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


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Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jan 10, 2013 - 05:46pm PT
Once again Werner speaks the simple truth.

Just a couple generalizations that spring off what Werner has emphasized.

Know your partner ! Climb, climb, climb...
Train, train...

A little less general:
Know the route. Study the topo. Discuss tactics/logistics with your partner. Discussing tactics/logistics does not simply mean to plan 'ad nauseum' a single plan. Have a plan A, B, C and D. Plan 'D' should be your 'retreat and/or Self Rescue' plan. If plan A gets any enroute modification then that effects all other backup plans. EX: if plan 'A' and 'B' have become obsolete then you should be forming plan 'E' adhoc.
This might sound a tad on the side of 'over processing'. However that may be for a team the likes of Bachar and Croft, Begging your pardon, I assume you are not climbing at that caliber.

RE: "Know the route"... have you done the route before as a recon, under a 'scenic cruise' M.O? Sure I understand the reward of an onsight, one day ascent. But you are asking the questions so that belies your anticipation/anxiety. Maybe doing other routes of similar length and difficulty is good training and you feel ready. This could be the case, only you can decide that for yourself. But if you and your partner aren't comfortable doing 'Moratorium/ElCap East Butt' (or reasonably comparable routes/enchainments) in a smooth day then maybe you need to set your ambitions a little lower.

Can you and your partner comfortably, onsight, simul climb 5.9 ?
If so think (strongly) about simul climbing the lower, middle section of the route.

Don't worry about which approach to take. Think more on the question "do we approach and climb it in a day, or bivy at the base?"


An after thought:
I assume you are going to do this 'Free as can Be' as opposed to all free ?
If so, get your C1 aid dialed before. Learn to move efficiently on mostly fixed aid. While on the more (free) challenging pitches, if you find yourself contemplating "should a bust a few moves of aid?" then you probably should have already had your light aiders out and in action. That's providing you can really book on fixed C1 and didn't leave it be dweebed around because you went up there with the attitude of "We'll figure it out when we get there" !


Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jan 10, 2013 - 06:24pm PT

Only you, Cosmic!!!!


Trad climber
Denver, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 10, 2013 - 06:48pm PT
Hmmm...rapping half dome to check out the route on the way down. Now that's an idea! Seemed to work well for the nose crew. What could go wrong?

Jan 10, 2013 - 06:51pm PT
Mark Kroese posted some really detailed HDIAD beta to Supertopo this past summer.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jan 10, 2013 - 08:35pm PT
I don't think you need to simulclimb to do this in a day. Unless you're on 5.7, I think simulclimbing is risking disaster unless both of you are really solid and familiar with the route. Maybe those those wandering easy pitches between 8 and 10 or 11 might lend themselves to that. You could probably also short fix the Zig Zags if you're not super fast on A1, but I think for the most part you just need to be really solid at the grade and move efficiently. Granted, my recollection of the route is from 30 yrs. ago (climbed it young) but I remember it being pretty straightforward stuff.

right there, right then
Jan 10, 2013 - 09:15pm PT
Did it IAD ten(ish) years ago with a strong partner (which is of course the real key beta). Not sure how september has "lots of daylight" but we did it in early june and believe you me, temps were perfectly cool up there. Anyway, we simul-ed some of the early/middle portion and while I guess it's sorta risking disaster, as the above person noted, it really didn't feel too bad and is a good way to save time. Fun too! Other than that, we led in blocks, and if you're intimidated by chimneys, *do as I did and have your partner lead that block.* We would have taken a week if that was my portion. Plus by so doing the zig-zags were my block, which also made sense since I was probably the faster french-free/aid guy. All in all it's totally doable by strong weekend-types, and will be a very memorable adventure. The views from up there are... well... you'll see.

Social climber
santacruz mountains
Jan 11, 2013 - 12:22pm PT
Overall aerobic fitness, practice simul climbing, short fixin , I recommend climbing NE butt higher cathedral , east butt el cap, and royal arches to crest jewel, also use a 70m, a little beta I can give for the route, I remember was to do the three chimney pitches in one, simuling the last 40ft, also after thankgod ledge , climb the wide crack facing the wall. Hope this helps, good luck!

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 4, 2013 - 02:28pm PT
One more question for ya'll. How do the chimney pitches on RNWF compare in difficulty to the chimney pitches on Epinephrine in Red Rocks?

Social climber
Feb 4, 2013 - 02:36pm PT
All other training doesn't equal having tons of climbing time.

This. So much this.

Re-create the conditions... climb multiple long free routes, quickly, even linking big moderates. When I trained for the RNWF we just did like 3 routes on tahquitz in a day 4 times or so, Half dome felt similar. We brought a little haulbag to take a nap at the sandy ledge, but it wasn't more than 15lbs total and we hand-over-hand hauled it or wore it as a pack.

Had a pair of goobers crash on the ledge next to us who were 'in a day-ers' and poo-poo'd our jumars/haulbag/etriers. But we were on their ass the whole time and they shivered all night while we dreamed the night away in our minimalist bivy like the dudes who put the route up...

got off by 2pm the next day taking our time behind the slower party ahead who had to prussik (one dropped his tibloc... on my face).

