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Half Dome


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
33 years and 15.5 hours to get to the summit of Half Dome (or another Snake Dike TR).
Sunday June 3, 2012 3:52pm
I was 18 when it happened. I was working in a climbing shop in Sheffield in the UK when one day a new book appeared on the shelf. This book was like something I'd never seen before. It transfixed me so much that I used to gaze at the pictures all day long and read the four trip reports over and over again. The book in question was "Yosemite Climber" and the year was 1979.

Yosemite Climber
Yosemite Climber
Credit: Andy Fielding

I'd been climbing for about two years and as I lived in Sheffield I was brought up to climb mostly single pitch gritstone routes on places like Stanage, Froggatt and Burbage North. The pictures in the book that flashed across my eyes freaked me out but I always had a feeling that one day I had to climb there.

So earlier this year two things happened. First I found myself in Houston with work and secondly I turned 50 and had one of those "there isn't enough time left to climb everything I want to climb", moments so I decided this was my chance. I posted on a few forums and thanks to Claire and Jim I managed to hook up with two people to climb with for the weekend.

So mid way through May of this year I find myself in a tent waking up at 0315 and shortly afterwards driving into the valley to start an epic day. We left the car at 0400 and shortly afterwards we were trying to figure out exactly what the implications of the sign "Cables Down" would be on us getting off the top.

Claire at the start of the walk in at 0400 in the morning.
Claire at the start of the walk in at 0400 in the morning.
Credit: Andy Fielding

We hiked on up the Mist trail passed Vernal Falls and soon realised why it is called the Mist trail. We got soaked from the spray as we plodded on up the endless steps next to the falls only drying out once we'd got up to Nevada Falls. As the walking eased and we found our way up through the meadow and passed Lost Lake we started to see for the first time where we were heading. Half Dome and Snake Dike was everything I had been expecting and basking in the early morning sunshine looked perfect.

The last hour of walking and scrambling I found quite tough as the sun was starting to beat down on us. It was 0900 by the time I finally made it to the base some minutes behind Claire who had done this trip twice before so I was thinking all the way up the approach "this climb has got to be worth it if she's prepared to go through all this for a third time!".

Claire and Andy at the start of Snake Dike.
Claire and Andy at the start of Snake Dike.
Credit: Andy Fielding

Once we got on the rock the last 5 hours of the hike in was already a distant memory. The first pitch went better than expected once I'd got myself passed the glassy traverse. The initial step across being the worst not knowing if my feet would stick. The climbing after this was just a delight and we alternated leads to the top. Some one told me later in the week that climbing the dike was like climbing the back of a dragon. The holds were everywhere that you needed them to be and the lack of protection didn't really figure in my mind. Of course we clipped each and every bolt and were very grateful they were there.

Claire leading the second pitch of Snake Dike
Claire leading the second pitch of Snake Dike
Credit: Andy Fielding

Andy on the third pitch of Snake Dike.
Andy on the third pitch of Snake Dike.
Credit: Andy Fielding

Claire on pitch 5 of Snake Dike.
Claire on pitch 5 of Snake Dike.
Credit: Andy Fielding

Once at the end of the "real" climbing we set off up the endless slabs to the summit. I'd read many reports before so new what to expect but try telling that to my calf muscles. They were burning after just 8 steps so slowly (very slowly) but surely we made our way to the top.

Claire starting the endless slabs, Snake Dike.
Claire starting the endless slabs, Snake Dike.
Credit: Andy Fielding

More endless slabs, Snake Dike.
More endless slabs, Snake Dike.
Credit: Andy Fielding

We eventually topped out by crossing the small snow field and having the obligatory "I made it to the summit of Half Dome" picture.

Andy summit of Half Dome.
Andy summit of Half Dome.
Credit: Andy Fielding

Andy and Claire summit of Half Dome.
Andy and Claire summit of Half Dome.
Credit: Andy Fielding

With the cables down the summit was relatively empty. We only saw another 8 people up there. After the pictures on top we made our way to the cables. We'd taken twin ropes with us just in case we had to rap down but we then realised that "cables down" meant we could just hand over hand down them. The descent was relatively uneventful, stopping every now and again for a rest and a picture!

