Type: Trad, 2000 ft, 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: Eric Beck, Jim Bridwell, & Chris Fredericks - July, 1965
Page Views: 248,327 total · 1,601/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Jun 25, 2006
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


Snake Dike (along with Royal Arches) is one of the classic long moderate routes of Yosemite. For many climbers, this is number one on the Yosemite tick list when they first come to the Valley. For others it is known as "Snake Hike," but the bottom line is it is a great climb up an amazing natural feature to the top of one of the most spectacular formations in Yosemite - second only to El Cap itself.

Get to the SW shoulder of Half Dome by following the Muir Trail to the Mist Trail past Nevada Falls, then back on the Muir Trail. From the top of Nevada Falls, continue for 0.75 mile to an obvious climber's trail that heads off to the left, contouring around behind the back of Liberty Cap to Half Dome. You'll pass a swampy area (Lost Lake), and then wander up slabs to the south face of Half Dome, heading back left across ledges to the base of the route. The approach is six miles and takes 2.5 to 4 hours.

P1: The route starts up a slab below a prominent upside-down L-shaped roof formation. A big tree is up in this roof area on the right. Climb up into the roof, then traverse out the left end and up onto a nice belay ledge. 5.7.

P2: Continue up the left-facing corner system above and past a pair of bolts (optional belay), then wander right past another bolt to a bolted anchor. 5.7.

P3: Climb up and left past a bolt and 5.7 friction to reach the dike itself. Skip another bolted belay, climbing up the dike past a bolt and easier climbing, and up to a bolted belay.

P4, P5, P6: Follow the dike for three more long pitches, all about 5.4, all very run out, stopping at bolted anchors. The final anchor is at a point past a steep section on a small ledge.

P7, P8: Lots of low angle climbing (easy 5th class) wander up the face with occasional gear placements.

Once you feel comfortable unroping, do so, and continue scrambling up 1000' of calf-burning slabs to the summit. Descent is down the Half Dome Cables route. You can't miss it. For logistical reasons, it's better to not leave anything at the base.


6 draws/slings, three or four small-medium sized cams. That's it!


Oakland Park, Florida
Floridaputz   Oakland Park, Florida
I like long days so this qualifies.. The approach is tough, but the climb is great fun. If you are not in a hurry camp in little Yosemite. Climbing this is really fun because of the exposure on half dome. Great views of Glacier Pt . The slabby runouts are not that bad, pretty secure climbing However the R rating is suitable.. Once the roped climbing is over it's a calf buster to the top. Aug 21, 2006
Lee Jensen  
Take a small set of cams. From 1/2 to one inch. On the first pitch climb to the tree on the left, sling it, and make the easy friction moves into the roof where you can immediately set a bomber cam. On the third pitch, look up and about five feet left from the belay to see the traverse bolt. Sep 17, 2006
San Jose, CA
rhyang   San Jose, CA
The free guide at Supertopo.com was quite helpful. Brought a set of nuts, six cams from black alien up to 0.75 camalot C4, six trad draws, one double-length draw, and some random slings/biners - more than enough gear. A skinny 60m rope allowed us to skip a couple of the belays. 8 pitches / 12 hours car-to-car. Bring gloves for the stupid cables :) Oct 9, 2006
Pat W  
Good cruiser stuff up a nobby dike. Besides the traverse above the roof early on, the descent is the headiest part. Going down the cables is quite exposed. And the freaked out asian lady screaming chinese profanities whilst not letting go of either cable, makes the route memorable. Oct 12, 2006
Jordan K
Jordan K   Ohio
An excellent free download of the topo for Snake Dike is available from supertopo.com, loaded with lots of info: supertopo.com/freetopos.htm… Oct 18, 2006
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I used to do this climb every year. It is awesome!

On one of the upper pitches there is a short section where the dike ends and there is a bolt in the smooth gap. I always thought this section was pretty tricky. You may not notice it leading (with the bolt), but it can be scary for soloists. Nov 15, 2006
Sergio P
Idaho Springs, CO
  5.7 R
Sergio P   Idaho Springs, CO
  5.7 R
When descending the cables on a crowded day you may find it easier to clip into the cables with a binner attached to a sling then step outside of the cables. Use another sling and binner to clip past the poles so that you are always clipped in. Jun 24, 2007
Brad G  
The crux of the route is the never ending slabs to the top. Bring enough water and don’t worry too much about the Runouts. A fall in some areas would be really bad but the climbing is extremely easy. Sep 24, 2007
Kirill Kireyev
Boulder, CO
Kirill Kireyev   Boulder, CO
Are there any potential scary pendulum falls for the second on this route? I.e. would it be a bad idea to take a 5.8- climber as your second? Thanks! May 6, 2008
Jon Hanlon
Jon Hanlon   SLO
There is some traversing at the beginning of the second (5.5ish) and third pitches (one 5.7 move). A 5.7-5.8 climber should have no problem. Enjoy! May 7, 2008
Boulder, CO
tooTALLtim   Boulder, CO
The approach is not that hard to find, and it only took us 3 hours on our first try.

After getting soaked at Mist Falls, the trail winds up towards Liberty Cap. When the trail abruptly runs into Liberty Cap, it forks. The hiker's trail goes right, you go left. It's that simple.

The hardest part is thrashing through the spring growth in the valley between Liberty Cap and Mt. Broderick, but the views and route pays you back in spades. Jun 16, 2008
Laurel Arndt
Laurel Arndt   Phoenix
Just did Snake Dike last week, had the free Supertopo beta and the Mountain Project beta. Neither accurately represents the second and third pitch. Here is what you will encounter.
As you take off on the traverse of second pitch you can get in a piece and than clip a bolt. You will than see a pair of anchors about 60 ft up. I suggest you clip them and bring up partner. This ends the second pitch (do not recommend going further for the following reason). P2 on Mountain Project says go past "pair of bolts" (anchor), move up and right to a "fixed pin to another pair of bolts". The "fixed pin" is actually a folded metal hanger with bad 1/4 inch pin. The "pair of bolts" is wrong...as you move past the old folded hanger you encounter only one SMC hanger on a 1/4 inch bolt that sticks out approximately 1/4in and has old webbing hanging off of it. Would not anchor myself on it and use this as protection for my leader. If the leader on the third pitch were to slip on the 50 ft traverse after clipping into this suspicious bolt it probably would not hold.
So belay from the two anchors about 30 feet below on P2.
start P3 from here, do not use the folded hanger, clip the crappy SMC hanger and 1/4inch pin and hope no one falls. Sep 4, 2008
Laurel, I think you got confused by the Mountain Project beta.
The pair of bolts mentioned by Mountain Project that you have to pass in P2 is the optional belay from the free Supertopo for P1.
If you used that optional bolted belay on top of P1 then the next pair of bolts you will encounter is indeed the P2 belay.
Concerning P3, I think you missed the traverse on the left and went off route on Snake Dance.
To future Snake Dike climbers, if you can clip any quarter incher during the climb, check your topo, you are probably off route. Feb 20, 2009
john strand
southern colo
john strand   southern colo
A good thing for this route is a LONG rope 60m or better. This really helps out on the upper part. Mar 4, 2009
Did this a couple years ago with some friends, 2 parties of two. First leader took about 20 slings and maybe a couple of nuts and started blasting, his partner simulclimbed behind him unclipping the gear and leaving it in place. My partner was right on his heels clipping in the pre placed gear and I brought up the rear cleaning everything. From bottom to top I think it took us about 1 hr 15 minutes or right about there. Fantastic route! May 12, 2009
Josh Hampton
Provo UT, Merced, CA
Josh Hampton   Provo UT, Merced, CA
me and my girlfriend tried snake dike...
the hike there was longer and more strenuous than we had originally thought it would be. curns pointed the way, just hard to find them all the time.
finally getting to the dike. ive never climbed on gannet or done a "friction" climb so maybe thats why it was so hard? ? ? ?
i had brand new 5.10 prism they didn't seem to stick to the rock at all. it seemed no matter what i did, i would feel very unsure and would slip a few times on the smooth rock. which made the first 3 pitches VERY SCARY !!! my girlfriend also had 5.10 shoes but seemed to do a little better than me, but was pretty scared too.. we were unprepared for the Friction parts of this climb. and i consider myself a hard climber. i tried to find everything i could on snake dike before we left so i wouldn't have any surprises. she and i eventually felt like doing the rest of the climb could be left for another day a repelled off and went home. :(

Aug 19, 2009
Mill Valley, CA
mikemcee   Mill Valley, CA
We did this route on one 60m rope as a party of 3 on a hot 8/29. Approach beta was good and made it from Curry to the base of the route in 3 hours.

