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North Dome

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Crest Jewel (and Crest Jewel Direct) T,S 
South Face Route T 

North Dome  


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Location: 37.7541, -119.5607 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 30,340
Administrators: M.Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Sep 21, 2006
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North Dome reflected in the Merced River. Photo by...

Description 

The massive North Dome is like having a little bit of Tuolumne right in the Valley... or right above the Valley... and... well, I think the rock quality is better than Tuolumne too, but I can only speak for Crest Jewel. Expect a possibly long approach and descent, sun all day, possible high winds, and fantastic views down Valley and across at Half Dome.

Getting There 

The two sensible approaches are to climb Royal Arches or to approach from HW 120 at the Porcupine Creek Trailhead. The former requires a lot of climbing, the latter requires 5 miles of relatively level hiking.

Royal Arches: After finishing the climbing and gaining the trail into the woods, scramble up some steep steps to a large boulder at a level area. Move around behind this boulder and pick up a good trail that heads due east along the top of the Royal Arches wall. Eventually this trail crosses some slabs and the views of North Dome tempt one to scramble directly up to it. Resist and continue into the woods until directly below North Dome and above the Washington Column. At this saddle, and just before dropping down the other side, the trail branches off up towards North Dome and past a bunch of cool boulder and obvious bivy spots. Continue into the woods on a good trail until reaching the base of the dome. Some climbs start straight ahead, others up and around the left flank.

Porcupine Creek Trailhead: Follow the trail into the woods due north until almost reaching the back (and top) of North Dome. Cross the major trail that heads west (Yosemite Falls Trail) and pick up a smaller, but well traveled, trail that winds down around the west side of North Dome. Eventually this trail falls apart and you have the choice of keeping near North Dome (possibly heinous bushwacking) or continuing well west to reach a passage down through massive, steep slabs. I've only gone down these slabs (as a descent from North Dome) and they turned out to be quite easy, but I was left in doubt as to whether they'd be passible (and whether or not I was going the right way at all) until the very end.

Climbing Season



Weather station 0.4 miles from here

2 Total Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',1],['5.8',0],['5.9',0],['5.10',1],['5.11',0],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for North Dome:
South Face Route   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 7 pitches, 900'   
Crest Jewel (and Crest Jewel Direct)   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R     Trad, Sport, 15 pitches   
Browse More Classics in North Dome

Featured Route For North Dome
Early morning, Burt Lindquist on top of North Dome, approached from Tioga Rd.

Crest Jewel (and Crest Jewel Direct) 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b CA : Yosemite National Park : ... : North Dome
Crest Jewel is a fantastic high-elevation slab climb; perhaps the best in the country. Certainly the best I've done in Colorado or California. If you only ever do one long slab climb, this should be it. The climb is fairly well-bolted (entirely with modern hardware and safe belays), but expect typical run outs on the easier terrain (5.8 and below). These generally feel less and less scary later in the route as you become accustomed to the style. The crux, if doing Crest Jewel Dir...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of North Dome Slideshow Add Photo
North Dome with the South Face route on Crest Jewel in view.
BETA PHOTO: North Dome with the South Face route on Crest Jewe...
North Dome from Glacier Point
North Dome from Glacier Point
giant shoe on top of North Dome
giant shoe on top of North Dome
North Dome, taken from the slabs on the walk-off from Royal Arches...
North Dome, taken from the slabs on the walk-off f...
North Dome sitting proud above Royal Arches
North Dome sitting proud above Royal Arches

Comments on North Dome Add Comment
Show which comments
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
From: Oakland
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.