Snake Dike 5.7 R

 
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Half Dome


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Snake Dike (from Glacier Point...AND BACK!)
Sunday May 10, 2009 10:32pm
So I'm looking to get in shape for LF come end of May. Any route long or a long approach is good training, right? Maybe.

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.

Stats:
~19 miles
start: 5:45
summit: 2:45
finish: 9:00pm
(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
clear skies
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.

some misc...

view down at approach slabs and blast zone from recent rock fall...

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  Trip Report Views: 1,392
Mungeclimber
About the Author
Mungeclimber is a trad climber from sorry, just posting out loud..

Comments
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Walleye

climber
The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
  May 10, 2009 - 10:36pm PT
NICE!
GoMZ

Trad climber
Eastern Sierra
  May 10, 2009 - 10:50pm PT
Very Nice!!!111
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
  May 10, 2009 - 10:53pm PT
Go Mungie....Go Mungie. GO!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Author's Reply  May 10, 2009 - 10:56pm PT
thx, feelin it in the legs/knees today. blister on the heel that I wasn't expecting either.


good times!!!
WBraun

climber
  May 10, 2009 - 10:59pm PT
Yikes!!!! Look it that run out. You'll never catch me climbing up there.

Nor Cal

Trad climber
San Mateo
  May 10, 2009 - 11:00pm PT
We did that route from GP last year. We made the mistake of camping overnight at Little Yose. Carrying the extra weight really sucked.
Good job guys!

On our hike in we were laughing at a fellow who was wobbling back to GP on that LONG up hill. Well, it was not too funny when we were being lauged at the next day! payback is a bitch.
spyork

Trad climber
Tunneling out of prison
  May 11, 2009 - 12:16am PT
Nice job boyos!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Author's Reply  May 11, 2009 - 12:23am PT
Werner, heh. You know though, I read recently that route was a retro bolt job after the FA. We could make er safe for ya. ;)


Nor, yeah, met a couple guys going in yesterday for the same right near liberty. Not the recommended way to go at all.





FWIW, I got a look into the gap next to Liberty from Panorama, but could not tell whether the snow would impact getting in there.



The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 11, 2009 - 12:23am PT
When are you guys gonna get hip and do the Skywalk approach?

Life is too short to hike from Glacier Point to get to Snake Dike.

It is a good way to get up to the routes in Illouette Canyon, though.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
  May 11, 2009 - 01:12am PT
what be this skywalk you speak of young skywalker.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  May 11, 2009 - 01:15am PT
So cool! Boku was making sounds the other week down in Soquel, about this scenario, glad it worked!
The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  May 11, 2009 - 01:17am PT
Methinks it's the fastest approach to Snake Dike, if you don't f#ck it up....

We talked about it here a while back :

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=411996&msg=412252#msg412252
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
  May 11, 2009 - 02:35am PT
Good for conditioning (frem G.P.) , but give me short-but-steep any day . You can go up a gully / slopes right across from the top of Vernal (west of Broderick) . Thanks for TR - Nice touch the part about tourists on the slackline cables .
Zander

climber
  May 11, 2009 - 10:11am PT
Great day guys!!
Zander
rhyang

climber
SJC
  May 11, 2009 - 10:14am PT
yes, I shall rub it in again...

Damn you ! Good job :)
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  May 11, 2009 - 11:32am PT
Very cool! Thanks for posting - loved the photos. What's next for you?
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  May 11, 2009 - 11:33am PT
excellent!
klk

Trad climber
cali
  May 11, 2009 - 11:59am PT
killer--- nice pix, too.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Author's Reply  May 11, 2009 - 12:13pm PT
Crimpy,

Next weekend is more similar stuff... laps or height.

Arches is high on my list, but I suspect the rest of the climbers are catching on that Yos is open for biz.






Oh, and there were skeets at lost lake. Not bad, but could get that way later.
BoKu

Trad climber
Douglas Flat, CA
  May 11, 2009 - 05:16pm PT
Wow, great trip report! I spent all of yesterday hobbling around saying "ow ow ow!" and by the time I'd gotten back onto the interweb thingy you've put together this great writeup with pictures and elevation profile and everything. Thanks, and thanks again for a great day of climbing. You totally made it possible, and I salute you!

I've wanted to do Snake Dike ever since 2004 when I first started climbing. In August of that year Mrs. Ku and I hiked up half dome, and on the way met a party headed for the route. Since then I'd looked for a opportunity to do it, but not until now had it come together for me.

After getting off the phone with Munge on Friday night, having agreed to meet at Glacier point at 5am a few hours away, my first thought was "Bob. Think. What the hell have you gotten yourself into?" I knew the climbing wasn't going to be an issue, I looked forward to the 5.7 friction, I was OK with the risk management aspects of the 5.easy runouts, and I was pretty sure getting to the route was doable. But was I going to be able to get to the route, climb it, and get back? I got up at 1:40am the next morning and set off to find out.

