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By Sergio P
From: Idaho Springs, CO
Aug 19, 2007
|More info on the North Dome Gully Descent: Walk north along the top of the dome looking for a trail that eventually heads west. Follow this trail down hill heading slightly away from the dome. If you lose the trail (which I found likely) you will have serious bush whacking good times. Eventually break east crossing the slabs that were seen during the approach. Continue down the slabs until you reach the trail on top of Royal Arches. Follow this trail east going up and over Washington’s Column. At one point you will have an easy class 2 descent on a sandy 2 foot ledge with a significant drop to the right. Soon after, the trail seems to dead end. If you’ve reached this point, back track a little. Go up hill a bit and cross a steep slope. Continue east for another half mile to a mile. Looking to the right you will eventually see the decent through the sandy boulder field. Follow this down to the valley floor. One of the major problems I found with this decent are the numerous trails that begin and end. From the top of North Dome to the Valley floor is likely 4 hours for someone who has not done the decent before. Here are a few tips to help you through this. First, keep in mind that there are no rappels necessary, so if you are thinking about setting one up just keep on going. Secondly, if you go to the east side of Glacier Point Apron (near Grack) and look across you should see the decent. This will help you understand how far from Washington’s Column the gully is. Lastly, doing this in the dark for the first time could have some serious negative side effects. I saw several bivy sites on top of Washington’s Column that are likely from climbers who have decided to wait until morning before heading down. If in doubt, pack a space blanket and lighter to start a fire and hunker down.|
By Mark P Thomas
Feb 3, 2014
Unless you are wanting more pitches to climb (e.g. Royal Arches linkup) or you are staying in the Valley and the time for driving up Hwy 120 is too unappealing, for any route on this dome I don't see why people don't just hike in and out from Hwy 120.
Coming in, it was a nice and scenic hike on an easy trail, and it only took me 2.5 Mammoth Brewery IPAs to reach the summit (about 2.5 hrs, including stops for pictures and giving hikers & trailrunners beta), and heading back after sunset, even with the 1,500' gain and seeing how long I could go without a headlamp, it was moderate enough of a grade that I made it in barely over 2 hrs (faster time probably due to the fact that I had no more beers to sip, although I was texting while hiking).
I don't think it unreasonable to assume 30-45 min to approach any route on North Dome from the summit as long as you don't get lost.
So in light of that, apart from the exceptions first listed, I don't see why more people don't take this approach! Easy hiking, faster, beer-a-hike-able while passing other hikers (can even cache on the summit, and check out Indian Rock & the cool arch on the way in or out) and you can return in the dark without having to be familiar with the N Dome Gully descent or hiking forever down the Yosemite Falls Trail.
Just park at the second 'vista' pullout after Porcupine Flats and bring your contour/trail maps. Also, enjoy the historic Hywy 120 along the way.