I did Snake Dike on 9/10/18 and I hadn't heard about the "recent" rock fall. It looked super fresh to me, but evidently it's been there for a month or two. Besides the very real (though impossible to quantify) danger of hiking through a recent rock fall zone, I found the route finding easier as most of the oak and manzanita had been decimated. Before one had to search for the proper path through the foliage. Now it's mostly hurry up through the rubble. At the bottom there's still some wandering but the path is well marked going up.
rock fall release zone and area impacted. The scruffy buttress is now largely devoid of trees.
We reversed this approach yesterday after climbing Porcelain Wall (Direct North Face, excellent line!). We used Snek Dike approach as our descent (with haul bags, fun!) Having not done the approach in a few years + recent rock fall we got lost on the descent.
(Keep in mind what I'm writing is in perspective of reversing the approach. We were descending)
We got to the bottom of the 3rd/4th class bits. This is where you would normally skirt along the base of half dome going east. However I spotted a line of ducks going down (before the rockfall zone, not the original approach). I was moving pretty slow with the bag so I couldn't our judge progress that well. We first followed the ducks down this gulley, only to discover we couldn't continue down the sketchy slabs with massive haul bags (and there we no visible ducks below, they're placed for visibility going up). I was pissed, and destroyed the ducks on the way back up the gulley, thinking it was someone lost not following the original approach). There were five of them (small ones). I did not know there was rock fall further along. There may be a new approach that comes up the left side (avoiding the rockfall zone). 5 of the ducks are gone, but it's dead obvious how to go (up the gulley).
After hiking back up to the original descent, we got to the south face and discovered the rockfall. It wasn't obvious at first the extent (pretty big slide). We got to the east side of the rockfall zone, skirted down the base of the slabs. Then we hit a dead end of manzanita at the bottom. There is rubble everywhere, everything looks like a duck. With an 80 lb haul bag on, I opted to thrash though 100m of manzanita/oak rather than go back up and find the trail/tunnel out. I don't know how you connect from the original approach to the rockfall zone.
Given the extent of this slide (and possibility that more might come down), it may be worth setting up/publicizing a trail up the left side (maybe a fixed line or two to get up the slabs). I may have once done an approach on that left size years ago. It seems like people are going up that way already.
There was rock fall very recently that makes the standard approach beta inaccurate! I spent some time trying to find a new approach to the start, but gave up as much of the rock was chossy, sandy, and unsettled.
If anyone does find a new approach, please post!
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)
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]
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.
I think may would be ok. Just look at the web cam for current conditions. If there is snow on top you might expect some runoff down shoulder of the dome where the climb goes. Check the webcam and ask around again closer to your trip. I'd suggest posting on the regular form as opposed to this (beta) page.
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.
Jim Keating and I were soloing the headwalls up to the start and we came fact to face, literally, no kidding about a foot from our face as we were mantling, we dropped down about the eight feet. I then encountered another rattler.
But we did the route and spent the night on top of Half Dome watching the full lunar eclipse.
are there enough chickenheads to sling that i would be able to just bring nuts? because im sure the approach and descent would be much easier if slings could replace cams. also, would tricams work as a replacement for cams?
Finally ticked off Snake Dike this year! With stormy skies, we had the route to ourselves, and only about 15 people on top during a snow shower. We hiked up Nevada Falls trail (lots of steps) and down John Muir (slightly longer, but a lot less steps). We spent one night in the Little Yosemite Valley backpackers campground. The turn off trail to Snake Dike goes up a sandy hill. We took the topo rack – 4 cams, set of nuts, alpine draws, and slings
P1 – good beta to climb up to roof, place pro on long sling (I used triple), then climb back down to make the traverse. To avoid rope drag, I did not place pro in the 5.6 fingers. Built anchor with one cam and 2 nuts.
P2 – Fun and good pro
P3 – Go up and left as per topo to an old bolt. Do not go up the dike and clip the new bolts like I did! This is another route.
P4 – One bolt in 140 ft of 5.4 climbing – got to love it! Feet are good, no hands at times.
P5 - Took me awhile to find the bolt after the right side 5.6 moves
P6 – Easy and fun
P7 – I went right on the 5.2 friction to get some pro, then straight up
P8 – Lots of options – it started to snow!
A 1000 ft of slabs to the top! Cairns mark the way - up and left.
