Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite

A male hiker fell to his death from Half Dome on Saturday afternoon at about 3:40 p.m.

The victim, whose name has not been released, had apparently been using the cable handrails.
Weather conditions were poor at the time of the accident, with rain and hail having made the granite dangerously slippery.

Other climbers witnessed the accident. Afterward, rangers helped more than two dozen other Half Dome hikers descend to safety.

Like the Angels Landing climb at Zion National Park, Yosemite’s Half Dome cable handrail climb has attracted a good deal of attention because of its high risk factor and occasional fatal accidents. The last fatality at Half Dome occurred two years ago this month when a Japanese hiker slipped and fell from the cable handrails.

The vast majority of the 50,000 or so people who hike the Half Dome Trail each year negotiate it safely. However, accidents like the one that happened yesterday underscore the fact that poor weather and other factors can make the cable handrail climb lethally dangerous.


This is tragic ----- however, people fall in their own homes more often than in national parks. --- all tragic , but other than some training & education lets not make more laws and rules !!!!!

We were having a conversation about things like this yesterday. It seems there are more accidents than usual across the NPS so far this year. I'm wondering a) if statistics proves that out, or if it's just higher media reporting than usual, b) if there is a statistical rise in accidents, is it because the economy is forcing more novices to take NPS vacations than normal, or c) if cost cutbacks throughout the NPS has led to a reduction in safety.



My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

I don't have access to summary data on accidents throughout the National Park System for this year, Barky, but even if I knew the numbers I wouldn't get too excited about them. Ups and downs are to be expected in the short run (a few months to a few years). I don't want to speculate about possible causes of these short term oscillations, and I certainly wouldn't want the Park Service to base policy- and decision-making on that kind of evidence. That said, investigations of accidents, even rare ones, may suggest things that can be done to reduce risks to visitors. I'm all for that.

Tragic to say the least...But hundreds of people die everyday in car accidents...Higher risk activities doesn't result with implementing more laws to cause less problems...More laws just backs a jacked up judicial system and makes things more difficult

I was there...very tragic. This gentelman was not wearing any safety equipment and was on the outside of the cables. The conditions were horrible...rain, hail and clouds which made visibilty poor and the granite very slippery. The man was playing with death and unfornatley it was his time to go. Everyone yesterday day took a chance with there life. Multiple individuals were not properly dressed. Some in shorts, t-shirts and teva sandles. When in the mountains always be prepared.

I hiked to Nevada Fall yesterday and two things happened: A little girl got her fingers smashed by a careless hiker on the Mist Trail who was trying to get past her and her parents and another group of people were complaining that the almost fell when a group of Japanese guys pushed their way ahead of them on the way up to the top of Nevada Falls. Wonder if something like that was the case here.................everyone is in such a hurry.

Perhaps we are making it too easy for people to get in over their heads. Why are there cable handrails there in the first place?

I understand the cables being placed there otherwise, people would use their own ropes and equipment. the park service is ultimately responsible for regulating traffic flow, and should have a way of discouraging people on poor weather days.

I hiked Half Dome on Friday with a group. It was a great day. No rain. However, we were prepared to not make the cable ascent if it looked like rain was imminent. We even got off the top sooner than we would have otherwise, as we saw clouds forming in the distance. And, there were storms or some rain most afternoons of the entire week we camped there. We specifically didn't go up Thursday, as we thought there was too great a chance of rain that afternoon. And, we started early to be off by 1, when clouds were forming.

3:40 is pretty late in the day to be doing the top. Unless you are camping at Little Yosemite Valley, you still have a long hike down (8.2 miles or so).

There are plenty of signs warning you not to ascend if the rock is wet or if there is a chance of rain. Another warning about Thunderstorms as lightening strikes are dangerous up there.

We did take the added precaution of fashioning a rope harness with a good carabiner that we could use up the cables. I have to believe that if this man had such a harness it would have saved his life. I'm not talking an expensive climbing harness, but using basic climbing knots, we rigged a harness that gives you a second chance if your feet slip and you lose your grip.

Worth all $10 of materials. And, it doesn't slow you down. Clip and unclip at each stanchion. Some argue that it's a distraction or a hindrance. Having done it, I can only say it gives you peace of mind, and I have to believe could have saved this man.

