Snake Dike 5.7 R

 
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Half Dome


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
The Day The Fates Were Against my Snake Dike Climb....
Monday October 17, 2011 5:43am
A couple of weeks ago I slept for several hours at the end of a Monday and left my house in Palo Alto at about Midnight and drove through the Yosemite entrance gate on Rt-120 probably sometime before 4am with the intent of doing a Snake Dyke climb. By 4:15am I was about 8 miles out from Happy Isles when my headlights hit upon some 6-8 inch rocks that had tumbled into the roadway; this was momentarily followed by both my drivers side wheels hitting upon them and blowing out both of the tires and putting a nasty ding in the aluminum of one of the rims. Given the early hour and the fact that I was in a cell dead zone, I did what anyone would do and packed up my hiking/climbing gear and set out down the road figuring, OK, what's another 8 miles added on to a 6 mile approach...

So I leave the car about 4:50 after making some notes for the windshield and make my way down the road, then the trail that parallels on the South side and eventually get to Curry after seeing headlamp dots scattered over El Cap that I initially briefly thought were stars, and snapping some photos of a deer eating leaves in a mist-filled meadow with El Cap in the background (and using up an hour because I'm a photographer....).
Credit: rentwistle
Credit: rentwistle
All is good and I'm starting to forget about the car misfortune as I head up the Muir and Mist trails, and up between Liberty Cap and Mt Broderick incuding an "interesting" little bit of scrambling and backtracking when I found that I was traversing a BIT high and should have gotten over to the low point of the gully before ascending. I made it up onto the start of the slabby approach section and take a few photos where I can start to see some of the lone trees high up on the Southwest face. Then a few minutes after stopping to take photos and on a relatively easy piece of hiking stepping between two stones I don't know whether I misjudged a distance or what but I stumbled and put my left arm up/out to catch myself and didn't even hit it very hard, but somehow managed to dislocate my left shoulder :(

I turned over and immediately knew it was out of the socket, and was a bit panicked for a couple minutes thinking how far off the main trail I was and later in the day than most people start on the Southwest Face due to having to hike the road first. But then I got up, holding/supporting my left arm with my right and walked down a maybe a hundred feet to the nearest tree/shade, leaving my hiking poles where I stumbled. I managed to slip my backpack off, felt the bones in my arm up and down to ensure nothing was broken, and then calmed down a bit, thinking I had lots of daylight and could manage to tie up my arm in a makeshift sling if needed and at least walk down to the ranger station and probably Curry if needed. I then tried a few times to push my shoulder back in, but it was at the wrong angle while resting on my lap, and I could lift it up with my right arm and push it in at the same time. Then I realized I of course had a 30ft length of webbing in my pack, so I managed to move over to the tree and toss an end over a branch and cinch it off, then loop it around my wrist a few times, then sat down such that the webbing held my arm over my head in the right position, and within a couple tries in a couple minutes I managed to pop it back in. I tested out the mobility and it felt surprisingly OK and I had given up on summiting, but I actually climbed up several hundred more yards with the intent of at least going to the base of Snake Dike to take photos before on pulling up on it a bit with it above my head it popped part way out again and I decided it was probably time to call it a day, call about my car and head down. I worked my way down a bit slower than normal, but still even used a climbing pole in both hands.

I got the car towed down to the garage in Yosemite Village, and they actually allowed me to sleep in my car with a pass on the windshield explaining situation, given I didn't have reservation or sleeping bag or tent given I was planning on driving back and making a fun 18-22 hour round trip home-to-home day of it. So turned out nobody ordered the tires when I first called in about getting towed, and they supposedly ordered them the next day, but after the 2nd night of sleeping in the car, no tires, and it turned out something got screwed up with the order..... I was like OK, what now? It was by then Thursday afternoon and I needed to be at a commercial photo shoot in San Francisco 4pm Friday afternoon that I was digital tech and lead assistant for with a lead photographer from LA and a total crew of 7..... I sort of made it clear that I was starting to get pissed/worried about my situation given it had been close to 48 hours since we drove up to tow the car, and some other guy at the garage goes "well did someone try over at (such and such) garage? they'll have something the same size tire, just not the same brand." I was like, WTF, why did nobody say this earlier, and I don't care about the extra $30-40/tire given the situation; and 3-4 hours later I was on the road again, driving back to the SF Bay Area. Oh and I drove out at about 8pm and there wasn't anyone to collect money on the way out either. At least there are worse places to be stuck for a few days than Yosemite Valley if you have a camera, even if your shoulder is limiting your climbing ability.

Credit: rentwistle

Credit: rentwistle

Credit: rentwistle

Not sure whether I pissed off the ghost of John Muir because I didn't have to pay an entrance fee, or the ghost of Ansel Adams felt threatened, or my parents somehow influenced fate because they are always afraid (often irrationally) when I go climbing. I had cell reception for much of the hike, but I didn't tell my parents about the shoulder until I was down safe in the valley; I like to avoid causing worry as much as possible....

That weekend I was swinging a pick axe breaking up hard clay in the Sonoma hills (4 days after dislocating it) while doing some yard work and the following weekend I jack-hammered apart an entire patio in the same yard and moved 4 tons of chunks into a pile. This weekend I helped shift two tons of the pieces into a trailer and to a dump, and the other two tons to the other side of the yard and made a retaining wall out of them. I aksed my father (who is a pediatrician) whether I should be resting it or doing whatever feels OK, and he said intentionally use it, just be careful. I think I'm heading back to give it another go this Wednesday; it will be 3 weeks and 1 day after the first attempt and the cables are now down, so I can always back off a bit and go that way without needing a permit at least if I feel the shoulder is not fully capable last minute.

Should be fun :)
 Ryan -

  Trip Report Views: 1,231
rentwistle
About the Author
rentwistle is a little bit of everything climber and photographer from Palo Alto, CA.

Comments
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eKat

Trad climber
  Oct 17, 2011 - 11:07am PT
What a fiasco! I hope your shoulder is better, now. Good luck on trying the whole thing again, soon.

:-)
Mikemcee

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
  Oct 17, 2011 - 11:01am PT
Go back and get it! Such a fun route in an awesome position. The only thing you might want to consider is how much it would suck if you worked your shoulder again once you were up there. Sounded like you were soloing it?
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Oct 17, 2011 - 11:04am PT
whoa! makes for a great story after the fact, but would have also been fine to have had a mishap-free long day on the Dike! Thanks for the story. Good job taking care of yourself.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 17, 2011 - 11:09am PT
Awesome tale.

So glad everything worked out, kind of......
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Oct 17, 2011 - 01:15pm PT
That was a cool TR, different content and writing style than the norm.

Was your plan to solo or to rope solo? With 30 ft of webbing it could be either I guess.

Best of luck on Wednesday, have fun, write the followup TR.
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Photo: Chris McNamara
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