Half Dome Adventure

The adventure all began, well, about four months ago when we were all sitting around having a beer at The Toronado. One of us, namely me, may have been jealous that he was the only one at the table who had not proven his worth by ascending this epicness. So one thing led to another and five gchat conversations later, a date was set and a campsite was reserved. There we had it, Paul, Robert, and I were on our way to adventure – Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

The group slowly grew to six, but just as fast as it grew to six, within a week of the trip it dwindled to five, then four and then three. What started as a grand expedition of the boys became the trek of three – with three lost to one broken arm, one weekend birthday celebration, and one blown-out back. Which randomly brings me to a subject for future introduction – the Watson Award.

Paul is my adventure buddy, we hit the slopes, the roads, the trails, the wilderness, Tramdock, Evogear, and SteepandCheap like two wanna-be outdoor bums acting like we are living the dream amid the mid-life crisis we call the working reality. So when he broke his arm during a freak bike accident on Golden Gate Bridge, the trip was bound to not be the same. But alas, it was still epic and the bromance will survive just fine despite Paul’s jealousy.

So there Robert, Neil, and I were, just approaching the trail head in Yosemite Valley. The morning was young, the bodies still groggy, and the eyes clouded by the early morning. But the air was full of anticipation and excitement, we were ready to attack. One-quarter of a mile in and we were wondering what nailed us – this slope was going to be nuts. So we plowed on through the first mile hitting a healthy clip to the first fork in the trail. We chose the more adventurous route up the steps paralleling the river gorge and the spectacular first set of waterfalls, it was amazing. The steps were meticulously carved right out of the hillside – so cool.

Onward and upward, we moved onto the next series of climbs out of the waterfall to the next big waterfall. This climb up, although not as epic as the first stairway-to-heaven, traipsed back-and-forth alongside the next waterfall, another beautiful set of stairs carved and formed so amazingly out of granite. From here we explored further through the meadow and started third ascent from the meadow to the base of quarter dome.

And then we see it, the momentous Half Dome peering in the distance, the trail of ants marching up in the most orderly of fashion. So we get our classic pictures and begin our trudge up the last quarter mile to the top of quarter dome. This is the most beautiful of granite stairways, there are no trees, just a steep granite face with switch-back after switch-back of the most perfected high-sierra masonry. Off to the left and right were treacherous drops with slopes that pierced the mind, but for those wary of heights, yep that’s me again, just tuck the head and roll on. Then you stop and realized that a 7o year old man with a vintage Army Surplus backpack says “get going ya lackey . . . sheesh kids these days”.

We summit Quarter Dome and rest amazed at the amazing view to the south, east, and north. The sheer beauty of the vast last is equally surprising and humbling. We scarf down as many sweets as our backpacks could hold, gulp after gulp of water and ponder the last quarter-mile stretch up to Half Dome. The last segment of the climb is straight up the eastern face of Half Dome, complete cables for railing and vertical wood stays. It’s pitch is steep, so the cable and wood assists are an imperative to the finely polished granite after so many pairs of feet trampling up.

Unfortunately, we were unable to ascend the last quarter-mile to the summit of Half Dome as the top had been closed for the morning due to an accident. So the wait ascend was two hours, so amid a timeline to finish before sunset, we took in our last awe-inspiring view, said our peace, and began the exciting descent. And what better way to end the evening than with pizza, beers, and a great dinner filled with stories, laughs, and the sense of accomplishment. Our thanks to Brian that despite his back flare-up, he was such a friend to have dinner ready for us and beers ordered.

Please enjoy the video below to the tune of Pearl Jam. Also, for pictures and slideshows, please click here to the picasa album.

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