The top of SubDome

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing


This summer I got a couple of emails from folks who had trouble finding their way to the top of SubDome. This is the massive bump of granite just before you get to the cables. This is the final  400 vertical feet of  man made steps.  When you are on the steps, it’s clear which way to go. As the steps peter out, the rock is just a mass of smooth steep rock. When I first started my obsession with the hike, there was a cable laying to the left off the steps. The single run lay on the rock and had a few anchor points. It was totally worthless and has since been removed. But you can still see the rusty remnants of where it was. Once you are past the last real step you are left to flounder your way to the top. From there you descend and see the saddle and the cables. As you look up you see nothing but a long ridge with no end point insight. No cairns or trail ducks (piles of 3 rocks) to guide you. So what do you do? Lost in space – lost in time.  In my book, I did not go into a description of where to go. This was for a few reasons. 1. I did not want to make this a Michelin map type of trip with every 15 feet documented. After all, this is in the Wilderness and there has to be some sort of adventure for you. 2. Although I too have lost my way a few times at the top, it only took me a few minutes to figure it out. You are heading to the top, right? So just keep going to where it is higher. You generally need to stay in the center of the rise and sooner or later EUREKA – you will find it. 3. No matter what time you get there, there will already be people coming down. Trust me on this. Many do the moonlight hike and they will be going back while you are on the way up. Watch from whence they came and track their route. If no one is in sight …. just wait a few and you will see them. Due to these inquires, I promise to put a helper paragraph in the next edition. Don’t look for it until spring of 2011. Wilderness Press wants to wait until then. So my only way to communicate stuff like this is through this blog. Good reason to check back frequently and join the party. All we ask is once a day! Heck, it’s free and I don’t toss ads in your face.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that gun in your hand? I’m goin’ down to shoot my ol’ lady I caught her messin’ ’round with another man.” – Jimi Hendrix Experience
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


One Response to “The top of SubDome”

  1. Dean Says:

    This was a big problem for me in 2007 when I first did the hike. I wasn’t sure exactly where to go and was feeling a bit of vertigo too. I stopped for about 10mins and very nearly turned back.

    Rick mentioned folk coming down and it was this that helped me press on…I could see the route they were taking and also that it wasn’t as steep as it looks.

    If you want to find your own way (and it is more fun!) don’t click on these links.

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