Regular Northwest Face 5.12 or 5.9 C1

  • Currently 5.0/5

Half Dome

Yosemite Valley, California USA

Trip Report
Half a Half Dome with my daughter
Thursday December 1, 2011 8:00am
A fun if nippy HD in a day attempt with my daughter:


HD pitch 11 bivy ledge
HD pitch 11 bivy ledge
Credit: Jim Herson

  Trip Report Views: 6,268
Jim Herson
About the Author
Jim Herson is a climber from Emerald Hills, CA.

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wayne burleson

Amherst, MA
  Dec 1, 2011 - 08:09am PT
Jim!! Geez...

Wonderful writing as usual.
Kudos to Kara for bein all smiles despite the increasing deterioration of her father's judgement...
Anne certainly should not see these photos, right?

Away from Walhalla
  Dec 1, 2011 - 08:14am PT
"And it was good Alpine training!" & "Whoops! I untied the wrong loop!"

Your kiddos are awesome. Truly blessed to have a dad who lets them experience life.

Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
  Dec 1, 2011 - 08:15am PT
That ROCKED! Great report!
That is one tough kid!
Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
  Dec 1, 2011 - 08:22am PT
Gnar-Lee. Your daughter is a tough cookie. TFPU, Jim.
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
  Dec 1, 2011 - 08:46am PT
You made my morning, my laughing seeing the video woke up the dogs. You're setting a high bar for her future partner, hope to meet you and your clan at some point. Great TR!!!

Charlie D.

  Dec 1, 2011 - 09:47am PT
Great trip report!!

And then she uttered the six words that every parent of a rebellious tween fears most "And it was good Alpine training!"

Made me smile this morning =) TFPU!

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Dec 1, 2011 - 11:02am PT
an amazing climber! The kids, that is. ;) Jim, seriously cps, pull it before the tourons read it and mistake it for torture under the Geneva convention. :)

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Dec 1, 2011 - 11:08am PT
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Dec 1, 2011 - 11:13am PT
Thank you Herson Family for getting after it!

  Dec 1, 2011 - 11:43am PT
Thanks for another well-written account which caused me major parent-envy. So you must be near Handley Trail; you probably know Bill Oldfield too.

"Tradition!" (great cinematic reference)

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Dec 1, 2011 - 12:02pm PT
Un. Real. If you took me up there in that style we would have bailed after the first pitch. And I've been climbing for twenty years. I get colder and hungrier and more scared than your twelve year old daughter on lesser routes in lesser conditions. This Thread is destined for greatness. Way to go dad.

Jim, If you're interested, here's a more pedestrian "Father Daughter" TR of mine.

Same vibe, but in video form on a bit mellower terrain.

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Dec 1, 2011 - 12:25pm PT
Wow!, I'm impressed. Over the coming years, she's going to deflate a few young gymboys egos (she's already deflated mine, but that's not hard to do). Makes me feel good that some of the upcoming generation are learning skill sets by earning them. You're a lucky dad!

Trad climber
New Zealand
  Dec 1, 2011 - 01:29pm PT
Brilliant in all respects! Thanks for the inspiration. I have a 4 yr old girl who's always ready for an adventure, it's cool watching her confidence and skills grow. We'll see where she decides to take it....

Oakland, CA
  Dec 1, 2011 - 02:12pm PT
I'd love to hear the story of this amazing effort narrated by your daughter. You get the sense that there is a lot more going on underneath the tongue-in-cheek humor in this TR than the last one; would be fascinating to hear about it.

But then again the crazy and complex sub-strata of a father-daughter relationship (which can only be crazier and more complex during a verglassed IAD attempt of a north-facing big wall) is probably best left off of the internet. What's totally clear is that you two are incredible and a huuuuge inspiration to many of us fathers out here.

Can't wait to see what you two do in the spring/summer/fall of 2012. I can see Kara's post-summer essay now: "Trango Tower with my dad." Unless AYSO gets in the way (boo, jeer!)

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Dec 1, 2011 - 02:41pm PT

One of my friends recently made me consider an adage of Mr. Croft.

