Note: Dean Potter and Graham Hunt were tragically killed in a wing suit accident in Yosemite National Park just 2 weeks after Dean set this FKT. Fly free Dean & Graham!
The standard route on Half Dome is the Half Dome Cables Route. It runs from the valley floor to the top of the Dome in 8.2 mi (13 km) (via the Mist Trail), with 4,800 ft (1,460 m) of elevation gain. The length and difficulty of the trail used to keep it less crowded than other park trails, but in recent years the trail traffic has grown to as many as 800 people a day. The trail climbs past Vernal and Nevada Falls, then continues into Little Yosemite Valley, then north to the base of the northeast ridge of Half Dome itself. This is the route used by every FKT aspirant prior to Potter, who's more technical route (Snake Dike) is indicated below.
Bill Wright adds some comment on Dean Potter's ascent route: "An old hiking guide I have described an old route up to a lookout up there from which you can see five world-class waterfalls: Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Nevada and Vernal Falls, and that the falls - Illiouwet or something like that. It's so steep that it isn't maintained or advertised by the Park anymore, much like the old Cables route on Longs and the Lady Mountain route in Zion. Of course, you have to solo the 6-7 pitch 5.7 of Snake Dike via this route. As that is holdless friction climbing, you don't want to be caught in any rain."
We have 2 Variations for Half Dome: the "Standard Route" (used by every FKT claimant before Potter, shown on our map) and "Any Route" (e.g., Potter, Elson). FKTs are TH-to-TH, starting and ending at driveable pavement (at the bridge where the paved footpath meets the driving road).
*** Belt Buckle Route! ***
Rickey Gates and partner Elizabeth Thorp have created a series of custom belt buckles commemorating some of the most iconic and hotly contested FKT routes! Half Dome certainly qualifies. Each buckle is awarded to the FKT holder, and passed on when that FKT is superseded. Currently this buckle is held for Dean Potter by his partner, Jennifer Rapp. Gates & Thorp have not yet made a buckle specifically for women on this route.