Easy climbing but bloody terrifying. It's known as a 'death route for beginners' over there, I think.
I managed to get sun burnt on the backs of my knees. I've never heard of anyone else doing that!
It's a long day as well. Like any big-ish route in Yosemite, you want to be at the base of the route 8am at the latest, and it was something like a four hour walk in (maybe longer on the return journey).
Find out which paths you will be using on both the approach and return journeys and stash two large water carriers well out of sight as you will need it!
As far as the guide gos I have no idea I'm afraid.
It's a brilliant day out, hard work for an unfit kid like i was when I did it but still memorable today.
Maybe VS ish for a pitch or two, quite a thin well protected slab crux (uk 5a ish?) then progressively easing big runouts on good (but not incut) scoops and bumps to the top passing an airy mantle somewhere a few pitches in (it has a bolt). All in all it's brilliant, the views are brilliant and the mountain is iconic. It's probably best avoided in any sort of weather.
No idea about the guide but when we were there you'd struggle to find a partner or pair to join in Camp 4.
In reply to Co1in H: Don't be put off by the above...if you're fit you'll be up there at the start of the route pretty quickly and it's probably the best VS in the world! No guide needed, just follow the guys in front (cos there will be guys in front). Enjoy!
Beat me to it. Guides in Yosemite are very pricy. For partners try supertopo or other US sites. The route is VS most of the way with crux sections of VS 5a bomber protected slab moves and super-bold VS 3c dyke moves just below belays with 50m falls in prospect.
With hindsight you know the way to the climb and you lack the different hindsight of a slow moving party ahead and climbing in oven temperatures. I think fast ascents from late starts are for those with plenty in hand who really should be getting up early for a harder route.
The hardest climbing is 5.7, which is nowhere near UK 5a, which I think is more like 5.9. (But of course one can get off-route on the lower slabs and end up doing something harder than the official grade.)
The Dike is low-angle knobby climbing---easy, delightful, but without protection. First do a few routes in Tuolumne Meadows if you aren't used to this sort of climbing and you'll just romp up the dike.
The summit of half dome is not a place you want to be if there is any electrical activity in the area. Yosemite weather is very mild compared to alpine weather, but afternoon thunderstorms, which are not all that common, can nonetheless build quickly. This is the main reason for the early start.
There will probably be crowds on the route and will definitely will be much bigger crowds on the descent.
If you opt for a guide, it will, I think, run about $400 for one client and $500 for two.
> (In reply to Co1in H)
> The hardest climbing is 5.7, which is nowhere near UK 5a, which I think is more like 5.9. (But of course one can get off-route on the lower slabs and end up doing something harder than the official grade.)
We went the right way and that slab move is almost certainly UK 5a. At least hard 4c.
5:7, 5:8, 5:9 tells you nothing.
In reply to Co1in H: Fly me out and I will take you up it. One of the best routes in the valley. A couple of VS pitches then severe or less to the top. You get to the top of the climbing and then you have 4th class slabs forever!
I'm with you on the grade, and also not starting so early. I'm pretty sure we didn't set out til 7 or 8. Most parties are going to be pretty quick on it as there's hardly any trad gear on it . If you finish late, the route off is a walkers motorway, so a head torch should suffice to get you back. Also reckon it should be fine to pick a partner up at camp 4. I always opted to do something short and not very committing first just to get some measure of what an unknown climbing partner was like. I had 3 months at camp 4 just finding partners as I went along and managed to average over 4 days out of 5. Obviously the more time you have three the better.
> We went the right way and that slab move is almost certainly UK 5a. At least hard 4c.
> 5.7, 5.8, 5.9 tells you nothing.
My mistake for imagining I knew anything about UK technical grades; I certainly don't. However, 5.7, 5.8, and 5.9 tell me a lot. Every grade comparison chart I've seen equates 5a with 5.9, for example the tables on this site, http://www.ukclimbing.com/databases/crags/comptable.html . If these charts are off by two grades, that's good news for us Yanks, we can climb harder than we thought. Sadly, this is almost certainly wishful thinking.
Super Topo says 5.7 (see topo link below). Of the 52 people on Mountain Project who gave a rating, one said 5.9-, three said 5.6, and everyone else (48 people) said 5.7. Add me to the list of people who think it's 5.7. Moreover, the 5.7 section is very short and on the first pitch; the rest of the route is easier. So it is pretty clear that 5.7 is an accurate grade. Hence, whatever UK technical grade corresponds to 5.7, that's what to expect.
That topo for the 1st pitch shows a harder variation if I remember correctly. Rather than place gear in the roof and move left, which my mate fell off and I couldn't do I followed the easy slab and the line of bolts to the left of the roof.
I really struggled to find the base of the route, we were way too far right when we started looking for it. If you want to be first on bivvy at the base, then carry your stuff up - Saves a big detour on the way down. If you run out of water on the top just beg some off the walkers, they will think you are a hero so won't mind!
Those charts are a little way out in places and in other places they compare apples with pears.
UK 5a is not unreasonable for Snake Dyke, mostly for the thin traverse a few pitches up.
> Hence, whatever UK technical grade corresponds to 5.7, that's what to expect.
There isn't one grade, YDS and UK tech' are apples and pears. In my now slightly hazy experience of Yosemite YDS grades 5.7 is VS ish. VS typically has 4c or 5a moves but can quite commonly be easier or harder.
