Half Dome, Mariposa County, CA, United States
The most well-known rock formation in Yosemite National Park (perhaps even the United States), Half Dome is one of the most sought after climbs for hikers and rock climbers alike. Half Dome rises 4,737 feet above Yosemite Valley at an elevation of 8,844 feet above sea level. We’ve got some tips for how to get there via our Half Dome Hike page. Before heading out, make sure to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land with our Yosemite Maps.
Hikers Begin at: Happy Isles via the Mist Trail
At 14 to 16 miles roundtrip and an elevation gain of 4,800 feet, climbing Half Dome via the cables is neither for the faint of heart nor the beginner hiker. Here are some tips for those who are ready for the arduous ascent.
Footwear: What’s worse than acquiring a blister? Enduring a blister for seven to ten hours while sweating bullets up one of America’s toughest hikes. Save yourself from a bad time. Wear proper hiking footwear that’s well broken in and supportive.
Gloves: Not just for style points. Gloves can also assist with comfort while climbing the cables. Just make sure to take them with you on your way down.
Water: The element of life. Also, your best friend while climbing Half Dome. With only one drinking fountain at the Vernal Fall Footbridge, BYOW is required. Below are some guidelines from our friends over at the National Park Service.
1 gallon (4 liters) if hiking to the top of Half Dome
2 quarts (2 liters) if hiking only to the top of Nevada Fall
1 quart (1 liter) if hiking only to the top of Vernal Fall
For Rock Climbers
Climbers typically approach Half Dome from one of two ways:
A favorite of some of the most prestigious rock climbers in the world, *cough* Alex Honnold *cough*. Whether you’re a super-human, free-solo machine or an advanced climber looking for a challenge, Half Dome offers multiple routes for varying skill levels with grades that range from 5.7 to 5.13. Before you chalk up, check out a couple tips to send safely and responsibly.
Haul Up/Haul Out: Minimizing erosion, avoiding litter and other basic conservation tactics are required to make sure Half Dome is preserved for generations to come. Here are the basics:
Climbing Permits: As of May 2021, a Wilderness Climbing Permit IS required if you plan to spend the night on the wall. Also, you can legally camp at the base of the NW face, but you will need a wilderness permit to bivy at the base, even if you’re planning to climb the route in one day. Learn more about Yosemite National Park Wilderness Permits.
Seasonality: Visit Mountain Project regarding optimal climb months and other useful, community-generated data.
Looking for more pro tips? Visit Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service.
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