Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Half Dome is a granite dome at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California. It is a well-known rock formation in the park, named for its distinct shape. One side is a sheer face while the other three sides are smooth and round, making it appear like a dome cut in half. The granite crest rises more than 4737ft above the valley floor.GeologyThe impression from the valley floor that this is a round dome that has lost its northwest half is an illusion. From Washburn Point, Half Dome can be seen as a thin ridge of rock, an arête, that is oriented northeast-southwest, with its southeast side almost as steep as its northwest side except for the very top. Although the trend of this ridge, as well as that of Tenaya Canyon, is probably controlled by master joints, 80 percent of the northwest "half" of the original dome may well still be there.On March 28, 2009, a large rock slide of 1,500,000ft3 occurred from Ahwiyah Point. The slide happened at 5:25 a.m. and damaged a large area under the dome. No one was injured, but hundreds of trees were knocked down, and a portion of the Mirror Lake trail was buried. The slide registered on seismographs as an earthquake reaching 2.5 on the Richter Scale.AscentsAs late as the 1870s, Half Dome was described as "perfectly inaccessible" by Josiah Whitney of the California Geological Survey. The summit was finally conquered by George G. Anderson in October 1875, via a route constructed by drilling and placing iron eyebolts into the smooth granite.
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Half Dome Reviews
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  • Went with a small group on a 3 peaks and 3 sunsets trip. The climb up to the cables is a workout in itself. We had climbed Cloud's Rest, and set up camp before heading off to summit Half Dome so it wa...  more »
  • I hiked this iconic granite rock during a full moon. We started at 2:30 am to enjoy the sunrise over Half Dome. It was definitely a challenging, unique and rewarding experience!  more »
  • Began hike at 6am, well before sunrise. Started at Half Dome village and made it to the stairs before the sun came out. Verbal and Nevada falls hike was brutal (coming from someone that works out 6 da...  more »
Google
  • The quintessential Yosemite hike. It'll make you hurt if you're not in shape for it and many a chicken have turned around at cables, but to those who persevere... glory awaits.
  • Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase hold to the rod. But seriously breathtaking views never regret going up. If I ever had the chance to do it again I would.
  • First off, this is a permitted hike. It is a lottery system that happens in the spring of the year you plan to hike it. It’s not too hard to get permits, you just have to plan ahead. Once you have permits, it’s a great hike. We did it as a day hike, but I have a friend that always does it as an overnight (backpacking in to Little Yosemite Valley - different permit required). It’s long, and almost uphill the entire way there. But very beautiful, with varied terrain. We like the Mist Trail, as it keeps you right next to the river. You pass majestic waterfalls, tall pine forests, and glacial granite walls. Once you hit the “sub-dome,” you are nearly there, but be advised, the sub-dome is tough in its own right. The last part of the ascent is the infamous cables. Use them deliberately - people die here almost every year by using them carelessly. We brought some gloves. It just makes grabbing on to the cables more comfortable. Any type of good fitting glove that has grip and offers some protection for the palms of your hands will work. I like Mechanix gloves. The cables are not for those with problems facing mountain exposures. My wife only made it about 20 feet before having to turn around. She urged me to summit, so I scrambled to the top while she waited (others were doing the same). The view from the summit is impressive. It’s one of those reflective views, the type that make you feel small and insignificant. Grand. Worth the climb. Long hike down, but we rewarded ourselves with some pizza down at the village. I would recommend starting early. Parking becomes a major problem by late morning.
  • The highlight of my visit to Yosemite. As others mentioned, it's a 10+ hour hike as things can get backed up at the cables (even with limited numbers due to the lottery). Also, the park service recommends carrying 4 liters and I'll second that based on the warm June day I hiked it. I did not get in on the regular lottery, but did on the day before lottery. Oh, I did get cell reception on the top overlooking the valley.
  • Strenuous hike. Be very careful at the cables. Views are breathtaking. Start early or it will be crowded
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