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Snake Dike 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b R

Type:  Trad, 8 pitches, 2000', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b R [details]
FA: Eric Beck, Jim Bridwell, & Chris Fredericks - July, 1965
Season: Late spring to fall.
Page Views: 200,238
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Jun 25, 2006

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Extreme stemming on Snake Dike. Thanks Jason Hall...

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


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!

Photos of Snake Dike Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The west face of Half Dome, home of the Snake Dike...
The west face of Half Dome, home of the Snake Dike...
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of p 4
Start of p 4
Rock Climbing Photo: Showing that the angle and the texture of the rock...
Showing that the angle and the texture of the rock...
Rock Climbing Photo: DK leading up the fourth pitch.
DK leading up the fourth pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Atop half a dome, via S.D.  17 Sep 2011.
Atop half a dome, via S.D. 17 Sep 2011.
Rock Climbing Photo: Stemming two dikes up high on Snake Dike. Sometime...
Stemming two dikes up high on Snake Dike. Sometime...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dike hikin' on Snake Dike
Dike hikin' on Snake Dike
Rock Climbing Photo: Length of the actual climb, and a more accurate lo...
BETA PHOTO: Length of the actual climb, and a more accurate lo...
Rock Climbing Photo: The real reason for climbing Snake Dike - standing...
The real reason for climbing Snake Dike - standing...
Rock Climbing Photo: Coming up the slabs after the technical climbing w...
Coming up the slabs after the technical climbing w...
Rock Climbing Photo: High Res photo of the route, as well as top slabs ...
BETA PHOTO: High Res photo of the route, as well as top slabs ...
Rock Climbing Photo: DK on pitch 4
DK on pitch 4
Rock Climbing Photo: Approach beta from Clint Cummins
BETA PHOTO: Approach beta from Clint Cummins
Rock Climbing Photo: Almost a full view of the route.
BETA PHOTO: Almost a full view of the route.
Rock Climbing Photo: DK on Pitch 2.
DK on Pitch 2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Big run out on easy rock FUN
Big run out on easy rock FUN
Rock Climbing Photo: A really cool feature we found while scrambling th...
A really cool feature we found while scrambling th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Trav Strong leading out pitch 2.
Trav Strong leading out pitch 2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Adam standing on the "Diving Board" at t...
Adam standing on the "Diving Board" at t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Midnight climbing on the dike
Midnight climbing on the dike
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the route to the base of the climb.
Looking down the route to the base of the climb.
Rock Climbing Photo: 8/29/15 - Overlooking El Cap from the half-dome su...
8/29/15 - Overlooking El Cap from the half-dome su...
Rock Climbing Photo: The approach, quite gorgeous really.
The approach, quite gorgeous really.
Rock Climbing Photo: My dad and a view of the bottom half of the route....
My dad and a view of the bottom half of the route....

Show All 83 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Snake Dike Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 28, 2017
By Justin Meyer
From: Madison, WI
Sep 10, 2017

I left two duct taped shut BD carabiners on the anchors after the friction traverse on 9/6/17 so that we could retreat due to weather. They are about 5 years old but they are little used with no issues if you recover them and want to add them to your rack.
By Justin Meyer
From: Madison, WI
Sep 10, 2017

I found a pair of "Warby Parker" glasses on the approach on 9/6/17 and turned them in to the Tuolumne visitor's center.
By Floridaputz
From: Oakland Park, Florida
Aug 21, 2006

I like long days so this qualifies.. The approach is tough, but the climb is great fun. Once the roped climbing is over it's a calf buster to the top.
By Lee Jensen
Sep 17, 2006

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.
By rhyang
From: San Jose, CA
Oct 9, 2006

The free guide at 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 :)
By Pat W
Oct 12, 2006

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.
By Jordan K
From: Ohio
Oct 18, 2006

An excellent free download of the topo for Snake Dike is available from, loaded with lots of info:
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 15, 2006

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.
By Sergio P
From: Idaho Springs, CO
Jun 24, 2007
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b 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.
By Brad G
From: 1994 Honda Civic
Sep 24, 2007

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.
By Kirill Kireyev
From: Boulder, CO
May 6, 2008

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!
By Jon Hanlon
From: SLO
May 7, 2008

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!
By tooTALLtim
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 16, 2008

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.
By Laurel Arndt
From: Phoenix
Sep 4, 2008

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 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.
By MikeSF
Feb 20, 2009

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.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Mar 4, 2009

A good thing for this route is a LONG rope 60m or better. This really helps out on the upper part.
By Dean Hoffman
May 12, 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!
By Josh Hampton
From: Provo UT, Merced, CA
Aug 19, 2009

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. :(

By mikemcee
From: Mill Valley, CA
Aug 31, 2009

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.
By Osprey Overhang
From: ...
Nov 27, 2009

