Half Dome in a Day Beta/Strategy/Tips???


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Trad climber
Denver, CO
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 10, 2013 - 12:43pm PT
I have set the ambitious goal of doing the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome in a day this year. Just want to pick your collective brains about the best strategy and training regimen. Here’s my plan so far:

Thinking that mid to late September would be ideal. Cooler temps with lots of daylight. Probably more crowds I imagine as well. Hike “death slabs” approach on day one. Bivy at the base and blast the next day. Would love to free as much as possible, not just short fix the whole thing. Hike down the shoulder to retrieve gear and head back down the Muir trail.

A couple of questions:

1. Training: Obviously it’s a big day so endurance is key. What types of training have you all found to be the most beneficial with the best translation over to actually climbing the real thing? I’m trapped in an office and won’t be able to log much time on the rock until May at the earliest. I figure I have 8 months to get into tip top shape which should be plenty of time.

2. Are the “death slabs” reasonable to descend as opposed to hiking back down the Muir trail?

3. How hard is it to find the climbers trail on the decent off the shoulder back to the base of the wall?

Any beta would be greatly appreciated!

Trad climber
Jan 10, 2013 - 12:48pm PT

For limited time training Check out Cross Fit Endurance. There was just a decent article in Outside Mag either last month or the month prior. Seems to be the real deal from what the author/ reviewer was saying. He trained for a 100 mile run and the longest training run was something like 15 miles, be beat his PB and said he was in the best injury free shape of his life.

Jay Wood

Trad climber
Land of God-less fools
Jan 10, 2013 - 12:56pm PT
Easy to get back down the shoulder, but

the hikers trail is way easier in the dark when you're tired- just put one foot in front of the other.

I don't envy those who descend to the start of the route in climbing shoes after a long day.

Jan 10, 2013 - 01:17pm PT
Half Dome in a Day

To train is climb climb climb climb climb climb.

All other training doesn't equal having tons of climbing time.

You become so used to being on the rock it becomes natural to you.

All this training crap doesn't come close to putting tons of high mileage on the rock.

There were superman cross fit guys around and we still climbed circles around these guys like they were standing still.

But whatever,

High rock time mileage is the winner .....


Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jan 10, 2013 - 01:22pm PT
Approach fast, climb fast, descend fast.
Love, Werner.

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Jan 10, 2013 - 01:28pm PT
C'mon Werner, we can't all climb the big stone after work every day!

Jan 10, 2013 - 01:50pm PT
you get better at rock climbing by rock climbing, the same holds true for every sport
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 10, 2013 - 01:53pm PT
July. More daylight!

Jan 10, 2013 - 02:10pm PT
1. climb loads...

2. you'll see on your way up, no? depends on the fixed ropes a bit. no big deal, if you find the right way. the very first bit of descent from the base of the wall is a bit is tricky to find on the way down, where all the bushes are.

3. could be annoying in the dark. when there is daylight it's easy.


Trad climber
Denver, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2013 - 02:12pm PT
I'm out in the Front Range. Anybody got any suggestions for good "simulator" climbs in the area. I'm planning to spend as much time in the S. Platte come May when I finally get time to climb again. I definitely agree with Werner's and others comments about mileage on the rock. In the meantime, I'm just hoping to keep my fitness up until I can get out a bunch.

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Jan 10, 2013 - 02:23pm PT
Scenic Cruise, Southern Arete, Atlantis...

not in the SPlatte but good for moving all day.

Climbing fast on the Diamond? Maybe the Diamond Freeway, something like that with a bunch of 5.10 and some sideways action.


Gym climber
sawatch choss
Jan 10, 2013 - 02:27pm PT
And if you've already bivied at the base once, and you're really tired, maybe just sleep there again instead of going down exhausted in the dark. Make sure to stash your food well, there's a bear.

Social climber
Jan 10, 2013 - 02:31pm PT
This TR has some great beta and training tips. I'm holding onto it jussssst in case.


Trad climber
Denver, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2013 - 02:35pm PT
Yeah, that TR is pretty sweet. Also, I'm tentatively looking for a partner if anyone is interested. That may be the crux of the whole thing.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Jan 10, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
I'd suggest getting to the valley as early as possible in the season and finding a solid parter is your main goal. Just because you can climb half dome in a day doesnt mean your partner can. Take a run up the DNB first and bring xtra headlamp batteries, lol.

Trad climber
Chapel Hill, NC
Jan 10, 2013 - 03:37pm PT
Ive not done it IAD, only in 2, but if I were to go back...
Training: Lots of long days with lots of pitches and lots of physical 5.9 (wider cracks and chimneys). Practice climbing at night. Practice Pulling on gear if need be to be fast. It seems counter intuitive to me, but I had trouble being fast while climbing A0...I either wanted to be all free or all aid and had trouble with the in-between. Climb all the 5.9 quick and efficient and this will be less of a problem, but you still have to move fast above BS.

I'd not want to go back down the slabs if I was as tired as I was after two days. Maybe if you were still fresh, or if you spent another night at the base afterwards it would be ok, but I'd be pretty scared going back down the slabs unless I was pretty fresh or perhaps if I had done it before and was comfortable and familiar with it.

Finding the route down the shoulder would be pretty easy if you had been up it once or could find it in the light. In the dark, tired after doing the climb it might not be so easy to find.

Listen to the people who have done it IAD, but those are my thoughts if I were to go back and try it.

Trad climber
Out and about
Jan 10, 2013 - 05:07pm PT
Just did it in a day a couple of months ago. We spent a 2nd night at the base of the wall and went down the death slabs in the morning. The fixed ropes were in good shape and it was easy.

Getting back to the base of the route is generally easy. Take the 2nd gully down, not the first.

Dial your short-fixing. I short-fixed us through the first 6 pitches. Short-fix and free on everything except for the short 5.11 crack and the bolt ladder, short-fix and aid on that. We then simul-climbed to the base of the 5.9 pitch just under the chimneys and pitched it out from there, except for a bit of short-fixing on the zig-zags. If you can short-fix and simul-climb well throughout the first half, you will be in good shape. Good luck!

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Jan 10, 2013 - 05:24pm PT
If you can blister up the Nab wall (Waverly/Butterballs/Butterfingers) in 45 - 60 minutes or so, you'll hike the RNWF in good time and have fun doing it.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 10, 2013 - 05:28pm PT
Did it four years ago in a little over ten hours. Get a good partner who is efficient at establishing and changing over belays, we climbed with a sense of urgency but didn't do anything special.

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Jan 10, 2013 - 05:45pm PT
BETA Below...

photo not found
Missing photo ID#277234
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