Tourist fall / Half Dome

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Anguish

Mountain climber
Jackson Hole Wyo.
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 19, 2007 - 01:15pm PT
The following is a federal report

Yosemite National Park (CA)
Hiker Dies In Fall From Half Dome

Hirofumi Nohara, 37, slipped and fell while ascending the Half Dome cables on the afternoon of June 16th. Nohara, a Japanese citizen in the United States on a work visa, was hiking with four friends when the fall occurred. He fell approximately 300 feet from the left side of the cables and was pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation into the cause of the slip and subsequent fall is underway. The Half Dome hike is a round-trip hike of 17 miles and considered extremely strenuous. Hikers gain 4,800 feet of elevation along the hike, which passes such highlights as Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and Half Dome itself. A series of metal cables are placed along the steep shoulder of the dome to assist hikers to the summit.

See more at:
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/13701680p-14289760c.html

(Sorry, maybe should have been added to the other thread/s)
Majid_S

Mountain climber
Bay Area
Jun 19, 2007 - 01:20pm PT
Read this

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sgreen/detail?blogid=40&entry_id=17696
caughtinside

Social climber
Davis, CA
Jun 19, 2007 - 01:35pm PT
the comments below the article majid posted are sad. Sure, this is a tragedy, but everyone seems to want more regulation, comfort, safety, etc.

There's clearly an entitelment for the summit, and there are a lot of people who aren't willing to adequately prepare for the hike. Been up there a couple times, and it seems like 30% of the people on top were just totally spent. Well guess what--now you have to hike 8 miles back down.
BoKu

Trad climber
Douglas Flat, CA
Jun 19, 2007 - 02:05pm PT
In today's Chronicle, page B1:

Deadly trek up Half Dome

The part that catches my attention is:

"Nohara was not doing anything unsafe, according to the initial investigation."

Um, the guy was a few hundred feet up a 50-degree slope. His life depended on using his feet properly and keeping a grip on the cable. Wasn't that at least a tiny bit unsafe?

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 19, 2007 - 02:14pm PT
Ask most of the people who do that hike whether they consider themselves adventurous and they'll say yes, but most don't appreciate the implication of taking responsibility for one's actions.
They want a guarantee.

The only guarantee available however is that all of us will die, but that most of us can have a hand in determining when.
sprout

Trad climber
clovis, ca
Jun 19, 2007 - 03:05pm PT
These other two topics about the same thing....

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=400512

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=400870
BoKu

Trad climber
Douglas Flat, CA
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:07pm PT
Another article, this time in the San Jose Mercury News.

I've already emailed the writer about the factual error in this sentence:

"Hikers are discouraged from scaling the mountain in winter, when the cables are removed."

The cables are still there in the winter, only the stanchions are removed.

I question this statement:

"Since 1971, nine people have died in falls from the Half Dome cables..."

Werner, is that true?

I find it easy to believe that nine people have fallen from Half Dome since 1971. But nine on the cables alone? That doesn't sound right. I'll check my copy of _Off the Wall_ tonight.
E.L. "One"

Big Wall climber
Lancaster, California
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:20pm PT
Boku,

"But nine on the cables alone?" I would have agreed with you until I did Snake Dike a few years back and got to the summit to see no fewer than 250 people, most of whom I couldn't imagine how they could even survive the hike. Thunder and lightening came in, and I saw an absolute stampede to the cables with people freaking out and bear-hugging the cable in panic while descending. I ended up downclimbing and rapping on the outside of the cables and looked up from the bottom to see a scene straight out of the "Poseidon Adventure". No one slipped and fell that day, but there were dozens who could have.


