Preparing For Half Dome

June 15, 2009 5:52:30 PM PDT
The death of a hiker at Yosemite National Park's Half Dome this weekend has both park officials and hiking enthusiasts urging people to be careful and pay attention to the weather before taking on the challenge. 40 year old Manoj Kumar died Saturday after falling as he tried to come down the granite rock during stormy conditions.Yosemite's Half Dome is a beautiful sight, but hiking up 5,000 feet to get to its peak is no easy task. The steep climb can be daring, even during good weather. Saturday, things took a dangerous turn as author and hiking enthusiast Rick Deutsch headed up toward its summit. "The cloud would come and touch the rock, then back away. Initially, we thought, we better get down really quick," said Deutsch.

Deutsch calls himself "Mr. Half Dome." He took photos of Saturday's ominous skies and says despite rain and even hail, people continued to head up the trail. Some were obviously not wearing the proper attire for such a strenuous hike. "I even saw a couple of people in sandals, which kind of blew me away. A few people did ask, 'What do you think?' And I said, 'I think you should turn around and go back,'" said Deutsch. Later, he heard helicopters above and says he knew something terrible had happened.

Greg Aiello, a Sierra mountain guide and host of the Live Well HD Network's "Motion" program, has also seen it all. He says it can be difficult to turn around once you've committed an entire day to taking on Half Dome, but that's exactly what you should do, if you see any indication of bad weather. "You're going to be tired on some level. Combine that we fear, and then you combine that with slick granite and water, and gravity ... It's a recipe for disaster," said Aiello.

Despite the potential for danger, both Aiello and Deutsch encourage people to give Half Dome a try. They say it's definitely something you should plan and prepare for months in advance.

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