Snake Dike 5.7 R

 
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Half Dome


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
The Southern Belle said “Out of here before I force you to call rescue” and we slithered away...
Monday August 29, 2011 12:28pm
This trip report holds special meaning for me because Snake Dike is what motivated me to start climbing. I started climbing indoors around the middle of March mostly as a reaction to my inability to get Half Dome hiking permits. I thought to myself, if I get good enough maybe I can find someone to drag me up Snake Dike. Much thank to the NPS for coercing me into a hobby that I may not have picked up otherwise. My first climb outside was at Lover’s Leap (Corrugation Corner) on Memorial Day weekend, it was a cold introduction to climbing but I loved every bit of it.
First day at the Leap, Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, 2011. Epicing...
First day at the Leap, Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, 2011. Epicing while going over some self-rescue stuff :P. Me in orange.
Credit: nouveau
I had caught the bug and, later in June, Clint graciously offered to take me climbing in the Valley.
Clint, smiling as always, on Point Beyond - Glacier Point Apron.
Clint, smiling as always, on Point Beyond - Glacier Point Apron.
Credit: nouveau
The first few jams on Chouinard Crack and the Harry Daley route felt insecure and crack climbing felt like my first day in French class but climbing with the majestic Royal Arches in the background was a treat I knew that few other people in world could enjoy and soon enough I was starting to enjoy the pain.
Ivan and myself at the belay, taking in the views.
Ivan and myself at the belay, taking in the views.
Credit: nouveau
These outings proved to be crucial in giving me the confidence to talk to other climbers and offer my services as, Anil would later dub me, an MC (master cleaner).

As the months went by I seconded on a fair number of multipitch climbs and finally even lead my first pitches of climbing on the Royal Arches route. By the time the summer had set in Anil and I had become regular climbing partners having tackled Traveler’s Buttress, The Line, Regular Route on Fairview, On The Lamb and some single pitch sport and trad at the Grotto. This long winding story has finally gotten to the point - Snake Dike. Anil had been up Snake Dike before but had not led the crux pitches, and he was as psyched as me to get on this climb. We drove down to the Valley and got some sleep along the side of Aspen Valley road. Three o’clock and my alarm goes off, we were up and ready to drive to the Happy Isles trailhead. On the trail by 4:45am, we zoomed by some early bird Half Dome hikers. Once we got to the restrooms near Nevada Falls we stashed some water for our return trip and to make our onward hike a little easier (thanks a lot for this beta Shino). As much as I cussed on the way up about carrying all the extra water, I was grateful to have it on my way down.
Anil w/ Lost Lake in the background.
Anil w/ Lost Lake in the background.
Credit: nouveau
We didn’t have trouble getting to the base of the south face of Half Dome but once we were on the scramble we got up too high and while traversing west around the south face we met Doug and Neil (climbers who were just done working at a summer climbing camp located around Tahoe) who were also there to climb Snake Dike. They were pretty sure that the start of the route was to the right of where we were (i.e. on the south face). Since they were at the base of “Snake Dike” a.k.a. Southern Belle/Growing Up/South Face first (I can‘t quite tell which climb it was from the pictures I’ve looked at online but for added drama and effect let’s assume it was Southern Belle) we sat back and watched Doug try to fire away the first pitch. While D&N were working on P1 I was flaking the rope and getting things in order to jump on the climb after them and I hear D shout, “ROCK, ROCK, ROCK!!!” Before I know it a football sized rock is flying straight at me. I got out of the way mostly unscathed but cat like maneuvers were necessary. Reminder to self: Wear a helmet when parties are climbing above you. The Snake Dike crowd soon started arriving below us. As they traversed across the slabs at a point lower than we were at one of them asked Doug and Neil which climb they were on.
Passerby Climber: Which climb are you on?
Doug: SNAKE DIKE
Passerby Climber: That is NOT Snake Dike!
Oops...that wasn’t the best start but I seem to have the luck of the Irish, anytime I’m in position to epic there’s some sort of intervention. No wonder we were the first ones on “Snake Dike” on a Saturday morning...fat chance! Now, glad that we weren’t the first to the base of that climb we scurried away and found the correct start to the climb...two fifths of Snake Hike was done.

