Millions of years ago the granite block of Half Dome was larger, but there was never a matching half. Undercut by glaciers near the base, slabs of rock fell away from a broad vertical crack in the granite, leaving a sheer face. Remnants of the missing rock still project from Half Dome's rim.
There are more granite domes here than in any other place in the world. Massive granite domes form when large curved layers of rock "exfoliate" or slab off.
An Anwahneechee Tale of Half Dome
Long ago, two travelers, Tissiak and her husband, Tokoyee, fought with each other. He became so angry that he began to beat her; enraged, she hurled her basket of acorns at him. As they stood facing each other, they were turned to stone for their wickedness. The acorn basket (Basket Dome) lies upturned beside Tokoyee (North Dome) and the rock face of Tissiak (Half Dome) is stained with her tears.