ApproachStart at the standard combined tourist/climber paved parking lot directly south of Pothole Dome- the first parking lot encountered after getting to Tuolumne Meadows from the west. Park here. The obvious approach trail is visible, leading into the forest beneath the face.
Route DescriptionFollowing the fairly short approach, upon emerging from the trees, you will be greeted abruptly by the direct South Face of Pothole Dome. Men at Work goes straight up this, one of Pothole Dome's steepest faces.
The first pitch passes Pothole Dome's namesake 'potholes,' strange undulating depressions in the rock. Leaders should be strong class-2 climbers before attempting this climb, as the rock is compact, and there are few places (if any) to place pro'. This luckily means that the rock is bomber, as on other high quality Tuolumne climbs. Footholds, as well as handholds if one reaches down, are plentiful. The whole pitch is fairly sustained class 2-3.
Following the first pitch, a false summit will be encountered. A broad bench must be traversed here (100-200' in length) to the base of the summit block. While this pitch is sustained (class 1), strong parties should consider simul-climbing this section to save time.
If tackled directly, the summit block goes at a solid 2+ (perhaps 3-). Difficulties may also be skirted on the right.
Once the summit block is surmounted, congratulate yourself- you can go no higher on Pothole Dome. Admire the astounding views of Tuolumne Meadows, & contemplate your next Tuolumne climb- Crying Time Again on Lembert Dome, the Regular Route of Fairview Dome, Cathedral Peak's classic SE Buttress, or perhaps Unicorn Peak or the Echo Peaks? The day is yours. You've joined the small (probably less than 1 or 2 million) group of climbers who has summited this great peak. This is one of the classic summits of Tuolumne Meadows.
To return to your car, take the easy class 1/2 slopes of the SE face of Pothole Dome, or if you're feeling confident enough, downclimb the way you came up.
While strong parties should be able to summit in less than 15 minutes, count on 5 to 10 additional minutes if unmotivated or obese climbers are included in the group. If thunderclouds are directly overhead, descent is advised.