i'm wondring if anybody can comment on just how runout / dangerous this route is . can anyone compare it to marginal on the apron? . i remember there being like a 30 foot runout on the second pitch of that route. i'm trying to work up the courage to do the dike route....
There are two truisms related to this climb: 1) don't do it if you are not comfortable on 5.9 runout face/slab and 2) Tuolume Meadows routes are generally runout.
All climbing is dangerous, I've been on the Dike Route a few times and I didn't have the same feeling that the commentary in SuperTopo gives for this route. Runout, yes, dangerous? you have to be careful no matter what.
After pulling the crux on the third pitch, you should be looking right for a nice big "bowl" where you'll find a bolt, think "if I were the first ascent party, where would I stop to put in a bolt", and there you'll find it. Going there, and then back up to the anchors for the belay makes the climbing more secure AND easier. Going straight for the anchor bolts is runout and is technically more difficult. I've done it both ways, neither one recommends a fall.
As far as the history, I'm not aware of anyone taking the 140'+ wipper alluded to in the SuperTopo... I suppose it's possible. The latest SuperTopo gives the pitch above the crux a 5.8X rating... seems overly dramatic. But once again, you definitely do not want to fall.
My guess is that if you are uncertain about your ability to do this climb then you shouldn't.
I found Dike Route to be classic, deserving of a serious reputation, but fun and enjoyable. While you should be comfortable with both Tuolumne slab and Tuolumne runout, with a calm head the route is both eminently doable and highly enjoyable. The real 'trick' for me was to focus on my footwork. I brought the sport slippers, and they worked quite well on the smears and precise knobby footwork.
The 1st 'pitch' as listed in the Supertopo is a quick romp from the low angle ledge to the obvious chains. Easy, but no bolts. The 2nd pitch has two options. Go straight up from the anchor to find the first and only bolt. From there you can traverse to the left hand dike, and follow that up to the anchor in the 5.6 range. If you stay on/near the right hand dike the rating is a little stiffer. I think the Supertopo says 5.8. The third pitch follows the dike the whole way, has 3 good bolts, and you can alternate between the upper and lower dike for feet. On the fourth pitch, head straight up and over a small bulge to clip the first bolt. The 'crux' moves are right above that, and involve a slight traverse right, and upwards over the bolts. The moves go quickly, and are well protected to get established above the bolt. From there, take a deep breath and head straight up on knobs and crystals to a vertical stretch of wall. Pull over this at the easiest point you can find, and then angle right on the slab to the bolt. While this is the most runout part of the climb, there are many, many options for your feet, and the bolt is hard to miss if you move to the right after the short vertical moves. A calm mind and confidence in my footwork saw me through. From that second bolt, angle back to the left and up through some polish to the anchors. The fifth pitch goes straight up moderate 5.6, no bolts, to the anchors. The last pitch traverses to the Zee Tree finish, and climbs the crack on the headwall. You can rap from any point up until the end of the fifth pitch.
Regarding the original question, the climb is runout, but doesn't feel dangerous if you're solid at the grade. That's not to say a tumbling fall down the slab would be fun, but all bolts are good, and all the anchors are solid. As long as you keep the Elvis Leg at bay, and use precise confident footwork, the climb is an enjoyable adventure.
We did it in July, 2005. Very nice climb where the crux seemed to be on a 5.6 pitch and not on the 5.9 pitch, at least for us Gunks climbers. The 5.9 move was right at a bomber bolt and as long as you find the next bolt [up right, over an eyebrow or small overhang] and stay calm, you'll be fine. You won't pump out.
Just an outsider's observation, but 5.5 dome climbing felt a lot like 5.8 dome climbing.
The second bolt on the fourth pitch is about 10 feet right of the dike. If you climb straight up from the first (doubled) protection bolt, you'll run into it after the steeper section. I was looking too far right and just happened to find it in front of me. It is not visible from below the bulge.
Also, you can rap Needle Spoon with one 60m rope. The last one doesn't reach the ground, but its a short third-class scramble off left.
Wow, dike route was awesome, probably the most memorable face route i have ever done. Contrary to what others have said, I thought that the crux on the money pitch was working up to the short vertical part above the "5.9 bulge". I had to stop here and scope for the bolt and the stance felt thinner than the holds lower down on the bulge. Plus by this point the (only) pro you have is way below you.
I couldnt see the bolt itself from there which made me a little hesitant, but (Ed Hartouni took the words out of my mouth) I thought to myself "hmm, if I were drilling from a stance where would I be?". I looked up and saw a little depression 20' above me, so I pulled the little vert part and made my way up the polished face. To my happiness, the bolt was sitting right in the depression. After that its cruiser to the anchors. (the fall would be only (only) 50 feet or so from there.)
The crucial bolt on P4 is very easy to miss as my partner did, climbing the X variation. I noticed the bolt myself only when I was a few feet away from it. From the P4 anchor, go straight up, clip the new (?) bolt anchor approx. 12ft higher and continue straight over the bulge. If you go towards the next anchor (slightly to the left; bolts might be visible), the vital bolt will be on your right after 20ft or so. Good luck!
The Dike Route follows the runout line up the white dike on Pywiack Dome.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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