Climbed the P1 left side variation, slung the tree and made the easy friction moves up to the left side of the roof where it's easy to get a bomber nut in. Ran up the flake to the small ledge on top and belayed the followers from the 2 bolt anchor.

While the traverse off the P2 belay is a bit of an attention grabber, the moves are easy and you get a nice piece in before stepping over the bulge and clipping the next bolt. Moved up and left, stepping down into a small bucket after clipping the bolt before finishing the traverse moves to the dike and the 2 bolt anchor where we set up the 2nd belay.

Simuled all the dike pitches stopping twice to get gear back (note, some of the knobs are easy to sling if you want extra security)and found the route finding pretty straight forward although there are definitely some trickier variations to be had if you want them.

Walkoff is long but the hike down the cables and back to camp is way longer. All in all a super fun day and easy enough for a 5.8 leader with his or her head on straight. The toughest part of this route is not thinking about the runouts. All the bolts that need to be in good shape are in good shape. Bring lots of water. Aug 31, 2009
Once You reach the dike, the rest of the pitches can be linked with a 60m rope. Nov 27, 2009
chulho "charles" chang
San Francisco Bay Area, CA
chulho "charles" chang   San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Moonlight ascent in summer 2009.

2pm leave bay area
6pm start hike at curry village
10pm base of climb
2am top of half dome
5am back to curry village
nap time
9am drive back to bay area
1pm back home

...something like that. not sure if the hike is worth the climb. also, although moonlight ascent was something to remember, we didn't feel the "exposure" because we couldn't see how high we were.

still, moonlight ascent meant no crowd and perfect temp even during summer. Jan 19, 2010
the beta available is pretty accurate and if you use your brain the climbing is logical and the protection reasonable. (the runouts are real but easy, as everyone notes, and the cruxes have pro.)

we found the approach to be tricky. not being a yosemite local, i contemplated crossing dicey slabs way too many times. ("should this look like third class to me??") all we lost was time- so i will say this:

when the supertopo approach beta says "pretty much walk straight towards the face of half dome", they are serious. this may also mean trending right and up. we followed broken ledges and corners up and right, with some bad bushwacking, until a ledge walk back to the left (and southwest) became obvious.

a little friendliness goes a long way with the parties that will inevitably surround you. Sep 6, 2011
Jim Dover
Idyllwild, CA
Jim Dover   Idyllwild, CA
I now know why some call this 'snake HIKE'. I used to think it was to denigrate the climb as hardly worthy of consideration as a climb because it is a moderate--thinking that hardass climbers were snobs. But no! It's because of the hike after you climb. My freakin' god! I've done the hike before but not with gear in my pack. All I'm sayin' is, if BASE was legal...

All that said, I'd do it again tomorrow. A stellar climb and truly worthy of the five star rating.

Oh, and the runouts? Yeah--a real attention getter but never felt dangerous. Made us careful on lead. Sep 12, 2011
Did snake dike Saturday 5/12. Left curry village parking lot at 8:30am and got back to car at 11:00pm. Last chance for water was at Nevada Falls. Fill up and drink as much as you can there. The climber’s trail is not too hard to find and follow in daylight using supertopo description. Had to wait in line at the climb for about an hour since we left late. We topped out and descended cables with prusiks before dark. Hiked down to valley via headlamp.
I am a solid 5.8 trad leader and this is the rack we brought:
Three stoppers sizes 12, 8, and 5.
Two ball nuts; purple and blue (lighter than cams in their range)
Three wild country cams sizes 2.5, 1.5, and 1.
5 alpine slings
3 double length slings (used two as cordlettes at belay stations)
60m twin ropes to save weight and have the ability to rap if needed (a single 60m is what everyone else was using) May 14, 2012
Ryan Nevius
Chiang Mai, TH
Ryan Nevius   Chiang Mai, TH
Not a single person on the route. The clear crux for me was the first pitch traverse. It's slick! I used 4 draws, 3 cams from .5-1", and a #11 stopper on the route. Jun 12, 2012
Phil McAllister
  5.7 R
Phil McAllister  
  5.7 R
Agree with Jim Dover's assessment BANG on when folk say bring plenty of water- but to qualify with numbers - and add some
1) Hike in - plan for 4 hours unless you already know the approach
2) Runout - depending on how you link the pitches and which anchors you use - 165ft pitch with one bolt? Make sure that your head is ready for this.
3) Hike Out (back to Curry Village) - Plan for 5 hours
4) Climb - 8 pitches of REAL climbing then 1000 ft 3rd class slab with 5th class consequences if you take a tumble - i don't know that you'd just land flat on your face if you slipped. factor this time into any itinerary that you have for the day. depending on how long you stay roped up - plan 1 - 2.5 hours
5) Plenty of water - we had 4 liters (2 each) and got to the top with half a liter left. Climbing in september had a hand pump water filter with us and refilled the camelbacks at the river in little Yosemite camp ground.
6) you have climbing gear - keep your harness on and clip into those cables on the descent (two slings and two biners) - those cables are the scariest thing that i've done. more so that 165ft with one bolt.. Sep 8, 2012
Salt Lake City
JeffL   Salt Lake City
Climbed this yesterday. I thought the technical crux was on the first pitch and the psychological is the 1200 feet of unroped slab to top out. There are bear lockers at Little Yosemite Valley. If you get a permit you can hike 4 of the 6 mile approach the day before. Sep 29, 2012
John D  
My favorite way to do Snake Dike:
lightest 60m Rope you can get your hands on, a 50m might even work and be lighter.
6 single length slings/trad draws
2 double length slings
4 locking D biners
2 Locking HMS type biners
Red and brown tri-cam
black metolious 4 cam
green metolious 4 cam
Harnesses or webbing for a swiss seat.

I start the hike around 5am with 3 water bottles, but only 2 filled (for both of us) at the top of the second water fall (nevada falls?) drink up and leave with all 3 filled. Climb the route I love slinging horns/knobs on the way up to reduce the runout. Hike the slabs and eat lunch. Hoof it down to the stream and drink more water. Truck past the tourists and hopefully make it to curry village to eat dinner before the buffet closes. Last time I did it our time was around 12 hours car to car and we weren't really hurrying. I usually don't take a belay device and just use a munter; I've even done it with just a piece of webbing tied into a swiss seat, but I think it's probably worth carrying a harness. Go light, be calm and enjoy! Oct 29, 2012
The Supertopo is great with one exception. There are two new bolts above the 2nd belay (start of P3) that are easy to see and have taken some people off route. The bolt shown on the topo that you want to use is actually quite difficult to see from the belay. Head left from the belay on to the slab watching above for the bolt. Oct 30, 2012
Jason Albino
San Francisco, CA
  5.7 R
Jason Albino   San Francisco, CA
  5.7 R
Climbed this one Wed, 4/24/2013 and was treated to fantastic weather and nobody else on the summit! What an amazing day. A trip report:

- We left our car at the Glacier Apron lot at 7:45 and hiked directly from there. The SuperTopo suggests taking the bus to the Happy Isles, but saving the .5 miles hiking didn't seem worth that effort.

- In addition to the light rack recommended above, we brought a sandwich and two energy bars each, plus 2.5 liters of water per person on a moderate/warm April day. In retrospect, the food was more-or-less sufficient but the water was lean. You may want to bring purification tablets so you can use the stream/snowmelt (if available) for water refill sources as opposed to lugging more water weight.

- Although the SuperTopo approach beta suggested taking the:
Muir Trail > Mist Trail > Muir Trail
we accidentally missed the Mist Trail turn-off and wound up hiking to Clark Point before heading a bit back down across the valley. In retrospect, this didn't add much time and allowed us to avoid the oft-slippery Mist Trail portion as we stayed on well-groomed dry switchbacks all the way to Clark Point. Not a bad alternative.

- After getting to the shoulder of Liberty Cap, the beta is to basically hug that rock as you head left, keeping tabs on a faint trail. Soon you'll reach the gap between Liberty and Half Dome, where you'll turn right to traverse the gap before the terrain will turn more flat (a small stream will be on your left). The trail then becomes fainter again, and the terrain more wooded. At this point, we crossed the stream at an arbitrary point and found the start of the extensive cairns leading to the base.

- The toughest part of the approach felt like the last bit of hiking straight up steep, loose faint switchbacks in the heat of the morning, then traversing the Half Dome base to the route start. Take your time in this section so you're not too burned out for the route itself.

