Update April 20, 2011: Cables for Half Dome for the 2011 season are not yet in place and are not expected until late June.
Each year, depending on the weather conditions, the Yosemite National park service reinstalls the hiking cable system on the back side of Half Dome. There is no set date for this event as snow conditions are variable year to year. Each year the Forest service must make a formal announcement of the installation of the cables.
The Announcement each year is eagerly awaited by many who wish to be the first on the dome for the year. It is no simple task. Using the Mist trail from the valley floor and hiking past Nevada Falls, you will reach the base of half dome cable system. Once at the base of cables, grab your gloves and begin the cable assent to an elevation of nearly 9,000ft. There you will find an plateau of nearly 7 acres on the top of Half Dome to view the vistas of Yosemite.
All toll; this is over 8 miles of straight-up hiking. Although some hikers make the round trip in one day, most spend the night in Little Yosemite Valley.
Little Yosemite Valley is the area behind Half Dome, as viewed from the Yosemite Valley floor. It parallels the Merced River and trail. This valley is a great camping area for day hikes to Cloud’s Rest and Half Dome. It is also the gateway area to the Yosemite backcountry. It is easy to access from the top of Nevada Falls if you are coming from the Yosemite Valley floor area.
The Cables of half dome have an interesting history. In 1875, a Scotsman, George Anderson, built the first method to scale Half Dome. As the story goes, he used iron eyebolts, which he drilled into the granite of the Half Dome. He would drill and insert an eyebolt, then stand on it. He would then reach above as far as his could and drill another hole. Inserting another eyebolt, he would pull himself up again. He did this over the entire 900 feet of climb. The current route to the half dome follows the eyebolts laid down by Anderson. Without the novel approach by Anderson, it is doubtful that Half Dome climb would be accessible to the novice Yosemite visitor today. But why talk about it, when visiting and experiencing Yosemite would be far more exciting!
Keywords: Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, Little Yosemite Valley, Camping, Half Dome cables, George Anderson, Nevada Falls, Mist trail