"Peter Croft talks about going for it–and being willing to fail big–rather than surely succeeding: 'It’s kind of a lost, or it’s kind of an ignored idea, magnificent failure rather than a kind of mediocre success.'”

Way to go big, surely a more memorable experience than a simple one day ascent in summer!


Trad climber
Station Wagon, USA
  Dec 1, 2011 - 02:59pm PT
I look forward to the day when you are too old and decrepit to hike up the Salathe, at which point you are rope gunned by your immensely talented daughter. I feel for the kid that has to go after her on show-n-tell day. Awesome write up!

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Dec 1, 2011 - 03:05pm PT
Really a wonderful read .. Wonderful kids...crazy father...they take after their Mom, perchance?

Alpine Raven

Eugene, Oregon
  Dec 1, 2011 - 03:14pm PT
Jim-Wonderful trip report. Lots of pride there. Climbing with ones daughter is the greatest. Times that you lovingly remember long after others fade.
Cheers, David
Daughter Caitlin and I on Cosmic Wall summit, Castle Crags.
Daughter Caitlin and I on Cosmic Wall summit, Castle Crags.
Credit: Alpine Raven


Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Dec 1, 2011 - 03:21pm PT
Great TR. When I consider how proud I was of my daughter's getting up Monday Morning Slab at age 10, the achievements of you and your children truly dazzle me. "And it was great Alpine training" really takes the cake.

Well done, as always.


Mountain climber
The Ocean
  Dec 1, 2011 - 05:07pm PT
"And it was great Alpine training"


I've seen better conditions in the AK range!

It's official, that kid scares me. Little bro seems well on his way to the same.


Trad climber
it's all turtles, all the way dooowwwwwnn!!!!!
  Dec 1, 2011 - 06:14pm PT
in addition to buying Kara some easily stashable gloves and perhaps splurging on some gortex lined approach shoes for her, maybe you ought to ask Anne to sit down with her and have them together google "early onset alzheimer's"...

as a friend jimmy- yer f*#king nuts man!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Dec 1, 2011 - 10:16pm PT
There is such a fine line here between father daughter adventure and child abuse!

You're either going to end up on the "Why I love my Dad" episode of Oprah,

or the "My Dad Is a Derelict and Gave Me Frostbite" episode of Montel Williams.

May CPS never find this website or lots of us Dads are gonna be doing time at Lompoc. Sidenote: On my trip with my kid up The Cables on Half Dome, she became significantly dehydrated and borderline hypoglycemic after I tried to get us by on a Litre of h2o and two packs of gummy worms for the summit day. This after my wife gave me only one instruction before heading out..."Honey, all I ask is that you keep her well hydrated and full of calories. She doesn't weigh much and I'm trusting you'll watch her closely."


E Robinson

Salinas, CA
  Dec 1, 2011 - 07:15pm PT
Okay Jim, just spent some time conferring with colleagues from around the state and decided no mandatory CPS referral was necessary since all limbs and digits are still intact :-) Now I can make the more apropos comment that Kara is one hardcore individual who is going to accomplish some incredible stuff with whereever she puts her mind, passion and capacity to plug on. Some wild math equation or sketchy alpine misery and all.

PS Stay safe, I'd hate to have to admit to making this post.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Dec 1, 2011 - 07:26pm PT
that is a fabulous TR. Thanks!
Jerry Dodrill

  Dec 1, 2011 - 10:08pm PT
Hi Jim, Great TR. I was blown away by your family at GW and Jailhouse a couple weeks ago. Congrats!

Trad climber
Melbourne, Victoria
  Dec 2, 2011 - 12:47am PT
Outstanding writing, funny and moving. And I just whiled away an afternoon reading some of your earlier TRs. Your daughter is hardcore. Between you and Micronut, it's almost enough to make a guy think that having kids is the way to climb more! (I think perhaps I need to find to find a nice American woman to ensure any offspring have whatever it is your's do) Either that, or one of you could adopt me. I'm 33, quiet and mild-mannered and well-spoken (for an Australian), earn good money, and lead 5.10.

Seriously though, thanks for posting that, and for linking to your other TRs.
Jim Herson

Emerald Hills, CA
Author's Reply  Dec 2, 2011 - 01:45pm PT
Thanks everyone for not shredding me. It was with great trepidation that I shared this one.

