Snake Dike 5.7 R

 
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Half Dome


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
A long long day on the Snake Dike
Thursday April 21, 2011 2:04pm
I meant to write this shortly after we got back, but never got around to it. So here it goes...

My buddy Mose and I had talked about doing Snake Dike for a long time, but hadn't been able to get around to doing it. This would be Mose's last big climb before his kids would enter this world. Mose and I are a great team and we always leave Yosemite having pushed ourselves a little harder, going bigger, and with smiles and laughs. However, after this trip, we would be too exhausted to realize what we had achieved for ourselves.

It was around 0400, November 12, 2010 when I drove across Fresno to pick up Mose. When I arrived he was already ready to rock as usual. We headed up Hwy 41, we were psyched, and I was being careful not to get pulled over again like our last trip to Yosemite. Haha.

We arrived in the Valley around 0630. We only saw 1 person as we drove to the Happy Isles parking area. As we were racking up, I was debating on whether to bring my extra heavy weight fleece. I am SO glad I did! We took the horse poop trail up and crossed small areas of snow. The climbing ranger had told Mose that the route was clear of snow and we wouldn't need crampons or axes (big mistake). We crossed some ice just before dropping down to Nevada Falls. In doing so, I took the first fall of the trip. I was okay though. The approach was free of snow from where we left the Muir Trail. We made good time and reached the start around 1130.

Mose heading up the Horse Trail.
Mose heading up the Horse Trail.
Credit: PAUL SOUZA

Mose led the first pitch while I was trying to stay warm. It was a gorgeous day, but the wind was chilly. There was not a soul around. When I got up to the 1st belay, I donned my balaclava to spare myself any wind burn. I wasn't feeling up for being on the sharp end, so Mose took the lead for the rest of the climb. Mose always has a stronger head for leading than I do.

SW Face of Half Dome
SW Face of Half Dome
Credit: PAUL SOUZA

Up!
Up!
Credit: PAUL SOUZA

Take no prisoners!
Take no prisoners!
Credit: PAUL SOUZA

Mose rockin the 2nd pitch on a winter ascent. Nov. 12, 2010.
Mose rockin the 2nd pitch on a winter ascent. Nov. 12, 2010.
Credit: PAUL SOUZA

We reached the top of the route about 4 hours later and dreaded the never ending 3rd class slabs forever and ever. We summited at sunset. That is when I was so glad that I brought my heavy fleece. We packed up our gear, took a few pictures, but I still couldn't stop blinking in every picture. Anyways, time to get down. Now the adventure begins...

3rd class slabs forever.....and ever....and ever
3rd class slabs forever.....and ever....and ever
Credit: PAUL SOUZA

Sunset on the Royal Arches and North Dome. Nov. 12, 2010
Sunset on the Royal Arches and North Dome. Nov. 12, 2010
Credit: PAUL SOUZA

Summit of Half Dome. November 12, 2010
Summit of Half Dome. November 12, 2010
Credit: PAUL SOUZA

I led the way down since I am very familiar with Half Dome and the HD trail. This was my 7th time on Half Dome. It took me a few minutes to find the cables under the snow. Fortunately, I found a short stake where the cables were at. To our dismay, they were frozen in an inch of ice in places. We were clipped in at 2 points: a daisy and a prussik. I led the way down and had to heave on the cables to break them out of the ice. Then I used my daisy `biner to clean the ice off the cables in order for the prussik to slide down. After the first slip and fall onto my left hip, I continued down by sliding down the veneer of ice. My left hip was numb and my pants were frozen. Meanwhile, we spotted a lone headlamp down in Little Yosemite Valley aiming straight at us. Probably thought we were insane! I thought about rapping, but decided not to for a few reasons. First, I didn't want to be pulling the rope across any burrs on the cables. Second, as I slid down, gravity wanted to pull me away from the cables. Meaning, if on rappel, we could swing out away from the cables and possibly not be able to swing back since the whole area was covered by a veneer of ice. It took us 1-1/2 hours just to get down the cables. Then came Subdome.

Subdome was covered in 6 inches of snow, which covered a layer of ice. I couldn't make out any trail, but knew we had to stay generally along the centerline. After some scrambling I realized we were getting off route. We were actually veering down the south side. I was trying to find a way back up when I found myself stemming in some massive flakes. As I looked down, there was about 15 feet of sloping terrain, covered by ice, and then the black abyss of nothing. In that moment, I have never been so scared. If I would have slipped, I would have been done. I made my way back up to a tree, slung it, and rapped. We sacrificed 3 slings in order to safely get down subdome. I had gortex hiking boots on, but my feet were soaked due to no gaiters. Mose had running shoes on and his feet were soaked as well. However, since we were moving constantly and the adrenaline flowing, our feet stayed warm. We got to the bottom of subdome and were relieved to find that some people had hiked to the bottom of Subdome, which gave us a trail to follow through the 2 miles of snow. I knew the area well, but it was nice to not have to route find through snow.

