My cousin and I took the alternate approach route yesterday. The guide makes it seem much more complicated than it is. Just follow the base of Liberty Cap around until you're about at the top of the saddle between it and Mt Broderick, then turn towards Half Dome, pick up the climbers trail and cairns through the bushes, along the lake, and up Half Dome's slabs.
This was our first time up, we took BD Camelots .4-1, DMM Wallnuts 4-9, 4 single alpine draws, 2 double alpine draws, and each packed an anchor setup. Probably could have brought a couple fewer nuts and single draws, but each cam got used at least once.
With a 70m rope we were able to extend pitch 7 up a little higher than the Really Big Headwall that's to the right of the top of the route and unroped there. A 60m could probably make it if you're careful about going straight up.
Don't do this climb after Leg Day at the gym!
Start of the route just getting sun. Roof that you traverse below before the top of p1 is dark gray just right of center.
did snake dike a few days ago and ran into some electrical conditions at the top. just a reminder, Half Dome gets more lightning activity than anywhere else in the Valley. you should educate yourself on lightning before you climb.
The other thing you should "recommend" is the "four sides of half dome" tour. Go up the death slabs, cut right, up Bushido gully, over to Snake Dike, up Snake Dike, down the cables, then down the regular trail. It's a unique "tour" that gives one a view of all sides of half dome in the same day!
Pitch 7: Several climbers posting here were confused. The SuperTopo shows "5.2 friction" going straight up to "5.2 fingers," but the "5.2 friction" actually traverses more to the RIGHT, then UP to the obvious "5.2 fingers" crack. Going straight up the slab between the dike on the left and the crack on the right is much harder.
Pitch 8: The ledge going left from the belay is more broken up than indicated in the SuperTopo. You have to clamber left over a low-angle bulging corner to reach the easy "5.2 friction" that goes up the left side of the bulging corner, essentially out of sight of the belayer. Going up to the right of the bulging corner is harder.
Climbed the route on 7/3/11. The 5.7 traverses on pitches 1 and 3 were not bad at all, although i agree with Supertopo, that the traverse on pitch 3 is probably the psychological crux. I think pitch 2 deserves a mention. From the two bomber bolts at the top of the flake on pitch 1, traverse directly out right on thin, but very easy terrain until the you get to a right trending dike. i think i got a piece in here, probably an alien, just before getting onto the dike. Once on the dike, the climbing felt like solid 5.7 and there is a good bolt. From there, it is probably 35 feet to the anchor with no more pro. Because the dike trends right, and does not go strait up like the Snake Dike above it, i chose to climb with my hands on the small features of the dike and my feet smeared below on low angle mini-features. This may have been a mistake. The climbing felt like pretty solid 5.7 and with no more pro, was a little heady. My partner climbed this section after the bolt by climbing with his body above the dike, using the features of the dike as footholds, rather than handholds. Watching him, i got the feeling this way was much easier.
There are bomber bolted anchors at the tops of pitches 1, 2, and 3. I think the top of pitch 4 had one new bolt and one old one. Tops of 5 and 6 both had old bolts, and we never found bolts at the tops of 7 or 8, but both have plenty of natural options.
I'd appreciate a check on what I think is the easiest approach, avoiding all fourth class slab traversing.
I've climbed Snake Dike twice before, neither time feeling that we'd shot the approach correctly. Despite plotting what looked on Google Earth like the easiest route, when I attempted it for the third time with my 15 year-old son on 26 August, we wound up going through what seemed like every manzanita thicket in the valley. By the time we made it to the slopes, it was too late and hot in they day, and my son was feeling poorly, so the better part of valor was a retreat and "maybe next year". On the way back, we followed clear cairns that avoided all the hard parts we'd taken on the way out. So I've reversed my GPS track back to LYV campground and placed it at http://www.biow.org/yosemite/SnakeDikeApproach.kml.
The remaining route from our turnaround point seems clear, going up and left on a ledge until reaching the trees, and then up the fall line to the base of Snake Dike. But if anyone has an actual GPS track of that last bit, I'd like to add it to what I have.
I first did Snake Dike in 1984 on a day off from river guiding. I came back last week and did it again with a good friend who has always wanted to stand on top of Half Dome, so for a late birthday present I took him up Snake Dike. When we arrived there was one party on the route and two in line. I thought no big deal an hour tops before we get going, WRONG!! 4 hours later after watching the groups spend 40-60 minutes on the first pitch traverse and getting ropes stuck in the flake we finally got to climbing.
