"Disneyland" Mountaineering

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    Jun 21, 2007 5:39 PM GMT
    Since there is no specific topic under "sports" for hiking or mountaineering, I stuck this under General Sports Discussion.

    Probably all of you guys have examples of something you love being "ruined" by its own success. For example, for runners, road races becoming "events", and over run with people doing it just to do it ... (Bay to Breakers in SF is an example).

    We recently had discussions of how Gay Pride parades have been overcommercialized and overrun to such an extent that the original theme for the parades becomes secondary.

    In California, it seems like many things are treated like "things to do"...a tsumanmi is forecast, so let's go out to the beach to watch it....etc....with such people totally clueless of the risks involved.

    Here's an example...

    There is a challenging hike from Yosemite Valley to the top of Half Dome. It's 14-16 miles round trip, and gains 4800 feet to around 9000 feet. Near the top, the final ascent is across glacially polished granite...with the ascent aided by wooden steps and stanchions/cables on eithe side of the traverse.

    No one who is not fit should try to do this hike, obviously. On a recent weekend, this was a picture shot of that last climb

    Half Dome Traffic Jam

    about 30 minutes before one person (who may have had a top heavy back pack) either got jostled and tripped, or stepped in a crack and twisted his ankle, fell off the traverse and slowly slid at right angles down to a ledge (he fell 100s of feet) to his death.

    Look at that picture...is that ridiculous or what? The SF Chronicle report cited issues with out-of-shape people trying this last ascent and holding up the rest, including the report of a young woman in flip flops trying to go up. FLIP FLOPS?

    Now the Park Service is being assailed by people claiming that this climb is too dangerous. Right.
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    Jun 21, 2007 6:11 PM GMT
    Maybe they'll pull a Mt. Washington and put in a cog railway and a road.
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    Jun 21, 2007 6:35 PM GMT
    First, the deal with Mt. Wahington and it's tourist attraction was that it was the nearest mountain to the people of the eat coast. You have to remember that the cog and the road were put in when the west was just getting developed. Besides, as a person from NH, as most other serious climbers know... Mt. Washington's challenge lies in the winter and spring months. Not the summer. It is a relatively easy day hike up and back.

    As for Half Dome... way to finally catch up to places like the Smokey's, Acadia, The Whites, The Poconos, the Berkshires, etc. etc. etc.

    I am not surprised that this would happen. Many humans are still stupid enough to think that they're better than nature. Puh-lease.
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    Jun 21, 2007 7:42 PM GMT
    That sounds like my kind of hiking! I wouldn't mind giving that a go myself actually.

    I think I would struggle with that myself. But what I lack in strength I make up for in stamina.

    Anyway, I think it's the individual's own responsibility. If you're unfit, you shouldn't be hiking in the first bloody place. Rock climbing and hiking are extremely tough (but great fun), so what do these people expect? The hike shouldn't be shut just because some idiots didn't take care when going on this hike.

    Shame the hike is thousands of miles away from me though, otherwise I would try it myself.
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    Jun 21, 2007 7:49 PM GMT
    I've actually never done the hike myself, but am planning to do it in late July. Funny thing is, I am very cautious about things like this...even though I run 50 miles per week, mostly in hills, and weight train four hours per week...I am not taking this hike lightly.

    Yet, I read this one guy's Blog on this hike and he felt he was in shape for it by doing some biking, hiking and running 6 miles PER WEEK. Geez. But he was OK...at least he was fit.

    What I can't get over is the airhead trying to do this in flip flops.

    But to get back to "musician"'s comment, I have done part of that hike, and along it you will pass Vernal and Nevada Falls...destinations in and of themselves.

    Except for the crowds...Yosemite National Park is the quintessential national park experience. It is otherworldly...and the valley (mind you, except for the crowds), is like Rivendell in the Lord of the Rings....