We don't need to take the cables down or regulate the ascent. People just need to read and research and be aware that this is an "extremely strenuous" hike just to get to the cables (that's from the NPS) and that the cable ascent is potentially fatal. When you see the masses going up and down, it is amazing more people aren't killed.

My heart goes out to his family. It's a tragedy. Such a beautiful hike and while everyone knows it's dangerous, no one starts out thinking something will happen to them.

I hope I don't sound critical of him. I feel terrible for him and his family. My comments here are for people making the trip. It's an incredible hike. Worth the effort. Consider spending 8 bucks on a climbing carabiner and get a length of rope and learn a couple decent knots.

I'm no expert, but my advice (having made this hike twice) is to plan well, check the weather, be prepared not to go all the way if the weather looks iffy, and give yourself a second chance if you slip by having something to clip on to the cables with.

My two cents.

I was packbacing in Yosemite the 1st week of June this year. Yosemite is having a very wet and cold spring. Above 8,000 ft there is still alot of snow, and lots of water. We were up near Sunrise lakes and the trails were in some places unpassable. We also got caught in two hailstorms and a T-storm.
My point is the weather forecasts are posted everywhere in the park and if you venture up into the higher altitudes you better be prepared and you better be cautious. I have witnessed many folks in the park very unprepared for the challenges they could face there. Weather can change drastically very, very quickly. Half Dome is an iconic landmark that only the truly wise understand. It needs to be respected and one needs to be extremely humble when climbing it. We cut our trip short in the high-country because sometimes discretion truly is the better part of valor. If you plan on climbing in the high country, especially Half-Dome, just because you want to say, "I did it!" without fully understanding the challenges you may face, you are asking for trouble. If you see rude people, step-in and speak up, safety is everybody's responsibility, if folks choose not not to listen, so be it, but don't for one minute believe that someone else's behaviour will not impact you in a place as Grand as Yosemite.

I also am not sure about more rules in Yosemite . . . more common sense would be a good thing. Many years ago our church took a group of junior high and high school kids to YNP for a weeklong work-camp. The boys wanted to climb Half Dome . . . of course when the girls heard that they also wanted to go. One adult who had experience on the route volunteered to lead and I (having no desire to go to the top) volunteered to go and walk back with anyone who we felt shouldn't make the attempt. Both the group that made the top and those who just went for the great hike had a good day. The rangers have their hands full enforcing the rules already in existence. Earlier this month I say people cooking on top of the bear lockers at Curry Village and numerous bikes on the trail to Lower Yosemite Falls . . . both a no-no according to the rules. Visitors just need to realize and respect where they are when in any NP.

1. Climb the cables take a harness. Get a couple of slings and a carabineers. Rent from the mountain shop. One person falls inside the cables can turn into a real disaster.
2. Be ready for rain and thunder even on what starts out to be a hot sunny day. Afternoon thundershowers on hot days often bring lightning as well as a solid downpour. It is common.
3. Know your shoes. Some shoes are stickier than others.
4. The steepness of the rock can be hard to judge without experience. And even with experience it can be hard to judge.
5. Keep in mind that all that is needed for your foot to slip is some loose stuff. A little sand sized granite. A pebble. Also, sometimes the granite will flake off under your foot. Watch out for dirt. Best thing, follow the main traffic flow - between the cables.
6. Wet granite is slippery. Climbers head to the tent or bar in wet conditions.
7. Be patient. Leave your superman cape at home or at least at the base.
8. Just because one person gets outside of the cables and makes it look easy does not mean it is. They could be an expert on the granite. They could have special sticky shoes. They could be an idiot.
9. Have a great time because it is worth it.
10. One last thing: Don't swim above the upper fall. The current is strong. It will get you and take you over this time of year.
11. Have a great time because it is worth it.

We've had interesting discussions about using harnesses during the peak season on a Yosemite message board. Some of the opinions are that it could be unethical because of the possibility that a falling harnessed climber could possibly drag other people off the cables if their ropes catch someone else on the way down.

I never really thought of it before I went, but shoes are important. I wore one pair of Vibram-soled backpacking boots for my entire trip a couple of years ago, including the HD ascent/descent. The granite between the cables has gotten progressively slicker over the years. Some of the indications are that the slick nature is a result of the more recent (exponential) use and that maybe 20 years ago it still had decent grip. A pair of real climbing shoes could be helpful. They only weigh about 1 lb for a pair, and you don't need ankle support for the cables.

As for those going outside the cables, I got the suspicion that most are idiots. Typically younger testosterone-filled men or teens.

