Snake Dike was terrific and the conditions are great!

8 May 2001 - by David Harris

The approach took 3.5 hours. We spent half an hour roping up, 3 hours on the climb, an hour on the 2nd class and lunch, and 4 hours coming down. Total of 12 hour round trip, so we were back by 5pm.

The approach was not too bad. Take the mist trail and Nevada Falls trail. Just before the last segment of switchbacks on the Nevada Falls trail, you will see a clear climber's trail to the left skirting along the base of Liberty Cap (within a few feet of the wall). Follow it all the way along the base of the cap and then up the gully between Liberty Cap and the next large formation to the northwest. There's a short 3rd class downclimb into the gully and there's water to fill bottles in the gully. When you reach the brushy top of the gully and see Half Dome, head toward it. You'll reach Lost Lake; we skirted it on the south side on a climber's trail. We followed the trail to slabs and up and right following ducks and through some brush. The ducked route crossed the slabs on 2nd class and cut back left and up until sandy switchbacks led to the base of Snake Dike.

The climb was much easier and less scary than I expected. Zander led two of the three 5.7 moves, but I would have felt good on any of them. The first pitch protects very nicely using a piece under a roof above a short 5.7 friction traverse. The second pitch also accepts pro just before the 5.7 friction move from a ledge onto the dike. The third pitch has a bolt just before a 5.7 friction move so the move is no worse on lead than following. Pitches 4 through 6 or so go up the dike. It's rated 5.4R, but the dike has good footholds all the way and is more like 4th class than Yosemite 5.4. There is only one bolt between each belay, but I never felt that I had to do delicate moves where there was a risk of falling. Pitches 7 and 8 are even easier, then you unrope for a class 1-2 walk to the summit (still a long way).

Overall, I consider 5.7 in Yosemite and Josh to often be pretty exciting, with a real risk that I might fall on lead. I never got that sense on this route. I consider 5.4 to have interesting moves that aren't totally secure. I never got that sense on the runout sections. It's a justly popular route, quite mellow in such a scenic location.

There was a small patch of snow on the flat part of the summit. It's probably gone by today. You might consider bringing a work glove each for the descent of the cables. We also clipped into the cables for the descent because they aren't up on the poles yet.

On Sunday we did Nutcracker on Manure Pile Buttress. 5 pitches with the fun 5.8 start. The top two pitches had pretty challenging 5.8 moves, especially when tired after the previous day.

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