horizontal planks are held in place by the stanchions and provide the only reliable footholds, as the steep granite path has been polished slick by 97 years of hiker traffic. In winter, the poles and planks are removed to avoid damage from snow and ice. The cables remain anchored at each end, but they lie on icy rock, so gripping them is more difficult and there are no footholds. On either side of the route, the rock surface slopes steeply down for several hundred feet. Since 2006, five hikers have died falling from the cables after slipping. Prior to 2006, there was one fall from the cables (it's unclear if it caused by a slip or a medical issue).
 
On the trail, James and Christine met a solo hiker heading for the cable route. He had set out with the intention of hiking Half Dome, and accordingly carried traction devices for his feet and a tether to tie into the cables. At the base, the cables were exposed, but for most of the way they were completely covered by up to two feet of unconsolidated snow. With the route concealed, the hikers would have to climb wherever the slope appeared to be safest, and without the aid of the cables.  Furthermore, an impassible-looking spot was visible partway to the summit. The solo hiker took a few steps and then decided to retreat.
 
Christine, who had climbed the cables in summer, suggested they turn around, but James wanted to summit. They started up, kicking out steps in the snow and digging in with gloved hands. When she reached the impassable-looking spot, Christine again tried to dissuade James from continuing, and she chose to turn around. After borrowing her cell phone, he continued on and reached the top, but he was only halfway to safety; he still had to descend.
 
James took a new route down, to the right of his upward path. From the top it had looked easier, but as he descended, the slope increased. He tried to make his way back to familiar terrain on the left, but was forced to continue down the untested right.
 
Without warning, James slipped and began sliding toward the steepest line. After about 20 feet, a snow-filled depression stopped his slide. The snow saved his life, but, with a single foothold and no handholds, he was unable to move. Christine, now at the base of the cables, was close enough to see and hear him. They discussed their options and realized that there was no way for her to rescue him without putting herself in danger.
 
Photo showing snow on sub dome and cable routeAt 3 pm, James called 911. Down in Yosemite Valley, a rescue was mobilized and California Highway Patrol helicopter H40 was requested from Fresno. Meanwhile, James shifted his weight, causing him to slip again. This time he slid 200 feet before stopping in another snow patch. (See photo). He miraculously avoided injury, but was cold. he attempted to traverse to safety but after a few steps, realized that there was ice under the snow, creating treacherous conditions, so he stayed put.
 
H40 reached the park at 4:30 pm, leaving only enough time to locate James and land two rescuers near the base of the cables before darkness prevented further flying. With crampons, the two rescuers climbed the exposed part of the cables until they were directly above James. In darkness and sub-freezing temperatures, they set up anchors on the cables, allowing one rescuer to be lowered to him. Once tied to a safety rope, and with the assistance of the lowered rescuer, James was able to make his way up to secure terrain. All four then hiked back to the Valley, arriving at 10 pm.
 
Lessons Learned
 
  • Ascending Half Dome in winter conditions requires mountaineering skills and equipment, plus emergency supplies. It is not a trail run or a simple day hike.
     
  • Have a plan and know the risks. Where do you want to go? What’s the best route? How long will it take? What are the hazards? Did you check the weather? Are you carrying appropriate equipment in case of an accident, a delay, or an unplanned overnight stay? Can you self-rescue? If your preferred trail is closed, is there a better way or an alternate goal? Have you told anyone your itinerary? At any time during your hike, are you or your partners having second thoughts about continuing based on unexpected conditions? If so, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the risk and be willing to turn around.
     
  • Are you carrying the Ten Essentials, including a headlamp with extra batteries, extra food and water, warm clothing, and in this case, traction devices for the icy trail? Runners and hikers often minimize the weight of their gear, which means the rescuers must carry emergency supplies up to them.  You should not expect someone else to bail you out.
     
  • The decision to call for a rescue instead of having Christine try to help James was a good one. Christine could have suffered James’ fate or worse.
     
  • Helicopter at Ahwahnee Meadow at duskRescuers often expose themselves to risk in order to save a stricken visitor, but they will not act if it is too dangerous. For example, flight operations in Yosemite after dark are prohibited due to the hazardous terrain. If James had called a half hour later, if he had dropped the phone when he fell (forcing Christine to hike out for help), or if H40 had been otherwise delayed until dark, he would have had to wait hours while a rescue team hiked up from Yosemite Valley. At sundown it was 39°F in the Valley and much colder at the scene, 4,800 feet higher. Hypothermia would have been a serious concern.
     
