Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Deadly Trek Up Half Dome

From an SFGate article: Rangers re-examining safety of popular hike after a fatal fall from cables during final ascent

Nohara didn’t have time to speak or even shout before he slid off the side of Half Dome to his death, becoming the third fatality within a year off the 4,800-foot granite dome.

The death of Nohara on Saturday is forcing Yosemite rangers to re-examine safety on the long trek to Half Dome, a grueling 17.2-mile round trip that culminates with a dizzying 400-foot climb up a ladder-like contraption made of cables and wooden steps leading to the top.

“We need to be concerned about visitor safety and look at it seriously, but the fact that it is wilderness makes it a unique situation,” said Ranger Adrienne Freeman, the park spokeswoman.

This accident is tragic but the fact is that it isn’t possible to eliminate all danger from outdoor activities, particularly those in the mountains. There is always some element of risk, even in situations where risk is not the main goal of those participating. Thousands and thousands of people have ascended the exposed Half Dome “cable route” – and they have been rewarded with an astonishing view and a powerful sense of accomplishment and connection with the natural world. There have been very, very few serious accidents or fatalities.

While the park service should look at safety issues (and has probably done so all along) it would be tragic if an accident like this one led to overly restrictive changes in trail management.


June 19, 2007 - Posted by | Commentary, Trails, Yosemite

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