I did the hike on Monday (June 8th) -- well prepared, climbing carabiner/rope, left early to get off the top by 11:00 to advoid the weather. and was prepared to turn around if the weather got iffy. I was amazed at the number of people climbing on the outside of the cables. I'm so sad this accident happened, but not suprised.

I was there Friday also we also made sure to be up there early and were off the rock by 12:30 when clouds started forming. This was also our second time. I had my 10 year old with me and never would have gone up the cables iif there were rain clouds or wet rock. I also had a $10 rope and caribeener for my son. I think i'm wearing something myself next time for peace of mind, especially because of all the people's packs bumping into us on the way down. Thi s is such an amazing hike. You just need to start early and be safe.

I was there May 31 09. There were scattered T-storms and it did hail up on top of the dome. On the three days I was there it began raining around 1pm-4pm. My hiking boots with vibram sole were slipping off the steepest end of the cables. I must of slipped twice descending.

that is an ignorant comment the park should instill further rules such as, no climbing half dome when the weather is so bad that even if you have education and training, your endangering your own life and the lives of others.

I was there when this tragedy happened and everyone was attempting to come down from the top. I witnessed the whole thing and was closest to him when he passed the base of the cables which is where I was standing looking up watching the tragedy unfold. What actually happened is very difficult to tell, but I do want to clarify that nobody was going up to the top at 3:40, everyone was attempting to come down due to the weather. Also, it was extremely cold and the rock was slippery with flowing streams of water and hail. Its very unfortunate that this occured, but from what I saw and experienced, this tragedy could have occured over dozen times that afternoon meaning I saw many people lose their foot and slip and catch themselves before falling to their own deaths including two of my friends that were directly below me as I ascended the cables. You can say all you want about not being prepared or exposing yourself even more to danger, but if you werent there and were not put into that situation, you really can judge anyone for whatever decisions they chose to do that day. We are all obviously different and think and react different under stressful situations. There are those that can keep their mind clear and think through the situation and there are those that do panic and but in the end nobody will really know how to react until its all said and done. In my case, I kept myself mentally strong and told myself I have a family that I NEED to return to as well as them wanting me back so I dug down deep within myself to make sure I made it down alive. I thank god and those who stayed around to help other to guide those in distress. Just my 2 pennies!!!

thank you that was the most constructive advise ive seen and i will take all of it to heart

I am planning to climb Half-Dome on June 26th, and you can BET I will be there with a harness and safety equipment to make the climb. I read a discussion where -- incredibly -- those posting were actually denigrating the need for safety equipment. Perhaps this latest fatal accident will discourage the unprepared from making the attempt, and those who do prepare themselves to take those extra steps that will protect their own lives, AS WELL AS THE LIVES OF THOSE BELOW THEM. It is perhaps a miracle that any one of the fatal slip and falls at HD did not involve a cascade where a dozen people lose their lives. It can happen -- as it did at Mt. Hood a few years ago -- and it may well happen at HD someday. I would not object if the NPS instituted a permit policy, as is required to climb Mt. Whitney, or if they limited access to the cables to those with a climbing harness and safety equipment.

I was on Half Dome in 2007 when Nohara fell to his death. It was a similar case with chaos on the cables - an absolute log jam of people, with several panicked tourists frozen in fear and plugging up the route. I am shamed that I did not take a stronger position then.

It was and continues to be absolutely negligent on the Park Service's part to not implement a quota system on the trail. There were over 400 people on the trail that day, with one group of over 150 people - many who had never hiked a difficult trail.

I understand and am completely in agreement with the policy of "Climb at your own Risk" for climbers in Yosemite - but the Half Dome Trail is not this type of a climb. The sheer numbers lead to the false assumption that if there are so many people here and the Park allows it - "it must be safe".

The Mt. Whitney trail is tightly controlled, the quotas strictly enforced, and the fine is large. No one really likes it - but everyone accepts it. Shasta, Rainier, and other large peaks have experienced and capable climbing rangers. Half Dome has Nothing! It is a ridiculous copout to say that the numbers cannot be controlled.

The National Park Service needs to take responsibility for what happens on Half Dome. When a climber falls and dies on one of the Yosemite walls - it is truly his or her responsibility. When a tourist slips and falls off the cables - it is the negligence and responsibility of the Park Service.