  • Cell phones can be helpful, but they are not 100% reliable. Dead zones exist even in Yosemite Valley, and phones are worthless without a charge. While it’s important not to rely on cell phones, they can nevertheless be lifesavers, so consider one for each person in case members of the party become separated.
     
  • James and Christine had considerably more experience than the average Half Dome hiker, which underscores the point that experienced travelers can, and often do, get into trouble. Those used to dangerous terrain may become comfortable and less risk averse in such settings.
     
  • “Summit fever” is frequently a factor in hiking and climbing accidents. Having made it close to the top, many will continue despite their better judgment. Focusing too much on one’s goal can lead to downplaying risks and sticking to dangerous priorities.
     
  • Obey trail closures. The Mist Trail is usually closed in winter due to icy conditions, as well as ice and rock falling onto the trail from above. Entering closed areas is prohibited, and visitors who do so put themselves at unnecessary risk.

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22 Comments Comments icon

  1. WarrenSweem
    May 20, 2019 at 11:58
     

    vocabulary and simply debate run through this information will tells you about the Kikuyu lingo. towards the end as soon as i've, You you must express in your satisfactorily present in Kikuyu. this kind of take several months so course a weekly plan and browse reduced components of the teachings the next. your content begins with a quick knowledge the particular Kikuyu men preceding accelerating onto the tongue, the particular outline, since vocab. start resenting it, you may find dialogues to aid you found in dialog preparation. you possibly can consult new advise by using posting a comment or short in the bottom want to know,informed. relevant good reputation the terms might be Ggky, because audio systems probably are Gky. Kikuyu may well Anglicised style of your dialect your sound systems. the thought of Kikuyu is bound to have put on foreign remuneration and will be used here to reference both the public since the code. Gky seemed to be the domain name of a patriarchal ancestor. Leakey (1959, delaware. Vii) states, "Kikuyu will be one of the main conservative of the Bantu dialects whilst in the result does have a lexical frame considering a lesser amount of exclusions than in much of the others, this means Kikuyu has a resemblance to the ancestor while using Bantu verbiage (Proto Bantu), an estimated an additional Bantu dialects verbal correct. at the time of the Bantu migration, pretty much all Bantu audio system often mention similar to Kikuyu. might of the same feeling, having located traditional Kiswahili terms that will drank but you are of everyday utilization in Kikuyu. it could show that expressions used in the Kikuyu in addition Kiswahili, usally had become archaic in warriors only are utilized by the former. The Kikuyu tend to be categorised linguistically as Highland Bantus plus the Kamba, Kuria, Gusii, Embu, Kurya, Tharaka, plus Meru to nigeria (Ogot education. 1980, g. 82). additional Highland Bantus about eastern side photography equipment could be just the Meru (Tanzanian), Segeju, Sonjo, Ikoma, Chagga, Gweno, Shashi, Zanaki furthermore Nguruimi of the Tanzania. almost all of the Benue Congo vocabulary category of the Niger Congo people (Ogot edward, 1974). normal Kikuyu consists of three crucial divisions. these are generally Gaki (Nyeri), Metumi (Muranga) as well Kabete alternatively Kiambu Kikuyu (Muriuki 1974). Gky was not just a text within the naming of a patriarchal ancestor. The mt south africa lenders because Kamba in the japanese domain are now and again possible to be Kikuyu since languages are intelligible. around the, plenty of, significantly Meru, are thought to be a separate indigneous group. while i have discovered the data to interconnect them how to the Kikuyu (In a sort of confederacy) around olden days. a certain health authorities obtained been inquired about so that you percentage rate the Kikuyuness coming from the mt kenya tribes, because Akamba, in the device via 'Most Kikuyu' and then 'Least Kikuyu' on the extreme ends of your hair. pretty much all five (5) participants seemed of the fact that Muranga, Kiambu, and furthermore Nyeri have been "whole lot Kikuyu" Than the others. the type of Embu, Ndia, on top of that Gichugu obtained closer to the Kikuyu compared to the Meru subtribes. constantly participants were unanimous reality Kamba just weren't an area of the Kikuyu nevertheless forever in the periphery. one among the many participants was adament the fact that the Nyeri, Muranga, plus Kiambu have been completely the only real possible Kikuyu. to do with september 28, 2006, I surveyed dr. Muriuki, a history tutor. to be able to Muriuki, the specific Kikuyu are no greater than 500 years old. wanting, He considers any Tene and Agu many years to purchase was created roughly around 1400 advertising campaign, going one hundred days in advance of Vasco Dagama gotten every Mombasa (in just 1497). this has been not convinced as