    John
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    Jun 21, 2007 7:53 PM GMT
    FastProf,
    The Hetch Hetchy Valley was supposed to have rivalled Yosemite. Too bad it's full of water now...
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    Jun 21, 2007 8:09 PM GMT
    ww1969,

    Yes, I have hiked the Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne down to the part where Hetch Hetchy Resevoir has drowned theh part that was spectacular. The decisions of our forebearers...we often live to rue their consequences....

    John
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    Jun 21, 2007 8:24 PM GMT
    Unfortunately, this is happening everywhere across the west. (Well, just everywhere, I guess - I've seen the same sorts of crowd pictures from the Inca trail and Machu Pichu.)

    I didn't have a chance to hike for a number of years, and things really changed. It used to be that if you went on a "wilderness" hike, you went under your own power, forded or swam streams that were in your path, camped where you thought it was best, and left no trace. Even if you stayed on the trails, you rarely saw more than one or two other people in a day.

    Now there are bridges on the streams, designated camp sites (that are highly eroded, stink of human waste, and always full before you get there) and commercial packing companies carrying fat tourists in flip-flops with all their gear. The trails are two inches deep in powdered horse shit, and there are cans and candy wrappers everywhere. Well, I could go on and on.

    It seems to me that it's only a matter of time before we need to institute a reservation or lottery system for entry to most wilderness areas. There will be a lot of bellyaching, but I think we've really gone past the point where it's necessary.
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    Jun 21, 2007 10:37 PM GMT
    Well, I'd give in on the "bridges on streams"... :-)

    However, freeways to the "national redwood tree..." that's a no no.

    Fortunately, the further wilderness areas are to major population centers, the less likely they are to be overrun.
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    Jun 22, 2007 2:36 PM GMT
    My partner and I did Mount Whitney a few years back (our first mutual "teener") and it was a zoo! So many tours and groups (most had NO training-we even saw Teva sandals) making the peak a total turn off. We didn't even stick around to watch the sunrise...
    Last year we headed up into the San Gabriel mountains when we lived in SoCal and at first the hike was miserable- so much trash and graffiti and groups. But after a few miles up the trail the area became INCREDIBLE. We got to a very private area by the Bridge to Nowhere and had a peaceful afternoon in a swimming hole with lots of boulders for sunning...
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    Jun 22, 2007 5:39 PM GMT
    That picture of Half Dome is truly revolting. Disneyland Mountaineering indeed! Although it's pretty close to me, I've never been to Yosemite. I've always feared precisely what that photograph depicts. In fact, I tend to avoid National Parks, especially during their peak seasons.

    As populations grow and more people jump on the fashionable outdoor/green bandwagon, photos like this one will become the norm in many places. Many people are ill-prepared and don't appreciate the risks (flip-flops!!!!!!!!!), much less understand trail etiquette, leave no trace practices, etc. And when something goes wrong, rather than take responsibility, they're quick to blame the park service for their own stupidity. It's a by-product of what's happened to our society in general. Government should be our babysitter and whatever happens, it's never our own fault...

    I say skip the parks and hoards of people. Out west, there are so many amazing areas to explore that are utterly devoid of people. It just takes a little effort and one can enjoy stunning scenery rivaling anything found in an NP - without the crowds.
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    Jun 22, 2007 6:00 PM GMT
    "...Many people are ill-prepared and don't appreciate the risks (flip-flops!!!!!!!!!), much less understand trail etiquette, leave no trace practices, etc. And when something goes wrong, rather than take responsibility, they're quick to blame the park service for their own stupidity..."

    This is all true.

    As a side note...the Park Service is constantly having to deal with things not in their mission. The latest having to do with Yosemite is that they wanted to raise the entrance fee to a very reasonable $25 (from $20). I mean, come on people, a stupid movie costs $10!!

    There were so many complaints from merchants, that they put that off for one year. I routinely give the entrance station ranger MORE money than the entrance fee. The National Parks are jewels...and we should be paying to keep them up.