A few pointers that can help speed things up:
Dont do the traverse on the first pitch, sling the small tree and climb straight to the roof, it's like 5.2 friction to the roof from the tree and takes seconds.
Don't bring a big wall rack, 6 alpine draws and maybe a .75 C4 and a #1, no nuts, definitely not an full set of nuts.
Bring a 70m and link pitches.
Please, please practice belay change overs before doing this route, it is by far the biggest time waster. You have literally like 3 or for slings to exchange, take a drink and get going, you still have plenty of time to take in the views.
Use your rope to attach yourself to the anchors, leave the cordallette at home.
A safer, easier and quicker alternate start for pitch 1 is climbing the right-facing lieback flakes about 20' to the left of the standard start. You can place cams in the flakes (or sling a small tree) and then climb the slab to the left edge of the small roof. If you fall off the slab before reaching the small roof (you won't), your highest cam (or sling on the tree) will prevent a ground fall. See the photo below by "looks easy from here," which I edited.
Alternate and standard starts of Snake Dike.
Credit: Looks easy from here (edited by Floyd Hayes)
Great route. I proposed to my girlfriend once we made it to the top. In my mind if she can do Snake Dike she is a keeper. Took the approach between Mt. Broderick and liberty cap, it is shorter but I don't think faster. The bushwhacking, boulder hopping, and scrambling took too much time. From North Pines to base of climb 4:16 hour. On the first pitch head straight for the left corner of the roof drop in your BD .75 at the corner and head up. No need to climb into the roof place gear climb down and over then up. I never saw a 5.7 on the 1st pitch. On the second pitch, again I never saw a 5.7 move in the traverse. I only placed gear twice on the route; at the corner of the roof on the 1st pitch and in the hole at the start of the second pitch before moving onto the Dike, the rest of the route was like 5.4 climbing with big runouts. Supertopo says that on the 7th pitch that going straight up is 5.2 climbing. For me and I see several other reviewers it was 5.7 slab climbing. By far the hardest moves on the route were in the first 20 feet of that pitch. The hike up the 4 class to the top was long and a little scary. It took us about 4 hours to do the climb and hike the slabs to the top. It took about another 4: 45 to hike back to north pines. We were taking our time on the way back down.
I've climbed "Snake Dike" three times. Although you may be fortunate, you should usually expect there to be other people up there. The first time we kept pace with everyone else, next time we passed another party, and last time we were passed.
The best way to alleviate crowds on "Snake Dike" would be if people learned how to pass gracefully. There needs to be a section on this in the next "Freedom of the Hills" or in Long's next edition. Not that I'm any great expert on the smooth pass, but I've seen way more botched passes than good ones, and it shouldn't be like that!
On "Snake Dike", if the would-be passing party would climb SHORT to one of the alternate belays, they would then set themselves up for a quick pass through with a little simul-climbing. If they are not confident simul-climbers (with practice elsewhere), and if they are not moving considerably faster than the party they are overtaking, they should just cool it. If they cannot completely pass the leader in one simul-pitch, and then stay beyond his reach, they have botched their pass.
The party being passed should not have to pause more than 10-15 minutes (if at all). They knew they would need all that remains of the day to do the climb, so they arrived early enough for that. They shouldn't have to descend in the dark because the passing party didn't bring headlamps.
And finally, just because you are fast and your partner climbs 5.10 does not mean you are a fast TEAM.
I've made all these faux pas myself, and I've had them all made to me on various climbs. Until people start adopting some sort of best practices while passing/being passed, we are all going to continue to get on each others nerves. Let's work on this, shall we?
We climbed this fantastic route in September 2010 during our first trip to Yosemite Valley.
1. In addition to reviewing the Supertopo beta, try searching “snake dike” on YouTube, you will be able to watch numerous videos that will give you a nice feel for the route.
2. The approach GPS coordinates provided by Chris M. in this beta section can be helpful if you decide on an early start and are hiking up in the dark as we did.
3. If you bring a water filter, you can top-off your water just off the Muir Trail, above Nevada falls, somewhere before breaking off on the climbers trail toward Lost Lake. It would have been difficult to find a place to filter at Lost Lake. This is also a good spot to add water on the return hike.
