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Standing Proud | A Half Dome Summit On Opening Day

Everyone has people in their lives, places, and unique things about themselves that makes them proud to be who they are.

For me, a recent experience guiding our first Half Dome in a Day hike of the season did just that. Arriving to Lasting Adventures for the summer, eager to check my guide schedule for the summer, the blue colored line on our guide roster reading “Half Dome in a Day” was calling me.  A hike that not many get the honor of doing, one that had been on my bucket list for a long time, but had not yet manifested. Lasting Adventures encourages us to reach our best potential, to be the best guide to clients but also life guides for ourselves, and for me, that’s what this opportunity represented. Finally, I was going to lead a summit of Half Dome.

I wholeheartedly tell people that “We help others reach their personal summits while pushing our own skills.”

Climbing the Half Dome summit.

As the days got closer, the excitement of the unknown increased. We didn’t know if the cables were actually going to go up on that day due to questionable snow and weather conditions. I planned and scouted an alternate route two days before to check out water crossings and tree falls. That night after I scouted the alternate, I got the best message from my boss, Scott:

“You’re summiting Half Dome on Thursday!”

I started preparing immediately for the trip–I wanted it to be perfectly dialed–as I knew that the client was excited and had been communicating constantly with our team to get ready for her big day. From the cheeses, to our KIND bars, to the LAIRDS Coconut Water Mix, I wanted our supplies to be ample and stoke to be high, so all we’d have to do was focus on reaching the top together. 

Coming to our meeting spot at Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village), it was still dark but the sun was just peaking over the Dome, gleaming golden rays of dawn onto the village below. I met Libby at our meeting point and she was beaming with a determined smile. We went over everything: safety checklist, equipment, goals, and fears. Finally, Libby said:

“Let’s make it to Half Dome!”
The first views of the days goal. Half Dome.

At 5: 15am we started 15 minutes earlier than planned and ascended up the Mist Trail.  We could hear the water roaring as we approached the river…we had a big surprise ahead of us. The water was blowing eastward against the trail with high whipping winds and gusting us with all its beautiful power. Looking back and forward, Libby and I communicated very well, stopping at opportune spots to catch our breath and laugh at what had just happened. We kept pushing on and cruising through the trail to Nevada Fall before the junction to Little Yosemite Valley. Readjusting, snacking, and learning all about Libby and her life was one of the highlights to the day. Those moments of genuine connection reminded me truly why I am here and working with Lasting Adventures…for the people.  

Libby was eager and so motivated to keep going to make good time and weather so we could have a higher chance of reaching the summit. We checked our water levels before we veered left directly to Sub Dome/Half Dome. 

The approach to Sub Dome. Photo: Maddison Hodge

We could feel our legs getting tense, the air thinning, and our hearts pumping as the dome peeked through the trees, glistens to all coming closer. Approaching Sub Dome, we pushed up the steep granite steps to the cables. Looking over to Libby-we both gleamed with smiles that communicated mutual stoke about how we’d  made it this far no matter what. Together, we looked at the clouds, the time, how we were feeling, the etiquette, and communication/risks we needed to be aware of. As Libby and I put our gloves on, strapped everything down, looked at the cloud conditions, drank our last big gulps of water, and looked at the Dome welcoming us on. 

With a “Trekking Pole High Five,” we grabbed hold of the cables and started up.

Libby blew through the cables, a beautiful sight as she motivated all coming up and down as if it were motivating herself to do so. I was in awe of her strength, determination, and kindness to herself and everyone in the pursuit of Half Dome. We paused toward the summit to share a surreal moment with just a few more cable poles left.

Photo: Maddison Hodge

Then suddenly, we were standing on top of Half Dome, 8,839 feet above the sea. As we reached the top Libby was wide-eyed and smiling the best summit smiles I have ever seen as her year-long hard work, sweat, drive, preparation, and patience all came together at that moment. We found a beautiful spot that overlooked the Valley–a clear panorama featuring El Capitan, North Dome, Basket Dome, Clouds Rest, and peaks beyond. Libby and I had a moment of pure awe after the big ascent, shed some tears, had some laughs, and exchanged some moving words about what goals we’d go for next after achieving Half Dome in a Day together. With the help of Yosemite National Park, Trail Crew, good weather, Lasting Adventures, and all of Libby’s motivators,

“We made June 6th, 2019, a day to always remember.”

Getting to be apart of someones lasting adventure is something I will always be thankful for. Here’s to Libby.

Maddison Hodge, Lasting Adventures guide

Libby Segal showing her pride and passion. Photo: Maddison Hodge
“I learned so much, saw so much, and enjoyed this so much.”
Libby Segal, TripAdvisor review


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