The Quarter Domes

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Get or Give Half Dome permits<HERE>

    Today we talk Yosemite nomenclature. When many people go up the final rise just before Half Dome, they look at Sub Dome and  call that hunk of granite by a variety of names.


    I’ve heard it called “the Shoulder,” “Devil’s Staircase “and  “Quarter Dome.” Makes sense…you go up the quarter to get to the half, right? The truth is that there are a couple of smaller domes between Half Dome and Clouds Rest. See the picture. The red star marks it.

    These domes were clearly under the glaciers and were carved by the action of the ice grinding slowly away at the granite. If you have a good topo map, this terrain is labeled “quarter domes.” They are hard to get to. The Tenaya Canyon is treacherous and not recommended for hikers. The smooth granite and steep banks make this a dumb move. When I wrote my award winning book (someday?), I queried the Wilderness Rangers on this. ”They call the 400 ft bump just before the cables: “Sub Dome”. But it isn’t labeled on any maps I’ve seen. Guess you can’t name every pebble in the park. It is important to be consistent, for emergency rescue if nothing else. Hate to send a rescue team to the real quarter domes because you thought the route up to Half Dome was called Quarter Dome. So spread the word – it’s Sub Dome, not Quarter Dome…or Devil’s Staircase…or the Grand Staircase…or the Knee Grinder…or ____________. If this is your first time up – many feel that long hot route up Sub Dome is harder than the cables. Hiking poles really help – especially coming down.
    In other news, on August 24th a raid on a pot growing operation in El Portal netted 3,657 plants up to 10 feet tall worth $14.6 million – cowabonga!! 2 Mexican nationals were arrested – one had a gun on him.
    Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Over, under, sideways, down; backward, forward, square and round; when will it end?” – The Yardbirds.
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

One Response to “The Quarter Domes”

  1. sugako6669 Says:

    Editor note: This comment relates to why not everything in Yosemite has anofficao name–>

    From NPS Director’s Order #41: Wilderness Preservation and Management

    (ix) Geographic Naming in Wilderness. In order to maintain the untrammeled character of wilderness, the naming of additional geographic features is discouraged. The National Park Service will not propose to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, nor support proposals by others, to apply new names to geographic features within any category of wilderness. An exception to this policy may be considered on a case-by-case basis when a proposed name: (a) serves a useful educational or interpretive purpose; or (b) is linked to an historical figure, activity, incident, or resources having a direct association with the geographic feature; and (c) meets all other National Park Service and Board on Geographic Names policies applicable to geographic naming.

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