Once we hit dirt, shortly before the HD 2.0 mile marker, we took a short break. I was feeling good now that we got off the worst of the descent. Mose was pretty tired. He tried to nap while I stood watch. If one of us napped the other had to stay awake. Less than 10 minutes later we were on our way down. I was used to long days and cruised down the trail. We arrived at the bathrooms at Nevada Falls. Mose took a nap while I pumped water for both of us. It was a gorgeous night. Clear skis and a gentle breeze. About 15 mins later, we were on the move. I began seeing things. Odd things. At one point, I thought I saw a kitchen oven. I knew it was a rock. I suppose that was an unconscious indication that I was hungry. Haha. As I rounded the oven, the contrasting changed, and as expected, it was just a boulder. Haha. We were both delirious!

We arrived at the truck 20 hours later. Mose was fast asleep in the front seat. I kicked my seat back and tried to nap without any luck. I was processing what had happened that day and couldn't doze off. We began the long drive home. I drove for about 30 mins until I needed Mose to take over. He drove for about 10 mins and then pulled over. We hadn't even made it past Wawona yet. It was 0300 and we quickly passed out. I awoke to see the time on the dash.... 0500! We continued the drive home. We got to Mose's house at 0700. I made my way home and then had to get ready for school at 0900. Yes, I HAD to be there that day. I finally got done with school at 1400, went home, and passed out for 6 hours.

In retrospect, that was one of the craziest experiences of my life. However, despite almost slipping off Subdome, I was pretty calm and confident the rest of the time. The weather was perfect, I was with one of my closest friends and climbing partner, I was very familiar with the area, was mostly prepared, and knew we just had to keep moving, and we'd eventually get down. We each know our limits and they were definitely pushed. However, at no time we were ever over our heads. To me, that's most important. Would I do it again? Only with Mose!






  Trip Report Views: 7,737
PAUL SOUZA
About the Author
PAUL SOUZA is a trad climber and mountaineer from Clovis, CA.

Comments
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JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Apr 21, 2011 - 02:13pm PT
What fun -- and a fine TR, Paul! I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who leaves Fresno at 4:00 a.m. with Half Dome in mind. When aid climbing was still in vogue (meaning decades ago), Tim Schiller and I did the Salathe-Nelson route on the SW Face of Half Dome in similar style. The only difference was that we did it in June, so there was no ice. I guess the other difference was that Tim had to be at work the next day, so we drove all the way back to Fresno (see the thread on exhausted climbing for why that was really stupid). In all, it was a 22-hour trip, and I was sore for a week.

I don't remember seeing you in any obvious soreness, so I assume you fared better.

Again, thanks for the TR. Look forward to seeing you soon.

John
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Apr 21, 2011 - 02:19pm PT
AWESOME!!

Way to make a bitchin' adventure out of Snake Dike.

Note to Frenchman: See? I told ya there was more to it than clipping bolts!!
karodrinker

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  Apr 21, 2011 - 02:26pm PT
Last time I did snake dike, we left san jose at 10 pm, drove up and hiked at night, summited by noon the next day and got back to san jose by 8 pm. I have to say, I think you missed out on the true nature of the snake by not leading. Those runouts are awesome.
PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 21, 2011 - 02:29pm PT
I have to say, I think you missed out on the true nature of the snake by not leading. Those runouts are awesome.

I'm not worried...another time. It will always be there.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 21, 2011 - 03:08pm PT
This sounds like a cool adventure. Breaking the cables out of the ice was my favorite part :)

stemming over slippery ice and discovering an abyss below would be a bit spooky too!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Apr 21, 2011 - 06:58pm PT
I began seeing things. Odd things. At one point, I thought I saw a kitchen oven.

Liked that bit.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 21, 2011 - 11:08pm PT
Dang sounds like a full on adventure!
Loves me some climbing!
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
  Apr 22, 2011 - 12:08am PT
Sounds like the Season makes the adventure...Spicier?
Ah, yes. TFPU, dude. Good dang TR.
Mose

Trad climber
Fresno, CA
  Apr 22, 2011 - 06:40pm PT
Just a quick correction… my kids (twins!) were born on Oct 7th so the little buggers were about 5 weeks old when we set off on this little adventure. Those of you with kids will understand that I had never been more sleep deprived in my entire life. But I was kinda thinking about this climb as the last hurrah before the commitments of fatherhood kept me off the rock, so I was super-motivated.

Leading the entire climb was frickin sweet and the adrenalin of thrashing our way down the iced-up cables kept me awake, but I was basically asleep on my feet from the moment we stepped off the sub-dome. I stumbled after the glow from Paul’s headlamp in a stupor and I learned that sleepwalking downhill isn’t too difficult, it started off as a game where I would allow myself to close my eyes for a couple steps… then a few more, and eventually I would wake up sitting cross-legged in the middle of the path with my nose 6 inches from the dirt. It was very disorienting… but I kept stumbling after that glowing beacon. Paul must have known something was up, ‘cause he never turned a corner without waiting for my glow to appear, but I don’t think he had any idea how completely out of it I was. And what’s this stuff about staying awake while the other person napped? I must’ve drifted off when we talked about that.
cleo

Social climber
wherever you go, there you are
  Apr 22, 2011 - 07:16pm PT
nice job guys! what an adventure with all that ice!
marv

Mountain climber
Bay Area
  Apr 22, 2011 - 07:20pm PT
fukkkkkkkkkkkkkk'ck'ing awesome
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Apr 22, 2011 - 07:43pm PT
that's how you do it
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Apr 22, 2011 - 07:47pm PT
Nice job, guys!

good job getting it done without major incidents. I would say that getting some shut-eye after a journey like that is critical before driving.