Claire at the start of the cable descent, Half Dome.
Claire at the start of the cable descent, Half Dome.
Credit: Andy Fielding

Andy descending the cables, Half Dome.
Andy descending the cables, Half Dome.
Credit: Andy Fielding

Once down we then faced the long haul back to the car. It was hot and we were both tired so we plodded on one foot after the other with water supplies running low. At the top of Nevada Falls we refilled our water bottles and started on the steps of the Mist trail on to Vernal Falls. Now we could see in full daylight what had soaked us on the way up in the dark.

Vernal Falls.
Vernal Falls.
Credit: Andy Fielding

On we went until just before we got down to road level we saw a snake on the side of the path. A snake to remember a day on Snake Dike. The memories of this day will remain with me forever. Thanks to Claire for under estimating the timings (!) and for Jim who sat patiently by the bridge for most of the day waiting for us to return. I sincerely hope it will be a lot less than 33 years before I return.

  Trip Report Views: 2,774
Andy Fielding
About the Author
Andy Fielding is a trad climber from UK.

Comments
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Norton

Social climber
quitcherbellyachin
  Jun 3, 2012 - 03:57pm PT
cool report, thanks!
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Jun 3, 2012 - 04:03pm PT
Congrats! Yosemite Climber did it for a lot of us.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Jun 3, 2012 - 05:46pm PT
Well done!
Thanks for taking us along.

Rick
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Jun 3, 2012 - 06:17pm PT
A great goal, accomplished!
Thanks for the TR.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 3, 2012 - 11:24pm PT
Way to go man, thanks!
mark miller

Social climber
Reno
  Jun 3, 2012 - 11:33pm PT
Yeah, Yosemite Climber has Phucked up my life for ever.......Damn J.L. and everyone else for puttin' those dreams into my head.
philo

Trad climber
Is that the light at the end of the tunnel or a tr
  Jun 4, 2012 - 06:39am PT
Hey man that was wonderful. Thanks For Posting Up.
And good on ya.

So was hiking in the spray like a London Fog?
Andy Fielding

Trad climber
UK
Author's Reply  Jun 4, 2012 - 08:26am PT
So was hiking in the spray like a London Fog?

We don't get the fogs anymore it just rains! Being in Yosemite, however, was a thousand times better than being in London. Can't wait to get back there.
Mikemcee

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
  Jun 4, 2012 - 08:47am PT
Yesss! Way to keep the dream alive.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jun 4, 2012 - 05:30pm PT
Way to rock it! Glad it lived up to all your dreams. The big rocks never disappoint. Way to go. Thanks for sharing the adventure.
clairepop

Trad climber
UK, now in Berkeley, CA
  Jul 20, 2012 - 01:11pm PT
Great trip report Andy! It was great climbing with you - all of the best plans are made after a couple of beers on a saturday night! C
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  Jul 20, 2012 - 01:13pm PT
Snake Dike is awesome, never get tired of it. Nice climbing!
Zander

climber
  Jul 20, 2012 - 01:44pm PT
What a beautiful day you had!
moacman

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  Jul 20, 2012 - 01:54pm PT
Well done...Thanx for sharing......

Stevo
Kenygl

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
  Jul 20, 2012 - 01:59pm PT
Very cool, thanks for the nudge.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Jul 20, 2012 - 02:15pm PT
The memories of this day will remain with me forever.

What more can we ask?

Two close friends climbed the Snake Dike this summer and - finding the summit empty, and the sunset just starting to crank up to 11 in that intoxicating and magical Yosemite way - one got down on one knee and proposed to the other. She said yes.

Single best proposal story I've ever heard.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
  Jul 20, 2012 - 02:28pm PT
We can still have magical moments at 50 and beyond. Looking good!
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Half Dome - Snake Dike 5.7 R - Yosemite Valley, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Snake Dike follows an amazing feature to one of the most incredible summits in Yosemite.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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The Regular Northwest Face.
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Blondike is the red line and Two Hoofers is the Blue Line.
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Two Hoofers follows the blue line.
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