    But I have to say...see Yosemite Valley and die!! :-)

    highsierrahiker is absolutely right about the crowds... But it's such an outrageously spectacular, beautiful place, it never ceases to move me. Wait to you see it...it's not just some mountains and waterfalls, the vertical scale makes it seem like you are seeing a science fiction landscape.

    And there are ways to avoid the crowds. Like many national parks now (Zion is another gem), much of the eastern part of the valley is closed off to traffic and only accessible by shuttle bus. Yes, the backcountry is awesomely spectacular...but there is a reason why Yosemite Valley is so popular...and being messe d up by its own success.

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    Jun 29, 2007 9:40 AM GMT
    Fastprof, thanks for that picture. On the upside, the world has more natural wonders than bumbleys to fall off of them, but it's still really heartbreaking to see the top of Half Dome with a line of ants tracking up it. And death is no deterrent, it seems, if the summit is hyped enough--one look at the number of Everest summiteers each year and the amount of money they are willing to pay to get someone to try and get them there.
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    Jun 30, 2007 4:23 AM GMT
    I just read Disneyland(which I LOVE!) and I thought of my "straight" ex who works near there, and how I want to smack just once REALLLY good...so whats going on? lol
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    Jun 30, 2007 4:26 AM GMT
    "...On the upside, the world has more natural wonders than bumbleys to fall off of them, but it's still really heartbreaking to see the top of Half Dome with a line of ants tracking up it..."

    Well, I'll let RealJock know...as I plan to do that very hike in the week of July 22 sometime on eitehr T,W or Th, weather permitting. However, I plan to start no later than 7AM and be at the summit 11AM...

    That picture was taken around 3:30PM on a Saturday...clearly, the time when most Yahoos who left after a leisurely breakfast, after getting up late, decided to go up.

    Flip-flops? I still can't get over it.



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    Jul 07, 2007 5:33 PM GMT
    The San Francisco Chronicle had a front page spread on this today, 7/7/07, and it is getting very annoying.

    The portrayal of this hike's last 400 yards as dangerous includes examples of a father forcing his seven year old son that last 400 yards, a guy wearing sandals, a 61 year old guy (the age is not significant, the fact that he was out of shape is) who complained that the National Park Service should force people to overnight halfway in the hike so they won't be exhausted, and people characterized as "elderly" and/or "out of shape".

    In short, the fact that this hike is "dangerous" only because many people do not take responsiblity for themselves, have not researched the hike to know the physical constraints.

    The implication, by splashing this on the front page, is that the National Park Service needs to "do something" to protect people from themselves.

    It's ridiculous. Anyone who would attempt a 15 mile round trip hike (let alone a 15 mile round trip hike that climbs nearly 5000 feet) without being prepared, is putting themselves at risk purposefully. Why should the rest of us suffer for their idiocy? Geez.
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    Jul 23, 2007 6:02 AM GMT
    Hmmmm...makes me think of the historical pictures taken of the Klondike Gold Rush.

    I cannot get over how beautiful that polished granite is. mother nature never ceases to amaze me.

    Flip flops? what a hoot
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    Jul 25, 2007 10:13 PM GMT
    I thought I'd report on the hike. It's very strenuous, particularly if you do it from the Valley...16 miles round trip, add another mile to walk to and from the parking lot.

    It's an extraordinary experience.

    However, the cable ascent IS challenging, and I am surprised that more accidents do not occur there. Interestingly, your ascent up that is as much your upper body as your legs, as you essentially have to pull yourself up along the cables.

    I'd say that everyone I saw at the top was prepared...but there was a jerk trying to shame his 9 year old son (not on the cables, but on the steep ascent just before), by jokingly ridiculing him when people passed him. Mind you, this jerk had dragged his son on a 16 mile round trip hike that's a challenge even for people in shape.

    I let him know how I felt about it.

    If anyone wants to know more about this experience, just send me a RJ email...and, remember, sfnicholas has lots of experience leading hikes (and doing crazy things like doing handstands near the precipice).

    I had no problem with height issues until I was at the very top...then the sense of space and a huge precipice made me feel strangely ill at ease.

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