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What does it take to quell fears on Half Dome? Try chest thumping

April 18, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Hikers head up the cables at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
Hikers head up the cables at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. (Robert F. Bukaty / Associated…)

Here's one way to conquer your fear while hiking up the steep cables on Yosemite's Half Dome this season: Try thumping your chest a bit.

This wisdom comes from Henry Austin, 23, of Eugene, Ore., after he and two buddies set out on a quest to hike about 4,800 feet up to the top of the granite face. His blog post about what he discovered on that trip won him third place in the Young Travel Writers Scholarship contest sponsored by the Society of American Travel Writers and the Family Travel Forum.

"Confidence is crucial up here, one misstep and it’s game over," he writes. "We had to help [his friend Brandon] find his courage — shoulder pats, chest thumps, reminders we were beside him, that he could trust us, to imagine the view, that we’d come so far, to think of his girlfriend."

In the end, it worked. Austin describes what it meant to set foot on top with his friends.

"I'm flying at 9,000 feet, and this giant rock, this 18-mile journey and slew of bear warnings, this sense of global togetherness and overcoming obstacles, this renewed friendship I’ve found with Matt and Brandon is the greatest thing in the world: adventure."

In the scholarship contest, more than 700 travel blogs from writers ages 18 to 26 were submitted. Check out the rest of the winning essays and their prizes.

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