The final 900 feet of the climb to the summit of Half Dome is at a 45 degree angle on a slick granite surface. To help the weary climber, cables have been embedded in the face of the rock however it is still nothing for the weak of heart to attempt. But the view from the top is reason enough to try.
The Ahwahneechee called it Tissiack; it was later known as South Dome, and now, it's name is known around the world as Half Dome, perhaps the most famous Yosemite landmark and one of the most famous chunks of rock in the world. According to legend, a spirit from the valley went to nearby Mono Lake to wed Tissiack. Tissiack agreed to return to Ahwahnee (Yosemite Valley) with her new husband, and they crossed over the Sierra and got to the valley. When they arrived, Tissiack told her husband she wanted to return; her husband was infuriated, and refused to left her go. Tissiack began running from him, and her husband chased; but because they were both angry, they were both turned into stone. Tissiack is now Half Dome, her husband is North Dome, and the basket Tissiack carried is now Basket Dome.
Scientists now believe that Half Dome was a chunk of granite with one face cut off by advancing glaciers. Half Dome rises to 8848 feet, about 4800 feet above the valley floor, and can be seen from just about anywhere in the park. If you do some hiking, or drive Tioga Road, you'll be able to see many of the different faces of Half Dome. They are all very beautiful and impressive.
Half Dome is another interesting rock formation that resembles half a dome. At the time I was in Yosemite, I did not know this. So the picture I took was from the wrong angle. Here is Half Dome from its side.
If I'm lucky enough to get back Yosemite then I think that I'll have to tackle the granite beast known as half dome. To do it justice I'll have to start off at around 5am to have a decent chance of getting to the top around noon. So next time I'll have to stay in one of the valley campsites. Then it's only the 15-20 mile round walk to worry about.
In the summer passes to the top of half dome are restricted at the weekends, so a weekday would be good. Mondays are busy because of the number of people on a long weekend , so maybe a Tuesday would be better.
So next time hopefully I'll be jointing the queue at the bottom of the cable and waiting for somebody to let me have their sweaty gloves for the ascent to the top.
Next job is to pursued the wife to come with me.
A symbol of Yosemite Valley is the cut in half rock rising above the far east end of the valley. Half Dome (which may never have been a full dome) reflects the power of the glaciers and the magnificents of nature.
Half Dome may be the single most immediately impressive sight in Yosemite, we could see it from the valley floor, from Tunnel View, from Glacier Point and the visitor center. I think the best overall view and most stunning view is from Glacier Point where you are almost at the same physical height and the evidence of its actually being a "half" of a dome is most evident.
By far, the most iconic formation in Yosemite is the granite monolith of Half Dome. It dominates the far end of Yosemite Valley and is especially beautiful when it lights up in the pinks and oranges of a winter sunset. The best way to see it is to walk the meadow near Curry Village or take one of the trails towad the mirror lakes at the end of the Valley. You can also get a great view from Glacier Point or Olmstead Point (on the Tioga Pass Road). But my favorite way to see it is to climb it. What a hike!
My trip through Yosemite NP was through a bus tour by Discover Tours operating from South Lake Tahoe NV. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and could tell us everything from snow patterns, glaciers, trees, plants and animals.
We drove through the park to lunch on the west side then spent the rest of the day going around all the main attractions. We walked throught the giant Sequoia forests in Mariposa Grove and marvelled at the tiny dots that were rock climbers on El Capitan.
I thoroughly enjoyed the tour as an introduction to Yosemite but it needs more than a day to see everything. There were no waterfalls running as I was there in October and needed to be there spring/summer to truely see the beauty of Yosemite.
Glimpsed from roadside viewpoints near the east end of the valley, this is a huge domed granite mountain, 8,800 feet high that was cut in two by glacial activity, leaving a 2,200 foot cliff with the steepest vertical grade in the USA
This is one of my favorite photos of Yosemite. The natural beauty of the Park is abstracted by its two icons: Yosemite Falls and Half Dome, and framed into one picture. Nothing more and nothing less. It was taken along the Yosemite Falls Trail in early spring. The melting snow provided strong gush to the Falls, and the Dome was still covered with last winter's snow.
