Daff Dome is the fine looking dome just north-northwest of Fairview Dome in the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite National Park. There are a number of fine 5th class routes on this dome, from 5.3 to around 5.13a/b, with most of the routes in the 5.9 - 5.11 range. The easiest route to the top of this dome is 4th class, and friction 4th class at that, somewhat insecure. By far the most popular route on this dome is the classic West Crack, a 400 foot crack climb of the finest quality, but Crescent Arch and Cooke Book are also highly recommended. Steve Roper reports that Crescent Arch (the route, not the actual arch) was put up by Layton the Great'un and Fred Beckey in 1965, and the first free ascent was by Bob Kamps and Tom Herbert just a few months later.
Daff Dome is on the north side of Highway 120, in the Tuolumne Meadows area, and the approach, at least to the west side routes, is short and pleasant.
From the east side of the Sierra, take Highway 395 to Lee Vining, and turn westbound onto Highway 120. Follow 120 into Yosemite National Park, and continue through Tuolumne Meadows. Near the end of the Meadows, you will see Pothole Dome on the right (north) side of the road. Carry on around a long, gradual left-hand turn in the highway, past the parking area for Fairview Dome. Just befor you begin another left-hand turn, you will pass through a solid granite road cut. Daff Dome parking is on the north side of 120 just across from this road cut.
From the west side of the Sierra, catch Highway 120 either from Hwy 49 or Highway 99, and follow the signs to Yosemite. Enter the Park, and watch for Crane Flat after a few miles. Hwy 120 heads to the north here, with the last chance for fuel until Lee Vining. Stay on 120 (there's nowhere to turn off anyway) for 45 minutes or so, passing Olmsted Point, Tenaya Lake, Pywiack Dome, and up on the east side of the road, Medlicott Dome, home of the famous Bachar-Yerian. Finally, you will see The Lamb on the right side of the road. Watch for the same granite road cut, and park on the other side of the road.
The biggest red tape issue is entrance to the Park. It costs $30 for a 7-day pass and $60 for an annual pass. There is limited parking at the access point for the climbs, so get there early.
When To Climb
Unless you ski in, the climbing season is limited to the periods when Hwy 120 is open, generally from Memorial Day to October or November, whenever the snow starts flying. It doesn't take much snow to close the road, a fact which you can appreciate if you've ever driven Hwy 120 down Lee Vining Canyon, with long drops and no guardrails, along with ample rockfall.
Camping in the Park is highly regulated, and all Yosemite Park Campground
reservations are handled by their reservation system. There are several campgrounds
just outside the Park boundary, including Saddlbag Lake, Tioga Lake, Ellery Lake, and a couple more in the bottom of Lee Vining Canyon.
Conditions will be the same here as for most of the rest of Yosemite, with the potential for summer T-storms, more common in Tuolumne than other accessible areas of the Park.
Ahhhh... The Name
Daff Dome - Where'd they get a name like that? According to A Climber's Guide to the High Sierra
, 1965 edition, edited by Hervey H. Voge, Daff is an acronym for D
airview. A little hard to believe it could be that simplistic, but it is
right across from Fairview, so I guess it's probably right.