Snake Dike 5.7 R

 
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Half Dome


Yosemite Valley, California USA


Trip Report
Why Hike When You Can Climb?

by Tazz
Thursday June 16, 2016 12:51pm
Note: Route was climbed in August 2015

“I’d like to hike Half Dome, one day”, she said.

“Pfffft. Nobody hikes Half Dome anymore” I replied. “We should climb it! You can totally do it!”

Of course, this was before we’d really ever gone climbing together. Or before she’d ever been climbing outdoors. And, thinking about it now, possibly before she’d ever climbed anything at all before. But who’s counting, right? I’d climbed Snake Dike once before, and knew that if Jenn, a former collegiate swimmer, ocean lifeguard and all around bad ass, could navigate the lower portions of friction then she would have no trouble with the dike pitches above.

So we got down to business. I introduced Jenn to the joys of climbing, although I’m not so sure she always found it so joyful. There was the first outdoor climb we did, The Southwest Corner of Headstone in Joshua Tree. At night. Ooops. Might have overreached there. Cold, windy climbs that turn you into a human snot dispenser followed, but after a bit more practice, Jenn really started to get the basics down. We focused on footwork and not relying on handholds too much, and gradually it all started to come together.

Multiple days spent at our local climbing areas, a couple of trips to Yosemite where we focused on slabby friction climbs, a few climbs in Mammoth Lakes and a final tutorial in Tuolomne had us set. Game time.

It'll be easy. See, it's not that tall!
It'll be easy. See, it's not that tall!
Credit: Tazz

Beep Beep Beep. Beep Beep Beep. 3:30am sure does come early! We were at the Happy Isles parking lot by 3:50am and on the trail by 4:10. We moved steadily but quickly and didn’t see anybody on the trail the whole way up. We reached the top of Nevada Falls as it got light, and were feeling pretty good about our progress.

Hiking the Mist Trail in the dark.
Hiking the Mist Trail in the dark.
Credit: Tazz

On my previous ascent of Snake Dike my partner and I had BADLY missed the climber’s trail that takes you to Lost Lake. Instead, we had hiked almost an hour further down the main trail, leading us to make the base of the climb much later than intended. This put us squarely at the end of the line to get on the climb, meaning we didn't top out until sunset. Not wanting to make the same mistake again, I followed a couple of small trails off to the left shortly after the top of Nevada Falls, finding the correct route this time. We stashed two water bottles in the bushes at this turnoff, and into the brush we went!

Jenn hiking towards her destiny.
Jenn hiking towards her destiny.
Credit: Tazz
Not sure there's much of a lake in there right now.
Not sure there's much of a lake in there right now.
Credit: Tazz

We skirted the now very Lost Lake and started up the approach trails, stopping to have a small breakfast along the way. We still hadn’t seen anybody yet today, and were feeling good about our chances of not having to wait in line for the route. After a couple of minor route finding errors, we made the base of the route to see only one other party in the area, and they were already working on the third pitch of Snake Dike! The route was ours! We took our time and started to rack up.

Jenn was really excited to touch Half Dome for the first time.
Jenn was really excited to touch Half Dome for the first time.
Credit: Tazz
That's where we're going!
That's where we're going!
Credit: Tazz
At the base of the route, all racked up and ready to go!
At the base of the route, all racked up and ready to go!
Credit: Tazz

I decided to take the left hand version of the first pitch, climbing up to the small tree instead of the roof. After slinging the tree I made the easy moves up to the finger crack and quickly made the anchors. When Jenn was alongside me in no time at all, you would have been hard pressed to wipe the smile off of my face. Knowing that there was really only one more tough move for the rest of the route, I had no doubt at this point that we would be fine the rest of the way. Of course, this is also when Jenn asked if we could take a nap soon! What!?!

Jenn making her way up to the pitch one anchors. We were smooth sailin...
Jenn making her way up to the pitch one anchors. We were smooth sailing on this one!
Credit: Tazz
I was a little confused when Jenn asked if we could take a nap.
I was a little confused when Jenn asked if we could take a nap.
Credit: Tazz

At the 3rd pitch traverse I made sure to point out what I thought were the best foot holds, and then proceeded to continue up the dike and set the anchor high to limit any potential pendulums should Jenn slip at the crux. No problem at all though, as Jenn cruised through the moves and seemed surprised when I told her that she’d already done the hardest climbing she’d have to do all day.

Jenn following on one of the lower pitches, I think.
Jenn following on one of the lower pitches, I think.
Credit: Tazz

“Now we just climb this ladder to the top!” I said.

Jenn was really determined to get that nap in. It's a loooong way down...
Jenn was really determined to get that nap in. It's a loooong way down!
Credit: Tazz
Getting near the top now.
Getting near the top now.
Credit: Tazz
Jenn sitting on the edge of the world.
Jenn sitting on the edge of the world.
Credit: Tazz

Now seemingly all alone on the wall, we took our time and enjoyed climbing one of the most iconic chunks of stone in the park. We made it to the top of the dike with very few issues, and took a good rest in the large alley before the start of the NEVER ENDING SLABS! This is where Jenn really took over, and royally kicked my ass on the NEVER ENDING SLABS! They hadn’t seemed so NEVER ENDING the last time I was up there, but they sure did this time. Despite the calf and quad soreness, one of the best parts of my day was looking to my right and seeing Jenn, who I affectionately call a baby giraffe because of her apparent inability to properly control her legs when walking, scampering along next to me on her hands and feet to make sure she didn't fall.