4. Oddly enough, for two people who climb less than a handful of times a year, the climbing went very well. I found an unlikely surprise on the lower portion of the first pitch (polished 4th class). As described in the guidebook, I chose to go up and right for the first pitch to place gear, down climbed slightly, and then worked up and left across the friction. If you choose a similar line, it is helpful to know that you will get some good vertical on polished “low friction” rock before getting in a nice piece, not a huge deal, but at the time it was sort of wake up call.
5. Climbing the dike was thrilling and an excellent contrast to the lower, three pitches, which I think, are equally fantastic (noting that there is some dike climbing mixed in on the second pitch).
6. The eighth pitch ends in a huge crescent shaped fracture. We exited this final belay towards the right side and stayed on that relative line as we walked toward the summit. We were wearing comfortable climbing shoes, so we left them on for the third class slabs. I was personally happy with that decision. About halfway up the slabs, there is a slight increase in steepness (noticeable mostly on the right when looking towards the summit). We had no climbers in front of us, so the best line was not that obvious. I stayed roughly on the same line I had been on after exiting from the eighth belay, my climbing partner went left across the face and then up. Once up near the increase in steepness, I found an obvious weakness that is easily negotiated...my climbing partner however plummeted off his line...JK. He indicated that his line was fine as well.
7. One final comment...we were first on the route and experienced the route finding as well as the climbing...highly recommended!
Did this route on 9/26. Stellar weather and had the route all to ourselves. Roger Brown has done a fantastic job cleaning up and restacking the approach cairn's, basically turning a wandering, bush whacking, slab scramble into an incredibly fun hike. The new bolts also look really nice although you still wouldn't want to fall on this one. One thing I did notice is that the endless third class at the top seemed to have gotten endlesser in the 2 years since I last did this route.
Overall a fantastic day and with the permitting system in effect, even the cables weren't crowded.
The first time I did it I used Chris Mac's GPS coordinates. They got us there but were more of a guide than an actual GPS track.
Did it again in September and followed the Cairns after the lake and it was a piece of cake. No GPS, just followed the trail. There are a few places where you can get off route easily but for the most part, it's straight forward. IMO..leave the electronics at home and enjoy the adventure.
Climbed Snake Dike yesterday, January 1st. Amazing day to be in the mountains. Not a soul around. Whoda thunk Snake Dike on New Years Eve would have a snow free approach and descent. Climbed in sunshine all day.
There is currently no ice on the cables, though they lay on the stone as they always do in winter, without vertical struts. Still a bit heads up.
Streams are trickling at various spots but frozen solid in others.
Always overlooked this route because of the long approach, always opted for the steeper RNWF instead. The climbing on this route is stellar though. The 600ft vertical dike is one of the coolest features I've ever climbed on. I've heard horror stories of terrible run outs but the route seemed really well bolted to me, all of the 5.7 moves are protectable. Only used a .5 camalot and a few draws. This climb is a must do and great beginner route.
My friend climbed it this weekend and reported no crowds. :-)
They descended the (down) cables. Snow on the subdome and trail below that.
As for whether you can get down the downed cables, I have no idea, since I don't know you.
My friend is skilled and could no doubt descend even if the cables didn't exist....
[Click to View Linked Image]
The 600-foot-long dike on this route is one of the most exceptional features in Yosemite. The 5.4 jugs on this pitch are guaranteed to make you smile (if you can ignore the 70-foot run-outs.) When the climb is over, there is still a LONG section of 3rd class slabs. Though this section is sure to incinerate your legs, the summit is well worth it. Standing on the top of Half Dome is like standing on the moon. The views from the top are outstanding.
Mill Valley, CA
Feb 9, 2002 - 09:24pm
MOONLIGHT ASCENT: the full moon doesnt' get high enough in the sky until about 11 pm. If you go before the full moon, figure about 50 minutes earlier for each day before the full moon for the moon to be high enough. I never did this, but scoped it out. Nobody (back then) was F.N.A. crazy enough to do it with me. Looks like the perfect Full Moon Madness climb, though.
Mill Valley, CA
Feb 18, 2002 - 05:48am
When I did this route many years ago, my partner (picked up off the Camp 4 bulletin board) seemed competent. We did the Royal Arches to feel each other out, and other than starting late and bivvying on top of the Column, everything was cool.