If I was going to go for it in a day (I want to...) I would want to be a much more sharp free climber so I can do the zig zags french freeing and be comfortable on the chimneys, and I'd probably want to try to free the 11 variation to the pitch off the 11th ledge, because it looked bad ass and I felt like a punk aiding up it. But that's way out there... need to eat more kale and flail around in Josh a bit more...

Social climber
Feb 4, 2013 - 02:38pm PT
I’m trapped in an office and won’t be able to log much time on the rock until May at the earliest.

I work 5 days a week 8 hours a day... wake up at 5, buy a mini traxion, do what you gotta do that limit is one you put on yourself... you're a rock climber aren't you :)

Trad climber
Chapel Hill, NC
Feb 4, 2013 - 02:39pm PT
Epiniphrine chimney pitches are easier than the RNWF pitches. If the RWNF chimneys are 5.9 then I'd call the Epi chimneys 5.8. The RNWF chimney pitches do protect better and it is easier to pull on gear, and there is lots of fixed gear, but I think that the actual climbing is harder.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Feb 4, 2013 - 02:41pm PT
do ALL training with a SLED in tow, and add 155 pounds of weight to the sled.

Then contact me before your ascent,, ill will replace the weight...Thank you.."SOE" chairman..

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 4, 2013 - 02:42pm PT
Thanks Alp. I suspected as much as the Epi chimneys didn't seems so tough for me except a few spots. Glad to hear about the protection for sure.

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 4, 2013 - 02:44pm PT
Ron, I'll have to charge for that. RNWF taxi/shuttle service won't be free.

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 24, 2013 - 01:56pm PT
Another question about the chimney pitches. Anyone done the 5.9 squeeze chimney? I've gotten a lot of info about bailing our left and french freeing the 11c crack. How bad is the squeeze? Are we talking trailing the helmet kind of squeeze? How long is the squeeze section, etc? Thanks! I'd sorta rather free the whole chimney section than french free or do any more aid than I have to.

Santa Cruz
Feb 24, 2013 - 03:53pm PT
I think it is a cooler experience to hike up from the valley floor on the day you do Half Dome in a day. It's 4800 ft from the valley floor to the top, is it really a one day ascent if you spend two extra days going up and down from the wall? Also you save yourself the wear and tear of carrying extra clothes, sleeping gear, and food to the base. All you need is gear, food, and minimal clothing. Water at the base.

And on the 5.9 chimney, the 5.11 way goes really quick with pulling on a few pieces, and some fixed gear.

You can do the route in 12-14 pitches with a 70m. We also brought a 100 ft super thin tagline for gear exchanges.

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Feb 24, 2013 - 04:55pm PT
Maybe so Adam, but I'm 44 now and I think the approach+the climb=the descent (to where?) would destroy me.

Fortunately, no one is paying me to climb stuff and claim IAD status.

Trad climber
San Francisco
Feb 25, 2013 - 02:34am PT
The chimney pitches on half dome are not too difficult. I personally thought the Epinephrine chimneys were harder.

We climbed the route in a day car-to-car. The follower generally followed on jugs. My partner was extremely competent and short-fixed the first 6 pitches or so. I think we climbed 7-9 in two pitches. We also linked almost all the chimney pitches into a single long pitch and made it to the base of the double cracks on the next pitch. My partner took over again at the zig zags and short fixed up to TGL.

We climbed in blocks, which saved a fair amount of time.

We climbed the route at the end of July and the weather was perfect. The spring was still flowing too. At the end of Sept, you don't have as much daylight and the spring can be pretty weak. Colder at night too.

I've also climbed the route in 2 days. The first time we topped out with just enough light to make it back down to the base and retrieve our packs before hiking out on the JMT. I wouldn't have wanted to route find down the side in the dark. Similarly, I wouldn't want to go down the death slabs, especially in the dark while tired.

Hope that helps.

Santa Cruz
Feb 25, 2013 - 03:04am PT
Bad excuse, I did this route in a day with a friend on his 43rd birthday.

The route was not as hard as one would think, there is a lot of scrambling and 5.9 stuff that goes quick. But the thing that will really slow you down is the zigzags, be ready to go as fast as possible and link pitchs.

Trad climber
Feb 25, 2013 - 05:51pm PT
We took a rest day to suss out the approach/descent of the 'death slabs' to get it totally wired. Carried day packs full of beer and lunch meat for simulation. Descended in the early evening just to see what it was like in case we epic'd or got stalled on the route. That was the best thing we could have done to prep for the route I think. The slabs aren't that bad once you get your line dialed.

The route is pretty straight forward. We were both reasonbly solid on Valley .11 and fit. We got a very late start and made it to the top pitches at dark trading pitch for pitch. Any of the really hard climbing as well as the zigzags were chill to french free. The chimneys were rad, featured and well protected. Lots of fixed gear on the whole route where you might want it. I thought the top few free/aid pitches were tricky route finding(by headlamp) due to the different bolt lines and such. That little wide bit after T-God ledge will wake you up. Short-fixing may be helpful to conserve energy if 5.10 is your free climbing limit?

I'd say for training, get the approach/descent dialed, go do EB El Cap as fast as you can and go practice your french free on the Rostrum(w/o getting in anyones way ;-). No sweat...you got it!
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