Park ranger Kari Cobb has helped plenty of hikers conquer their fear of climbing Half Dome. Here she reveals how to handle the park’s scariest trail.
Don’t spectate "Watching people climb the cables before you start up tends to make you more afraid," says Cobb. "It looks far worse than it feels once you’re climbing."
Start early Traffic on the cables can spike hikers’ alarm, so get going by 5 a.m. from Happy Isles to beat the crowd–and set your own pace. Try to hike on Sunday or Monday, which see one-quarter of Saturday’s hikers.
Step up Wooden planks positioned every four or five feet provide footing that feels more secure than the granite, says Cobb. "Use those boards, even if it means taking longer steps than you normally would."
Don’t look down Focus on your hands and feet as you climb, not on the views around you–or worse, the ground far below. You can enjoy the scenery once you’re on top, feeling rooted and secure.