The cables on the way down are pretty steep, and the rock was slippery due to snow. I used rappel gloves and my daisy chain.
Some friends did the route the next week - took them about 12 hours car to car - 3 hours up, 6 hours on the dome, 3 hours down - fun!
I climbed Snake Dike in 1972 and again in 1974, following all the way the first time, and leading pitches 1 and 3 the second time with a woman I met in camp 4. In '72 we slept in bivy bags near the cut off to the climb the night before. I was so cold I hardly slept.
We weren't using pins in the early '70s and there were no cams, so there was NO diagonal protection on pitch one. I remembered pitch 1 as 5.6, so I expected no problems leading it unprotected in '74. But 10 or 15 feet below where I could start using nuts I was suddenly on friction that was at least 5.7, maybe harder than that. I have never been so scared. I had no trouble on the pitch 3 traverse but when I got to the dike I clipped a bolt. Even though I put a long sling on it, the drag was so bad I thought I could fall. I was so rattled I couldn't lead for the rest of the climb.
Besides Yosemite, I also climbed in the Tetons and Cirque of the Towers, in Colorado, and at Devils Lake. Since taking up climbing again three years ago at 70, I have been to Devils Tower and JT, each several times. Snake Dike is my favorite climb. What can I say, it's magical.
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.
Bringing only quickdraws on the first few pitches is not much different than soloing those pitches with a groundfall.
Unless you've been there before and tried it, I'd think twice about soloing it even if you think you're comfortable on 5.7. There's a big difference between a bomber 5.7 hand jam and a smooth slab up to an undercling. Of course, it's all relative to your experience and skills and how solid you feel.
when I did it earlier this season there was a fixed brand new BD cam on the end of the first ledge where it says you can belay... I think you could easily solo that first 4th class then do the 5.7 step over (it wasent that bad) then there is like a 5.5 finger crack that is like 2 moves and you would have pro for the next bit to the anchors... that bit to the anchors it horribly easy (5.2) so I would say you would cruise it plus if you do fall before that fixed cam you wouldnt "die" you would just slide. you dont need gear for rest of route. you could try and barrow gear from camp4 people, I would let you use my gear If I was there!
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.
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.
When I did it, I found the approach mellow, and mabe it had one short section of slabby 4th class. We followed cairns and path of least resistance. Turned right shortly after that swamp with a nice view of HD. That's where the cairns started. It takes you out from the bushes and more towards the rock.
Leave at 5am from the parking lot and you shouldn't have any trouble getting there on time. Route is easy and goes fast. After first 2 pitches you don't place pro lol, just climb and belay.
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.
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.
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.
Got an early start (0430) at the trailhead, and motored up the trail getting blasted on the mist trail in shorts and a t shirt to get to the base in 3 hrs flat to find 10 people total on the route, 5 of them on the ground. The climbing was extremely slow. Why do belay changeovers take 20 minutes? Despite the slow parties, I really enjoyed the hike, climbing on the awesome featured dike and the views. Cables still down, park service guy shoveling snow off the last part of the trail on subdome which is now clear.
My partner and I climbed this route on Saturday and I have to admit we were both disappointed. It is a lot of work and a long day for a pretty uninteresting climb. The summit is great, the location and the views are great. The dike climbing got monotonous pretty quick and although the climbing is not difficult 80' run outs are a bit much if you were a 5.7 leader. The endless dome hike at the top was another reason I definitely would not do it again.
Jack, when I did this route last year I also clipped the two shiny ASCA bolts on the third pitch traverse and failed to find the alternate belay. After looking at the Reid topo I think those bolts are off-route; I believe that those bolts belong to a 5.9 section of Eye in the Sky. The correct route is lower.
climbed snake dike on saturday if anyone finds some sweet glass on the approach let me know!
anyways some notes on the climb, we didnt have a topo and wound up simuling from the "third" pitch on cuz we messed up the belays. but anyways when i got home and looked at the supertopo the topo kinda goes to crap for what would be the third pitch. wich could possibly be confusing to some noobs fixated on the topo. there seems to be some alternate variation with two or three nice new asca bolts that seems to traverse higher than the normal line, that almost seemed possibly harder than the 5.7 grade but better protected i guess. then it seems as the optional anchor after the leftward traverse has been removed. anyways someone could probably do a better job describing this, but i thought i may mention this cuz its supertopo and all! was cool to have the half dome summit to ourselves.