Halfway up the Dike, however, I reached one of the bomber bolt belays to see that he had climbed past it by 30', or so. I thought this was odd, considering the complete lack of other pro on the route so far. There are NO cracks once you get to the Dike. When I got to his "belay", I saw to my horror that it consisted of a single 1/2" runner around a golf-ball sized chickenhead! If that wasn't bad enough, there was a distinctive layer of different rock separating the feldspar knob from the feldspar Dike: looked like the perfect place of the thing to break off.
As it turned out, my next lead wound up being, essentially, my first free solo: easy climbing, but tremendous exposure, and NO room for error.
The lesson? DON'T PASS THE BELAYS UP, UNLESS YOU FIND OUT FOR SURE THAT A 60M ROPE CAN LINK TWO PITCHES. I DON'T THINK YOU CAN LINK ANY OF THE BOLT BELAYS WITH A 50M ROPE.
Mill Valley, CA
Aug 5, 2002 - 05:59am
You can climb the first pitch right to the recommended route. The is a tie-off in the right corner under the roof, and then a good nut placement in the middle while doing an undercling. Better to climb and protect. Have fun!
Mill Valley, CA
Aug 5, 2002 - 04:43pm
Go light! 8 draws, two small blue metolious cams (1st belay) yellow and red metolious, .75 (green BD) or equivalents there of. The .75 BD with about 10 ft of runner works great in the roof above the initial "runout" friction. Allowing it to be climbed TR.
Snake Dike is an amazing climb that I recommend to all climbers. Myself and another friend climbed it yesterday for the first time. I would deffintely recommend hiking to nevada falls at night and sleeping there just off the trail. Just becarefull of bears. We spent most the night fending them off. After the second pitch make sure you traverse back to the left otherwise you will find yourself on a 5.10b. Both my friend and I thought we were on the hardest 5.6 ever. turns out we were on the 5.10b. For an extra thrill you might consider free soloing the last several pitches. THat is what we did and we had a blast. The last 3 or 4 pitches have holds like you wouldn't believe. Make sure you bring enough water!!! We ran short, I would recommend at least 3 liters. That should last you from vernal falls up over snake dike down the cables and back to vernal. Good luck all, be safe and have fun!
Just checked out the "beta" postings on this page for the first time, pretty good stuff. Wanted to add a few comments and a quick "correction" to the Snake Dike thread:
I posted a note on the Forum a while ago about a fire that recently burned over the last section of the approach to this route and others in the area (see that post for details). I have not had a chance to hike through the burn myself so I can't speak from experience, but climbers headed that direction should be extra mindful of burned snags, loose rocks, etc.
On another note, the Half Dome area is likely the most impacted back-country area in Yosemite, so it is all the more important that we do everything we can to protect it. A few things you should know before heading for the route:
If you plan to camp near the base of the route, or anywhere in Yosemite's back-country for that matter, you must pick up a wilderness permit before leaving the valley. Anyone planning to camp in or near Little Yosemite Valley must stay in the designated group campground (so as to minimize the impact in Yosemite’s most impacted camping area). Sorry “Tired Traveler,” sleeping by Nevada Falls is not OK. I won’t lay out all of Yosemite’s back-country regs here (you’ll get all that info when you pick up a permit), but it is especially important that we pay careful attention to them around Half Dome. The place gets hammered by thousands of people every year, so it is all the more important that we protect it. That means using a bear canister to store your food, camping only where you are allowed to camp, disposing of your human waste and trash correctly, and doing everything you can to leave no trace in general.
Phew… sorry for the soap box. It’s easy for anyone who spends a lot of time around Half Dome to get a bit worked up about seeing the area get hurt.
Climb safe, have fun, and see if you can find the bolt that’s not on the Snake Dike Supertopo.
I can't add much to what has already been said about the route, but I'll offer a couple of suggestions. First, we filtered and cached a couple of bottles of water at the top of Nevada Fall. It reduced the amount of water we had to carry to the top. Second, many cable climbers place cairns above the route. Take a moment and unstack them. The coconut you save may be your own.
Oct 1, 2002 - 05:29pm
My wife and I spent 2 weeks in Sept. in Yosemite. We climbed Snake Dike amongst other routes. We used a 50M rope without a problem but I would recommend 2 long slings or daisy chains for each climber to anchor with. My wife had to unclip her figure 8 on a bight with the climbing rope so I could reach the next belay on the FULL rope length pitches. Even pitch 2 turned out to be one of these so I'm not sure of the stated 120' length. For pro we took Metoulius Power cams #1-#4 and a set of stoppers which was plenty.