- It took us a while to ID the route start from the SuperTopo because the cairns actually pass the Snake Dike route and go a little further to the base of a different route (I believe this is the "SW Face" route). The key to finding Snake Dike is IDing the "three trees" in the topo that bracket the route from below.

- Lead this route only if you feel super-solid leading 5.8. I think if you lead at a lower level, the extensive run-outs might feel pretty scary (though the climbing itself is very solid, especially after P2).

- Once on top of Half Dome, don't miss the epic photos from the top. Recommendation is to (carefully) position one photographer on the "diving board" and the other(s) across the top for great views!

- I highly recommend prusiking into the Half Dome cables on the descent, especially if the cables are down. That bit is pretty steep and you'll likely be pretty tired by that point, so better safe than sorry.

- We went for the one-day approach and although it was an exhausting day (took us 11 hours, 55 minutes car-to-car with minimal rests), I think this is the best way to do it as long as it's not too hot out. We did see a couple parties during our decent hiking up to camp out at the base and do it in two days, but the prospect of carrying camping gear and more food/water up and down that approach did not sound fun.

If you have any other questions about the route, it'll be fresh in my mind for a while, so feel free to email! Apr 28, 2013
Martin le Roux
Superior, CO
Martin le Roux   Superior, CO
Don't be distracted by the shiny new bolts a few feet to the right of the dike on pitch 3. Those belong to Eye in the Sky.

If you're climbing with an inexperienced second then double ropes help minimize the pendulum potential when following pitches 1 and 3. But they're sure heavy to carry all that way.

Most of the belays are semi-hanging. Bring comfy shoes and avoid climbing as a party of three. May 27, 2013
C.Cody   Ventura,ca
Easy fun climb! Until it started raining on us three pitches up. Super slick when wet but plenty of pro the whole way up! We simul climbed and were able to place pieces all the way to the top..the cable descent was the scariest part! The rock was we so we girthed some slings and took it slow. One biner and cable section at a time :) May 29, 2013
Mark Straub
Berkeley, CA
Mark Straub   Berkeley, CA
Climbed it this May under the full moon- spectacular. We started at 8pm and were back at the car at 8am. Above the 4th pitch, we were able to turn off headlamps and just follow the dike glowing in the moonlight. This was a climb I will never forget, and it was so surreal being on the summit of Half Dome at 3am. To anyone wondering about climbing it in the dark, if you are a confident leader and don't mind runouts, this is a great climb to do at night. The only part I found difficult was the first pitch (finding the proper spots with higher friction), but nothing too bad. Jun 22, 2013
Is trap pro recommended or necessary? I only have sport pro and cant afford trad pro. But i would hate to have that keep me from climbing this wall. Sep 24, 2013
Tyson Waldron
Reno, NV
Tyson Waldron   Reno, NV
I couldn't find much of any beta on descending the cables route when the cables are down (Columbus Day thru the Friday before Memorial Day) so here it goes, hopefully this will help a few weary people out:
(skip to the bullet points if you don't want to read my TR/rant)

I always wanted my first time on top of Half Dome to be when no tourists were up there, I thought the solitude up there would just be fantastic... and I was right. This is the way to do it!
We had the summit to ourselves and only one other party. Very surreal at sunset.

Anyway, before we went for it, I asked around Yosemite (mountain shop and ranger station) and very quickly shopped the internet about the beta when the cables were down, and pretty much got nothing solid. In my mind for some reason, I was envisioning the cables being just one long continuous cable system, anchored only at the bottom and the top. In hindsight, this is quite a retarded assumption.

Obviously one long continuous cable is not the case. There are giant intermediate eye bolts every so often, with smaller cables connecting these points to the main cable, as well as a few junctions of separate cables. Despite these facts, when I was asking how to descend these safely at the mountain shop and got, "uh, I mean people definitely do it..." and not much of any other relevant info, to which I probed, "...so do people just use a Prusik?" To which he said, "...ya." The ranger station was less help, providing the same, "people do it..." along with a disclaimer that the parks service didn't recommend it.

I was taking my girlfriend up this route, and the cables, with the knowledge they would be down, scared the shit out of her. My only option was to find the absolute safest way down these things, or I would not be sending. I thought Prusik was my answer...

When we arrived at the cables, due to the dome shape, I could only see about 30 feet of cable. So we set up Prusik's along with a PAS locked onto the cable, for some redundancy. We began the descent and quickly ran into a cable support described above, so we were forced to untie the prusik and retie it on the other side of the support. Then 20 feet later it happened again. And again.... I could see this was becoming a continuous theme, and finally decided this prusik system would literally take hours and could not continue.

The giant eye-bolts were pretty frequent, and provided a perfect rap anchor. We had a single 60m, and only in one spot was it not long enough to rap to the next eye-bolt, to which we then employed the prusik system I originally devised and slid down to the next eye-bolt and continued our rap. If you had double ropes, you could very easily make it in 3-4 raps, with no prusik shenanigans.

So, these are the scenarios I can see in order from quickest to slowest (and sketchiest to safest) for descending the cables when they are down for the season:

  • Just go hand over hand on the cables, solo, no pro. A guy in another party did this in front of us and descended them in ~5 minutes. X rated.
  • Go hand over hand on the cables, but clipped into the cable Via Ferrata style. R rated. If I did this again, (not with my girlfriend or other equally weary 2nd), this would absolutely be the way to go. You could still take a nasty R rated fall, but being clipped into the cables, you would be stopped at the next junction. Descending in this way would almost be as fast as doing it solo. Via Ferrata would ensure you would always remain clipped in while changing over at cable junctions/supports. The cables route is very slick from the 1 million+ ascents of tourists, so as mentioned above, better to walk on the outside of whichever cable you choose to clip into.
  • Rappel the cables. G Rated. As mentioned above, there are giant eye-bolt supports all over this thing, which makes rappelling a very doable scenario, even with a single rope. Double ropes would make quick work of it, and with a single rope there is one section (unfortunately the steepest part) where your rope doesn't get you to the next eye-bolt. Be sure you've tied knots at the end of your rope, and when you reach this point, Prusik into the cable, preferably backing it up with some form of PAS (personal anchor system). Hand-over-hand down the cable until you get to the next eye-bolt, then pull your rope and continue the series of raps. This took us awhile, as rapping does, but it was an absolutely solid way to descend these with very little sketchiness. For anyone taking someone up Snake Dike that is not willing to risk any form of fall, this is the way to go.

Hope this helps a few people out. (drops the mic and walks away)

T?S Oct 27, 2013
Gavin Bridgeman
Orange County, CA
  5.7 R
Gavin Bridgeman   Orange County, CA
  5.7 R
Very mellow. Did it last week and it was packed with people. Luck is the only way to beat crowds in the valley. Oct 28, 2013
Pink Thunder
Sacramento, CA
Pink Thunder   Sacramento, CA
One of my favorite routes of all time. I've done it three times, with three different people, including one non-climber girlfriend who had a blast. All you need is a 60m rope, a half-rack of cams, and about six draws, and you spend all day on the wall with unbelievable scenery. Mar 5, 2014
Climbed this route yesterday (4/19)-- we left Curry Village at 4:30 AM and were the first party on the route by a wide margin, which was super nice, because a cluster of parties formed around 10am (I counted 9 people at the base!)

Unfortunately, in my half-asleep early morning stupor, I also left my phone at the base-- if you were there yesterday and picked up an iphone, please please please shoot me a message so we can figure something out! Apr 20, 2014
Jack Hamm
Richmond, CA
Jack Hamm   Richmond, CA
I would take exceptional care with following the advice of people who say to clip the cables on the descent. The distance between the bolts / poles is sufficient that you could gain quite a bit of momentum in a fall. Using standard climbing gear, this would be a static fall with a sudden stop. If you fell from just past one bolt and slid to the next (cables down) you'd be looking at an injury inducing stop. One of the posters represented this as akin to via ferrata - it is not! A via ferrata rig has an energy absorber. About the only way to clip the cables on descent and be safe would be to use a screamer or other tear away load limiter. In any event, be careful heading down - you're gonna be tired and that's when most people make mistakes. Sep 15, 2014
thinking of doing Snake on October 25.
how risky is it at that time of year in terms of weather?
getting caught up there with snow or rain isn't going to be fun. Sep 20, 2014
Brian Murphy  
Climbed this on 9/5/2014. We're ~5.11 climbers so the climbing was really easy. The crux is definitely the hiking. My friend doesn't have a ton of endurance so it took us forever (~14 hrs round trip). Plus we ran out of water at the top and that didn't help much either. We each brought 3 liters of water, so on a hot day I'd recommend at least 4 or 5 if you can swing it. If I climb Half Dome again I'd definitely plan on camping at Little Yosemite Valley the night before. Sep 29, 2014
Mike Holley
Boone, NC
Mike Holley   Boone, NC
Go Light, Go Fast!!! Its a long way there and back again. The hike is tedious and can be strenuous in certain sections, especially nearer the base of the climb. The route itself is superb with minimal "true" danger. Splendid views and worth the long approach! Would highly recommend a stretching of the calves before and after this classic! Oct 15, 2014
Heather Whatever
Bishop, CA
Heather Whatever   Bishop, CA
Did it at night with 4 other partners. The wind was very strong & it was terribly cold. Took a long time because of weather conditions & lack of gear, but the amazing view at the top was just unbeatable. I would like to come back during the day in Spring & do it again.