By this time there were already two groups of climbers waiting and one group on the climb. We got in line and waited for what felt like a short time. But maybe that was a result of good company and being around climbers who were generally just happy to be there. The first three slab pitches were fun slabs but quick.
P1 belay.
P1 belay.
Credit: nouveau
Anil following P2.
Anil following P2.
Credit: nouveau
The rest of the climb was easy but the runouts were definitely thought provoking and inside my mind it went something like this:
Pessimist in me: If you fall you will learn what it feels like to be a block of Parmesan.
Optimist in me: If you make it to the top, babes in bikinis!
Me following P5??
Me following P5??
Credit: nouveau
Belaying at the top of P6.
Belaying at the top of P6.
Credit: nouveau
El Cap and the Apron.
El Cap and the Apron.
Credit: nouveau
Last technical pitch on Snake Dike.
Last technical pitch on Snake Dike.
Credit: nouveau
The climbing was thrilling, we made it to the exfoliated slabs around 3:15pm and began our trek across the desert of slabs to the top.
Unroped and ready to hike to the top.
Unroped and ready to hike to the top.
Credit: nouveau
Anil on the slabs to the top.
Anil on the slabs to the top.
Credit: nouveau
False summit after false summit and finally we were atop Half Dome. A sip of water, lunch and some photos later we were ready to head down.
Customary visor picture - Anil.
Customary visor picture - Anil.
Credit: nouveau
El Cap in the background. Anil and I.
El Cap in the background. Anil and I.
Credit: nouveau
Customary pic on the visor - Job.
Customary pic on the visor - Job.
Credit: nouveau
On the cables.
On the cables.
Credit: nouveau
At the bottom of the cables a lady offered to take a picture of the two of us (without us asking) and refused to take the picture without us giving her the thumbs up. Like a troll under a bridge she exacted her toll from us in the form of the following photograph.
Forced into submission.
Forced into submission.
Credit: nouveau
We jogged/fast walked the rest of the way down, happy that we had stashed water by Nevada Falls. We were at the car by 6:45pm and decided that we were both too tired to get on Central Pillar the next day. So we were back in SF by 12:30am on Sunday w/ a short break for dinner and gear sort. Many thanks to Anil without whose unbridled optimism this climb would have remained a pipe dream.

  Trip Report Views: 3,571
nouveau
About the Author
nouveau is a climber from San Francisco, CA who would be posting these trip reports on the Rants & Raves section of Craigslist if it weren't the case that SuperTopo users humour noob climbers like him.

Comments
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survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Aug 29, 2011 - 12:46pm PT
Awesome job guys!!!

Good pix, good write up. I'm so happy for you to succeed at your goal like that, no matter how modest it may be.

Man, that's what climbing is all about. I look forward to your next TR!!
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Aug 29, 2011 - 12:46pm PT
Way to get out there!
Wade Icey

Trad climber
www.alohashirtrescue.com
  Aug 29, 2011 - 12:46pm PT
Good Job Guys.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Aug 29, 2011 - 01:20pm PT
Well done fellas. A lifetime of adventure awaits!
tahoe523

Trad climber
Station Wagon, USA
  Aug 29, 2011 - 01:29pm PT
Congratulations on seeing through to summit on your first dream climb, Job. And congrats to Anil for taking on the thin 5.8 crux. Glad you were able to escape from the projectiles above.

I'm amused that Clint introduced you to valley climbing with Angel's Approach to Point Beyond Direct. I remember shaking like a sandbagged leaf. In your shoes, I'm not sure if I would have gotten the climbing bug after that slabby adventure, but it's been fun watching you get psyched and going after all the classics. PBD laid the perfect groundwork for a smooth sailing send up Half Dome.

Looking forward to more stories especially those of traditional gritstone. :)
Thank you for sharing. My Monday morning is now complete.
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
  Aug 29, 2011 - 02:33pm PT
performed with a light heart and a bucket of chuckles. just the right approach.

crack climbing felt like my first day in French class

hey, a brother alliterator!
Bill Mc Kirgan

Trad climber
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  Aug 29, 2011 - 01:30pm PT
Nice job, and inspiring report.
Sounds like your good training paid off.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 29, 2011 - 02:04pm PT
Excellent writing and excellent work. What a great first year of climbing!

thanks.