If the Cables were not available, climbers would not do this route without ropes and protection. Both the granite and the cables are slick and polished, the route is at the limit of friction for climbing shoes. This is not a novice route. Thanks to the poster for the note about climbing shoes, I head up on Thursday and will be using a harness and slings - may even take the chalk bag.

Park Service, either take responsibility for this route, implement some controls, add a climbing ranger for the peak periods - or Take down the Cables.

I don't believe the cables should come down, the quota system is a better idea, at least during "peak" periods in the park. All of the trails in the high country have quotas, it's not that hard to add this hike to the list. Climbing shoes are also an excellent idea, safety harness too.
But here is the thing I don't hear anyone talking about, personal responsibility and accountability. I for one would not consider taking risks on Half-Dome. Not just because I could injure or kill myself, but also because my actions could injure or kill someone else. I don't know that I could live with that.
Our society has for years tried to legislate responsibility, it does not work out very well too often. Everyone has a responsibility to themselves and to each other, especially in a crowded cable ascent or descent.
If we all standby and say nothing and do nothing when we see people taking undue risks that could impact other people, we are all partly to blame. I know the weather was really bad that day, as it has been in the park most of June, but everyone knows the weather forecasts, they are posted everywhere, Think, then act, don't react! Ignorance and unpreparedness in the backcountry are not excuses, the information is there and it's everyone's responsibility to understand the risks and be prepared, and as the gentleman stated earlier, "Discretion is sometimes the better part of valor."

Let's compare Half Dome with a day trip down to the river in Grand Canyon National Park and Angels Landing in Zion NP. Having done all I think I can evaluate the dangers. All three parks are locations for mass tourism, the trips are inherently dangerous and on all of those trips every few years someone dies, while for hundreds of thousands it is an adventure of a lifetime.

The problem with Half Dome is, that there is no suitable option to turn back, once you see the cables.

At Scout Lookout in Zion you see the ridge to Angels Landing and can decide that this is not for you, but the view from Scout Lookout is enough of an reward in itself and neither time nor effort is "wasted" if you stay there, enjoy it and turn back from there.

In GRCA at least on Bright Angel Trail you do lots of strenuous switchbacks to Indian Garden and can decide there if you want to go down to the river or just to Plateau Point. Both are great trips. On South Kaibab Trail there is no such break off point, but the people I talk about here don't go there anyway because of the lack of water.

In YOSE and on the way to Half Dome the last suitable point to turn back before the summit is on top of Nevada Fall. That spot is spectacular, going there and turning back would not feel like waste of time and energy. But unfortunately you can't see the cables from there. Not by a long way. And once you circled the backside of Half Dome and finally see the sheer rock and the cables and the masses of people and maybe darkening clouds, human nature does not like to turn back and "lose" the effort of those miles and almost 2000 feet.

Maybe better signage could help. If I remember and read my map correctly you can't see the southern flank of Half Dome from the top of Nevada Fall because Liberty Cap obstructs the view. But if you go on a a few hundred yards further along Merced River, the massive wall comes into view. This seems like a good place for large signs that point to the sheer granite rock and tell people that they can only get to the summit of Half Dome if they climb this with the help of only two cables while being pushed by everyone else. The ranger station is exactly at that point of the trail. It should be possible for the NPS to inform visitors there about the difficulty of the last leg and advise everyone who does not feel comfortable to admire the look from the Fall and turn back from there.

All that said about safety and precautions before climbing Half Dome...be superbly physical fit as possible! Clumsy hiking without sure fit health comes potential trouble. Know your endurance levels!

I have not been to Yosemite (Its the one major Western park I haven't done) so I don't know anything about the trail. How does it compare to the cables on Angels Landing at Zion? My wife and I did that hike one weekend when we wren't originally planning to. We figured we could got to Scout Lookout and back, but when we got up there she wanted to push on. The trail was fine for us but it sounds like Half Dome is significantly harder than that was. As it was there were people on the cables at Angels Landing that I thought had no business out there, including one parent who was carrying their infant on their back in a carrier!

I have written the only guide book on the Half Dome hike, "One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome." I also give over 40 talks on it, teach Adult Ed on it and maintain a website and daily blog on it. http://hikehalfdome.com I've done the hike 24 times and did it Saturday. Here is my June 15 blog on the fall.