Done with the dike! Time for a quick break before the NEVER ENDING SLA...
Done with the dike! Time for a quick break before the NEVER ENDING SLABS! You can see how hazy it is looking towards El Cap, due to a fire that was burning not too far away.
Credit: Tazz
Somewhere above the dike, perhaps on the slabs. Not a bad view from up...
Somewhere above the dike, perhaps on the slabs. Not a bad view from up here!
Credit: Tazz

We were pleasantly surprised when we reached the summit to see only a couple of people. Again, we took our time and enjoyed the well-earned summit, taking photos, calling Jenn’s Mom to say hi, checking out the views and telling each other how cool we were. High Five!

We did it!
We did it!
Credit: Tazz
Hazzah!
Hazzah!
Credit: Tazz
Jenn finally got her nap in.
Jenn finally got her nap in.
Credit: Tazz

After a little while, we started down the cables, which were definitely not Jenn’s favorite part of the day. I think I may have heard a couple of “Seriously?!?! Who thinks this is a safe way to go?” And, “I’m writing a letter to the park!” Perhaps there might have even been a little profanity. Could have been a rabid marmot squeak though.

Jenn was pretty happy at this point.
Jenn was pretty happy at this point.
Credit: Tazz
And even happier once we had descended the cables!
And even happier once we had descended the cables!
Credit: Tazz

We hit the trail and, although feeling a bit beat up at this point, made pretty good time. We were happy to find our water bottles where we left them and made it back to the top of the Mist Trail as it got dark. This was a great time to find out that my headlamp had apparently been on in my pack all day, as the new batteries were completely dead. With just one headlamp between us now we moved slowly down the steep steps of the Mist Trail. As always after a long day, it felt great to make it back to the car, but even better to get back to the lodge (where we were lucky enough to stay thanks to Jenn’s Grandma. Thanks Grandma Jane!).

While Jenn was showering I snuck out to the store and grabbed a few beers and a bottle of champagne (Jenn’s favorite) to celebrate. After a great day of climbing it just goes to show, why hike when you can climb?

  Trip Report Views: 2,666
Tazz
About the Author
Tazz is a trad climber from San Diego.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
johntp

Trad climber
socal
  Jun 16, 2016 - 12:59pm PT
Nice TR and photos. So where did you go for dinner?
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Jun 16, 2016 - 02:47pm PT
Great report! It's nice to share climbing adventures with significant others when they enjoy it :)
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 19, 2016 - 06:03pm PT
Awesomeness!
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Jun 19, 2016 - 08:00pm PT
Huge stoke!
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
  Jun 19, 2016 - 08:07pm PT
The summit of Half Dome fills everyone who gets there, their lungs with the freshest air from the high country.
looks easy from here

climber
Ben Lomond, CA
  Jun 19, 2016 - 08:51pm PT
we started down the cables, which were definitely not Jenn’s favorite part of the day. I think I may have heard a couple of “Seriously?!?! Who thinks this is a safe way to go?” And, “I’m writing a letter to the park!”

Next time bring her in the winter when the cables are down. Then she'll know how good she had it. ;)
LuckyPink

climber
the last bivy
  Jun 19, 2016 - 09:14pm PT
Makes me smile! You two are amazingly cute together. Thanks for the trip report.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Jun 20, 2016 - 07:34am PT
A great day and a fun climb, thanks for sharing!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jun 20, 2016 - 11:55am PT
we started down the cables, which were definitely not Jenn’s favorite part of the day. I think I may have heard a couple of “Seriously?!?! Who thinks this is a safe way to go?” And, “I’m writing a letter to the park!”

I love it, but you missed the classic line. When you get to the summit, you should ask the tourists where the cables are, then have Jenn tell you "See? I told you we came the wrong way!"

Thank you for a most enjoyable trip report. I did the Salathe-Nelson route many decades ago, and the approach seemed like the crux of the climb. Consequently, I'd put off Snake Dike for a later time in my life. My daughters convinced me the time has come, but with one now great with child, it may be grandchildren that accompany me. In any case, your TR really whets my desire to forget the misery of the approach and savor the delicious climbing.

John
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jun 20, 2016 - 02:22pm PT
Credit: micronut

Look at those swimmer lats! I love it! Where did Jenn swim? My Wife and I swam at Auburn in Alabama and for the US Team in the 90's and our daughter just signed a letter of intent to go swim at Auburn 25 years later. War Eagle! Did she swim in the Pac 10 or SEC per chance?

Fantastic adventure you two. Way to make it happen.

Scott
Tazz

Trad climber
San Diego
Author's Reply  Jul 7, 2016 - 07:26am PT
Look at those swimmer lats! I love it! Where did Jenn swim? My Wife and I swam at Auburn in Alabama and for the US Team in the 90's and our daughter just signed a letter of intent to go swim at Auburn 25 years later. War Eagle! Did she swim in the Pac 10 or SEC per chance?

Haha, the good old swimmer lats! Jenn swam at UCSD. Her sister swam in the Pac 10 at Cal, same as her Dad. It seems like swimming is a family tradition all over the place!
ks

climber
  Jul 7, 2016 - 04:24pm PT
Everything about this TR is incredible. Thanks for posting!
Reeotch

climber
4 Corners Area
  Jul 7, 2016 - 09:23pm PT
Haha
Swimmers often make good climbers.

Nice TR!
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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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The first part of the route is hidden.
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Blondike is the red line and Two Hoofers is the Blue Line.
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