Chris if you read this there is an important (read 'welcome') bolt missing on your Supertopo just before the "5.4 steep" section on pitch 6 this short 5.4 section comes after tremendous runout and doesn't take gear. I was able to girth hitch some chicken heads on pitch 5 which reduced the runout there too.
The only reason I didn't give the route 5 stars is because the dike climbing does not offer tremendous climbing variety though having a modest route up one of the most recognized rock features in the world is a statement unto itself!!
For logisitics we got a wilderness permit and stayed in the Little Yosemite Valley campsite before and after the climb. This enabled us to get on the route early and make for a comfortable day :-).
Oct 10, 2002 - 12:26pm
Go climb this route!!! I can't recommend it enough. The bolt shown in the otherwise perfect Supertopo shortly before the second belay doesn't exist. It would have been nice though as the step onto the dike is a little exposed. Trust the Supertopo's recommendation to bring only 6 quickdraws..... you won't be needing anymore (if that many ;o))
Great route, thanks for the free topo! My comments:
We didn't see the "plaque on a rock" on the Mist Trail below Nevada Falls. However the "devious" chasm between Liberty Cap and Mt Broderick was still really easy to find. We just broke left off the Mist Trail when it literally came to the base of Liberty Cap (about 150m short of Nevada Falls). A good climbers trail right up against the base of Liberty Cap heads around into the chasm.
The recent fire has obscured the trail after you traverse the 4th class slabs/ledges on the SW shoulder of Half Dome (about 500m below the base of the route), making for some unpleasant walking for about 150m - our legs got covered in charcoal. But the "sandy switchbacks" up to the base are easy to find.
The bolt 20ft below the second belay is definitely still there (as of 29th Sep) - you must have missed it Trrun :-). The "5.7 friction" moves just below it seemed much easier than the 5.7 moves on P1 and P3.
We simul-climbed after P3, the 5.6 and 5.5 moves on P5 weren't a problem. And it put us at least an hour ahead of some slow parties who started in front of us.
I agree there is a bolt missing from the supertopo about 15ft before the 6th belay which protects the "5.4 steep" section. All the other parties on the route missed it though - keep an eye out for it just to the R of the dyke when you get to the obvious steeper section.
If walking down after sunset, watch for bears below Nevada Falls.... :-))
Quick note on starting pitch 3. A bolt above and right beyond the one pictured in the topo lured me up and I began the friction traverse over 30 feet above the correct route. DO NOT GO UP HERE!
This is dicey terrain! I was two feet from the dike, saw a single bolt 5 feet below to my left (the first bolt above the 60m rope belay) and had tons of rope out. The friction is very tough (some reports are 10b friction but I was 10 feet above that line so who knows how wicked it was) and my feet skated and I took a fingerprint burning 40 foot descent.
Great easy route...just follow the topo exactly and traverse early on pitch three (IGNORE THAT EXTRA BOLT THAT IS NOT ON THE TOPO UP AND 20 feet right)
What a great route, though we had a bit of an adventure. About 4 pitches up the wind started blowing fiercely. We decided not to bail since we were half way done with the roped pitches. A couple parties starting up below us bailed out. We kept going and soon we were hugging the dike between run-outs in gusts of wind at least 60mph. Our one pack felt like a sail. It was insane. When we finally topped out, a guy on the summit said that they had recorded some gusts close to 80mph. It was one of those "experiences" that make for a great stories, but I'd sooner not repeat. I'd like to go back and climb it when the wind is normal.
we took a whopping 16 hours to do the route from the valley (car-to-car time) .. what can i say, we're slow hikers! .. the route itself took 4 hours to complete, and it took us another hour to hike the slabs above the route to the summit of halfdome..
the views are great, i loved the hike in -- hated the hike out.
i ran into great rope drag on P1 because i placed a piece under the roof, and another piece at the corner when you go over the roof ...
on P5 i misread the topo, and traversed across the 5.6 edges and friction dike to the off-route dike .. (i clipped the bolt along the way) .. then climbed the off-route dike .. about 40 feet above the dike gets a bit steep and probably has some 5.7 moves on it (maybe 2 moves) .. there were some tense moments as i considered the 80'+ peeler i was about to take if i blew the moves .. thankfully everything worked out fine .. the off-route dike goes up parallel to the correct dike and its easy to traverse back over to the right once you get up to the belay bolts.
.. i dont think i'll go back to this route anytime soon .. the hike in-out is just too grueling..