I have to say, the idea of starting and finishing at Glacier Point now seems an exercise in measured madness. The Panorama trail was absolutely stunning, with wonderful views of the Yosemite landscape. It was also great to look out at half dome across a huge chasm of empty air and see what a circuitous route we'd take to get there. And the Panorama also revealed a lot of Yosemite I'd never seen before, including Illouette falls and the roaring cataract that feeds it. And, of course, it was nice to start out going downhill and gain some mileage fast. But probably the nicest thing about it was that we had the trail all to ourselves. Between Glacier Point and Nevada Falls, we did not see another person. Not on the way out, and not on the way back. It was eerily like having our own private Yosemite. It was so quiet and peaceful we could hear the muted "oonk oonk" of the grouse in the underbrush.

But in retrospect, that long uphill slog back to GP adds a huge weight to the return trip. If, or rather, when I do it again I think I'll do as Munge suggests and stage a car in the valley, start at GP, and finish at Happy Isles in time for pizza and beer.

The actual route was a fascinating exercise in applied geology. Ya gots your batholith and your dome and your quartz intrusion, and the forces of exfoliation and differential erosion produce the features that make the route climbable. And what features they are! Going up that dike, it's like somebody emptied a two-ton hopper of climbing wall jugs and fins down an 18" wide strip of slab. As Munge mentioned, I took the first pitch, and we swung leads thereafter to keep things moving along.

Oh, and did Munge happen to mention that WE WERE THE ONLY PEOPLE ON ROUTE THE ENTIRE DAY? It was like one of those spooky post-apocalyptic movies where everybody else got nuked or raptured or whatever, except in a good way. Everything I've read about Snake Dike led me to believe we'd come up behind a slower party, and a faster party would come up behind us, and we'd all conga line our up to where the tourists are. There are pictures on SummitPost that show like a dozen climbers on route, and that's looking down from like the fifth pitch. Nope, not for us, we had one of the world's most famous dome routes all to ourselves all day. Heck, if we'd had a second rope we could have rapped down and climbed it again.

Probably the hardest part of the day was paddling up the third-class slabs above the route. The SuperTopo says something like "third class friction forever" and forever was what it seemed like, walking up a 35-degree slope at 8500 feet elevation carrying gear and water. After a while I took to switchbacking back and forth across the slope, that is probably what kept my calves from spontaneously combusting. Twenty steps North, stop and rest. Twenty steps East, stop and rest. Repeat until summit.

I found it surprising how many hikers there were on top, considering that the stanchions were still down. Good to see that there are still that many hardy and adventurous souls out and about.

Going down the cables I felt kind of silly wearing a helmet and climbing gear and leather gloves and prussiking down the cable, all the while barehanded hikers in shorts are batmanning up the opposite cable. And it was tedious rerigging the prussik at every cable junction But I had promised Mrs. Ku I'd drive carefully and climb carefully, and I figured descending was part of the package. The funny thing was seeing that many of the hikers were doing the same sort of thing, using lightweight harnesses and tethering to the cable. One of them even had a screamer on his tether.

After the slabs, descending the stairs below the cables was the second hardest part of the day. By that time my knees were half-knackered, so I step-match-stepped all the way down the blocks, leaving Munge much time to rest.

Most of the rest of the descent to Nevada Falls was a speedy cruise, except where I had to bend my knees. The 600-foot switchback up to Panorama Cliff was OK. Then there was the drop to the Illouette bridge, and then things got difficult fast. The cumulative aches and pains of a full days exertion started settling in. From Illouette Creek to Glacier point, those last two or so miles seemed an eternity. But soon enough we saw the lights of cars on the road to GP, and then we were back at our own cars and going our separate ways

I stopped once for coffee, and once again to rest until the coffee kicked in, and got home and got to bed right around 1:30am, about ten minutes shy of 24 hours since I'd gotten up. That means it wasn't an epic, right?
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
  May 11, 2009 - 05:47pm PT
Perhaps mungeclimber will now have to morph into mungehiker? (= MH3?)

I did the Panorama trail in reverse after the FaceLift last September, at Leo's recommendation. Up to Vernal and Nevada Falls, across to Illilouette and so up to Glacier Point. Very pretty, but not much water then. I had a sign ready for the hitchhike back to the Valley, but ran into EKat and Joan, and got a ride with them.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Author's Reply  May 11, 2009 - 06:24pm PT
Mungeslogger (like Goldschlager, but not half as fun)


Great write up Boku. It just goes to show that with a little hiking you can get away from the hordes (that we don't let pass ;) )

The mention of the last haul back up to GP makes my knees wobble again. But the mention of the drive back reminds me of what happened after I left GP.

I got in the car after eating what must have been a sh#t ton of food. Half a big aram sammich, bunch of Sunchips, couple danishes, and quart or so of water right away. Made my cell call to basecamp. Then tried to go to sleep so I wouldn't die on the road from being tired. Well, I managed feel sleepier and a bit rested, but didn't get any sleep.

