Our Team Celebrating on the Summit
Left to Right - Sanjay, Hari, Ashok, Roman, & Craig
North Dome


Distance:
Starting Elevation:
Ending Elevation:
Total Elevation Gain:
Topo Maps:
Trailhead:
11.5 Miles (roundtrip)
8,120'
7,542'
1,742'
Yosemite Falls
Porcupine Flat



Visually North Dome is a prominent landmark in Yosemite Valley, amazingly many have not heard of it.  Most of the landmarks in Yosemite Valley have a view of North Dome, such as Half Dome (probably the closest), Sentinel Dome, Glacier Point, and the Valley Floor.  It's located just above Royal Arches near Camp Curry.
 

North Dome viewed from Valley Floor

I managed to talk 4 of my co-workers into going to the summit.  The reason we hiked this trail is because most of the projects we work on follow a common naming convention, "Things in Yosemite National Park ."  Since we just completed Project North Dome, we decided a trip to the top would be appropriate.  Ashok, Hari, Roman, and Sanjay agreed to accept the challenge.

There are many trails to the top of North Dome.  The trail chosen for this trip is the shortest trail to the top.  Unfortunately, this trip starts off Tioga Road (Hwy 120) at a very high elevation (8,120').

We spent Friday night in Mammoth to acclimate and shorten the drive to the trailhead.  Hari and I drove from San Jose, while Ashok, Roman, and Sanjay drove up from Southern California.  Hari and I arrived Friday night to find the Southern California guys slightly inebriated, I was worried this was not a good start.

Saturday morning, we got off to a late start and didn't leave the motel until about 7:30am.  Luckily Yosemite was just a short drive away.

We did this hike on November 6th, 1999.  This was basically the end of the 1999 hiking season.  The Park Service was preparing Hwy 120 for the winter and unfortunately took down all of the trailhead signs!  This made it rather difficult for us to find the trailhead, I have hike in the area but not out of Porcupine Flat.  We drove in circles (illegal u-turns and all) for about 20 minutes until we found the trailhead.  It was basically drive to a turnout, run around and look for a trail, then see if it matched the topo map (which did not have all of the turnouts marked).

After finally finding the trailhead, we hit the trail.  At this point, I was a bit concerned what my co-workers were thinking.  Heck, I couldn't find the trailhead, was I going to get them all lost in the woods?
 

Arch on Indian Ridge (left to right Sanjay, Roman, 
and Ashok)

North Dome (Back-side) viewed from the trail

On our way to North Dome, we took a short but steep 0.5 mile detour to view the Natural Arch in Indian Ridge.  While it isn't impressive in size (about 20 feet across), it was nice to view the only natural arch in Yosemite National Park.  Most people don't even know Yosemite has a natural arch.  We climbed up to the base of the arch and enjoyed a wonderful view.
 

The True Summit, North Dome USGS Summit Marker

After that side-trip, we once again hit the trail and headed to the summit.  We reached the summit around 11:30pm and we were the first group to summit that day.  We managed to quickly find the USGS summit marker (most summits have them) and we took turns standing at the top of North Dome.
 

Cloud's Rest from North Dome Summit

Half Dome from North Dome Summit

We hung around at the summit for about an hour, ate lunch, took pictures, made cell phone calls, etc....  The view from the top was incredible.  Half Dome seemed soo close we could almost touch it.  I have to admit the view from the summit of North Dome was incredible.  It can only be rivaled from the view from Half Dome and Sentinel Dome.
 

360 degree Panoramic Picture from the summit, scroll right to see image, click on image for a larger picture

After our party on the summit, we headed back to the car.  The hike was mostly uphill and tiring.  We made it back to the car around 2:45pm.

This was a very enjoyable trip.  Not only was it a nice hike with an incredible view, but the company made it even better.  I was really glad I got the chance to share one of my favorite hobbies with my co-workers.  I was glad each of us made the trip without incident.

I believe I have also found new Hiking and Backpacking buddies.  I can't wait to start planning the next trip.  Expect the next trip to be steeper, harder, longer, and even more fun.

Individual Words

Ashok
The breathtaking majestic view of HalfDome and the Yosemite valley from NorthDome was a very spiritual experience.  It makes us, the humans so small in the big schema of things.  The experience cannot be described but have to be felt.  The top of the NorthDome is a great place to meditate and reflect.

The hike to NorthDome from Tioga Road was moderate-to-difficult.  The hike was quite steep at times and hence brutal. One has to be in good shape to take on this challenge.  I will recommend to all my friends to try this or similar hikes in Yosemite. It is a joyful experience full of natural beauty that surrounds us.  We must do all we can to preserve this for generations to come.

My only disappointment was the fact that we did not see any other creatures (animals, reptiles or birds) during the hike.  I hope they are there but just did not want to be with us.  It will be a shame otherwise.


Hari
It was inherently more liberating to be just looking down at Basket Dome and North Dome from a nearby hillside on our way to North Dome than being on top of North Dome itself...Viewed from North Dome, Half Dome with elaborate patterns lining its sheer wall towered majestically over us, refusing to acknowledge some mere mortals conquering one of its  vassals...Far ahead, across the valley-floor from us, Sentinel Dome cocked a snook at us, much like an adolescent who boasts about how smart and tall he is compared to his shorter cousins."

Roman
The hike to North Dome was not only a great opportunity to experience the enjoyment of the natural beauty in Yosemite, but also a special accomplishment to share with my fellow co-workers.  The view of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley from the top of North Dome was breathtaking!  Our brief detour to the only natural arch in Yosemite was definitely worth it!  Climbing up the rock to get as close as possible to the arch, was especially challenging. 

From a personal experience, the hike to North Dome reminded me of the many backpacking trips I undertook in Yosemite during my youthful days.  It has been almost 15 years since I last hiked Yosemite.  In a way, it was like meeting an old friend again. 

This trip has rekindled my interest in hiking and I can hardly wait until our next adventure.  Overall, the trip to North Dome was a truly memorable and extraordinary experience!
 


Sanjay
Exciting, fun, breath-taking (literally), tremendous.  The thing I didn't know and expect was the starting point - I am still not sure how we were able to find it!  Going, I kept worrying when we were headed downhill knowing we will have to climb-up on return.  Being part of the group I forgot about it and started enjoying the forest like atmosphere. 

Although, I kept looking for Grizzly's, Bear's, and Rattle Snakes, we didn't even see a deer!

The most exciting part of the trip to me was climbing to the arch. It was a bit scary, had I missed a step, I wouldn't be able to write this.  Definitely, I learnt a little bit of what rock climber's go through.

Reaching the top of NorthDome was breath-taking - not as much as being on top of NorthDome as being able to see the surrounding domes & the valley.  The views were beautiful, especially HalfDome, I don't believe I will ever forget the sight of Half Dome, simply magnificent. It does make me want to climb the Half Dome next - although knowing about the elevation gain probably after I loose 20lbs in weight.

Getting back seemed never ending, at one point I was not sure I would make it - I guess being part of the group encouraged me to continue. It did remind me that I was completely out-of-shape.  Anyway, once completed, I say, I CAN DO DAT!!  (Please don't hold me to my word!)

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