Once You reach the dike, the rest of the pitches can be linked with a 60m rope.
By chulho "charles" chang
From: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Jan 19, 2010

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.
By ericcr
Sep 6, 2011

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.
By Jim Dover
From: Idyllwild, CA
Sep 12, 2011

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.
By randy88fj62
May 14, 2012

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)
By Ryan Nevius
From: Estes Park, Colorado
Jun 12, 2012

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.
By Phil McAllister
Sep 8, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b 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..
By JeffL
From: Salt Lake City
Sep 29, 2012

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.
By John D
Oct 29, 2012

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!
By nick.laws
Oct 30, 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.
By Jason Albino
From: San Francisco, CA
Apr 28, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b 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!
By Martin le Roux
From: Superior, CO
May 27, 2013

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.
By C.Cody
From: Ventura,ca
May 29, 2013

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 :)
By Mark Straub
From: Berkeley, CA
Jun 22, 2013

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.
By David "Carl" Fish
Sep 24, 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.
By Tyson Waldron
From: Reno, NV
Oct 27, 2013

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, " 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)

By Gavin Bridgeman
From: Tustin, California
Oct 28, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

Very mellow. Did it last week and it was packed with people. Luck is the only way to beat crowds in the valley.
By Pink Thunder
From: Lakewood
Mar 5, 2014

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.
By Ted Sumers
Apr 20, 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!
By Jack Hamm
From: Berkeley, CA
Sep 15, 2014

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.
By Robert Breyer
Sep 20, 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.
By Brian Murphy
Sep 29, 2014

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.
By Mike Holley
From: Boone, NC
Oct 15, 2014

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!
By Heather Veldstra
From: Tahoe City, CA
Nov 23, 2014

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
By C Brooks
From: Fresno, CA
Jun 9, 2015

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
By J--
From: Southern California
Jun 18, 2015
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b 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.
By Kurtz
Jun 25, 2015

Has any normal human tried Dean Potter's alternate approach?
By Evan Wisheropp
Jul 27, 2015
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b 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)
By John Schroeder
Aug 9, 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.
By Ned
Aug 22, 2015

Hey Yogi, I used this to help me on the approach:

I made a .kml file of this track you can download here:

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.
By Max Hietpas
From: Oakland, CA
Aug 31, 2015

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!
By Mark Grundon
Oct 5, 2015

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.
By Nick Fuller
From: San Jose, CA
Nov 2, 2015

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!
By brian.rubin13
Nov 16, 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?
By Bryan G
From: Yosemite
Nov 18, 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?

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.
By Cole Paiement
Apr 18, 2016

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.
By Vikram Sahney
Apr 18, 2016

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.
By ashields
Aug 30, 2016
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a 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....
From: Texas
Sep 14, 2016

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.

By Chris D
From: the couch
Sep 27, 2016

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.
By steple
Oct 1, 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.)
By Phillip Bay
From: San Francisco, California
Oct 22, 2016

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!
By Andrew U
From: Yosemite, CA
Nov 16, 2016
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b 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!
By Ben Murphy
From: Denver, CO
Dec 13, 2016
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c 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.
By tagshell
Jan 13, 2017

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.
By Climber Gal
May 15, 2017

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.
By Petek Saracoglu
Jun 1, 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.
By Nicole Golden
Jun 2, 2017

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 climb 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.
By Floyd Hayes
Jun 22, 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.
By robbiesrk Kellett
Jul 8, 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
By snowhazed
From: Oakland, Ca
Jul 12, 2017

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.
By Jess Foster
Jul 14, 2017

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.
By Dan Evans
From: Phoenix, AZ
Aug 7, 2017

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.
By Evan Glessner
Aug 26, 2017
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

Snake Dike is tight! Did this climb back in the middle of July. 10 hours car to car.

The approach is solid, I get why it's called Snake Hike. Don't bring too much gear!

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.

After that, we extended the first pitch and linked the second and the third (using a 70 meter rope). The second 5.7 traverse is bolted and not as bad as the first. Just make sure not to go too far up the first dike you're on.

The SuperTopo map was incredibly helpful, we used it the entire time and it did not fail us.

I was quite scared to lead the runouts on the dike but the climbing truly is easy. Don't let the fear of falling bother you, the rock is solid and there are quite a few jugs. Not only that, but there's no route finding, which is pretty sweet.

After the dike, we simul-climbed the last pitch or so and cruised to the top. The slab surely is a calf burner, but wasn't as long as we had expected. It's not that endless. Plus you're mad stoked, so it goes by quickly!

The cables to descend were a touristic shit storm, we hopped on the outside and had no trouble getting down in our approach shoes without gloves. Much faster.

I've been climbing for a little over a year and Snake Dike was a phenomenal experience. I would recommend it to anyone who feels solid climbing 5.7 in the valley. Get at it!
By Alex Zucca
From: University Heights
Aug 28, 2017

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.

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