The problem here is that I kept expecting a ranger to roust me out of my truck for 'camping ob'... so I decided to move out get out of the park and catch some sleep. No problem. Tired slow drive down to Chinquapin and then to the Valley floor, watch the headlamps for a few minutes, then head on out 120. But it was an uphill sleepy battle to keep the eyes open and be alert for deer and bear on the road. I wasn't going fast, but by the time I hit Crane Flat I was pretty tired. I pulled into the Grove parking lot to catch some winks before continuing.

I think I dozed off, but upon waking up I realized that I had been there almost a half hour and needed to get going or be harassed. At which, point, I got out and brewed coffee because I just couldn't hang without caffeine at that point.

Just as I finished, LEO showed up. The encounter was fine, but goes to show that even if you are sleeping in your car to avoid killing yourself, or someone else on the road, you will be talked to. It's not always easy to anticipate taking a long time on route, and you can't camp OB, and the park is rather large. This policy will probably injure someone someday. The alternative?? Stay awake all night while standing next to your car, so that your eyes don't close, and you can avoid a citation. I understand the need to avoid cars lining the hwy with OB campers, but this was the only reason I kept driving.

At some point I started feeling good and just kept going down the hwy and made it to just before Coiler's neighborhood and pulled off for another rest. After some zzzz I got into Oakdale refueled with food and gas and caffeine, making it home about 3am or so.

lied down on the couch, and that was that.

Boku, I've got some more pics I'll burn to disc for you. Good day!

salad

Big Wall climber
  May 11, 2009 - 06:37pm PT
nice munge!!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Author's Reply  May 12, 2009 - 12:43pm PT
thx mang. you should get on that rig again. maybe not this coming weekend. looking ripping hot temps.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  May 12, 2009 - 01:42pm PT
Now that sounds like a good adventure - good job guys! And it took an appeal to BAWC to get a slab partner!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Author's Reply  May 12, 2009 - 02:00pm PT
LOL!! no doubt nutjob, no doubt. Something is really wrong there.

Zander

climber
  May 13, 2009 - 12:37am PT
You guys are awesome!
Z
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Author's Reply  May 13, 2009 - 01:30am PT
LOL, and by awesome, he means really not quite mentally together.

:)

seriously, the not shuttling a car was a little silly to forget to do. But it really did add to the experience. Literally you start out up high, drop down go around and practically meet your high point again, and then do it again. I must admit the park service does a pretty good job with their trails. Easy to follow in the dark. Only used my headlamp for the last quarter mile and one drainage crossing.


just got done with 2 hours of basketball tonight. gotta post up on the flaccid thread, I'm on a roll.
Dr.Sprock

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
  May 13, 2009 - 03:01am PT
140 is a lot faster and easier, and you have plenty of rest places.
cleo

Social climber
wherever you go, there you are
  May 13, 2009 - 11:08am PT
Well done Fun Fun! I might have to try that sometime...
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Author's Reply  May 13, 2009 - 11:26am PT
Dr.Sprock, I think you may be right. I usually go 120. Do you mean 140 is better if you are going to back to The Grey Area?
TKingsbury

Trad climber
MT
  May 13, 2009 - 11:35am PT
w00t!

good stuff!
BoKu

Trad climber
Douglas Flat, CA
  May 13, 2009 - 12:44pm PT
Sort of off-topic, something I wondered about a bit on the first pitch:

In his day, John Muir did some pretty burly fourth-class climbing. I know that he'd been to Cathedral Peak, which at a minimum requires some DFU fourth class scrambling. And there's not many places around the Valley that he didn't go to at least once, right?

So, did Muir ever stand at the southwest shoulder of Half Dome, look up at those dikes, and think about following one to the top? Did he maybe scramble up the easy flakes at the start of that first pitch for a better look? Did he maybe test his hobnail boots against the friction above?

Hmmm.

Bob K.
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  May 13, 2009 - 12:52pm PT
Nice TR Munge! Looked like you guys had a grade III marathon, good to see the training is going well.
Mucci
Bob Palais

Trad climber
UT
  May 22, 2009 - 02:09pm PT
Great report! The first time I did Snake Dike was from Glacier Point with Dave Altman, after my first year of grad school resisting the magnetic pull of the Valley. Dave said after my prelims he'd give me an introduction, and this was it. He had a 140 foot rope, so on a couple of pitches I'd have to unclip and start climbing before he got to the next anchors. He told me he could hold a fall without them, and of course that was true, though we never had to test it. The most recent was last August, with John Gilardi, after Conness W. Ridge, and Tenaya Peak the two previous days. From the top each day we could see the other two climbs.

http://picasaweb.google.com/robert.palais/Sierras08#
moosedrool

climber
lost, far away from Poland
  Dec 13, 2012 - 03:16pm PT
Hey Munge. Great TR. I climb sometimes in the gym with Bob (BoKu). I just started climbing when I met him. He gave me many good tips that improved my climbing. He told me all about your adventure. Really cool!
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Photo: Chris McNamara
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