Where do I start? By now you’ve heard about the death of Manoj Kumar, 40, from San Ramon, CA. He slipped off the Half Dome cables Saturday afternoon. I did the hike that day. I have a lot of info to share about change at the park, but will defer them.

My party left the trailhead at Happy Isles at 5:30 am. We were in shorts and light shirts. The hike up to Little Yosemite Valley was beautiful – blue sky with just a few clouds. It was cool, so I drank way less than usual. I didn’t even need to pump-filter water at the Merced. We arrived at the cables about 10:15 and still it was very pleasant. Low clouds but no indication of bad weather. We knew that the recent weather was unpredictable in the afternoons, so we wanted to be heading back well before anything arrived. On the top it was still good, but a small cloud was moving in towards the northeast side of the rock. At 11:15, (checking time tags on the JPEGS) we took a photo of the flag of Wales that my 3 British companions brought. While we were on the Visor, a cloud danced in and back. We even had 15 minutes of clear sky overhead then it would move back in - just touching the visor and stopping. It was as if the sheer size of Half Dome was a barrier to the cloud’s progress. There was even a line of white “cloud” to the north of Tenaya Canyon clear towards the south of it. We descended about 12:15 and watched the cloud continue its in/out dance. The cables were always in the clear and people continued up the cables. Going down Sub Dome, it got pretty chilly so I put on my zip-off legs and a jacket. I felt very light drops of moisture. Continuing down into the forest, at 1:15, it started to hail. Only 5 minutes or so, but real small hail. I thought “Oh boy, those folks on the cables are in trouble.” People were still going up the trail towards the dome. About 2:30 it starting raining in earnest. I put on my poncho and continued down. It rained real heavy as we continued down the John Muir Trail. About 3:45 I could hear the helicopter heading up towards the dome with no indication of what was going on. I knew this was not a training mission. I did not heard about the accident until Sunday am. Turns out the park chopper dropped off 2 rangers who assessed Mr. Kumar and determined he was dead, but apparently in such a place that he could not be retrieved. His body remained overnight. Meanwhile 5 more rangers were dispatched to assist the estimated 41 hikers unable to get off the top or down the cables. This took until 8:30 Sat night and it was not until 1:45 am Sunday that everyone was back at the Happy Isles Trailhead!! I saw many that day with shorts and T-Shirts going up. (More typical of July.) I also saw a multitude wearing smooth soled sneakers on the cables and took a photo of a couple with TEVA sandals on. (I can only post 1 shot, so will delay that one.) As we have preached, the cable route is very smooth when bone dry and like motor oil when wet. Smooth soles shoes are pretty dumb. Clouds are full of moisture, folks. You do not “conquer” Half Dome, it lets you pass. Do not get cocky – it will be here another day to hike. Do it safely – get educated and prepare. R.I.P. Manoj.

Someone asked about the difference between the Half Dome cables and what's there at Angels Landing. I've done both and I think I can comment a bit.

Angels Landing is different. It's more exposed climbing with the possibility of falling off a sheer face. The hand-holds are actually heavy linked-chains, which provide pretty good grip on the basis of the links. If you slip on one link, you'll regain grip on the next link. They're left in there permanently and are located in places all the way up from Scout Lookout all the way to the top. There are points where holding onto the chains is helpful but not necessarily critical. There is decent grip for the feet since the sandstone is inherently like sandpaper, although it does sometimes slip a bit.

Half Dome is very different. The cables are left permanently in place. The stanchions are placed in there around late May where they're inserted into previously drilled holes and the cables are secured at the top of each with some sort of screw-in device. I don't know how to describe it other than the top is threaded and there's some sort of screw-top cap; there must be a technical term for this kind of device. It would be possible to replace the stanchions, but the cable is pretty much permanent now. At each stanchion pair there's a wooden board which can serve as a resting point or a stopping point in case of a slip. These things aren't glued in, so you can often sense the stanchions coming out a bit (gravity keeps them in the holes), and some of the boards have loose fixtures to the stanchions.

The cables have been made somewhat smooth over the years. In order to get good grip, you need gloves; I recommend the rubber-dipped palm ones like those made by Atlas Glove. There is a pile left in a drilled hole near the base of the cables, but often the NPS will remove them. Many are rotting because they're natural materials left out too long. The granite surface between the cables is noticeably worn, and reportedly it had decent grip as late as 20 years ago. You generally climb up with your hands/arms, and your feet follow. Most people climb down backwards. It's easier to stay upright w/ respect to gravity, and you don't have to look down. I would say it was much better when I was climbing up early morning before the day hiker rush (early afternoon) arrived. I could use both cables most of the way up. When going down, it's usually hand over hand on one cable.

