Snake Dike 5.7 R
Trip ReportSnake Dike
At the beginning of the summer I set up some goals I wanted to accomplish by its end. None of those goals included climbing Half Dome. It was the weekend before I went back to school. My brother had Snake Dike on his mind. With a week of "planning" (talking about it) we headed to Yosemite with a small amount of food and a few pieces of climbing gear. I called the trip twice before we got out of Los Gatos. The tires on my car were about to explode and when I went to my Mom she said her car was 3000 miles overdue for an oil change.
By 10AM on Friday the Jetta had fresh oil, a half tank of gas, and my brother behind the wheel. At 2:30 we were checking into our site at Upper Pines. The ranger was helpful in answering our questions but we were too scared to ask her if it was okay to leave the site at 3:30 in the morning for our pre-alpine start. We figured it was better to say we didn't know any better if we got in trouble.
Neither of us had ever climbed in yosemite save a few boulder problems in Camp 4. We figured a good starting point was the gear shop for a guidebook. Something we learned: Guidebooks for massive areas are confusing!! I found myself backing off a "5.5" slab on the East Side of Glacier Point. It was a steep friction slab getting steeper. I wasn't willing to commit to a sketchy move 7 feet above the last bolt. My brother gave it a go and couldn't get any further. We left gear on the bolt and got out of there with out tails between our legs.
The 5.5 was supposed to boost our confidence. Instead, we had to eat a huge slice of humble pie (my brother kept saying that expression over and over). I was doubting our Half Dome attempt. Over pizza we discussed our options. I was leaning toward hiking Upper Yosemite Falls but we kept refocusing and remembering we came to climb Half Dome.
When my brother tapped me on the shoulder at 3AM I knew we were going to at least try. My goal for the day was to find the route, a challenge that stumped us the day before. Dawn started to break while we were in the bathrooms at Nevada Fall. A mile later we cut off the onto a climber trail and bushwhacked until we found the official unofficial climber trail. There was some really weird 4th class scrambling that didn't feel right but we kept going and it lead us to the base perfectly. By 8am we were getting our harnesses and helmets on. I was so happy we found the route!
After tiptoeing my way through some sketchy friction slab I found a really pretty 1/4 inch bolt thirty feet up and kept on going. I flew by the belay station because I saw two more bolts about 100 feet up. Once I got up there I realized I made a huge error. To reach the bolts I would have had to commit to some hard friction moves. I didn't trust myself. I down climbed 100 feet of 5.4R, scared shitless. Luckily that was our only major mistake of the climb.
My brother crushed his pitches and I managed alright. On the 8th pitch he got a little too comfortable with Half Dome. I found out 40 feet into my top belay that he was belaying off of his waist with no anchor. I held onto the holds a little tighter wishing I hadn't changed into my approach shoes. It was a scary 5.2 follow.
After 1000 feet of 3rd class scrambling we made it the top. It was a really good feeling. When we woke up at 3 I don't think either of us thought we were really going to summit. A few hikers came over and interrogated us for a few minutes until they were bored with our dehydrated answers.
We took or helmets and harnesses off and packed our packs for a 9 mile decent back to the car. It was a great day of climbing and hiking. Around 5PM I was behind the wheel and we were heading back to Los Gatos.
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