@Wayne: Given my baseline, it's not such a rapid deterioration.

@Charlie: Glad you enjoyed the video. It took a depressingly long time to make and not many people caught it.

@MungeClimber: Too late. Forget the tourons. Grandma found it and I'm now in some serious hot water.

@rrider: We learned to climb at Bill's Rock. Bill's a super guy.

@Micronut: Great video with your daughter! And really, gummy worms and a lt of water? Thanks for making the rest of us look so good.

@tahoe523: I already am and I too can't wait until she lets me tag along!

@Elliot: A thumbs up from you on the wisdom of a winter thashing has shaken me to the core. Like the addict who can't remember how it is that he woke up naked in a central park fountain, yours is a wake up call I need to heed.

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
  Dec 2, 2011 - 02:18pm PT
Good stuff!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Dec 2, 2011 - 04:35pm PT
You and your daughter are hard as nails. How is her belay set up when you are leading?

  Dec 2, 2011 - 05:31pm PT
It was with great trepidation that I shared this one.

That is mildly reassuring.

Trad climber
Fresno, Ca
  Dec 5, 2011 - 12:40am PT
Jim are you willing to adopt a new child. I am 38, already have a job and can split gas money with you. The TR is inspiring and incredible. Nothing like quantity and quality time. Though your climbs make my Puppy Crack and Pothole Dome with the kids this last summer seem like child's play. Oh yes we are taking about children. I would take mine on more difficult routes too, but we under scrutiny in the process of foster-adopting. Thanks for sharing!

Trad climber
  Dec 7, 2011 - 04:13pm PT
These father-daughter HD trips are more impressive than freeing the true Salathe, which itself is beyond comprehension!

Trad climber
new paltz, ny
  Dec 8, 2011 - 05:09pm PT
i wonder how on earth they would have gotten off the summit. the cables were probably not in place.

surely she is a bold girl but, knowing those conditions i think they should have waited for warmer temps.

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Dec 8, 2011 - 05:23pm PT
I've never wanted so much to be someone's kid as I do now.

Jim, you are one rad Dad.

Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
  Dec 11, 2011 - 03:45pm PT
Excellent! The adventure, your sense of humor, your skills as a parent, Kara's spirit. Love it all!

  Dec 11, 2011 - 04:10pm PT
holy shit! O_O

Trad climber
  Dec 12, 2011 - 01:32pm PT

Huh? "The snow had slowed us to a crawl and we were certainly looking at a long, cold, miserable night. We didn't have gloves and not much in the way of warm clothing. "

Great TR and pics. I hope your kids continue to survive and enjoy your adventures with them.
Mighty Hiker

Outside the Asylum
  Dec 12, 2011 - 11:05pm PT
Thanks - a good report!

Is your daughter named for the sea north of Russia? I have a friend with the same name.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Dec 12, 2011 - 10:46pm PT

Whoo hoo!!!! What RAD kids! Great writing, nice pics, and
what TOUGH kids!!!!

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Dec 13, 2011 - 12:10pm PT
Insane! No gloves?!?! Has McTwisted seen this?

Reno, NV
  Dec 13, 2011 - 06:32pm PT
Wow, looks like the same Kara who tied for first in her age group at the ABS regional bouldering comp, a long way from climbing Half Dome in the snow.
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Half Dome - Regular Northwest Face 5.12 or 5.9 C1 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The Regular Northwest Face.
Photo: Mark Kroese
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Half Dome - Snake Dike 5.7 R - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
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Snake Dike follows an amazing feature to one of the most incredible summits in Yosemite.
Half Dome - Tis-sa-ack A3 5.9 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
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Half Dome - Zenith A4 5.8 - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Zenith, A4 5.8
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The first part of the route is hidden.
Half Dome - Direct Northwest Face 5.14a or 5.10 C2+ - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Direct Northwest Face, 5.14a or 5.10 C2+
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The Direct Northwest Face.
Half Dome - Blondike 5.11b R - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click for details.
Blondike, 5.11b R
Half Dome
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Blondike is the red line and Two Hoofers is the Blue Line.
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