I didn't do it as a day trip (I was backcountry camping nearby and the round trip was maybe 5 miles) but most people do this as a grueling 16-18 mile round trip with an over 5000 ft one-way cumulative elevation gains (it dips sometimes). Angels Landing is maybe 6 miles round-trip and relatively easy until you get to Scout Lookout.

This latest death on Half Dome is a tragedy, as they all have been. However, it makes me crazy when folks blame the Park Service when something like this happens. If it was hailing and raining, why the HELL were people up there to begin with, despite MANY signs warning you not to get on the cables if there's a possibility of inclement weather? I understand that sometimes you get caught out, despite doing everything right, but from what I can tell from the first-hand accounts, it sounds like people were on their way UP when the rock was already wet -- that's just plain foolish. But this doesn't surprise me. I have been up Half Dome twice, and both times I saw what I can only characterize as completely inappropriate attire and behaviour out there. I saw people doing the hike in flip flops and Birkenstocks and even leather loafers. I saw a woman who was 6 months pregnant attempting the climb, with her friend who had just had major knee surgery 3 weeks prior. They had 1 sixteen oz. bottle of water between the two of them for the whole hike, and no food at all -- we shared ours with them because we were worried they wouldn't make it back down, otherwise. We saw kids as young as 7 up there. And yet, if you are paying any attention at all, it's perfectly clear from signs everywhere, as well as what any ranger will tell you if you talk to them, that this hike is VERY strenuous and that you need to be properly prepared and not be up there if the conditions are poor. The Park Service has a responsibility to make people aware of the dangers of such a hike, and instruct them on how to prepare, but they can't legislate stupidity with quotas or anything else. People who don't properly prepare are making a very stupid decision, but it is one for which we can't hold anyone else responsible.

Also, to the people who are clipping onto the cables with ropes and harnesses, that's all well and good for YOU, but what about the other people who are on the cables at the same time? Seems to me that you're making your own life more secure while potentially endangering them, if your gear inhibits their ability to grab onto the cables where they need to, etc.

Hi Rick,
I just returned from Yosemite today, I climbed Half Dome for the first time Monday 6/15/09. I purchase your book about a year ago, and I've been training for this hike very seriously. I knew starting out on this hike I would be turning back if the weather didn't cooperate. Thanks for writing this most helpful guide. Hiking is my passion, thanks for getting me started. Julie
P.S. Five years ago I was in a car accident and broke my wrist,hip and a compound break to my left femor.
Hiking is great rehab. THANKS AGAIN .....Oh by the way the hike took me 12 hours, an hour and a half longer than your book says. Did you take into consideration age???? I'm 55 .

We've had quite a bit of comment traffic about this on my blog too.

One thing about the harness/carabiner setup that worries me: if you fall and tug hard on the cable, wouldn't the cable bounce equally hard and perhaps cause others to lose their grip?

As for taking others out -- it could happen but you'd never go farther than the next vertical pole with its T connector. I too have wondered about the domino effect, but it could be that the people are spaced far enough apart that the risk is not as great as it seems.

All I can say is I guess most people don't have a clue what they are in for on this hike. I plan to go this upcoming Friday and will DEFINITELY be taking a harness with me......It seams like there will be a lot of other people there without harnesses and I don't want any of them falling onto me and taking me out!...I got babies to attend to. Respect the elements!

The cable itself is bouncing from all the people using it. As far as spacing goes, has anyone here seen how crowded it gets on a weekend? The problem is that if it were somehow restricted to only one person between each pair of poles, the wait would be several hours rather than maybe 30-40 minutes during peak season. If you've seen it when it's crowded, that's maybe 2-3 people in each segment. There are often gaps because one or more climbers gets terrified and slows down or take time to get recomposed at each plank.

I don't recall exactly how many pairs of stanchions there are, but a quick look at photos and I'd guess maybe 36-40. That's a lot of clipping and unclipping.