PS the approach sucks Nov 23, 2014
Cory Brooks
Fresno, CA
Cory Brooks   Fresno, CA
Very fun. The runouts are not so scary. The climb is crazy crowded, there were 4 parties on the route, and we started climbing by 7:00am Jun 9, 2015
Southern California
  5.7 R
J--   Southern California
  5.7 R
If you’re like me, and not in shape, then I’d tell you the hardest thing about this route is the approach. We left at 5AM and got to the beginning of the route at 12:30. Partly because the “obvious climbers trail” is far less than obvious. We walked 2 miles out of our way before we backtracked and got back to the proper trailhead. The day was hot, in the 90s when we climbed. So in preparation I carried 1.5 gallons of water, half gallon of gator aid, a quart of coconut water, a watermelon, other food, my rope and a full rack. I was dead tiered at the start of the climb.
However, the climbing was easy. On pitch 7, I was 70m run out. I didn’t feel unsafe however, because the route was so juggy. I actually could climb faster than my partner could feed me rope on most pitches. During our climb and at the top, we had the whole mountain to ourselves; when we got to the top at 7:30PM there was no one else up there at all. Eating that watermelon on top of half dome was awesome too. For the descent we used the cables as night fell. Then we hiked back to the valley floor getting back to Happy Isles at 3:30AM the next day.
My advice:
1 work out for endurance (quads, calves) a lot prior to your trip.
2 Plan to camp close to the start of the climb so the approach is not so killer.
3 Bring a water filter pump device so that one does not have to schlepp liquid all the way up there.
4 Additionally, make your partner carry the watermelon, for me climbing with that thing on my back predicated the R rating for this route. Jun 18, 2015
Fort Collins, CO
Kurtz   Fort Collins, CO
Has any normal human tried Dean Potter's alternate approach? rockandice.com/lates-news/d… Jun 25, 2015
Evan Wisheropp
  5.7 R
Evan Wisheropp  
  5.7 R
Our rack for the climb:
-3 extendable draws
-2 double length slings (36") pre-rigged for sliding x anchors with limiter knots for a five second anchor set up at each belay.
-Cams .4-#1 (we did the left tree start on the first pitch, and didn't use the #1) Jul 27, 2015
A couple thoughts from our climb last week:
- Be prepared for the tough 5,000 foot climb/hike ascent as well as descent. In my view it'd be tough to comfortably pull this off without some time hiking steep, long routes or at least on a StairMaster.
- Like many climbs, arriving at the base early can make a huge difference. Within the space of about 30 minutes, four groups arrived just behind ours. A 5am start from Curry Village would be ideal.
- Water can definitely be an issue. If you bring a filter, water's available about halfway up at Little Yosemite. If not, there's fresh water at Vernal Falls footbridge, a little less than a mile into the hike. You'd definitely want to top off there.
- On pitch 1, there's a 5.9 undercling immediately below the roof (see the many YouTube videos), or an easier 5.7 traverse 10-15 feet below. If you look on the videos, you'll see a clear border of different colored rock - the lower part has much better grip.
- As for the cables, do remember to bring grippy gloves, and my two cents is that it's easiest to climb down backwards. In addition to letting you grip with the balls of your feet rather than heels, and allowing your arms to stay locked, you get a clear view of the person above you. Based on my one experience, perhaps the greatest danger on the entire route is one of the overly-tired hikers plowing into you from above - you'd at least see them climbing backwards.
- For what it's worth, we felt the hike to the base, after leaving the main trail, was one of the nicest in all Yosemite.
Enjoy! Aug 9, 2015
Hey Yogi, I used this to help me on the approach: connect.garmin.com/player/1…

I made a .kml file of this track you can download here: dropbox.com/s/es9zqs3lqdl3o…

The only confusion I had on the climb was the positioning of the anchors. According to the SuperTopo, the anchors at the top of P3 are to the left of the dike. The ones I found had one on either side of the dike, and the one on the right was a little manky. At the top of P4, the anchor was in the middle of the split dikes (rather than to the left).

The endless slabs after "finishing" were also pretty confusing. Would appreciate someone giving "correct" beta rather than having to guess which slab is considered 3rd class. With it being easier to up climb than down climb, a climber off-route could end up in a sticky situation. Aug 22, 2015
Maximo Hietpas
Maximo Hietpas   LA, CA
Got on P1 at 4PM and got to the third class scrambling at sunset. Sat atop the summit under the light of the full moon on Saturday and it was so wild! On our decent we noticed some people had strung up lights on the route so you could more easily climb under the full moon without headlamps! Aug 31, 2015
Mark Grundon
Lee Vining
Mark Grundon   Lee Vining
Snake Dike is overrun with climbers. On a cool dry weekend expect to see 20 parties attempting the route. The traffic jams are caused by the leader traversing under the roof on the first pitch and creating a pendulum for the often less experienced follower. Climb straight up to the left side of the roof and use the small tree for protection. Supertopo is wrong! Climbing under the roof is terrible beta and creates more traffic jams on an already crowded route. This route is mostly 5.3 with a move or two of 5.7. Oct 5, 2015
Nick Fuller
San Jose, CA
Nick Fuller   San Jose, CA
You only NEED four cams from BD 0.4 to #1, although I would recommend a double in 0.75 and 0.4 if you want more than a two piece anchor at the end of pitch 7 & 8.

And if you find any car keys along the route let me know! Nov 2, 2015
Would it be a bad idea to attempt an ascent in late november around thanksgiving? What is the possibility of ice along the route that would make it unclimbable? Nov 16, 2015
Bryan G
Bryan G   Yosemite
Would it be a bad idea to attempt an ascent in late november around thanksgiving? What is the possibility of ice along the route that would make it unclimbable?

The conditions depend on how recently there has been a storm. You can check the current conditions ahead of time: Yosemite Web Cams

Note that the cables descent receives much less sun than the SW shoulder so plan for wintry conditions on the way down. It is possible to rap the cables, although even getting to the start of the cables could be sketchy if there is a lot of snow. Nov 18, 2015
Climbed this route on April 16, 2016. Our rack was a set of nuts, one pink tricam, and a handful of alpine draws (single length and triple length). Left camp at 6am, at the base by 10am, at the summit by 1pm, back by 5pm.

On Crowds:
Even early in the season (and early in the morning), there was a party of three at the base in front of us, and a party not far behind. Luckily, the party of three let us go ahead; by the time we lost sight of them (on the 6th pitch) they were still at the third. An efficient and confident party could easily summit in two hours, but in my opinion, climbers should plan for 4 hours on route.

On Gear:
Our light rack proved perfect. It was nice and light for the long approach, yet I was able to comfortably protect the friction traverse on the first pitch as well as build decent anchors on the 7th and 8th.

On Descending:
The cables were still down for the season, but the descent was pretty painless. We wore gloves and tied prussiks around the cables to descend. We had to re-tie the prussiks multiple times to get around points where the cables were fixed (and to avoid ascending hikers), but still managed to get down the cables in roughly 15 minutes.

On the Experience:
In all, this climb was fantastic and well worth the grueling approach. It would not be a wise choice for a 5.7 climber, but 5.8 climbers will likely enjoy it, and more experienced climbers should not discount it. If you are a climber who has never summitted Half Dome, do yourself a favor: take a day and climb Snake Dike. Apr 18, 2016
Vikram Sahney
Seattle, WA
Vikram Sahney   Seattle, WA
My partner and I climbed this on April 15, 2016. Had the approach and the route all to ourselves. We used a 70m rope and led it in 3 pitches: P1/P2 we belayed up. Then P3-P6 we simul-climbed on the full 70m. And finally we simul-climbed P7+ well into the 3rd class terrain, also on the full 70m. I posed a YouTube video of the climb here: Snake Dike Video

We left the Valley Lodge at 9:15am, started climbing by noon, and were back to the car by 5:30pm or so.