Did the climb last year and in ´99. It took us 8.5 hours car-by-car. I prevent ropdrag on pitch one by pulling a peace out with the rope that was in a little crack in the middle od the "roof".By the way a great climb unfortunately it´s too short...
I did Snake Dike on June 18. Overall, I don't think the climb was worth the hike. Don't get me wrong - it's a good route in a fantastic setting - but there is better climbing all over the valley. The 5.7 friction traverses on pitches 1 and 3 feel much harder because of the runout as do the lower 5.4 pitches on the dike.
Even though the climbing is easy, the runouts are extreme and if you made a mistake or a hold broke you'd be in serious trouble.
As the topo says, the 3rd class hike after the last pitch goes on forever. Bring plenty of water on this one!
Overall, this climb is worth doing for the adventure but I won't do it again.
The approach is too grueling. Hmmm. If you are in good shape, are comfortable on 5.7 friction, and go with the light is right approach - this climb doesn't have to be grueling. A great climb in a great setting with awesome views and one of the coolest approaches around . . .
i've been climbing for 6 months and led all pitches about 3 weeksw ago --
psycologically it was a bit trippy when i looked down at 75+' runouts .. scary .. and envigorating .. but nothing beyond that -- i could have kept on climbing -- but with a large sense of dread if i blew it ..
.. i got off-route at one point and ended up doing a bit harder climbing (probably 5.7) about 40' above a bolt .. that's probably the hardest climbing i've done to date (psycologically) --
.. i'm glad that i didn't do this climb earlier in my climbing career -- would have been tougher .. (i had already soloed the upper 5 pitches of after six before doing snake dike so i knew that i could handle a runout pitch)
Not so very early in my climbing career as ricardo but not really a vet either (I've been climbing for ~2.5 years and generally climb harder than Snake Dike), I was still afraid of it because of the runouts that I thought that I would find on the 5.7 (after having a few 'That was 5.easy?!' experiences lately). B/c I had knee surgery over the winter I also thought the approach/descent would be a killer.
So, I actually trained for both. The South Face of North Dome (linked with Royal Arches) amongst other shorter routes was my training route. In retrospect, this was like doing Outer Limits to train for Nutcracker as the SF or ND day was much more strenuous, run out, and technically difficult.
I actually walked heel-toe across a ledgey thing that was supposed to be the 5.7 "psychological crux" and didn't find that part 5.7 or run out at all. The 5.7 friction on the first pitch was practically TRed once the gear was in the roof. My friend (who hadn't climbed in Yosemite for 2 years) and I were pleasantly surprised. The dike run-outs where so straightforward that even a chickenpoo like me didn't get too scared. The descent really did kick my butt (and feet and knees and back). The crux for doughnut people like me will probably be the 3rd class slab forever.
Also...to anyone who's worried that it's not worth the approach...The appraoch itself is worth the approach. It was so beautiful on top that I cried.
I passed the approach trail by.........2 miles. Add 4 miles of hiking/running to the day and you have.........8 million miles. Please tell me where the 5.7 was, because I think I missed it? The first pitch was 5.7, but I was way off route, doing the arching finger crack to the right. By starting the route at the higher trees, we got to the second pitch belay in one pitch by taking this crack. It was very nice, and we were able to pass a slower party. The friction leading left to the dike can't be harder than 5.4. The dike was incredible. It was like climbing on a stegosauras. Lots of chickenheads and tie-offs. The new, ultrathin 8mm runners made tie-offs easier. I've never had more fun on a route, and never climbed an easier route. 13 hours car to car with fiance. We ran from the HD shoulder to top of falls and from bottom of falls to parking lot.
This has to be one of the best outtings I've had. The hike up was hell. The trail between Liberty Cap and Broderick takes a lot of energy. We started WAY late, and didn't start up the route until 4:00pm. If you feel safe doing that, or hiking from Nevada Falls to camp in the dark, then I recommend it. I wasn't totally comfortable though... I read of someone getting lost on the 2nd pitch chasing a wierd bolt out on the face, but it didn't seem like a problem. the line is obvious. Don't trip out on the third pitch, it's not that bad. The run outs make this climb really exciting and fluid on well featured wonderful granite. Anyone know the geology behind those dikes? Would it have been some sort of mold for that shape while the granite was cooling? Interesting.