I was on Half Dome when Hirofumi Nohara slipped to his death on June 16, 2007. In fact, I was behind him about 2 people when he fell and could have been taken down with him. This was an experience that one cannot forget, yet I am reliving this in your tale of what happened last weekend. Seeing him slide.... and fall..... and slide... was horrific to say the least and I still think about it every now and then. You will too I'm afraid. It was a Sunday and very crowded on the cables, people going up and down and outside the cables. It was about 3:00 PM in the afternoon. I too remember thinking "don't panic now" "keep yourself together" right after it happened..... because I knew I had to get off that mountain! People were crying and several children visibly terrified. It was also horrifying to see the helicopter land and pick up his body, before we could descend. I am all for each person taking responsibility for their own actions in the wilderness but this hike is extremely difficult! I honestly don't think most of the hikers up there have any idea of the skills and equipment needed for this climb. To most of them, it's the satisfaction of just saying, "I did it". It is a beautiful hike for sure, but can turn precarious very quickly with so many people up there. Climb Safe!

I was there too he was wearing right gloves and was not playing with his life. Please dont comment on something that you dont know.

after reading all of the above comments i am surprised that i have been able to take and use something from each and everyone of you.
it seems to me that caution is of the utmost importance. you can only rely on one's self, not the person in front or in back of you or what they are or are not doing. it all rests on you for you.
harness or not each and every one of use knows what we can do.
you all went up there to become part of that rock to feel the on top of the world rush, the rock is not the problem here it is us, SOOOOOOO all of you who go up there think, think, think, common sense.

There are several warnings on the trail to the top of half dome which inform hikers not to attempt to summit if there are any clouds on the horizon. The mountains have their own weather system, anyone who works in Yosemite Valley or lives there (such as professional rock climbers who scale the face of El Capitan and Half Dome routinely) knows how quickly the weather changes up there. A lot of the people who are attempting to hike to the top aren't completely prepared or aware of the dangers, that is why the signs are there. If you start at sunrise (which is recommended), you eliminate the bottle-neck on the cables - especially if you arrive before LUNCH TIME. There are a lot of people who have NO BUSINESS on those cables, endangering the lives of others - because they are AFRAID OF HEIGHTS and scared to MOVE UP OR DOWN. This weekend one guy was laying across the cables & wood plancks near the top, which stopped all movement on the cables for over 15 minutes. On the way down, a young girl who was "scared of heights" was attempting to slide down on her butt while her mom encouraged her. RIDICULOUS

GEAR? TO the individual that made the ... comment about safety gear. Are you nuts? I did half dome and insisted on my wife as well as I wear a harness and biner. Don't be fooled, this gear may save my life or others around me if I happen to catch a climber falling. (Ed. note: this comment has been edited slightly.)

The NPS folks do a GREAT JOB! The problem is that there has been an increase in individual stupidity, lack of hike preparation, and inability to recognize personal safety concerns.

I did Half Dome about 6 years ago at the age of 47. I would only comment that from the bottom of the cables, you do not realize that what you can see at the bottom is only half of the ascent and that it gets much steeper as you go along. I think this misleads some people. The only warning sign is about the weather. I think a sign stating how many have fallen to their deaths since a certain date in time might at least jolt a few parents that this is no place for young children. A warning that better than average arm strength will be required might help as well. By all means, do NOT take down the cables. I consider that hike one of the top thrills of my life and I'm sure I'm not the only one. People should be allowed to assess the risk and proceed at their own risk.

I just hiked Half Dome this past weekend and it's my second time. Both times I'm SHOCKED at the lack of respect for this rock. It's a sheer, smoothed piece of granite that we're climbing only because we can pull our weight up by the cables and the little wood step that's given to us. I just witnessed a father take 2 of his sons up around 12 years. One of them was mentally challenged and had difficulties climbing up. This started a huge traffic jam. I rested on each step for over 1 minute to 5 minutes waiting to go forward. My arms were killing me. Some people were starting to just turn around in the middle of their climb because of the traffic jam caused by the father and son. On the way down, it took even longer as I got caught behind the father and son. The mentally challenged son couldn't move and the father had to coax the son and help him on each step. It was sooooo painful to watch because I was thinking I would never put my children in this kind of danger. I also saw people climbing this with moccasins, bare feet, and flip flops. I've done it twice and I'm still amazed at how people don't realize how difficult it is climbing this granite even in top form. I understand that even if you're prepared with correct equipment and shoes, tragedy happens, which is why I'm still amazed at the lack of respect for this climb.

Half Dome now has implemented a permit limiting 300 permits and 100 (wilderness permits) for Friday, Saturday and Sundays. They go quick so get them early.