North Dome, South Face (2016)

Since my valley season is starting on Monday, I decided that I’d go ahead and contribute a little gallery from last year. I got invited to climb in Yosemite Valley with my first climbing mentor, and go figure it landed right on my birthday–July 7th!

This was my first climb in Yosemite valley, and I couldn’t have chosen a better introduction. The climbing is classic, and totally underrated, so while people are down in the valley fighting over Nutcracker and After Six you can instead embark on a gorgeous, although somewhat long, hike to North Dome. We hiked in from Porcupine Flats off the 120 and it offers some of the best views of the valley, and definitely the best view of Half Dome.


North Dome sits atop Royal Arches. It is totally possible to do a link up with Royal Arches, but it will make for a long day.


The View of Half Dome in the Morning before skirting down (right) to the base of North Dome. Getting down to the start of the climb is pretty heinous, and what I considered the crux of the entire route. The endless manzanita forest is maddening. Be careful, if you reach the death slabs you missed the cairns.


A view of the valley at the base of the climb. This is likely the best photo that I’ve ever taken, and I had no part in that. The mother provides.


View up from first pitch. If you like slab just gun straight for the tree for a nice 210 ft. linkup of pitch 1-2. The pro is sparse, but it’s pretty classic Yosemite slab, and it’s not really polished. (Pitchs 1-2 – 5.Easy)


This is the crux that everyone’s tripped out about on all the forums. I didn’t really think much of it. I thought what made it difficult was the mind games that began when my partner told me about the forum spray. If I hadn’t read the forum I wouldn’t have even thought twice about this move. (Pitch 3 – 5.7)


The 4th pitch (5.Easy) is nothing to write home about. I remember it following an easy crack just kind of climbs up into some bushes and you set a belay on a comfortable ledge at the start of this chimney. This and the next pitch are the reason to climb the route. They are also a good reason to go light and leave the pack at home! This is a nice 5.7 chimney and exits out with a nice jam out top and brings you into a splitter 5.7 layback crack up to another bushy ledge. (Pitch 5 – 5.7)


This is a fun chimney. I was messing around with a pack on (I really don’t like climbing with packs–at all) so I didn’t get to enjoy the movement as much, but that chimney isn’t even the feature, it’s that beautiful thinning thin-hands to fingers 5.Fun (5.8) layback. (Pitch 6 – 5.8)


Classic orange polish. Just keep those slab feet. Pro gets sparse the higher you get, and eventually tapers into a seem. I’d say build a belay just after the crux wherever you can, but don’t do it on the crux as shown here!


Easy, but runout, slabs to the top. It’s 5.Easy, but I think towards the top I was probably like 70 ft. runout. Just go for it, and be persistent with your feet. You’ll be fine. Besides, there’s not any other real option off but that!


Half Dome (I like Half Dome) from the top at noon. The View.


There we go again… spoiling The View.