Note: As of July 2011, this Half Dome page is our newest
addition to our Dangerous Places collection.
It is a work in progress. I will have more stories and
pictures as time permits.
For the moment,
I would like to thank Karl Myers for bringing this location
to my attention.
people have died on Yosemite's
There is an
macabre joke about Yosemite's Half Dome climb. It is
the one trail everyone should try before dying and it is the
one trail where you are most likely to die trying.
been more than 20 deaths on Half Dome itself, and if you
count the trail leading up to Half Dome, the number leaps to
more than 60.
People have died on Half Dome from a
variety of causes: falling off the cable route, heart
attacks while climbing the cables, lightning strikes, failed
base jumps, climbing accidents, and even a few suicides.
The most recent incident was in June
of 2009, when a hiker from the bay area
fell to his death while descending the
cables. It was the first
death on the cables since 2007, when a Japanese climber fell
off the cables and
died on June 16;
another hiker fell to her death the same year trying to
climb the route when the cables were down.
The cable route is
extremely dangerous; please don't do it unless you're well
tips on surviving the cable ascent
are a good starting point.
Deaths on the
trail to Half Dome, rather than on Half Dome itself, are
usually above Nevada or Vernal Falls, and usually occur when
someone wades into the the water above the falls or slips
off rocks into the water and gets swept away. In many cases,
their bodies have never been found.
For more information, read the macabre
Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite,
which chronicles every unnatural death in the park from its
inception until the book went to press in early 2007; and
an account of the lightning deaths on Half Dome on July 27,
1985. For accounts of recent mishaps in the park, see the
Yosemite Search & Rescue team's
rescue reports page.
Yosemite Hikes at
Yosemite National Park
Story of a
Mountain Climbing Accident in the Half Dome in Yosemite Park
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2008
Subject: huashan trail
I came across your website after googling
"most dangerous trails". This Huashan one takes the
cake! First of all, this clearly should be a
one-way trail. I've been hiking in Europe where
there are similar trails, chains, platforms (metal
ones), and ladders. Many of these sections are
one-way, clearly marked on maps and books. If you
get caught going the wrong way, it's a huge fine
right on the spot. There's just no excuse for such
irresponsibility in my book.
I bet most deaths occur on
that Huashan mountain because of passing or
inexperience folks who are not in shape. All it
takes is one misstep, one instant when you aren't
paying attention or someone distracts you, just one
Last June, I was in Yosemite. I've been up
the Half Dome a couple of times and decided to go up
for a third time. While I was on the cables, I saw
someone slip from above and slide to his death. It
was the most frantic and shocking thing I have ever
been a part of. People suddenly started screaming, I
looked up and saw a guy sliding off the mountain
with no way to stop his momentum. I can still see
the look on his face, petrified, he was kicking his
feet, he bounced on the rock a couple of times.
He slid by me, and when I looked back, his feet hit
a divot which unfortunately caused him to somersault
out of view. Someone below yelled that he was
"airborne", falling 4000 feet to the Valley floor.
Lot of good that warning did him.
The poor fellow didn't go
airborne for long. He landed on a ledge about
a hundred feet below the "saddle" section where the
cables begin. A couple of hikers had the courage to
go down there for a rescue attempt. His heart was
actually still beating for a few minutes but he
succumbed to his injuries.
All of this
happened so fast.
year before, another person lost his grip on the
cables and slid down the other side of the mountain.
He lucked out when his pants caught a piece of rock
that prevent him from sliding 4000 feet to his
death. The poor guy was stuck there for 6-8 hours before
someone rescued him. Unreal, huh?
After the accident I witnessed, some people still kept going up, but I
couldn't. I just had to turn around; it was no
longer fun. I was so stunned, no words can
describe how I felt at that time.
Yosemite Waterfall Deaths Put National Parks' Safety
A vista point over Vernal Fall in Yosemite National
Park, where three hikers are presumed dead after
losing their footing in the water.
July 19, 2011
By: Katy Steinmetz
Three hikers were swept over Yosemite's Vernal Fall
this week, after bypassing signs and climbing over a
metal guardrail to get into the park's swollen
The bodies of the hikers - ages
21, 22, and 27
- have yet to be found, though witnesses saw
them go over the falls and struggle in the moments
before. The group was roughly 25 feet from the
fall's edge. The woman
slipped first. A second man
tried to save her and slipped. The third
man then tried
as well. He failed in an attempt to
save the other two.
The waters were, and are, stronger than usual,
bolstered by a late snow-melt, and the hikers are
all presumed dead. A press release from the park
describes the current as dangerous, the waters as
"flowing swiftly and extremely cold."
Of the 12 people who have ever gone over the
317-foot Vernal Fall, none has survived, a park
official told the Los Angeles Times. And this
accident brings Yosemite to its sixth water-related
death this year. Two hikers drowned in a reservoir
in June; another slipped into a river in May. The
park continues to urge visitors to use extreme
caution as the winter snowpack continues to thaw,
causing higher-than-normal water levels over coming
The incident has led to questions about whether park
rangers are as vigilant as they should be when it
comes to reprimanding those who stray from the
trails—and whether that kind of zealous policing
would have much deterrent effect in any case. It has
also brought renewed attention to how the beauty of
America's waterways can belie their danger,
especially in a year when weather has been so
volatile. Some are calling this incident a
The dangers of nature, water and land, is a
perennial story. Climbing deaths have recurred at
Yosemite over the years. Rock slides and high winds
pushing over trees have even been deadly for
visitors. But there is a balance to be struck
between protecting people from nature and
facilitating their fullest enjoyment of it at
national parks. Such tragic events are powerful
stories but also rarities among the some 4 million
visitors that annually visit Yosemite National Park.
Two LA Hikers Dead after Yosemite Accident
By Beverly White, Jack Noyes and Beth
Friday, Jul 1, 2011
Two hikers from Los Angeles are dead after being swept into
the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, where one of the hikers had
originally proposed to his wife.
Dr. Gregory Meyer, an ER physician, and Richard Fox, a
physician’s assistant, were returning from a days-long
hiking trip with three other friends at about 8 a.m.
Wednesday when they fell into the reservoir, according to
the Fresno Bee.
Meyer’s wife Paula said that her husband originally proposed
to her at the very reservoir years ago over a shared bottle
of wine. She told NBC Los Angeles that her late husband, 54,
was a man who loved the outdoors, having been raised on a
cattle ranch in Merced.
“He was a man of the earth, completely without pretense,”
Paula said. “His greatest love, excepting his family, was
reviving his Grandfather's ranch in Merced.” The couple have
twin girls together.
“He was an exceptional husband and father,” Paula told NBC
Los Angeles. “I will always cherish him.”
The trip started at the O’Shaughnessy Dam, and the hikers
were returning to the spot to work their way home, according
to the Bee. Officials said that though the bridge was open
to the public, water levels were extremely high at the
bridge because of melting snow and recent rainfall.
The three other backpackers are uninjured.
Video Clip of the Wapama waterfall that caused these two