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Belay Ledge Disappears on Half Dome’s Regular Route

When Alex Honnold hoisted himself onto the ledge between pitches 11 and 12 on the Regular Route of Half Dome, he didn’t clip the anchors—he didn’t have a rope. The ledge offered him but brief rest on his 2 hour and 50 minute free solo up the Northwest Face. The ledge now rests on the Valley floor, shattered.

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Half Dome, the location of Yosemite’s most recent rockfall. [Photo: iStock]When Alex Honnold hoisted himself onto the ledge between pitches 11 and 12 on the Regular Route of Half Dome, he didn’t clip the anchors—he didn’t have a rope. The ledge offered him but brief rest on his 2 hour and 50 minute free solo up the Northwest Face. The ledge now rests on the Valley floor, shattered.

According to a Super Topo post by Dave Miller, one of his friends, who had climbed the route before, attempted the climb on July 5, only to be halted below the anchors of pitch 11 where the ledge once sat. A dirt outline and patch of blank granite were all that was left of the ledge. Miller’s friend bailed.

The exact time of the rockfall is unknown. There are no reported witnesses or injuries, though there is speculation that the ledge fell during one of the recent Valley rainstorms.

The Regular Route —the most popular climb on Half Dome—was established by Yosemite legends Royal Robbins, Mike Sherrick and Jerry Galwas in 1957, at 5.9 C1. All 23 pitches have since been climbed free, going at 5.12a. The difficulty of the route without the ledge is unknown.

Rockfall is common in Yosemite. On June 14, a waterfall of rock cascaded down the west face of Cloud’s Rest, adjacent to Half Dome, damaging the classic four-star 5.10a My Favorite Things.