I figured just another weekend in the Sierra toiling away on my little crags, eek out a new TR variant, suss it to death, and drink beer around a campfire. But Bob K threw out an invite to the BAWC with a hint at Snake Dike since the moon would be full. The cables are down so tourists would be minimal. I jumped at it.
His first thought when we talked... "What do you think about starting from Glacier Point?" I'd done Snake Hike before... hrm, that would something new, unknown, perhaps even a bit adventurous. "ok" I replied, not really knowing what that meant.
The plan was 5am at GP. I knew I couldn't sleep so I drove up, sacked out about 12:30 just outside the park. Got up with the alarm, made a fast brew and oatmeal and did the drive. (sorry sleepers) the rest of the way, running late by underestimating the mileage to GP. By the time we packed and racked, I think it was 6. In any event the sun was creeping up as we started down.
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The Pohono trail to Illouette bridge and then up some elevation gain to take the Panorama trail across the rim to just above the JMT junction with the Merced River. Drop down 600' or so is all it takes. Then off to the Liberty Cap shoulder. We cut over too soon possibly, but with a single easy 5th class move dropped into the drainage between Broderick and Liberty.
The trail from there is pretty well marked if you keep your eyes open for cairns and clean thru ways in the brush. If you're crashing, that's wrong.
At about this point, I finally start to feel some real effort has been done. But the temperature is just about perfect. We take our time at the base eat and drink. why, you might ask would we take out time?
Well, because, WE WERE THE ONLY PEOPLE ON ROUTE THE ENTIRE DAY.
yes, I shall rub it in again...
WE WERE THE ONLY PEOPLE ON ROUTE THE ENTIRE DAY.
What a treat! We didn't hardly see a soul until we hit the summit hikers on the top of the dome. Quite literally an empty trail, with just the sound of the waterfalls and your footfalls to keep you company (and Bob too :) ).
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The last time I did Snake Hike it was hot, buggy, muggy, loaded with tourons on the trail, parties in front and behind us. I didn't even stay at the summit because clouds were moving in and we were in a hurry to get back before it got dark.
Such a difference. This recent trip was a joy. A superb 5.7 worth every star.
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The quality of the entire South Face is obvious. The desire to want to climb it is almost overpowering.
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But this particular face, much like Werner's river 'that runs thru it' has both dangers and secrets.
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Did I mention it was a great day for weather? yup! Bob gets the friction crux starting pitch and styles it.
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I traverse right and then back left to the optional belay, which puts Bob on the first part of the mega intrusion p3.
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then I go...
more mega radness of the knobular kind...
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did I mention the weather was great and it was a couple of climbers having a multi pitch great day?
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then Bob goes...
up on p5, red alien I think is what was in the flake
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and after going up thru the baby roofs we eventually unrope and start this long long long long walking slab
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We hung out on top for a bit. Made the obligatory photo shots. Watched the marmot that lives up there. Chatted with the tourists, since the rope and the rack was still hanging out. Some climbers asked about the route. You could hear it in their voice, how bad they wanted to do the summit the right way.
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On the way down, the real crux...
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I am sometimes so surprised that non-climbers shimmy their way up. One gal was standing on an anchor eye bolt and was just not going up or down. At some point, she yells down to her friends "if you're feet start shaking, don't come up."
Sound advice, really.
Well, with the day being short and the hike being long we started the march back out. 600' here, 1000' feet there, meh, all in a days work.
BETA SPOILER ALERT:
now for the smart people out there, the real way to do this, if you have decent knees, is to shuttle a car. Leave one car at Happy Isles area, then drive up to Glacier Point. Drop down and up a bit, then you are already above the falls and start the final leg of the approach. Almost all of your hike having been downhill, almost all anyways. The biggest benefit for me was hitting final approach and not feeling spent. When I hiked up from Happy Isles, I always feel worked. Anyways, it doesn't really take too long on the way in, and if you shuttle, on the way out it's all downhill.
For us, going uphill twice on the way out to get back to the cars at Glacier Point was pretty brutal. Paying the price for a rushed last minute decision to climb the next day kind of thing.
(no speed record, but with break at base and summit, it was about what we expected with the extra mileage)
a sh#t ton of elevation gain and loss
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1x 60m x 8.9 rope
nuts, aliens, and some camalots (way too much)
dyneema slings with moses biners, very light
no one else on route
minimal touron factor
3 quarts of water and 1 gatorade
hat, sunscreen, chapstick
should have brought more food in hindsight and sleeping a full night at elevation the night before would have been a good call.
view down at approach slabs and blast zone from recent rock fall...
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