I climbed to the top of Half Dome more than 20 years ago, but recently all my images have been from below. Fortunately, the restoration of the meadows has helped. This year there wasn't much snow, so spring broke early.
For those not familiar, Half Dome never was a full dome. It was however, cut by glacier action so that it appears this way. Climbing the back of Half Dome, like I did, is something any healthy and strong person can accomplish. Climbing the face of Half Dome is a once in a lifetime world-class act within the rock climbing world.
The half dome is one of the most popular hikes in Yosemite. At over 400 feet incline, it is a difficult hike. The trail runs 12 miles; 6 miles each way. It is a seven hour hike in all. Since I was with my family and my son is only 15 months, we decided not to subject him to the torture of such a long hike.
We enjoyed the views from a distance and planned to return when the children are not with us.
My 40-ish girlfriend and I decided to climb the Half Dome, not realizing what an ordeal we were undertaking. That being said, we were determined and enlisted the help of a guide. We highly recommend using John DeGrazio of YExplore, Yosemite Adventures. He was fabulous! There was no way we could have done this without him. He was so well knowledgeable about the trail and we felt perfectly safe under his guidance. He lets you go at your own pace, but is great about keeping you on time. He and his wife Catherine were very helpful in preparing us and answering our questions before and during the trip. They tell you exactly what to bring....no less, no more. Don't take more food than what you need. My poor guide ended up carrying my .75 lb bag of dehydrated pineapple, which was very good but much too heavy to carry. I took pictures of course, but John brought his camera and took pictures of us as well. This was one of the most rewarding and exciting things I have ever done and would still think about doing the trip again...but only if I did it with Yexplore. They absolutely made the experience worthwhile!!
If you have a whole day (12 hours at least) and lots of energy, Half Dome is calling you! It's a 4800 climb over 8.2 miles (one way), starting at the already high (for me) 4000 feet, so bring lots of water, a day's worth of food, and strong legs. The hike is definitely worth it! You pass two waterfalls and walk through some high granite valleys before the coup de grace -- a 500 foot cable-assisted scramble to the top. Then, you're on top of the world with panoramic views of one of the world's most spectacular landscapes. Check out my travelogue for a more detailed description of the climb.
I hiked Half Dome alone, but because there were so many other people on the trail that you pass and get passed by, you quickly find others to chat with. I met two couples from UC-Davis, a couple from Holland, a group of chemists from Michigan and a 60-year-old from Honolulu on my trip. It was quite convivial, as we were all sharing the same pleasures and pains!
Do not summit if there are electrical storms anywher on the horizon and reconsider this climb if you're afraid of heights. The scramble up the face is almost like climbing a 60-degree slope. I saw one guy's water bottle fall out of his pack and it bounded down the rocks into a plastic smashing oblivion.
This is the most serious hike in the Yosemite Valley. If it's no longer early morning when you're setting out, prepare to be returning in the dark and to be fighting off predators along the way (not as scary as it sounds--see my warnings/dangers tips). The hike is a bit under 20 miles round trip and rather steep and strenuous, with a lot of never-ending stairs that really wear you out. The weather at the top can be ruthlessly windy, and even puffy clouds that look most benign from the ground are not nearly so nice when they surround you and tear by you at 40 mph (~65 km/hr), which was the wind speed when I got up to the top (gusts were stronger). Lightning strikes Half-Dome regularly, even from "nice" clouds, so be careful with that too. The end requires holding on to a pair of metal cables, which get COLD. Pick up a pair of gloves. They're there in the crevice specifically for you.
A good hike particularly because it takes you by Vernal and Nevada Falls, two other big Yosemite attractions.