Rising nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to many hikers. Despite an 1865 report declaring it was "perfectly inaccessible, being probably the only one of the prominent points about the Yosemite which never has been, and never will be, trodden by human foot," George Anderson reached the summit in 1875, and in the process created the predecessor for today's cable route. Today, thousands of people reach the summit. For most, it is an exciting, arduous hike; for a few, it becomes more adventure than they bargained for. Every summer, park rangers must assist hundreds of people on the Half Dome trail. The most famous—or infamous—part of the hike is the ascent up the cables. The two metal cables allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without rock climbing equipment. Since 1919, only a few people have fallen and died on the cables. However, injuries are not uncommon for those acting irresponsibly. The cables are not the only difficult part of the hike, which is 14 to 16 miles round-trip and gains 4,800 feet. If you're planning to hike Half Dome, you should be in good physical condition. However, the reward is worth the effort! Along the way, you'll encounter outstanding views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, and—from the subdome and summit—panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra. It takes most people 10 to 12 hours to hike to Half Dome and back. If you plan on hiking during the day, it's smart to leave before or at sunrise. You should have a non-negotiable turn-around time (i.e., if you're not at the summit by a certain time, you'll turn around). Check sunrise and sunset times before you embark on your hike, and always bring a flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries for each person. Although the trail is well marked, you should be prepared with a good topographic map and compass, and knowledge of how to use them. Much of the hike to Half Dome is an unpredictable adventure into Wilderness, but preparation is paramount.