Eyewitness Account of Terrifying Moment Woman Slipped to Her Death Off Half Dome, Yosemite, CA

Half Dome Cables. image: EarthTrekkers.com

Last week a 29-year-old woman fell 500-feet to her death while hiking up Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in California. Danielle Burnett was climbing the steepest part of the climb up the cables near the summit of Half Dome when she fell down steep, rocky terrain.

The famed hike to the top of Half Dome remains dangerous even following the installation of the trail’s cables, which were installed to make the hike safe. A witness has detailed the scenario as a warning for anyone thinking of making the hike.

The girl wasn’t on the outside of the cables. She was at least 30’ above us. We heard a commotion, she was starting to freak out. It had started to lightly sprinkle. She had decided to turn around before making it to the top, her group of 3-4 continued on. I saw her shoes slipping on the rock. It wasn’t that wet yet but maybe she had a poorly chosen pair of shoes. Regardless, I watched as her shoes slipped on the rock, she fell hard and lost her grip on cable. Someone had said she was even using a carabiner but it obviously wasn’t clipped in at that moment. She started sliding down and to the right of the cables. My friend got down on her stomach to try and grab her….she went by her and I stretched out and tried to reach for her with my right hand but by now she was probably 10’ to the right of the cables and too far for me also. She slid past screaming and she went over an edge. She fell about 500’ and you could see her from the top of sub dome. Everyone was evacuated from the cables and subdome so the helicopter could fly in.

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park has seen at least 290 accidents and 13 deaths in the past 15 years, according to Business Insider.

Half Dome’s cables. image: sf chronicle

Yosemite’s website says this about the final climb to the summit of Half Dome:

“For most, it is an exciting, arduous hike; for a few, it becomes more of an adventure than they wanted. Indeed, park rangers assist hundreds of people on the Half Dome trail every summer. Most of these emergencies could have been prevented…” – Yosemite National Park website

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, USA.

The hike up Half Dome is a 16-mile round trip that involves climbing about 5,000-vertical-feet from the Yosemite Valley floor.

The final part of the hike up Half Dome is very steep, is about 400-vertical-feet, and has metal cables that have been installed so that hikers can use them to safely ascend and descend that steepest part of the climb. 

Permits are required for anyone who wants to climb the cables to the top of Half Dome.

half dome, Yosemite, california, cables
Credit: Yosemite National Park

Half Dome with arrow marking where the cables are located. photo: snowbrains