Snow on top and on parts of the descent. Cables are clean but still down. Beyond the 70m rope, we had a small rack of a few nuts, 6 alpine draws, and 4-6 small cams.

The views are great, but the climbing was not that interesting. Apr 18, 2016
  5.5 X
  5.5 X
Awesome route. Climbed it last weekend. Took our time and made it car to car in 15 hours. Hanging out at the top of pitch 8 and having lunch is an epic place to rest and take in the views. Climbing is easy but I would like to see just a few more bolts. Pitches 4-8 are pretty much free solo. Someday a handhold or foothold will break and someone is going to get hurt.... Aug 30, 2016
BJB   Texas
What we brought:
Only a few cams--Singles of smalls up to BD #1. You for sure don't need anything larger and I don't think I even placed the #1.
A 70M rope, I was glad I had this instead of a 60M. It helped on the last pitches as we linked a few.
About 8 alpine slings.

What I wish we brought:
A light weight water pump. You will want to go as light as you can on the route, but when you are coming down, you'll want water and there won't be any for about 8 miles. Solution: bring a light weight water pump and pump at the river about 1/2 down the descent.

Maybe the crux of the climb. Get to Happy Isles. We had to park in Half Dome Village Parking lot (formerly known as Curry Village). Get on the John Muir trail and hike up forever. You'll pass two waterfalls (Nevada and Vernal, but maybe not in that order). This part of the trail is very steep.

Once you get past the second waterfall, the trail will level out. Liberty Cap will be on your left. Apparently there is an approach that goes towards Liberty Cap, but we didn't take it. Keep hiking until Liberty Cap tapers off. There will be a climbers trail on your left, and it's not terribly hard to miss.
GPS coordinates for the climbers trail: N 37.73160, W 119.52110.

Follow the climbers trail for a long while. You'll pass Lost Lake on your right. Eventually the trail will lead you into a shrubby talus scramble. We followed cairns all the way to the base of the route. It tends leftward and is pretty long. Here are GPS coordinates for the start of the climb: N 37.73980, W 119.54020.

The Climb:
There's plenty of beta on this already, so I'll just say this: the climbing was less secure and much more scary than I expected. Though it's easy, portions of the Dike are somewhat slippery, and there aren't really any good, solid holds until the very end.
There was one section of the climb where I ran my 70 M rope all the way out and only clipped two pieces, so I'm going to give this an X.
Also, on P3, if you fall on the 5.7 friction traverse before getting to the bolt, you will totally land on your belayer.
Follow the 1000 ft or so of calf burning 3rd class to the summit. This is probably the crux of the climb and we had to rest maybe 4-8 times while doing it.

The Descent:
Take the Half Dome cables down. We followed the advice of others and just clipped our PAS into the cables and walked around the outside, cutting the huge lines and traffic jam. This upset some people in line and was very scary for my partner, but I would do it again in a heart beat.
Follow the trail back down to wherever you parked your car. Use the water pump at the river along the way or this hike is going to suck. This is why some people call the route Snake Hike. It's not because the climbing is easy, it's because you hike about 18 mi in a day.

Sep 14, 2016
Chris D
the couch
Chris D   the couch
If you can find something to complain about on this outing, you should probably just stay at the gym or your local sport crag. Snake Dike could almost be described as a very civilized, mini alpine outing. Kind of surreal with the crowds on the mist trail, and the cable descent is insane. I can't believe that the NPS encourages, much less permits hikers to climb and descend the glassy-slick rock of the cable route. Definitely more un-nerving than anything on the route, including the runouts, as others have said.

All of the difficulties on the route are a few 5.6-5.7 slab moves down low and are well-protected. The climbing is very, very mellow.

In good weather, break the outing up into two days by bringing a light bag and making a peaceful bivy in the beautiful little forest 100 feet below the base of the route. It'll be the highlight of your otherwise hectic and tourist-crowded visit to the Valley. Sep 27, 2016
If you climbed Snake Dike Friday September 30th and you were on the route around noon, send me a message: I have some photos you might like. (There were two parties of two.) Oct 1, 2016
Phillip Bay
San Francisco, CA
Phillip Bay   San Francisco, CA
Yesterday on the approach to Snake Dike my partner and I were swarmed by bees or wasps (not quite sure), I assume protecting their hive. The problem is that I don't see a way to avoid this as its right when the slabs of Liberty Cap force you to the shoulder of Lost Lake. The group that came up behind us said that they too were swarmed by bees.

-We were definitely on the right trail
-Collectively got stung about 25 times
-No practical way to avoid it (not obvious where it is, slabs to the left and lake to the right)
-Maybe take your chances with the more direct route but less obvious approach between Liberty Cap and Mt. Broderick?
-or cover and run! Oct 22, 2016
Andrew U
Yosemite, CA
  5.7 R
Andrew U   Yosemite, CA
  5.7 R
This is truly an incredible route. I wasn't that much of a fan of how runout the route is though. Its pretty intense! Nov 16, 2016
Ben Murphy
Denver, CO
  5.8 X
Ben Murphy   Denver, CO
  5.8 X
Okay, so this post is for any gumbies like me who want to get on this route. Long story short, YGD.

Expectations: I've been climbing almost 4 years: sport to 10d, trad to 8. Before you flame me too hard, I did my research. Read trip reports. Memorized topos. Practiced multi-pitching in Idyllwild and Cathedral Peak. Talked to people who've done the route. I understood that it was committing and exposed, but was repeatedly reassured by the fact that each crux is reasonably protected and the runouts are "super easy 5.4".

Reality: The "super easy" bits aren't particularly confidence inspiring. When I read 5.4 I'm thinking positive holds and 3 points of secure contact. Even in the old school (sandbagged) world of Joshua Tree, I think the runout sections would go at 5.6. Its steep enough slab that you feel very exposed with almost all slopers of slippery granite and the occasional positive knob. Although I never thought I was in imminent danger of falling, rarely did I feel secure. But realistically, this route has death potential. 150 ft of grinding, bouncing free fall down the dike would certainly break bones and shred skin. Also, the pitch 3 cruz is not protected at all for the second. If the leader clips the intermediate anchors like I did, the second can (and mine did) take a nasty 30 foot pendulum while traversing the 5.7 friction slab. Yes, I know, don't clip the intermediates...but there was no way was I continuing upwards without that security. So between my second falling, which resulted in a sprained wrist and a serious headache, and me being scared shitless of 3 more pitches of that, we decided to bail (which is possible from the top of pitch 3 with a 70 m rope and a little bit of downclimbing at the base).

Conclusion: Who in their right mind decided that these runouts are acceptable? I understand the stonemaster mentality and am all for leaving some spice, but even the best climbers make mistakes and holds break. With those runouts, you're in severe injury/death territory. It's an amazing route, and had it been better protected (even just cutting the runouts in half), it would be the quintessential single day adventure route. But as is, I certainly wouldn't advise intermediate leaders or beginner followers climb it. You're welcome to those who constantly complain about crowded classics. Dec 13, 2016
Ben Taggart
San Francisco, CA
Ben Taggart   San Francisco, CA
Climbed this on a perfect weekend in early November. I'd been climbing for less than a year and had lead maybe 10 pitches of trad before this, but all similar rock (Lovers leap, Tahquitz, etc) and all multi-pitch, we both had a fair bit of experience with belay transitions etc.

P1 we put a cam in at the roof on the right side, downclimbed to the non-polished rock then traversed over. My partner got a micro-cam in on the upward crack but it popped out, then got another good piece in higher up and then proceeded to the bolted anchors. The cam popping out was actually helpful for me seconding, since I didn't have a pendulum potential once I got the roof piece out.

For my lead I started the traverse left towards the dike too early and didn't go high enough. By the time I saw the traverse bolt, I was way below it, so I just kept traversing until I got onto the dike. Really scary given that if I blew it, I would have fallen straight onto my belayer and then pendulumed. Once onto the dike it was a lot easier, but I ended up being so in the zone that I missed the anchors on the left and going all the way to the single bolt and then finishing at the anchors on the right, barely having enough rope with a 70M. That was a lot better for my second, though.

Above P3 it was easy. As the person above said, the dike holds are generally not very positive, but I found it not scary at all if you go one move at a time and make sure your feet are good. Definitely recommend a 70M and linking pitches, just make sure to use the topo and do the math.