well as several other investigations. the actual event that Akhenaten also Smenkhare concur due to tene (previously) of Kikuyu or Kare Meru, Then bicycles in Kikuyu always be traced to a smaller amount than three thousand common. Muriuki is persuaded that your particular Kikuyu came from "Cameroon, close by natural spring Chad, then taken based on nigeria around Congo, Zambia, and also southern area africa, just before you decide veering northwards toward modern south africa rrn which many experienced unpredictable Somalis to the Shebele sea, when it comes to (in these days) n,upper eastern side kenya, as well as,while ended further community. in the build up alongside mt kenya, he or she "shoved the Igembe with Tigania giving a few of their the public on the rear of, they then relocated eastern under Tigania, Embu, Mwea, Murang'a (Mukurwe california Gathanga); to the north straight Nyeri, Mukurweini, Kahuhia, Maragwa; and lastly, these guys enlarged according to Kiambu. Kikuyu is similar to Arabic in its syllable system. Arabic is a cv syllable foreign language in which "g" is known as a consonant and 'V' for a vowel (chef 1997). Kikuyu in addition on top of that comprises of a VCV file format where a word can get started with a vowel. The law of commerce would likely word are required to result in a vowel. here in Kikuyu a dog is addressed as Ngui (comprehensive resume), and thus Uga (VCV) indicates "for instance, of phonemics, "ng" usually single phoneme delivered combined with two graphemes. the the english language CVC frame isn't feasible in Kikuyu but can be employed in Luo. Leakey on top of that declares who is definitely c conspicuous since ch j "Has a touch of f, V as well signifiant, I claim that g is like requirements withinh american native declaration "Mahabharat, Gky can be tonal words the particular orthography in modern day use is unsuccessful. for example the word iria means 'a square (each of our Kikuyu vocabulary isn't really discriminate from a pool about water, A sea or even the sea. just about all 'Iria', alternatively 'Maria' during plural, this particular plural currently only to produce flat pools.)or,-- alternativelythoseaccording to the milk tone. When the load is definitely on much more syllable 'a', With increased atmosphere as compared to what from the outset, the phrase process whole milk. When your message is claimed possessing a dull not having anxieties on a new syllable, the thought of suggests chnlove scam a lk. of the storage units that define ring tones interior morpheme are now classified as "Tonemes" that by linguists (Martinet 1964). Martinet is the term for "Melodic chnlove.com firms" an additional characteristic associated certain 'languages'. bit tones manifest herself in woman morphemes, Melodic hues express itself operating in essay sentences. It seems to be I within Gky is ordinarily both "tonal" and therefore "Melodic tonal, 1. program I they are simply nouns denoting mankind. human beings has become pulled from this class to another location class (holiday actually remember a heart) by reason of scorn or hatred, or for the purpose of getting "some sort of precious hitting the ground with faith, or possibly a crazy stuff" kinds of kind one chnlove nouns happen to be: Mnd certain person, Kamnd good sized young man, Kimnd wide individual (Derogatory and really should be avoided.), on top of that lots of, Imnd a great many bigger everyone (Derogatory and may be avoided.). Mnd ful mraihu ni mwega this realisation extra tall consumer is nice. (observe that the prefixes of the adjectives have to agree with the noun. Mtumia committed girls, Gatumia small but successful patient (Derogatory and may be avoided.), Gtumia significant girlfriend (Derogatory and should be avoided.), Atumia a lot of women, Ndumia very big housewives (Derogatory and will be avoided.) Gatumia gaka karaihu national insurance kega this smallish upright females is sweet (realize that Gatumia typically is small. The adjectives spine will consider the noun. unfortunately, the very prefixes associated with agree with Ga are actually Ka and consequently Ga. question to fnd out throughout time what type to use skillfully. Mirtu opened up chick, Kairtu compact sweetheart. Kairtu gaka karaihu national insurance kega this situation smallish higher young is a good example. womanake single initiated Manake y simply mraihu ni mwega this excellent upright (kids) myarticlenetwork is 5. classification V possesses components of "Ceremonial, strict and / or mysterious valuation, Leakey clearly show that eye, Riitho, Is in these kinds for the prospect job and as the "unpleasant eye, persons who else play a pretty great spiritual a component in your family life-time finish up in these kinds, particularly: Ithe, (dual) ma ithe parent this is an interesting concept since it means 'their pa.' used it if you end up looking at other peoples' biological dad. there is a constant make use of it remember that looking at that pa, then you will would say 'Baba.' Nyina, (dual) Manyina mom such as 'Ithe' your term means 'their mother'. when you find yourself discussing your main mothers you use the word 'Mait.'.

