Dan's Outside

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More About the Half Dome Death

Earlier I posted a short piece referencing the SFGate article about the unfortunate death on the Half Dome cable route. I now see that SFGate outdoor writer Tom Stienstra has posted an entry in his blog on the subject, and that many have commented on it.

I’m prepared to revise my initial thinking on this a bit, though only a bit. I continue to believe that trying to make the outdoors risk-free is both unwise and doomed to failure. However, it seems that the situation on the cable route has perhaps gotten out of control. While I do not agree with those who would require people to climb the route in a particular way (example: one person suggested requiring an overnight stay in Little Yosemite Valley) I do think that it is time to make the nature of this climb clearer to those who might be tempted to try it.

Of course, the news stories about this death will serve that goal to some extent. This may be one of the situations where the Park Service should amp up the “fear factor” a bit, in the way they have with the bear situation. A 16+ mile round trip with an elevation gain of nearly 5000 feet that ascends an exposed rock face that, while not tremendously difficult, presents a real risk of fatal consequences should not be undertaken lightly by inexperienced hikers. While knowledgable hikers and climbers may scoff at Park service warnings (I certainly do from time to time regarding the bear situation), a greater good may be served by encouraging additional respect for the difficulties this route presents to those who are not experienced or not in shape.


June 19, 2007 - Posted by | Yosemite

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