Yosemite’s Sentinel Dome

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     First, some good news for you folks who need permits. Our Hamburg, Germany office is going to cancel 8 permits for August 3 (a Wednesday) on Monday, July 25 (tomorrow) at 11am PDT. These will go back into the recreation.gov pool and be available (according to them) immediately. So if you want to try for them – go for it!! It pays to read the Mr Half Dome blog! 

     It is with some embarrassment that I must say I had never been up Sentinel Dome until 2 weeks ago. Seems most of my trips to the park are taken over by visits the other Dome brother. To get there just head east on the Glacier Point Road, past Badger Pass ski area and as you get kinda close to Washburn Point, look for a decent parking pullout on the left. It holds about 20 cars closely parked (consult a map).    

     The trail to the north can take you to Taft Point, just about a mile ahead or take the right fork to Sentinel. The hike is very short and pretty putzy. The trail is ground down pretty well so you’ll have no trouble getting there. You actually walk counter-clockwise around to the east side of the dome and then up. This is a family friendly hike with kiddies and gramma both being able to scoot up to the top. 

    There are 2 major attractions. The biggest is the views. One of the best in the park by some estimates. You can see the side of Half Dome clearly – just like on Glacier Point. But the view of Yosemite Falls is superb. The general Panorama takes in a lot of the park. Down and to the right you can see Nevada Fall – but not Vernal. 

The Full Monte Yosemtie Falls

   The other high point is the old gnarly tree that Ansel Adams photographed about half a century ago. It’s pretty well dead now, but it’s the real deal. Looks neat even as it wastes away.


Gnarly Tree

Unrelated thought worth quoting: Had my hand on the dollar bill, but the dollar bill flew away. But the sun is shining down on me and it’s here to stay. That’s why I’m telling you: I just want to celebrate, yeah, yeah, another day of living. I just want to celebrate another day of life.” – Rare Earth 

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com


13 Responses to “Yosemite’s Sentinel Dome”

  1. Andy Says:

    Sentinel Dome is cool. It’s what spurred me to hike HD. That and your award winning book of course. 🙂

  2. Scott Baines Says:

    “This is a family friendly hike with kiddies and gramma both being able to scoot up to the top.”

    You know, this should be a consideration for all of those starry-eyed romantics who plan to “pop the question” atop Half Dome: Do it on Sentinel Dome instead and you can go back to visit the memory well into your golden years!

  3. Janet Says:

    I watched a girl in her 20s effortlessly climb the dome in flip flops. I don’t recommend that, but it gives you an idea how easy it is. If you want a longer hike: from the dome and take the Pohono Trail to Taft Point. The trail is less crowded and you get spectacular views along the way.

  4. Maureen L Says:

    One of the neat features of the trail to Taft Point, either from lot or via Pohono Trail, is the fissures. Narrow and 1000s of feet deep. 5 of them, I think.

    Don’t let the kiddies get too close to those!

    There’s really no “trail” up the east side of Sentinel Dome, it’s all walking on granite!

    Be sure to find the peak marker; not too far from the gnarled Jeffrey pine trunk.

    • Dean Says:

      Are the fissures easy enough to find? Coming from Sentinel Dome…

      • Maureen L Says:

        Yes, but they’re not marked (and I don’t think they’re fenced off, either, except maybe for one of them).

        They’re all pretty near the overlook with the little railing.

        It hasn’t been too crowded there, in my experience, even when Glacier Point’s parking lot is full.

      • Janet Says:

        None of the fissures are fenced and the edge is sandy near most of them. Maureen is right, don’t get too close.

      • Roberto Hernandez Says:

        What are fissures? Another name for crevasse? How deep are they? The most famous trail in Virginia is called the OLD RAG. I hiked the trail to Ragged Mountain Summit with two native Virginians. To get to the top, you jump a crevasse that is about 3 feet wide and 8-10 feet deep. No easy way out if you fall… Fun!

      • Janet Says:

        Roberto: I’ve usually heard the word crevasse used in association with glaciers. In looking up the words in a dictionary, fissure is a narrow opening produced by cleavage or separation of parts. When looking up crevasse, it says “fissure” or deep cleft in glacial ice. Some fissures at Taft Point drop down to the valley floor. I wouldn’t want to jump over them and miss. 🙂

  5. AL Says:

    We call it the “poor man’s Half Dome” … me too, my family ended up on Sentinel Dome last month after 7 Half Domes, 2 Clouds Rest, 2 Upper Yosemite Falls,

  6. Roberto Hernandez Says:

    Got it! Fissures in rock or soil, crevasses in ice and snow. SCARY THAT IN WINTER SNOW WILL COVER THESE FISSURES MAKING THEM INVISIBLE. A dual crevasese/fissure…

    • Maureen L Says:

      The fissures around Taft Point are likely to be free of snow by now, since the Valley rim there is exposed to the sun.

      In the winter, I’ll bet experienced winter hikers can discern where the fissures are the same way we figure out where creeks are — by the depressed contour of the snow bank.

      That said, I’ve never been there in the winter, and did not go there around the beginning of June because the trails were still snow covered. (I did go to the top of Sentinel Dome on snowshoes on May 31.)

  7. Sönke Says:

    In the award-winning movie “To The Limit” you can see Dean Potter “chimney up” one of the fissures to visit the Huber brothers who “camped” near Taft Point. He probably figured it’s faster than driving all the way to Glacier Point Road/Sentinel Dome trailhead parking lot.

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