On the hike, we started at 4AM from Happy Isles and were at the base of the route at 7:15, first on the route. We reached the summit at 11 and were back down in the valley by 3. I recommend a similar strategy, hiking up the mist trail in the dark was easy and pleasant and the sun was just coming up when we had to go onto the climbers trail and the route-finding started. Jan 13, 2017
Climber Gal  
Climbed this route last weekend and had a blast! For anyone worried about the runouts, yes it is run out but the climbing is incredibly easy, and I'm no slab expert. I had been worried about above comments saying how polished the dike was, but I found that there was always great feet, a chicken head or knob, or both to stay balanced. The friction traverse is not that bad, but the undercling on pitch 1 is certainly very polished.

For the approach, when you get to the class three ledges, make sure to follow the cairns after getting out of the manzanita bushes as it looks like you can start traversing a high up ledge, but this is dangerous and dicey. Dip down a bit following cairns and regain the climber's trail that takes you around the corner and up to the base of the climb. May 15, 2017
Did this climb on 5/28/17. There was a 40 ft section of flat snow on the summit that was easy to cross in tennis shoes. Otherwise snow free. The cables are going up soon (will be up by this coming weekend). The last good place to get water is at the top of Nevada Falls. Right now on the descent side you can also get water at several melt streams not far down from the summit. Jun 1, 2017
Nicole Golden
Melbourne, FL
Nicole Golden   Melbourne, FL
Just climbed snake dike may 30th 2017. There is still snow all the way at the summit, but it is not affecting the route at all. The cables are closed, but not down (they remain up year round but the posts are not up). We hiked in from glacier point left at 3:37am got to the base at 9:00am. Also a women's guide tennie approach shoe came unclipped from our day pack while climbing, it is down there at the base of the route somewhere.... I definitely agree with the comments above about the runouts. Yes it was only '5.4' but the holds are really not that great. It was cool to do the route and say you've climbed up half dome, but I don't think I would try to lead this route again intentionally. After reaching the top of snake dike, it says class 3 slabs all the way to the top, but it is really sketchy, esp if you're not used to slab. If you thought the walk in across the one section of exposed slabs was bad, just wait til you get up there! I'm not trying to scare ppl, the route is definitely doable because I'm still here to write this, but you just really have to watch every step and be careful up there. Jun 2, 2017
A safer, easier and quicker alternate start for pitch 1 is climbing the right-facing lieback flakes about 20' to the left of the standard start. You can place cams in the flakes (or sling a small tree) and then climb the slab to the left edge of the small roof. If you fall off the slab before reaching the small roof (you won't), your highest cam (or sling on the tree) will prevent a ground fall. The alternate and standard starts are illustrated in this photo. Jun 22, 2017
Did this last Wednesday over two days approach took 4 hrs and we camped at a nice bivy ledge before traversing the death slabs early the next morning. Amazing hike! The mist trail and the climbers trail is impossible to miss. I thought the down climb off the cables was scarier than the route itself; I'd recommend clipping in on a sling and walking down backwards outside the cables, much better grip and faster!! Don't leave shit at the bottom it's a real pain to hike back in after coming down for 4 mi. Would do it again in a heartbeat Jul 8, 2017
Oakland, Ca
snowhazed   Oakland, Ca
If you are confident, then skip the second pitch and just head straight up the overlaps to the dike and continue to p3 anchors. There's a small cam placement in the overlap in marginal rock and some crux friction climbing on polish to reach the dike. No lame traversing. Great way to pass parties as well. Jul 12, 2017
Jess Foster
San Francisco, CA
Jess Foster   San Francisco, CA
We did this May 8th, started hiking at 3am from Half Dome Village, got wet from the Mist trail (didnt really think that one through), got past the falls just before sun up. We decided to go past Liberty Cap since it was still dark, and since the climber's trail is well traveled it was probably a good move.

We got lost amongst the sea of cairns trying to find the base of the route, but arrived 7am.

I would agree with Floyd on alternate start, slung the little tree and then you have to do a friction-y move to the left side of the roof. Check out his image for beta.

Some how we never found the 3rd belay anchors...which is strange since its right on the dike. The were two bolts on each side of it, but they were too far apart.

We only saw one other party on the route, before getting to the top. Then slab for dayz, but very safe IMO.

Bring 4 liters of water and gloves for the cable decent. My partner and I did the hike in and out in running shoes and had no issues. Hiking boots are overkill on the very well traveled JMT. Jul 14, 2017
Daniel Evans
Phoenix, AZ
Daniel Evans   Phoenix, AZ
The approach (Aug. 3, 2017) -- I felt that the approach was relatively straight forward, but EXHAUSTING. I was in the Marine Corps infantry for 8 years, so I truly mean that--the hike is relentless. Me and my partner are also fairly conservative when it comes to gear, so we brought doubles for the route but this truly can be done with a good attitude, 2 quick draws, 4 slings, and singles from .2 - 1. Just take what you need. Once you step off from the trailhead, follow the Mist Trail all the way until you reach the wooden bridge just after Vernal Falls. We brought a water filter and filtered 6 liters of water each just upstream from the bridge prior to going any further because were unsure about any other water sources up ahead and we still had a ways to go in 90+ degree heat. However, there was a small stream another 30 minutes up. After crossing the bridge, follow the hiker's trail up until you can literally touch Liberty Cap. At this point, the hiker's trail veers right and a climber's trail veers left--this is your left turn. Follow this trail, skirting the side of Liberty Cap and social trails until it takes you up between Mt. Broderick and Liberty Cap. At this point the trail becomes a little lost with brush and talus, so you just have to pick the best route through. Once you get past the two formations, you should see Half Dome to your left at which point you should start heading up until you see an open meadow. This meadow is Lost Lake and several cairns can be seen to your immediate left. At this point there is no obvious trailhead and you may be lulled into going right. Instead, go left skirting the left side of the open meadow and a well-traveled trail will present itself. If you find yourself bush wacking at any point from here on out you are off track. Follow the climbers trail up until you reach another junction with two cairns marking trails going both left and right, either way takes you up but right is more direct. The next junction you arrive to is where these two trails meet. So, if you opted to go right, do not go left at the second junction as this will just take you back down hill. Go up and right up what appears to be a scary slab. Once you take this trail, the cairns mark the way through the slabs avoiding any scary committing moves. Everything felt pretty solid and at no point did I feel like I was doing any actual climbing.

The climb -- Apparently, there is an alternate start to this route however my partner opted for the regular start and ended up climbing into the undercling to place protection. From there he traversed hard left, staying true to the undercling which afforded him adequate protection but felt a bit harder than 5.7. As someone who hates slab, I can honestly say that everything else after this pitch felt really easy in comparison and was waiting for several more "5.7 cruxes" that just never came. Once you get past pitch 1 everything is cruiser and just a mental game of staying calm high above your protection. At the top of pitch 2, you will see a right leaning dike with a bolt 15 ft up--this is a 10a route. Pitch 3 goes left here! From here, just follow the route beta and you should be just fine.

The descent -- Head down the cables and follow the Half-Dome hiker's trail back towards Liberty Cap for 8 knee-pounding miles. This trail will not be the same trail that you took on the approach in, but it will eventually meet back up at the same Liberty Cap junction where the climber trail splits left. Aug 7, 2017
Evan Glessner
San Francisco, CA
  5.7 R
Evan Glessner   San Francisco, CA
  5.7 R
Snake Dike is sick. Did this climb back in the middle of July. 10 hours car to car. The approach is stout. The crux of the entire climb was the traverse under the roof on the first pitch. The rock felt slippery but it's well protected and there's a solid undercling to get you through it. It does seem like you could do an alternate start and go straight up the slab, avoiding the traverse, but we didn't do that. The SuperTopo map was incredibly helpful, we used it the entire time and it did not fail us. Would highly recommend extending the first pitch and linking the second and third. Don't be too deterred by the run outs, the rock on the dike is really solid and it's a great lead. Aug 26, 2017
Alex Zucca
Salt Lake City, UT
Alex Zucca   Salt Lake City, UT
Pretty much all of the bolts on this climb are fidget spinners.

It's a very scary lead the whole time, scary to the point where I didn't want to enjoy the views while climbing because it would remind me that my last piece is 85 feet below.

