Olmsted Point
Peak 8,664ft
Peak 9,206ft
Pywiack Dome

Tue, Jun 7, 2016

With: Don Brunnett

Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

My cousin Don and I had been in the recent habit of riding our road bikes together once a week over the past few months. This week I suggested we might do a short overnight trip to Yosemite for some hiking/rock climbing/riding as a way to break up the routine. I wasn't able to sell him on the rock climbing idea, but he was up for the hiking. Another obligation kept him home in Pleasanton until after 10a, so it was sometime after that that I picked him up and we headed across the state for the Sierra Nevada. The late hour wasn't really a problem since there was plenty of daylight this time of year. We would get our fill of hiking and scrambling and then some before the sun would set. Because temps were forecast to be in the low 90s in the Valley, we headed for the high country for some cross-country hiking around Olmsted Point to tag a number of easy summits found near the road.

Olmsted Point

I'd always assumed this was simply the popular view spot along SR120 from which one can view Clouds Rest and Half Dome in all their splendor. Not so, according to ListsofJohn and Peakbagger.com which both identify a small granite knoll to the south as Olmsted Point. While I still think I'm right about it, I rarely pass up an opportunity to pay some obscure point a visit. Barely a ten minute hike from the parking lot, the alternative Olmsted Point is about the same elevation but offers a challenging 15-foot summit boulder. There are three ways one can climb to the top - a high push-step from the north side standing on a subsidiary rock, a tougher but more challenging set of moves up the south side, or the easier tree-assisted climb from the west side. I chose the latter, Don declining to join me, content to take a few photos for me and move on from there.

Peak 8,664ft

A quarter mile to the east is the higher Peak 8,664ft, an elongated granite dome with 400ft of prominence. This was a slightly more challenging cross-country scramble through forest and up steep slabs to reach the highest point. From the highpoint, one can walk more than a mile to the south along the descending ridgeline for ever-increasing views of Tenaya Canyon framed by Clouds Rest and Half Dome. We walked maybe a third of this distance before turning back and returning to the parking lot.

Peak 9,206ft

After grabbing more water from the van, we crossed the highway to the north side and started up the slabs on the other side. We first climbed some lower points directly north of Olmsted Point (one of these is Opposite Olmsted Point on Peakbagger.com) before dropping to a saddle and climbing to the area highpoint of Peak 9,206ft. The southern half of this granite dome is fairly cliffy and difficult to assail, but the approach from the north is easier. We didn't choose the best route, requiring some steps across some soft snow (good traction, though) before reaching the top around 4:45p. The summit has good views of Tenaya Lake to the east, Mt. Hoffmann to the north and Clouds Rest to the south. On our way back we wandered down the drainage just east of Peak 9,206ft to avoid reclimbing the other minor highpoints. Along the way we found the remains of an old trail that still showed the handiwork of hand-placed stonework. An online search later did not turn up any older maps showing this trail.

Pywiack Dome

Don had had enough of the cross-country hiking by the time we returned though I still had another hike to some named domes in mind. He decided to try his luck at fishing in Tenaya Lake while I drove on to a turnout about a mile and third northeast of the lake for a hike to Pywiack and Dozier Domes. Located only a few minutes from the road, Pywiack Dome has a number of semi-popular rock climbing routes that see modest traffic. I could see no one on the sunny side of the dome as I drove past it and would find I'd have the place to myself. I was looking for the easiest route to the top and approached it from the northeast after a short but steep climb through the woods. Upon reaching the base of the east side, I was surprised to find a small cliff and no easy way up. This was going to be interesting. I tried a first route that I backed off off after only a minute, not getting more than 10ft off the ground. I then tried a second ascent a bit to the left but starting from the same point. This had me spooked enough to remove my daypack and toss it up before making an uncomfortable move with a leg stretched far to the right while pulling up on my left arm without the satisfaction of a good handhold. After this one class 4 move the rest was no more than class 3. I hoped I might find an easier way down perhaps on the south side, but this was dashed when I passed by a rap station that I surmised was used by the rock climbers as the descent route. Hmmm. I went to the summit, took a few pics of the fine views to be had from there and explored the descent option to the south. This proved unworkable as all I found were large cliffs below me. Going back down the way I came, I was happy to work out an easier class 4 descent route that I had missed on the way up and didn't require me to remove my pack. I took a last photo of the descent route once I was off before heading back down. Almost 7p by this time, I had taken longer than I'd planned and decided to forgo the additional effort to Dozier Dome - that could wait for another time.

I found Don happily fishing back at Tenaya Lake. He had managed to catch and release two modest trout in the hour I was gone, which is about two more fish than I would have managed. We drove down to Half Dome Village (what used to be Curry Village until quite recently) and had pizza and beer on the patio amidst the bustle of people that populate the Valley this time of year. Afterwards we drove to Housekeeping Camp where we had a reservation for the night. It was the first time I'd stayed here (about $110/night vs. $140/night for a Half Dome Village tent cabin) and I can't say I was impressed. The smell of smoke and noise that permeates the place was actually worse than I would have fared sleeping in the van. Live and learn...

Continued...


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