Cracko
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:21pm PT
sfgate yesterday:

"An average of about 10 to 12 people die in Yosemite each year, but very few fatalities are on Half Dome, Freeman said. Since 1971 there have been nine falls, including Nohara, but only three of them were fatal, all within the past year. She said Nohara's death was the first on Half Dome where other factors, such as bad weather, did not play a part."
Mr_T

Trad climber
Somewhere, CA
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:24pm PT
Why not modify the cables to be a via-ferrata system? Kind of like in the Dolomites (minus the bar on top).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Via_ferrata

(also, if it's only nine deaths since 1971, that's sensationalist news - nine people die every few hours in alcohol related car wrecks.)
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:26pm PT
THREE.

More people have probably died on the Manure Pile.
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:37pm PT
"Perhaps they should have to watch a film first or else participate some other form of information conveyance so that they truly realize what they are getting into before they start."

Everyone keeps talking about signage and shizz, but when you're actually there, the mountain sorta tells the tale better than any sign. It's big and steep and really friggin obvious that if you fall you will probably die...and if you let go you will probably fall. Hence the large #'s who stand at the base after their epic trudge, shake their head, and head back down.

Does anyone really think that the folks who passed this year would have chosen to not go up or would have tried harder to not let go if they'd read a sign?

Remember that one of the people who perished was an accomplished ultrarunner for whom this was part of her favorite run...and who chose to continue w/ the cables down in bad weather. As tragic as her fall was, I can't imagine that this was a person who would prefer to be harnessed or who would have changed her approach if she'd read a warning sign.
Indianclimber

climber
Las Vegas
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:41pm PT
Two weeks ago my inlaws watched a guy fall from the chain area at
Angels Landing in Zion ,unfortunately these things will all add up to restrictions and closures eventually.
As Ron says they all expect the Disneyland safety guarantee
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 20, 2007 - 03:55pm PT
Lois, have you actually been to the cables and still were left with the impression that they were as safe as the Green Dragon Valley Floor tour b/c you didn't get enough signage? I'm guessing no.

A cable on a 50 degree slope is a sign in the international language for "You could die."

IIRC, there is a sign at the base telling that it's dangerous, watch the kids, don't do it in the rain, etc.
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 20, 2007 - 04:13pm PT
"Ever been to Yellowstone? By the time you are done reading all the signs and the guilt trips posted everywhere, it is amazing anyone would even leave their room."

That sounds hideous. I'm glad that the tactic w/ the HD trail has been to encourage people to stick their neck out and live a little.

An interesting stat would be the life expenctancy of someone who visits Yosemite and does the cables vs. the life expectance someone who does not. I bet the cable folks have the non-hiking Miwok village visiters by a mile.
nate23

Trad climber
c-ville, virginia
Jun 20, 2007 - 04:54pm PT
give me a break. I went down the cables for the first time last week -- in my bare feet. They are what they are.
Chaz

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Jun 20, 2007 - 04:55pm PT
Jusy because something's *dangerous* doesn't mean it's unsafe. Driving and climbing, when practiced responsibly, aren't unsafe. Same with The Cables.



ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
Jun 20, 2007 - 05:16pm PT
ONE person has died on the cables in clear conditions when the cables were up. This fatality, while of course sad, was a freak accident. The NPS should do nothing in connection with the cables. While I understand that some visitors to the Grand Canyon might not be aware that you rapidly descend into a desert, and that it's a long way back out; and I also understand that visitors might need to be warned that Yellowstone hot pots are hot enough to kill, but the dangers of falling off a cliff seem readily apparent.
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Jun 20, 2007 - 06:18pm PT
At least two people have died on the Green Dragon ride and they don't warn you about that at all ...


I've been down the cables a bunch of times and it is always a lord of the flies kinda deal. Kinda, like, Melissa said, if you can be there, look at that, and not know it's dangerous you're defintiely serving donuts in another dimension. The only recourse is to turn around and hike back to the valley and have someone drive you home because you certainly aren't aware enough of consequences to drive a car.
knighTrain

Mountain climber
Yosemite, CA
Jun 20, 2007 - 10:05pm PT
http://friendsofyosar.org/rescues/rescues1.html
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