If I were ever to do this route again, I would not lead it. Following this route seems to be a much more enjoyable experience. Aug 28, 2017
Michael Brewer
Carmel Valley, Ca
Michael Brewer   Carmel Valley, Ca
Climbed Snake Dike with PitStop on 9/29/17. Approach was well defined and litter with lots an carins. Left the trail head parking lot at 6:00-6:15am. Reached the base of the climb at around 10am. Had one party of four and two seperate parties of two ahead of us. Climbing was a little slow for the first three or four pitches but everyone moved pretty quickly after that. Reached the summit around 3:30pm. Only saw the two climbers ahead of us and two other hikers on the summit. Arrived at our car around 7:30-8pm. Great experience. Look forward to another slab climb. Oct 2, 2017
Kyla Ogle  
Did this route a few weekends ago (10/22/17) which seemed to be the perfect time. The weather was great, no one was on the route, and the cables were down so it was pretty quick to get down them without being in anyone's way. There was a tiny bit of snow on top but not much.

We camped in Little Yosemite which added a bit more of a hike before the approach but it was so worth it at the end of the day to put off the last 4 miles of hiking.

The approach was really easy to follow. There's a pretty obvious trail then a ton of cairns. Even when we went a little off route, the cairns were still easy to find.

The runouts were noticeable but it's easy so you're climbing fast enough that it doesn't feel as far between the bolts as it is.

The friction traverse on the third pitch was super easy, you could basically walk over. Someone even left paracord between the bolts which made it even easier.

There's one odd bolt on pitch six (the only one I found) towards the end, right before the steep part. Climbing this again, I would just skip it. Yeah, it'll keep you from rolling over the edge if you fell but the following section felt like the downclimb at a gym and the anchors are just out of sight. It made more rope drag than it was worth. Oct 31, 2017
Jaime M
Jaime M  
Climbed this yesterday (11/09/17).

Our approach involved shooting the gap between Liberty Cap and Mount Broderick, and then circling to the left once we exited the gap. There was a decent trail and cairns most of the way. (My GPS track: peakbagger.com/climber/asce…)

Our rack was 4 cams (.4-1), 2 nuts (1 med, 1 large), and 8 alpine draws, and it worked just fine. It was a little light on gear for the top two gear pitches - with a 2-piece anchor at the top and bottom of each pitch, that left only 2 pieces of pro for the pitch itself, but it still worked okay. If I did it again I might bring a .3 cam as well.

We also each brought a pair of gloves for descending the cables, which was excellent beta - it would have been much colder and more painful without them.

On P1, I led up to the right side of the "roof" by scrambling up the slab, put a piece in (on very long extended slings), and then downclimbed a ways before traversing left and back up to the roof. This avoided a very slick friction traverse / lieback in the thin seam in the roof. It also meant I did the traverse mostly on toprope, which was nice. Nov 9, 2017
Kris S
Gunbarrel, CO
Kris S   Gunbarrel, CO
Wow, there are a lot of redundant comments. Here's a new one:

  • **Don't piss in the hole you heathens!

Traversing over a few feet and peeing on blank rock that no one touches would be better than filling the hole at the belay. Dec 7, 2017
purple through red camalot, 6 slings, 60m rope. Jan 16, 2018
Kevin Mokracek
Kevin Mokracek   Burbank
Here is a pro tip for all aspiring Snake Dikers, don't climb the first pitch as described on the topo. Climb straight up the slab below the roof, slign the small tree and continue to the roof. It avoids all the tom foolery fiddling with the traverse and extending slings. It is literally 5.1 or 5.2 climbing and takes two minutes to do the first pitch. Feb 20, 2018
Mitchell Allen
Little Rock, Arkansas
Mitchell Allen   Little Rock, Arkansas
Me and the wife climbed this route last week and I just wanted to add a few comments. I always come to MP to read the comments before I head to places and generally get good information but I feel like many of the comments below are misleading. First off, the route was fantastic! I loved every bit of it and the description as far as the climbing goes was spot on. More than a few times in the past people have asked about doing the trip as an over-nighter and almost everyone votes against it, saying that Little Yosemite is WAY out of the way (some people even posted it was an hour out of the way) and that you have to carry way too much gear if you're camping. My wife and I were trying to take it fairly easy while out in Yosemite (she's in the early stages of pregnancy and super tired all the time) so we opted for an over-nighter despite what I read below. There are two options for this: the snake dike bivy or Little Yosemite Valley. The Snake Dike Bivy isn't talked about much and you can't get it ahead of time, only walk up, but the rangers said its always available because not many people know about it. This was basically created because climbers were getting LYV permits and then camping up near the base of the route. You have to carry bear canisters to camp there. We chose LYV so we didn't have to carry a bear canister. The campground for backpackers is AT MOST a 15 minute walk past the climbers trail for Snake Dike. We literally walked from the top of Nevada Falls to camp in 20 minutes. We left the valley floor around lunchtime and cruised slow up to camp and still had plenty of time to swim, filter water, chill out, and cook dinner before dark. We woke up at 5:30 am, left camp by 6 with one small pack wearing our harnesses, and were first on the route by 8, with no one else showing up until 8:30. It was super relaxed. After climbing the route we walked back to camp and then down to the valley floor for pizza and beer. On the way down we passed two other groups that had climbed Snake Dike behind us that were miserable and said they were over the hike and wish they wouldn't have tried it in a day. So I say all of that just to say, if you are thinking about doing it as a two day trip GO FOR IT. It is definitely a valid option for people that are slower. Can it be done in one day? Most definitely. Probably even quite easily for many people, but that doesn't mean it isn't still an enjoyable experience doing it other ways.

A few other notes that I think are helpful.

After leaving Lost Lake we followed the trail to top of the hill where a few different approach trails split. Everyone pretty much told us to head straight for the base of Half Dome from here and then traverse the slabs. This definitely seems like the best way to do it. The trail up the gully as well as the traverse on the slabs has been (somewhat) recently wrecked by a big rock slide. It's a little ominous walking up through the splintered trees and gruss and dust covering everything, but it does make the bushwhacking quite easy and the path is fairly open. The rocks are still super unstable and haven't settled yet so be careful here.

The bolts on the first couple of pitches are definitely bomber and have little ASCA tags on many of them with a date when they were replaced, but the upper pitches (both protection and anchors) have spinners and bolts that have backed out a bit on every single one. They are not confidence inspiring. The climbing is easy so I guess there's not much to worry about, but the comments and descriptions would have you believe that the bolts that are there are all bomber and newer.

Those are the few things that surprised me the most so I just wanted to mention them in case they are helpful to others. Definitely not any reason to not do the route. It is an amazing feature on Half Dome and such a cool summit. I'll definitely do it again! May 15, 2018
Hobo Greg
My Van
  5.6 R
Hobo Greg   My Van
  5.6 R
Coolest slab route ever. We were there last party to start but the first to finish, murdered that shit! Jun 7, 2018
Dr. Ake
San Francisco
Dr. Ake   San Francisco
You can link pitches 2 and 3 if you climb the friction slab at the beginning of the big dike after the initial traverse on pitch 2. Rather than continuing the traverse along the diagonal dike to the right, head up the Snake Dike after the small cam placement on good smears and a couple holds. Takes you right to the end of your 60m rope. Jun 9, 2018
Lou Hibbard
Eagan, MN
Lou Hibbard   Eagan, MN
For those who recommend the left start on P1 up and right from the small tree it seems to me you didn't really do the route and perhaps avoided a route crux. The old Reid guide and Supertopo agree on the first pitch location. The Supertopo way felt casual and well protected to me.

I also downclimbed and backcleaned the initial gear after leading the traverses on both P1 and P3 after placing good gear above. With one rope this was the safest way for both me and my follower and took minimal extra time.

I also, as always, get a kick out of those who obsess over the pro to bring. Extra pro helps extend the upper pitches length when simulclimbing. Jul 7, 2018
Edmond Matevosian
Clovis, CA
Edmond Matevosian   Clovis, CA
To avoid walking around to get down to valley for another 9 miles after finishing this route has anyone every repelled down this route? Thank you. Jul 8, 2018
There has been some rockfall on the approach. It looks fresh-ish, but the approach route is fuuuuucked. Maybe there is another, but the rock is still incredibly loose, so we decided to try another time.
If someone does find an alternate approach, please post beta! Jul 15, 2018
Matt Wilber
San Mateo, CA
Matt Wilber   San Mateo, CA
@Madalyne We went for the first time yesterday and didn't have too much trouble on the approach. Don't know what the approach used to look like, but cairns marked pretty much all of the approach from the climber's trail turnoff to the end of the traverse to the SW face. Too bad it didn't work out for you folks :( Aug 26, 2018
I climbed this 27 yrs ago. I brought my bagpipe up with me and I think I played Bonnie Charlie from the top. They say it was heard in the valley. Note I am not Celtic
Anyway the climb was fun if a lot extra hiking up and down. I think with all the traffic on someone soloing might get knock off by the crowd Oct 21, 2018
Sequoia National Park, CA
Wesley   Sequoia National Park, CA
How experienced do I need to be on friction slab to lead this safely?

