Half Dome
(Snake Dike)

10 Jun 2001 - by George Sinclair

There were three of us on this climb, including my nine-year -old son Gregory (who may be the youngest person yet to climb this popular route). We hiked up to the base of the climb the day before. There are good bivi spots just below the start of the climb. Much to my surprise, we were the only ones camped there that night.

We got an early start the next morning, but with the three of us we made slow progress. I had done the climb twice before and knew the route pretty well, and therefore I did all the leading. Gregory always went second on the rope, and my climbing friend Tom brought up the rear as well as one heavy pack containing all our bivi gear. As we slowly worked our way up the climb, I kept an eye out for other climbers coming up from below us. Much to my surprise, we only saw one other party all day long. These other climbers passed by us just below the end of the roped climbing.

We finally reached the top of Half Dome at about 2:00 pm. Unlike the last time I had climbed Snake Dike, we did not find the summit covered with hoards of hikers. Actually, even though it was a nice weekend, we did not see massive crowds anywhere in Yosemite.

After resting on the top for about an hour, we headed down the cables and began the long hike back to the Valley. We finally arrived back at our car near Camp Curry around 6:30 pm. After dinner at the re-designed Curry cafeteria, we headed for home.

Here are some notes on the climb for those interested in doing this popular route: The climbing is easy, but the approach is a killer. Leaving the trail early and going through the canyon between Liberty Cap and Mt. Broderick is shorter, but involves some serious bush-whacking. Better to hike to the top of Nevada Falls and go around the backside of Liberty Cap. Since most of the climb is protected by bolts, the only gear you would need is maybe two or three small to medium cams, and three or four small to medium stoppers. Although the climb can be done with a 50-meter rope, it is best to use a 60-meter or longer rope to minimize the number of belays. Using a long rope will give you five pitches of class 5 climbing and two pitches of class 4. A shorter rope will add at least two more pitches to the climb.

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