Avg time to climb route: 3-4 hours
Approach time: 3-4 hours
Descent time: 3-4 hours
Number of pitches: 8
Height of route: 800'
OverviewSnake Dike is the easiest technical climbing route to the top of Half Dome, the most recognized rock feature in the United States. Half Dome boasts an unreal summit, 5,000' of rise from the Yosemite Valley floor and amazing views of the Yosemite and the High Sierra. This dramatic setting, combined with clean and exposed climbing, makes Snake Dike one of the most glorious moderate climbs on the planet. The long and aesthetic approach will take you past two beautiful waterfalls, through the backcountry and past an isolated lake to the southwest toe of Half Dome. The route climbs an 800' salmon-colored dike that wanders up the dramatic southwest face of Half Dome. The combination of a six-mile hike to the base, eight pitches of climbing, and a nine-mile descent back to the Valley makes a full-day adventure and may require more than one day. However, the intense effort to complete the climb makes this route wonderfully rewarding.
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HistoryClimbers who make the long trek up to the base of the massive Southwest Face of Half Dome before 1965 went there for one reason only: to do the classic Salathe-Nelson route. This demanding aid line went up unconnected crack systems, but it was the only way to the top since everyone knew the rest of the wide face was crackless, and obviously impossible. When Camp 4 inhabitants heard in July 1965 that a second route had been put up nearby, the sense of disbelief was audible. When the first ascensionists--Eric Beck, Jim Bridwell, and Chris Fredericks--bragged that they had placed only two pitons and about six hurried bolts, disdain evolved to thoughts that the three men should be committed. A far easier route than Salathe's? But it was true, Beck had been the instigator of the route soon named Snake Dike; he had spotted the potential route on a reconnaissance and had talked the two others into making the horrendous approach. To their great surprise they put up the new route in a day from Camp 4 and back to Camp 4.
Year's later, Beck, reminisced about the climb. "We were expecting a much harder route and only had twelve bolts, so we did our best to conserve them... BUY Yosemite Valley Free Climbs and read the rest this history and much more.
StrategyStart early, as the day will be long. Snake Dike is extremely popular even during a weekday. Prepare for crowds, unexpected weather changes, and a late finish...
RetreatThe route can be rappelled easily from any point using two 50m or 60m ropes.
ApproachThe 6-mile approach gains approximately 2500 feet of elevation and is extremely strenuous. Start early and plan for at least 3 hours of hiking. Park at Curry Village and either walk or take the shuttle to Happy Isles. Follow the John Muir Trail for one mile to the Mist Trail. Follow the Mist Trail for 2.1 miles to the top of Nevada falls and again pick up the Muir Trail. After about 0.75 miles... BUY Yosemite Valley Free Climbs and read the rest this approach and much more.
DescentAllow 3-4 hours for the 9-mile descent. From the summit, descend the cables. The cables are in place year-round. During the winter and spring the uprights are removed, but the cables are still easy to descend. Continue on the Half Dome Trail until it joins the Muir Trail, which leads back to Happy Isles.
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