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Tackling The Half Dome


The Half Dome, or Tis-sa-ack, giving its Indian name, is in the Yosemite National Park. Ascent of the cliff can be made by the Cables Route. This runs from the valley floor to the top of the dome in 8.2 mi (13 km), with 4,800 ft (1,460 m) of elevation gain. Due to the difficulty of the trail and its length, it used to be less crowded than other park trails. But in recent years the trail traffic has grown to as many as 800 people a day. 

The hike can be done from the valley floor in a single long day, but many people break it up by camping overnight in Little Yosemite Valley.
The final 400 ft (120 m) ascent is up the steep rock is so steep that two steel cables for use as handholds was installed. Without these cables or proper mountaineering gear, the ascent would be impossible.  Due to increased safety concerns and increased crowding over the weekend, passes have to be obtained  from the park service.  Park rangers check all hikers who intend to ascend by the cable route and no hiker is allowed, without permission, to proceed beyond the base of the sub-dome or to the bottom of the cables.
There have been fatalities and many accidents on the Half Dome. In Feb 2009 Seven Korean climbers attemping the face of Half Dome were hit bay avalanches. They were in training for the K-2 in the Himalayas. The team was setting ropes for their face climb, when snow and ice broke away from above. Jun Ho Wang, 38, who was in the area known as the “Death Slabs,” rode the snow down about a football field in length. The area where all this took place was not on the face, but the talus approach to it and  below the vertical wall. There is a steep tree/granite 2,000 ft rise above Mirror Lake that climbers use to get to the face. Mr. Wang had broken bones and spent the night on the slab, accompanied by a team member. They were located and helicoptered to  hospital the following morning.
In June 2009 Gina Bartiromo, 35, slipped while descending the Half Dome cables and slid approximately 150 feet down the east face, coming to rest on a small ledge.  Multiple 911 calls were received from hikers in the area who reported the accident and advised that Bartiromo was not rsponding.  A visitor scrambled out to Bartiromo and stayed with her until rescuers arrived. 
At the time of the incident, Half Dome was socked in with clouds, with snow flurries on the summit and mist on the cables and sub-dome.  Four teams were dispatched to the scene, including rangers from Little Yosemite Valley, a hasty medical team up the slabs from Mirror Lake, and a support team up the John Muir Trail.  There was a narrow opening in the cloud cover just before 7 p.m. and Yosemite's contract helicopter, H-551, was able to land on the sub-dome and insert two rescuers.
The rescuers scrambled up to Bartiromo and packaged her in a KED (Kendrick Extrication Device) and litter. H-551 then made two attempts to short-haul her from the site, but poor visibility caused those missions to be aborted. A final attempt to retrieve her was made after 8 p.m. and was successful. She was short-hauled to Awahnee Meadow, then transferred to a waiting air ambulance and transported to Doctor's Medical Center in Modesto.
clavicle, a compression fracture in the spine in the thoracic region (no nerve damage), a couple of broken ribs, a shattered jaw, and a fractured cranial bone with a small amount of bleeding under her skull (subdural hematoma).
I’ve done it in one day and it was a tough hike.
Omar Dennison
 

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