My climbing partner, Jesse, and I did this route on Saturday, September 27th. The hike was definitely a physical challenge, but fairly straight-forward (even by the light of our headlamps). We started hiking from Happy Isles at 4:45 a.m., reaching the chasm between Liberty Cap and Mt. Broderick just as the day began dawning. We reached the base of Snake Dike at 9:00 a.m. and began climbing at 9:15. The climb is spectacular. Although the route is easy technically, the run-outs keep it exciting. Climbing up the dike is like a wild ride on the back of a dinosaur. No one else showed up at the base until we were finishing up the fifth pitch, so we climbed in relative seclusion. There were several fires burning in the Valley, so the smoke began to obscure the amazing views. All said, the Snake Dike is worth the hike (and it IS a hell of a hike). We made it car-to-car in just over twelve hours. Take your water filter, or prepare to be severely dehydrated. The SuperTopo for this climb is perfect... thanks for the freebie. I'm hooked. I'll definitely be heading back to climb the Northwest Face in the near future. Cheers!
One more comment to those of you looking to climb Snake Dike:
Bring a very light rack. We used some small TCU's (0,1,2), a couple Splitter 2-Cams and 4-Cams, and a .75 Camalot. There are some creative gear placements throughout the run-out dike climbing (a couple small holes, nice chicken-heads), but once you are on the dike, be prepared to just keep moving (and have fun doing so!).
Probably pretty obvious to some, but its worth bringing a pair of cheap leather gloves of some sort for going down the cables. I don't know what its like without them, but I imagine it kind of sucks. Of course, the cables were 'down' this weekend so you could run down it head first, if you had gloves, which was the funnest part of the day for me.
Also obvious to some mabye, we waited till lost lake to fill up our water, planning on having more than enough since everyone recommends bringing lots, but alas, lost lake is a mud puddle and had little to offer. Maybe someone knows a spot that works when its this dry, which would be very useful beta, but I'd recommend getting water before you break away from the main trail above Nevada falls. Otherwise, its no water till you are back at Little yosemite, unless you can bum some off the tourists.
ASCENT IN LATE SEPTEMBER:
Visualize the whole experience (Snake Dike = long hike + stairs + devious climbers trail + cairns galore + brilliant climbing + funky dikes + long slabs + tourists + questions from tourists + descent down cables + running out of water + dipping your feet in the river)
It is the perfect package. Next time I am going to do the full moon version.
If you have one competent 5.8 leader and good rubber on your shoes than you will find this route perfect.
Some quick recs:
Straight forward climbing with no pro until the bolt (the topo shows 0.75" but I couldn´t remember anything there) then a few 5.7 moves (it will either feel 5.3 or 5.7 to you depending on your feet since the handholds are not huge, choose carefully and you will find the turf very easy.
The look for the very hard to see bolt (in '01 I went up and right on the off route dike, traversed 30 feet to high on 10b friction, got within a foot of the dike, and took a huge cheesegrater). It is only 7-10 feet from the belay about 45 degrees left. It blends well with the rock during midday light. Other people think I am blind not seeing it before but my partner couldnt see it at first either. You will quickly find the traverse over (it goes over a bulge and will feel no harder than 5.4...honest). The first moves on the dike are the hardest and then it is easy terrain. Great feet with the occasional super jug. ENJOY
Favorite pitch by far. The 5.5 fingers felt harder to both my partner and I for whatever reason but very fun climbing. A small cam fits in the top of the 5.5 (a #10 stopper too but doesn´t sit as well). Then cruise up and bear hug the dike for a 100 feet. Peak your head around the dike every so often to see the incredible shapes and contrast to the surrounding smooth granite. STELLAR PITCH!
Easy and long runout (no pro the whole time) yet a French team below us stopped before the final 5.4 bit talking about a bolt which we did not see and climbed directly to the anchor. They supposedly found it. POSSIBLE CORRECTION: The topo does not show this bolt. If anyone can confirm it can be added to the topo. The 5.4 terrain is 4 moves long so if you don´t see it...don´t worry.
For competent and light team-->
Rack with 60 m rope:
3 small cams
3-6 med/large nuts
1 pink tricam for roof
the uprights on the cables are down till memorial day or so. for the moment the cables lie flat against the rock.
this is no biggie. it can actually be faster to get down right now if you have thick leather gloves and don't mind running down head first (let the cable run against you pants for a little extra friction.)
only one other team on the route when i did it. but few crowds like that won't last long...