Half Dome Record Run (1999)

[by Bill Wright; from the archives]
Hi Runners,

On my last day in Yosemite I had no climbing partner. I was staying at Hans Florine's house (the world's fastest climber) and he was too afraid to climb the Rostrum with me. His excuse was because there was no way we could break the record for the route (1:30 by Peter Croft - solo!). Actually, I think he was afraid to climb it with me as it would probably take two days and he'd have to z-pulley me up the route... Anyway, Hans says to me, "I know what you should do! You should try to break my record on running up Half Dome. I did it in 2:03 up and 3:33 roundtrip." Okay, I'd give it a try. The time officially starts at the Half Dome Trail sign just on the other side of the bridge (now closed) near Happy Isles. From here to the summit it is 8.2 miles and 4900 vertical feet (5100 vertical feet roundtrip).

Below are my splits at the obvious landmarks. I ran this with a single Camelback for water and one packet of Power Gel. That wasn't nearly enough food as I bonked hard on the descent and was totally wasted when I was done. The water was sufficient. I started at 9 a.m. and it was quite warm in the sun, but not overbearing. On the way up, every hiker I passed thought I was crazy and I got quite a few comments. The way down was the biggest ego boost I've had in a long time. I re-passed everyone and they'd ask, "Have you been to the top already??" "Yes," I'd say and then they might say, "To the top of the cables??" "Yes." "OH MY GOD!" One women called me her hero and I had one marriage proposal and a handful of propositions. I got an applause from one group as I zipped by. Not surprisingly I was the one running the trail today. This trail is probably run about as often as Haleakula is biked UP!

Location ~ Section Time /Elapsed Time up


Start 00:00 (00:00) /0:00:00

Bridge at bottom of Vernal Falls 9:29/ 9:29

Top of Vernal Falls 11:13 /20:42

Top of Nevada Falls 19:35/ 40:18

East end of Little Yosemite Valley 13:09/53:27

Two miles to go sign 18:43 /1:12:10

Bottom of first hump 21:33 /1:33:43

Bottom of cables 9:52 /1:43:35

Top of cables 6:22 /1:49:58

Summit 1:01 //1:50:59

Top of cables 0:41/ 1:51:40

Bottom of cables 3:07 /1:54:47

Bottom of first hump 6:00 /2:00:47

Two miles to go sign 13:45/ 2:14:32

East end of Little Yosemite Valley 13:32 /2:28:04

Top of Nevada Falls 13:44 /2:41:49

Top of Vernal Falls 17:11 /2:59:00

Bridge at bottom of Vernal Falls 8:19 /3:07:19

Start 7:42 /3:15:02

As you can see by these splits, I was crashing towards the end. I actually ran slower on the Little Yosemite Valley section on the way down. This is because this section is quite sandy, mostly level and has two hills on the descent. This long level section hurts my average ascent rate. But the bottom line is that I bested Hans Florine!! :-) I guess he never claimed to be the world's fastest trail runner. This is a strong run for me, but I'm sure Kraig-zilla could take at least 20-30 minutes off this time. Certainly under 3 hours. I have long thought this hike to be one of the best day hikes in the world. The scenery is unbelievable! Unfortunately, I didn't get to look at it much as the running took almost all of my attention.

I love Yosemite!

Bill Wright