Fin Dome is a thin blade of granite found in the heart of the SeKi Wilderness. It rises from the ridge separating Sixty Lakes Basin from Rae Lakes, standing as a sentinel and seen by hundreds of hikers each year as they make their way along the John Muir Trail in its vicinity. Only a handful of those that see it come to climb it.
The easiest route to its summit is the circuitous and challenging class 3 West Face. The South Ridge and North Buttress are rated class 4, but these are far more difficult than what would be considered class 4 by today's standards. Several noteworthy class 5 climbs have been established on the steeper east side, in particular the 5.7East Face first climbed by Galen Rowell and Marek Glogoczowski in 1972.
Fin Dome can be reached from the west via Highway 180. Drive past Cedar Grove and park in the large lot at Roads End (literally). Take the Bubbs Creek Trail to its junction with the JMT, taking the JMT up and over Glen Pass to Rae Lakes. A decent use trail leaves the JMT heading west up and over Rae Col. Fin Dome is a short distance north of Rae Col.
From the east, the peak is most easily approached via Kearsarge Pass, down to Charlotte Lake, up over Glen Pass, and down to Rae Lakes. This approach is easier than the approach from the west.
There is a $10 fee to enter Sequoia NP from the west. Permits are required for overnight stays in the wilderness whether entering from the west or east side. Permits are obtained from the Park Service for west-side entry, and from the Forest Service for east-side entry. See below for links.
When to Climb
Climbing is usually done May-Oct. Highway 180 on the west side is closed during the winter, as is the Onion Valley Road on the east side.
Camping is allowed in most places in the SEKI Wilderness that surrounds Fin Dome. Both entry points are home to habituated bears, and bear cannisters are currently required when entering from either point if you are planning an overnight visit. For a climb of Fin Dome, this is almost a requirement.
Eastern Sierra Road & Trail conditions, plus permit information
Inyo NF online
Sequoia NP online
"Named by Bolton C. Brown in 1899. On a sketch map he depicted the features between Rae Lakes and Sixty Lake Basin (neither
of those yet named at the time) as a south-facing monster: 'The Sea Serpent.' Of the names of the serpent's parts, 'The Fin' is the only one that stuck. What Brown called 'The Head' is the feature with an unchecked elevation of 11,942 feet. 'The Tail' was the long ridge running north from Fin Dome. (SCB 3, no. 2, May 1900: 136, 138, 142, 146.)"
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada