Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Categories: Geologic Formations, Nature & Parks
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 5:26 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.To visit Half Dome and other attractions in Yosemite National Park, use our Yosemite National Park vacation planner.
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It is an amazing sight on what was a fantastic day. To look at the mass of rock that dominates the landscape was rather humbling.
I had hiked to the top when I was much younger, but as an 83-year-old I was content to admire it from afar. And it is truly admirable. Yosemite is one of the prettiest area in the world, and Half Dome... read more »
Climbing to the top of Half Dome was a bucket list item for us and is well worth the effort. It is incredible to view Yosemite from the top. We made it a multi-day event by hiking to Little Yosemite c... read more »
It's a lot of work to get to the top, but it's well worth it. Plan to revisit in a couple years with my wife. Be sure to get a permit before you try to climb because they check every person who goes up the trail. The checkpoint is about 3 miles from the dome, so you do t want to go that far and get turned around!
I made it up here twice, once when I was 45 years old. Both times with my son JIM. First time I forgot my camera.. Know one believed I did it, to tough . He and I made it up the second time when I was 47 years old and took a ton of pictures. The hike up was beautiful and hard... Yosemite is my church.
Amazing experience and definitely a must-see on everyone's Yosemite itinerary. I ended up getting on half dome as part of a backpacking permit - climbing up in the late afternoon when it was dead empty was thrilling. There's usually a ranger near the trailhead so make sure you have your permits.
Breathtaking views will reward a difficult ascent. Get a permit months in advance from the National Park Service.
I was able to hike Half Dome by myself. During the government shutdown of 2013 I took full advantage of my weekend and was the only soul standing upon it watching the sunset over the horizon. Dare I say I'm the only being alive to have that opportunity as you need to apply for a lottery of sorts to hike it anyway. I'm very biased toward Half Dome and Yosemite in general
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