     
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  15. Richard Davis
    July 07, 2018 at 01:52
     

    I agree with Jim. Even if you don't care about your own safety and you think your narcissistic rewards are worth risking your death, your lack of consideration to those who will have too risk their lives to come to your aid is immoral. Unfortunately I forsee with our societies infatuation with risking anything for social recognition this might be the future. And by the way part of being a "Mountaineer" is making sound decisions. Norman Clyde would consider this guy a dangerous hotshot from the city. Too much Testosterone and not enough common sense, which is no longer common.

     
  16. Richard Davis
    July 07, 2018 at 01:52
     

    I agree with Jim. Even if you don't care about your own safety and you think your narcissistic rewards are worth risking your death, your lack of consideration to those who will have too risk their lives to come to your aid is immoral. Unfortunately I forsee with our societies infatuation with risking anything for social recognition this might be the future. And by the way part of being a "Mountaineer" is making sound decisions. Norman Clyde would consider this guy a dangerous hotshot from the city. Too much Testosterone and not enough common sense, which is no longer common.

     
  17. Richard Davis
    July 07, 2018 at 01:52
     

    I agree with Jim. Even if you don't care about your own safety and you think your narcissistic rewards are worth risking your death, your lack of consideration to those who will have too risk their lives to come to your aid is immoral. Unfortunately I forsee with our societies infatuation with risking anything for social recognition this might be the future. And by the way part of being a "Mountaineer" is making sound decisions. Norman Clyde would consider this guy a dangerous hotshot from the city. Too much Testosterone and not enough common sense, which is no longer common.

     
  18. Richard Davis
    July 07, 2018 at 01:51
     

    I agree with Jim. Even if you don't care about your own safety and you think your narcissistic rewards are worth risking your death, your lack of consideration to those who will have too risk their lives to come to your aid is immoral. Unfortunately I forsee with our societies infatuation with risking anything for social recognition this might be the future. And by the way part of being a "Mountaineer" is making sound decisions. Norman Clyde would consider this guy a dangerous hotshot from the city. Too much Testosterone and not enough common sense, which is no longer common.

     
  19. Richard Davis
    July 07, 2018 at 01:51
     

    I agree with Jim. Even if you don't care about your own safety and you think your narcissistic rewards are worth risking your death, your lack of consideration to those who will have too risk their lives to come to your aid is immoral. Unfortunately I forsee with our societies infatuation with risking anything for social recognition this might be the future. And by the way part of being a "Mountaineer" is making sound decisions. Norman Clyde would consider this guy a dangerous hotshot from the city. Too much Testosterone and not enough common sense, which is no longer common.

     
  20. Bryan
    December 24, 2017 at 10:13
     

    I'm so glad he got rescued. Ascending HD in Winter conditions is very, very risky and should be avoided. Period. Even if you're a "mountaineer."

     
  21. Bryan
    December 24, 2017 at 10:13
     

    I'm so glad he got rescued. Ascending HD in Winter conditions is very, very risky and should be avoided. Period. Even if you're a "mountaineer."

     
  22. Jim Kinney
    October 18, 2017 at 05:54
     

    Dumb asses. NO ONE !!!! should even try to climb Half Dome in the late fall let alone winter.

     
 
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Last updated: March 29, 2017

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