In my post after the last death on Half Dome aptly titled, Half Dome Cables: Accident Waiting To Happen, I posted a video (now taken down) of the congestion on Half Dome. It was quite ridiculous to watch, and anyone with half a brain could see it would lead to more problems. And it did, last Saturday, and one has to wonder out loud if the NPS is finally going to step in and do something to make the Half Dome cables safer. For those of you that will argue personal responsibility, I'm just going to dismiss you immediately. The NPS has all sorts of precautions in place from barriers around Lower Yosemite Falls at the top of the climb, to bear boxes, to fences on Glacier Point. Given the type of people that visit Yosemite (um, you know, fat people from the Midwest), these precautions makes sense in the well-traveled areas. And if you've hiked Half Dome, you'll know that it's a mule train all the way up, so it definitely deserves the same kind of safety precautions, because currently there are none. And lets be honest, the hike is no joke. Seventeen miles round trip, in the heat of the summer, is not a stroll in the doggie park. People reach the cables tired and often thirsty because they didn't bring enough water and are afraid of drinking out of the streams because of alarmist warnings about giardia.
The NPS continues to be in denial, calling the circumstances a "perfect storm", which is quite ridiculous. I call bullS$#t. They call them perfect storms because they happen rarely, not 4 times in 3 years. So that begs the question, why is the NPS not doing anything? The personal responsibility line doesn't hold water, because the NPS takes plenty of precautions in other parts of the park that negate the personal responsibility argument. Cost? Maybe? Rigging up a safer climb with two cables on either side and slats coming down might be expensive but com'on. Lame excuse. Send a ranger or volunteer up there on crowded weekends to manage the crowd and stop people from climbing during bad conditions. Or rig a simple ascender for people that aren't confident in their climbing skills. Liability? Stronger maybe. If the NPS actually installs more safety equipment, they'll de facto admit it was unsafe and maybe open themselves up to lawsuits from the families of the people who have died in the last 3 years. Want my opinion? Lack of litigation threat. Nobody has sued yet. Once the first suit happens, I'd expect to see quick changes on Half Dome. Just saying. A full list of the last four deaths after the jump.
i can't image what would motivate you to completely dismiss the notion of personal responsibility. when climbing a large dome of granite? that's just absurd.
also, one of the likely conclusions of your argument is the closing of the trail up to half dome (sorry, but you'll never make that climb "safe" enough for scores of people to get up and down w/o an accident) and, likely, just about every other breathtaking view in the valley b/c, well, they're all unsafe by your standard. people duck rails all the time, they leave food in their cars, etc ... the measures you speak of mitigate risk, they don't prevent it altogether. in other words, take responsibility for your own actions ... the park service isn't your mommy.
Hey Patti, the hike to the cables is brutal enough on its own. You do that hike and get to the cables and look up those cables and see if that does scare the SHIT out of you. I made it half way up and looked down I had to go back down with my body shaking terribly. But at least go check it out. 1/4 dome is also just marvelous.
As the LA Times article says "The trail to Half Dome is in designated wilderness" so it is not easy to make changes. Legally it is probably much easier to remove the cables then add anything in a designated wilderness area. I'm sure the Park service fears the uproar if they remove the cables so they are in a bind. Unfortunately, because of the trail's popularity they will probably try to get an exemption to add safety features.
Also I can't think of a similar day hike with quotas. This is not comparable to overnight permits like for Mount Rainier and Whitney.
I made it once, it was scary but I made it. I felt like an eagle when I was up there. Years later I tried again, I was so tired and nervous going up the granite steps that I stopped half way and turn back.
Dismiss personal responsibility out of hand? That's pretty rational. NOT. Why were so many up there in a hail storm? There are signs right there saying not to go if there is even a cloud on the horizon. Yes it's crowded, yes it's difficult. More regulation? Seriously? Maybe a stop light?
Personal responsibility is the endangered species.
Agreed. As far as I know, this is a hiking trail, not a climbing route. How many people die on from falling off hiking trails in Yosemite? None. Heart attacks, sure. Getting lost, sure. Something is wrong when people keep dying on one of the most popular hiking trails in Yosemite. Either take a few easy steps to easily fix the situation, or basically admit you made a cost benefit and decided cost wasn't worth a preventing a person from dying every few years.