Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 11, 2007 - 03:54pm PT
Hey dudes, so my buddies and I climbed half dome this weekend in a party of three and I thought I'd post a quick trip report. There've probably been a hundred other trip reports just like this one, but maybe somebody will find something useful or entertaining here. :) All in all, it was a blast. None of us had climbed anything of this magnitude before, and we were thrilled to make it to the top.
Overview: We approached the route and fixed three pitches on Saturday, September 8th. We climbed up to Big Sandy on the 9th and then topped out in the afternoon on the 10th. There was one party who had started the day before us, one party that had bailed due to dehydration, and one party started the day after we did. We decided not to haul anything, and just had the two seconds jug/climb with packs. Saw and heard no rockfall for the three days we were up there. But there is a big 300 pound block on the pitch below the double cracks that I could have pushed off with my little finger.
On Saturday morning we met the heroic Roger Brown in the Glacier Point Apron parking lot! Great guy... he was on his way up to do some more bolt replacement on the apron. I think he's going for a new personal record (and possibly world record) this season of something like 5 bazillion replaced bolts.
We hiked in Saturday morning with empty water bottles on the John Muir/Mist trail (enjoyable, not too long, lots of questions from tourists), fixed three pitches, and checked out the status of the water at the base. It is currently a shallow, murky little puddle of mostly mud. You could probably have filled a liter or two from it if you were desperate. So, each of the three of us made a trip back down the john muir/mist approach to a small, but healthy and gurgling spring. We pumped water there and ferried this back to the base on Saturday. We could sort of do this at the same time we were fixing the first three pitches. By Saturday night we had about 20 liters of water at the base for the three of us for the next day and a half. This amount worked out well.
Note: The location of the spring is a few tenths of a mile past the turnoff for Cloud's Rest. We missed it on the hike up, but heard about its existence from a friendly pair of climbers that were bailing due to dehydration. If you're coming from the valley, it is about 10 ft to the left of the trail behind a large fallen tree trunk. If you're hiking up to it from the base of half dome, it will take 30 to 45 minutes to get there and it will be on your right. If you pass the Cloud's Rest intersection you've gone too far.
We climbed up to Big Sandy on Saturday. Big day. We left the base at 4:00 am and didn't get there until about 1:00 am. The two seconds were usually pretty slow jugging and climbing with packs... especially in the chimneys. The biggest thing that slowed us down was a threatening thunderstorm that rolled in around 5 or 6 pm and forced us to rap a pitch (and prepare to possibly bail). Luckily, the thunderstorm proved to be more bark than bite. We did feel a few drops, but no big downpours and no lightning strikes on half dome itself. So, we resumed climbing and one of my two bomber partners had to lead the pitch 13+14 link for a second time! (The same weather pattern repeated itself on Monday.)
On Monday morning it took us about 5 hours to get through the zigzags, and about 3 to get to the top from the start of the thank god ledge. I think there was a bolt missing on the 2nd to last pitch and I had to do some funky face climbing to get to the pendulum point. We topped out at around 4 pm to more threatening thunderclouds and a deserted summit. Very surreal being there completely alone. Also very crazy to have big thunderstorms all around us, but not actually on us. We got down the cables as fast as we could (but not before poking our heads off the end of the diving board to see what we had just climbed). On the way down, we stopped at the spring a mile or so from the top. There, it started drizzling a bit for about 20 minutes. It felt wonderful! At this point, we also realized we had brought 3 more chocolate bars than we thought we had! We made it back to the car at Glacier Point Apron parking lot by about 9:00 pm. We made it to Oakdale just 15 minutes before Del Taco closed. I have never had a better tasting coke and chicken burrito.