Hiking Half Dome Without Cables – Climbing Guide

It may seem like an impossible hiking on the Half Dome without the use of cables, but it can be done using a practice known as top roping. In this article, I’ll provide you with all the necessary details on how to get started with this hiking technique and give you a helpful explanation of what it entails. And then we’ll review some additional tips on how to stay safe along the way and be successful in your climb.

Hiking Half Dome Without Cables

Permits and Planning

First and foremost, if you’re planning on climbing Half Dome without the use of cables, you’ll need to acquire a permit from Yosemite National Park. These permits are only granted for the use of ropes, sheaths, and bridles, which are all things that can be used to climb Half Dome. For this reason, you will want to purchase one of these permits at least six months prior to your desired date of departure. You cannot buy these permits online as they are required by law before you can make reservations for them.

When to Go

Because of the popularity of Half Dome, it’s recommended that you start your trip as early in the day as possible. To be more specific, you should plan on beginning your summit hike at least four hours before sunset. This will allow you to beat the rush and decrease the amount of time that you have to spend exposed to dangerous elements. If you are hoping to conquer Half Dome during the winter season, then it’s recommended that you go out as early as possible so that freezing temperatures don’t become a problem for your group.

How to Get a Permit

The easiest way to get a permit is to go in person to the Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center. You’ll want to make sure that you bring your passport along with you, as this will ensure that you are given the proper paperwork that’s required for this expedition. There’s also a chance that they will not have any permits available, but they should be able to inform you of specific dates during which they’ll be issuing permits.

The other option is to call the wilderness center and make an appointment for an online reservation. You’ll still need to show up in person at their office, but you can be as prepared as possible with all of the information that they’ll need. If they do have any permits available, then they should call you to let you know.

A final option is to use an online service like the Yosemite National Park reservation system. It’s important that you check out the early start dates and make sure that there is a spot available for your expedition. Make sure that you provide all of the necessary information so that you don’t have any issues with your reservation.

The Half Dome Trail

The Half Dome hike is not for the faint of heart. The trail is strenuous, with an elevation gain of over 4,800 feet (1,400 m). It is also long, at 14 miles (22 km) round trip. But the views from the summit are well worth the effort.

The first part of the hike is relatively easy, following a well-maintained trail through forests and meadows. After a few miles, you’ll reach the base of Sub Dome. From here, the trail gets steeper as you ascend Sub Dome itself.

After reaching the top of Sub Dome, you’ll be rewarded with your first glimpse of Half Dome. The next section of the hike is known as “the cables.” This is where hikers use metal cables to help them climb the last 400 feet (120 m) to the summit.

Don’t worry if you’re not a rock climber—the cables are there for everyone to use. Just follow the instructions posted at the beginning of this section, and take your time. The views from the top are more than worth it!

The Summit

Once you reach the top of Half Dome, you’ll be rewarded with stunning 360-degree views of Yosemite Valley and beyond. Be sure to take some time to enjoy the view and snap some photos before heading back down.

On your way down, take your time and be careful on the steep sections. Once you’re back in Yosemite Valley, congratulations! You’ve just completed one of America’s classic hikes!

The Yosemite National Park Service recommends that campfires are allowed only in the designated campgrounds and that all fires are fully extinguished before leaving the area.

It is also recommended that hikers carry emergency supplies such as water, food, and a first aid kit at all times while on the trail.

Suggestions and Techniques

What to bring


Osprey Hydration Bladder

Osprey Hydration Bladder

Platypus Hydration Bladder

Platypus Hydration Bladder

HydraPak Hydration Bladder

HydraPak Hydration Bladder

Hikers should always carry enough water for the duration of their trip, but it’s even more important on a trip like this. Make sure that you have at least one liter of water per person. Be sure to boil or purify your water before you drink it.


It’s also recommended that you bring freeze-dried food that is high in calories and convenient for lengthy backcountry hikes. You’ll want to make sure that you bring enough to last the entire trip, but don’t pack too much excess.

Rain gear

Marmot Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket

Marmot Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket

The North Face Shelbe Raschel Hoodie

The North Face Shelbe Raschel Hoodie

Acme Projects Rain Suit (Jacket + Pants)

Acme Projects Rain Suit (Jacket + Pants)

Even if it’s only going to rain once on your trip, you should still bring rain gear with you. This is because the weather can change rapidly in the high Sierra Nevadas. It’s also a good idea to have an extra layer or two for your next trip.

A map and compass

Bring a map and a compass in case you get lost while hiking. You can purchase a map at the Yosemite Village bookstore.

A first aid kit

To stay safe on your trip, it’s best to bring a first aid kit with you. You can buy one at most outdoor stores.

Emergency flares or strobe lights

If you’re going off trail and don’t have any way of contacting others, then it’s recommended that you bring emergency flares or strobe lights with you for night visibility. This is a great way to help other hikers find you if you get lost.

Clothing for the summit

If you plan on spending any time at the top of Half Dome, then it’s recommended that you bring extra layers of clothing with you. The summit is windy and cold, especially during the winter months.


OLYMPUS Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera

OLYMPUS Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera

GoPro HERO10 Black Accessory Bundle

GoPro HERO10 Black Accessory Bundle

Canon EOS Rebel T100 / 4000D DSLR Camera

Canon EOS Rebel T100 / 4000D DSLR Camera

It’s always best to bring a camera with you on trips like this. This can allow you to capture some of the most memorable views that Yosemite has to offer. Be sure to carry extra batteries in case your camera drains out during your trip.

Hiking boots

Zamberlan LUX GTX RR Leather Boots

Zamberlan LUX GTX RR Leather Boots

Asolo Men’s Fugitive GTX Hiking Boot

Asolo Men's Fugitive GTX Hiking Boot


Vasque Men’s St. Elias Fg GTX Hiking Boot

Vasque Men's St. Elias Fg GTX Hiking Boot

Your shoes are the most important piece of gear that you can bring on a trip like this. It’s important that your shoes are designed for hiking and not just for walking around town. Make sure that you wear comfortable shoes, as the Half Dome hike is long and strenuous.

Bear canister

All food and toiletries should be kept inside of a bear canister throughout your entire trip to Yosemite.

What to expect:


Deadfall is a term that refers to the fallen trees, logs, and other debris left behind following heavy rain. Although they’re dangerous, they can be used to build improvised shelters. Be aware of your surroundings at all times while hiking in the park.


In June and July, wildfires frequently occur in certain areas of the park, including Yosemite Valley and other areas along Tioga Road. Streams near these fires can become extremely hot.

Overall, the park is a safe and relaxing place to visit. However, it’s still recommended that you prepare yourself for a variety of circumstances, including rough weather, deadly wildlife, and unexpected emergencies.

If you plan on hiking the Half Dome trail, then be sure that you’re prepared for any situation. It’s recommended that you carry the above-mentioned gear with you in case of emergencies. Be sure to contact Yosemite National Park if you have any questions or concerns about your trip ahead of time.


If you’re looking for an adventure and want to see one of the most beautiful places on earth, hiking Half Dome is a must. Although it may seem daunting, with a little planning and preparation, anyone can do it.

To hike Half Dome without cables, you’ll need to get a permit in advance. The best time to go is in late spring or early fall, when the weather is cooler. The trail itself is about 14 miles round trip, with a strenuous uphill climb for the last four miles. But the views from the summit are more than worth it.

To make your hike as enjoyable as possible, be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks, wear sunscreen and comfortable shoes, and start early in the day. And don’t forget your camera! With its stunning granite cliffs, soaring waterfalls, and sweeping valley views, Half Dome is an unforgettable experience.

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