Making it to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite, CA has been on my bucket list for a while! And now, I can finally say CHECK… 17 miles – check, 12.75 hours – check, and 8,839 feet – check!
In order to do this hike you need a permit to climb up the cables to get to the very top. You can obtain the permits here. There is an period of time between March and May that you can get your cable permits, however, if you are like us and miss the cut off date in May then you can enter the lottery. We had to enter the lottery 48 hours prior to our hike date (before 1pm PST) and pay a $4.50 fee to enter. If your group is chosen, you will be charged $8 a person with a max of 6 people. I was able to get the permits for all 6 of our group for the day I wanted and my cousin was able to get two more to make our group 8. I hope if you are entering the lottery you are just as lucky. Anyway, I posted loads of pictures so you can get a good idea of what we saw on the hike… Beautiful GORGEOUSNESS to sum it up!
Make sure to bring enough water and snacks. After you pass the water fountains below Vernal Fall there are no other fountains available on this hike. So unless you have something to filter out the river water your risking getting sick.
After we hiked past Nevada Fall, the trail got pretty flat until the switchbacks to Sub Dome. There is a campground in this area called Little Yosemite you could backpack to for the night if you would prefer the pit stop. I would like to stay up there for a night next time I hike Half Dome. Also, there are restrooms available for you here. They are the last ones on the hike! Half Dome does not have a port-a-potty/outhouse (unfortunately)!
There is a ranger station at the base of Sub Dome is where your permits will be looked at. You can print your permit or take a screen shot of your email on your phone because reception up there is rare. We did not book our permits until 2 days before our hike. The ranger will have an iPad with your information on it. Also, be sure to bring your ID with you!
Ok let me just say, this part of the hike is not for everyone! I am not going to lie, I was scared to bits. Thankfully there was enough family there to support me through the process. I am not one to be scared of heights, but I was super scared while pulling myself up these cables!!! There is only one set of cables for hikers going up and down. So yes, you do kinda bump into each other while venturing up/down. So make sure to hang on tight!
Here are a couple of other tips:
- Hike early so you avoid crowds on the cables.
- The rubber coated gloves are the way to go! No slip grip!
- You can bring a harness to wear around your waist and clip on the cables as you climb. I unfortunately did not know this was an option for my first hike, but I 100% plan on wearing one if/when I do Half Dome again.
- Make sure your shoes have some grip to them, the rock is very slippery even when dry!
- If your scared of heights, do not look anywhere but at where your feet are headed!
- There are wooden beams every 6 feet or so you can rest on while climbing the cables. Use them well!
- Make sure all of your belongings are secure while climbing the cables, if it falls it is gone! RIP cell phone of hiker who did not listen.
After we made it to the top, we had to rush down because a thunder storm was rolling in. Half Dome regularly gets struck by lightening – probably because all the cable polls pose as lightening rods! It also is very slick when it gets wet and I was not about to use Half Dome as a giant water slide! So we quickly got off that rock! Just in time too, the second we stepped off Sub Dome it began to pour!
Things I could not live without on this hike:
- Water and electrolytes (Propel)
- Hand sanitizer
- Snacks (bars, sandwich, crackers, and chocolate)
- Extra pair of socks
- Insect repellant
Next time I will bring:
- Bandana to wet and tie around my neck
- A harness for cables on Half Dome
- More water containers and filtration pump/iodine tablets
- Lighter snacks (they seemed heavier then normal)
- Knee brace/walking sticks to absorb impact when heading back down!