I've done all the bolted climbs on Morro Rock and a few on Chimney Rock in Sequoia National Forest. They were shockingly hard for the grade, as I'd never climbed friction slab before. I'd like to do this, but I'm not stoked on the "R" rating in combination with my relatively low amount of experience. Oct 24, 2018
Portola, CA
Brandon.Phillips   Portola, CA
Finally got around to climbing Snake Dike. Here are my thoughts:

Approach: Daniel Evans describes it well in his comment. We took the mist trail and went between Liberty Cap and Mt. Broderick. Approach took us about 3- 3.5 hrs, with my partner having come from 3ft below sea level in New Orleans. If you do any type of hiking/ backpacking in the mountains, the approach is not that big a deal (though I am still feeling the 1000 ft of slabs in my calves.)

Gear: .4- #1 Camalot, doubles in .5 and .75, 6 alpine draws, two cordalette anchors. If you want more than a 2 piece anchor at the top of the last 2 pitches you will want doubles in those sizes. Carried a selection of nuts, never placed any.

Route: We did the alternate start for pitch one, climbing the left side by the tree. This was mellow and I would recommend it. 5.7 slab traverse on pitch 3 was very polished. The belay at the top of the 3rd pitch is inaccurately represented on both the Supertopo and in the Sloan Guide. There is not a belay station on left side of the dike, rather 2 bolts (one bomber, one crappy) one either side of the dike. To utilizes these you will need a cord or an anchor longer than a standard double length sling. I skipped this anchor looking for the actual station and ended up climbing to the next one. This may require 5-6ft of simul-climbing with a 60m rope, depending on if you slung the new bolt above the pitch 2 belay or not.

Fixed gear: Above pitch 2, the bolts are garbage. They appear to be 3/4 inch bolts, some heavily corroded, all with old SMC hangers. Pretty much all the of the hangers were spinners and not flush with the wall. You are already climbing a route with 80ft runouts- its a bummer to finish a pitch of that and then have to do a semi-hanging belay on shitty bolts. The safety of the mid pitches is just a step above soloing. If you are on this route you should already be climbing with a no fall mentality, but it is also not comforting to belay off those things, especially if you have multiple parties at a belay. I understand that its a logistical pain in the ass to replace bolts on this route. I encourage anyone who climbs in Yosemite to donate to the ASCA.

3rd class to summit: calf busters for sure. We simul-climbed another 300ft or so with some gear just to make sure that we were out of anything overly exposed. Approach shoes made this feel very comfortable. After that, we coiled the rope and trudged. It was tiring but didn't take that long.

Descent (with the cables down): We clipped in PAS's to the cables and just hand over hand climbed down- This was not a big deal with a harness and approach shoes. As has been noted, you would still get hurt in a fall with this method, but it does prevent a catastrophic fall. The weight of the cables helps to plant your feet firmly flush to the wall. We descended casually in under 10 minutes. You could attach a prussik to the cables, as we only did about 4 change-overs, so that is not out of the question if you are worried about the descent. Rappelling seems like it would take the longest and possibly wreck your rope, as it would be pulled over the cables at some point.

Water: Drank 1 liter on approach, and we both climbed with 2 each. This allowed us to be hydrated enough to enjoy our lunches on the summit. We filtered water after about 3.5 miles of the descent.

Summary: hardwear needs and upgrade, don't fall, and if ya'll are struggling on the approach or descent- get some sticky rubber shoes and do more cardio. It is also hard for me to believe that people think the cables or the slabs are the scariest parts, in comparison to the climbing huge runouts with bolt hangers that would most certainly fail in a factor 2 fall- the other aspects are quite tame. Oct 29, 2018
  5.7 R
  5.7 R
It's important to note that there are actually 2 approach beta's given by the comments on this page.

Both start out on the Muir trail to the Mist Trail. After you pass vernal, you'll eventually come face to face with liberty cap. This is where they split:

1. Contour left around liberty cap, into the gully. This is apparently pretty straightforward, as you are in a gully with steep walls on either side. You basically just need to keep going until you can escape to the left (Northish) which would putyou near lost lake. Though we did not use this beta, the people we talked to said it was very easy.

2. Contour right along liberty cap, following the mist trail to the muir trail again, then up that. The trail will flatten, and after a while, you will see a very obvious climbers trail on the left with a very spiky cairn as of Nov 3, 2018. This trail will put you near lost lake as well, and from there:

Both approach beta's now aim more or less for the south of half dome, and follow large cairns. The 3rd class slabs are exposed in some places, but very secure. Clear evidence of a large-ish rockfall here, so be aware.

We chose the left (alternate) start and it is mellow friction on bullet granite to the roof. You can sling the tree easily, and this whole pitch takes about 5 minutes for the leader.

The "missing" third pitch anchor mentioned so many times is actually still there- it is just below you when you finish the friction traverse on pitch 3. As you cross over to the larger of the 2 branches of the true snake dike, look down. It is right there, with a red sling. However, it would be pretty insane to clip this and keep climbing. Once you hit the dike, you are in jug city, just run it out. The Two bolts that are "too far apart" straddling the dike are in fine condition, just use a long sling to extend the anchor to a reasonable angle.

The run outs on this climb start in earnest above this point (end of 3) but the climbing is ridiculously secure. Without exaggerating too much, the most likely way for you to fall at this point would be if you turned around and leapt off.

The slabs on top are really nothing to be worried about, except that they take forever and are cardio hell. They are low enough angle that you can just walk up them... there is no route finding involved, and comments otherwise are very confusing... you just keep going up. Not really sure how you can mess that up. I think most people start this part up near the huge broken tectonic-plate like formations at the top of pitch 8. Nov 5, 2018
Climbed - 10th of November

Started early, left Upper Pines at 05:15. As noted below, follow Mist Trail, John Muir, up to Nevada Falls. To find the climbers trail, we basically bushwacked towards the direction of lost lake. The climbers trail basically contours the ridges next to the meadows. The fool proof way to find it - head to the meadows or lost lake and look towards liberty cap to search for the trail. Once your on it, follow the cairns - we had no problem finding the start of the climb.

The climb itself - we were lucky to be the first ones on there, as three more parties showed up after us:

P1 - highly recommend starting left, slinging the tree, and heading straight up the flake. Avoid the roof and it's terrible rock quality. Placed a .75 on the north-facing flake. There is a "stuck" cam that is clip-able if you're into doing that.
P2 - we placed gear about 10 feet from the anchors (.4) then over the bulge to the single bolt to the anchors
P3 - this is where we got a bit off course. When at the anchors, you will see a bolt-line to your 11 o'clock. THIS IS NOT THE ROUTE. This, after checking local guidebooks, is a 5.10 climb. Climb directly to climber's left, straight to the dike. There is a single bolt to protect the traverse (you may not see it from the anchors, but it is there). Once on the dike, skip the red-slinged anchor system and start the run-out to two bomber bolts that are straddling the dike (a large sling will work fine).
P4 - Another run-out climb on good rock, one draw to protect to switch onto the prominent dike.
P5 - Another run-out climb on good rock
P6 - more of the same

It is true, once you feel confident, unrope, take off your climbing shoes, and start the ascent to the top. The last pitch, marked on the super topo beta, does not have a bolted anchor, but it is easy 5.2 climbing.

Descent - if doing it late in the season like we did, bring a prussik loop. You will, sadly, have to re-tie it at least 4 times at various moments when the cables pass-through a piece of gear.

+ This was by far the longest day out I've had (16 hours). Getting up this climb quickly is crucial, as you still have a 7 mile hike back to the valley
+ 4-6 draws, .4-.75 and a handful of nuts. long slings (for the P3 anchors), your PAS and a prussik loop.
+ If you're game for it, camping at Little Yosemite Valley cuts the hiking in half. We kept thinking, "we should've camped there last night"
+we brought a small filter to fill up half-way on the merced river past nevada falls.Saved us some weight for the hike up and allowed us to re-supply on the way back down. We ran out of water on half-dome. Bring at least 2 liters per-person.

Overall, a great day out. Nov 12, 2018