Mose, I know exactly what you mean about having kids and getting little sleep. Hope they're doing well.

Rock on!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Apr 22, 2011 - 09:20pm PT
hey there say, paul and mose..

man oh man! what a mess that could have been... :O

great trip report, though... but the COLD and ice... sounded like the chore you said it was...

glad you both had the adventure you sought for the ol' soul... and glad you are both safe...'

god bless...
:)


*mose, congrats on the twins... awwwwww.... i love babies...
:)


thanks again, paul... you wrote it up really neat, too...
:)
PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 22, 2011 - 09:28pm PT
Haha, thanks for the corrections buddy!

I suppose we never talked about it since I always stayed awake to let you get some sleep. ;)
Morgan

Trad climber
East Coast
  Apr 23, 2011 - 10:24am PT
That was cool!
frog-e

Trad climber
Imperial Beach California
  Apr 23, 2011 - 12:26pm PT
Cool TR

Did this climb is 77/78. We bacxkpacked up to the diving board,
Got baked and spent the night out on the lip. It's safe, there's
A channel to sleep in. Next day led the climb with overnight
Packs, NBD. Great fun. I remember wondering if I should
Bring any gear, or just 'biners. Placed one stopper, under a
Little arch or something. Thatks for the TR, brings back
Memories. Just saw Eric Beck a week or so ago, he thought
the overnight Style was cool, as in his words: "the holds won't
Break". EB's seemed fine. The cables were down; we used 1" tubular
As prussiks (on the actual cables) to safeguard our descent.

Should have gone back for the moonlight solo...never did.

PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 23, 2011 - 01:42pm PT
I added a couple pics. I can't believe I forgot my favorite one of Mose rockin the 2nd pitch.
melski

Trad climber
bytheriver
  Apr 23, 2011 - 07:21pm PT
comatos on the trail no problem ,,,on the highway ,alittle different,,,like i"ve said before ,,its about the views,,why isnt there more routes on that side of the hill? wow,,ice and snow,,thanks for the share,,
PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Author's Reply  Apr 23, 2011 - 11:43pm PT
why isnt there more routes on that side of the hill?

http://www.supertopo.com/rock-climbing/route_photo.php?r=yohasnak&dpid=PD81ODg4JiYj
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Apr 24, 2011 - 02:42am PT
That pic of Royal Arches and North Dome is unique and cool!
chiindi

Big Wall climber
Lakeview, OR
  May 3, 2011 - 01:10pm PT
BIG FUN! I did this 35 years ago as my 1st on the dome.
BrianH

Trad climber
santa fe
  May 3, 2011 - 02:13pm PT
You seem like a nice mellow climber, TFPU!!!
Kironn Kid

Trad climber
  May 3, 2011 - 02:17pm PT
Nice report. We did it about 15 years ago.Yes, the 3'rd class slabs, are never-ending...
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  May 13, 2011 - 01:14pm PT
More photos needed bump!!

Dear lord, save us from: wow really?
neversummer

climber
30 mins. from suicide USA
  May 13, 2011 - 03:54pm PT
bump
mrbaksh

Trad climber
Fresno, CA
  May 17, 2011 - 04:27am PT
You should have led some of it. Maybe your account would be different. Good read though and good adventure.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  May 24, 2011 - 01:13am PT
Thanks for the bonus TR info, Mose! Makes a great TR greater.

Guy above this post - it's their partnership, climb, TR. Why try to tell either of them how to do it?
mrbaksh

Trad climber
Fresno, CA
  May 24, 2011 - 02:26am PT
LOL, Really?
Zander

climber
  Nov 30, 2011 - 03:56pm PT
Nice.
Though, I'm kinda cold all of a sudden.
Z
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Nov 30, 2011 - 04:19pm PT
Nice job kid!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Dec 5, 2011 - 11:10am PT
NIce one! It sure is nice to be out grabbing rock with a good friend, eh?
Mark K

Social climber
San Marcos, California
  Dec 5, 2011 - 09:45pm PT
I began seeing things. Odd things. At one point, I thought I saw a kitchen oven.

Haha, I definitely hallucinated on the hike down from Snake Dike, too. Saw the bathrooms near Vernal falls about a mile too early. And some really creepy faces in the boulders... Luckily my girlfriend was there to keep me sane and walking, until the bats started dive-bombing us. Thanks for sharing!
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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 first part of the route is hidden.
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Blondike is the red line and Two Hoofers is the Blue Line.
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