John
anilk

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
  Aug 29, 2011 - 02:13pm PT
I'm the first in line waiting to rope up for this kid to do all the hard hauling and leading on the Nose in a year or two.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Aug 30, 2011 - 12:43am PT
Cool, Job - noob to Yosemite hardman in 5 months! :-)

> I'm amused that Clint introduced you to valley climbing with Angel's Approach to Point Beyond Direct.

Actually we did the regular Point Beyond. Much easier than the Direct or Angel's Approach. Not really slab climbing in the blank sense except for that one traverse move left from the flake tunnel belay!


If the rock above looks like this, "That is NOT Snake Dike!" :-) [Ben's photo]
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 29, 2011 - 03:51pm PT
Clint, I'm with you. The regular route of Pt. Beyond was my second or third Valley climb in 1969. There were no real slab moves then. Instead of traversing straight left from the potholes, you dropped down slightly and then did an undercling move off a flake that fell off in 1970 or 71. the bolt showed up in 1976 or 1977.

Again, this was not only a great achievement for one so new to our sport, but a very fine TR.

Thanks again.

John
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Aug 29, 2011 - 04:52pm PT
Excellent!
tahoe523

Trad climber
Station Wagon, USA
  Aug 29, 2011 - 04:57pm PT
I stand corrected. Apologies. Whew! I think if Point Beyond Direct were my first Yosemite climb, I would have probably dropped the sport and picked up extreme crocheting.

Either way, Job, your summer climbing CV is impressive. You really couldn't have had a better climber introduce you to Yosemite.

I'll be looking out for the Nutcracker TR. You know, the one where you guys are only using passive pro. Right? :-)
Zander

climber
  Aug 29, 2011 - 07:10pm PT
Nice!
John Moosie

climber
Beautiful California
  Aug 29, 2011 - 07:19pm PT
There are babes in bikinis on the top of half dome???? how did I miss them? haha.. great report. Thanks for sharing the stoke!
willm

Social climber
Oakland
  Aug 29, 2011 - 07:32pm PT
Lookin' good! I remember meeting you while waiting in line for "The Line" at the Leap. I'm glad you're still getting out!
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Aug 29, 2011 - 09:50pm PT

Yaaa--where's the babes in bikinis?????
Hummerchine

Trad climber
East Wenatchee, WA
  Aug 30, 2011 - 12:05am PT
If the rock above looks like this, "That is NOT Snake Dike!" :-)

WAY funny remark!!!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Aug 30, 2011 - 12:44am PT
Law of unintended consequences, eh nps?
wildone

climber
EP
  Aug 30, 2011 - 12:53am PT
Thanks for crediting me for my photo Clint. Before I scrolled down, I was like, "wow. That looks like my shot!" I've got a lot more of course.
Seems more likely they were at the base of Autobahn. Even as a noob, it would be difficult to confuse a 2000 foot mostly 5.12 dihedral/wall with a mellow low angle slab. Plus, people on the slab approach to snake dike wouldn't be able to converse with you if you were at Growing Up/South Face/Southern Belle.
Good tr though. Keep after it bro!
Les

Trad climber
Bahston
  Aug 30, 2011 - 09:37am PT
Quality TR, dude! Conveys the great sense of wonder this pursuit offers, that keeps bringing me back for more, as it seems to with you, too.
Gal

Trad climber
going big air to fakie
  Aug 30, 2011 - 11:27am PT
Hey sounds like a good trip, nice job.
do

Trad climber
New Zealand
  Aug 30, 2011 - 11:33am PT
Helluva summer of climbing! Nice work and thanks for the TR
cleo

Social climber
wherever you go, there you are
  Aug 30, 2011 - 11:47am PT
Awesome, way to be motivated and learn quickly!


LOL - the first time we did Snake Dike, we hiked up to the "base" following some cairns (dratted cairns!), looked at some bolts up there (I don't remember a cave), and I remember thinking... "Hmm... this doesn't look like 5.7". We had to hike back down, through some bushes and dirt, and finally back up to SD.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 30, 2011 - 10:20pm PT
Nice job Y'all, it's so fun to be starting out as a climber!!
Enjoy it!!!
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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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Two Hoofers follows the blue line.
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