Type: Trad, 1400 ft, 12 pitches, Grade III
FA: Charles Cole, John Middendorf, and Rusty Reno, 1985
Page Views: 12,597 total · 85/month
Shared By: Rusty Reno on Mar 31, 2007
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


Cave approach, crazy run outs, 1,500 feet of face climbing, toiling up and over Half Dome -- Autobahn is a route that takes you places.

I worked on this route with Charles Cole in March 1985, and as I look back on more than thirty years of climbing, lots of first ascents, and countless trips to the crags, I count those days as among the best. We camped out in the improbable cave with fires on long, cold March nights. We pushed a line I never imagined could possibly go. We had to ration our bolts, and we both tested our mental limits. Eventually, we made the big push, and after putting in some taxing bolts, we reached the final headwall. The sun was setting. We rapped. My plane left for the East Coast the next day. Charles recruited John Middendorf to work the crux moves and finish the route. And it was done. The first new route on the South Face of Half Dome since Warren Harding and Galen Rowell.

As you approach Snake Dike, a large piece of rock leans against the south face of Half Dome, forming a dark cave. Crawl through and onto a traverse ledge that narrows. The route continues right past some bolts to a belay ledge. The second pitch takes a left leaning line to gain the very obvious quartzite dike that shoots up the face. Pitch three is admittedly insane. Grasp the dike and climb it (easy) to a bolt 75 feet above the belay -- you can't see it from the belay, but it really is there. As I recall, Charles led this pitch. He kept hoping that the next move would reveal a horn to sling (as is the case on the Snake Dike). There is a hole for a large cam higher up (3"). Pitch four continues up the dike, as does pitch five. Pitch six finishes the dike and begins the upper face climbing. Pitch seven works its way upwards, past bolts that are very widely spaced (bolt rationing!). Pitch eight continues with thin face. Pitch nine works is way up a ramp. Pitch ten tackles a hollow sounding friction slab. My recollection is that I pushed the lead on this pitch, and the one bolt on the friction slab is a unpleasantly far from the belay. Sorry. Time was running out, and my shoulder was burning from pounding the bolts on pitch eight. Pitch eleven surmounts the crux overlaps -- hard but well protected. Pitch eleven works its way up a roughly surfaced face. From the final belay, front point up the low angle slabs to the top of Half Dome.


The two prominent, parallel dikes on the western margin of the south face of Half Dome are very obvious. Autobahn takes the right dike.


Take a light rack to supplement quick draws.