In reply to Co1in H:
Great route - we walked in which took longer than planned - c5 hours - due to wrong turns and bears! We started the route at 6pm in late pm cool - took us about 90 mins to climb, topping out before sunset. We bivvied on a flat area below the cables. We then hiked out to Tenaya Lake and hitched back to Yosemite - a fantastic way to do the route and to follow the ridge east from Half Dome.
That your suggestion is an OK tactic for a 5.11 climber and a lousy tactic for a 5.8 climber who's not been up their before (the route finding to get to the route isnt trivial and doing a huge route like this in midday heat could be debilitatiing). Also I was hinting that the 5.11 climber should be on something harder or starting later and soling it rather than risk being at the back of a queue behind a slow finishing party.
Im pretty experienced in UK guidebook work and in climbing US moderate classics and I climb around UK6a at best and onsight lead upto UK 5c where the crux is bomber protected or off the ground . Snake Dyke felt bottom half UK VS 5a to me and this was just as the sun was glancing so the friction was still good. It's similar in this to many Yosemite 5.7 pure slab moves next to a bolt. On cracks or edges 5.7 at Yosemite feels more UK 4b to me. Most pure 5.10a slab moves I've done at Yosemite were hard UK 5c or UK 6a; at Josh nearly always 6a. The grade conversions are bs as the local comparative grading conventions differ too much. People coming from the UK need to know this as something like South Crack would be middling VS 4c for the crack bit and borderline HVS/E1 4c/5a for the unprotected 30' 5.7R slab above.
In reply to Offwidth: Seconded. We found there was just no comparison to UK grades, you had to just start easy on the first day of the trip and see what you could handle. I always grin when I hear someone in the pub talking about planning their first trip to Yosemite. 'It looks great, loads of stuff at about VS.........'
> (In reply to Offwidth) Seconded. We found there was just no comparison to UK grades, you had to just start easy on the first day of the trip and see what you could handle. I always grin when I hear someone in the pub talking about planning their first trip to Yosemite. 'It looks great, loads of stuff at about VS.........'
In reply to Barry Chuckle: Actually I'm generalising a bit there. It depends a lot on the crag as well. For example, if you go to Five Open Books you will probably find the grades are roughly similar to multipitching in the Lakes, but jump on something at Glacier Point and you'll be in for a shock.
Thanks to all for the schooling on UK tech vs. YDS grades. I don't understand them, but at least now I know I don't understand them.
In reply to ablackett:
> That topo for the 1st pitch shows a harder variation if I remember correctly. Rather than place gear in the roof and move left, which my mate fell off and I couldn't do I followed the easy slab and the line of bolts to the left of the roof.
If you place gear in the roof and then undercling straight left, it is 5.9 from what I've heard. The 5.7 way involves stepping down after placing gear and traversing left a little lower down.
Sure, but some of the VS climbs are 5.5 slabs and some are 5.8 cracks. If you get on a bold 5.8 not quite hard enough to get R (or where it was forgotton in error) you are in for a real shock. Grade equivalence tables often give 5.8 as VS. I know they might be in some softer gradeed parts of the US but not on California granite slabs. Also what we mean by VS is creeping in the UK faster than 5.8 is in the US (on granite stuff I've done at least)
> (In reply to David Coley)
> Sure, but some of the VS climbs are 5.5 slabs and some are 5.8 cracks. If you get on a bold 5.8 not quite hard enough to get R (or where it was forgotton in error) you are in for a real shock. Grade equivalence tables often give 5.8 as VS. I know they might be in some softer gradeed parts of the US but not on California granite slabs. Also what we mean by VS is creeping in the UK faster than 5.8 is in the US (on granite stuff I've done at least)
The incredible (and ironic, given how they are in so many other walks of life) truth is just how free of bullshit most American climbing guidebooks are. Yosemite perhaps being one of the finest examples on this planet. The route descriptions being so tight and the grades so tough. Takes us right back to the good old days when we could still do it right, with the likes of Don Roscoe's classic guide to Llanberis North.
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:
So think so? I found the Yosemite guides to be adequate at best. The grade issues I put down to the different systems. But there seemed to be a choice between very vague guides that probably made sense once you'd done the route (if you found it). And super-detailed descriptions (supertopo) that told you exactly what rack you needed (but got it wrong), and at times approached the very-old-UK style of describing individual hand holds! Give me modern UK guidebooks any day
Did this several days ago with wife and son partnered by a buddy. It's not known as Snake Hike for nothing. Anticipate a long day, take plenty of fluids.
The climbing is straight forward, but a word of caution (without wanting to sound pompous) If VS your current standard I'd expect you to find it 'challenging'. I see I'm only a little younger than you, and it was a very tiring day - hard on the knees.
The difficult climbing on the first pitch is well protected by a red camalot, go low across the varnish, pitch two the step over the bulge is protected by a small medium cam and bolt. The crux is undoubtedly pitch three, the diagonal traverse is distinctly un British and un protected - pick the line of weakness (you'll see it) and stick to it (ho ho).
The rest is very, very run out, but easy. The slabs at the top both spooky and endless. When we got to the top we had it to ourselves - quite fantastic.
We took way too much gear - a selection of medium cams, a set of wires and half a dozen slings would suffice.
If you have any specifics and want them while my memory is fresh then PM me.
Way too hot in the sun! Did some great cragging though, and added somewhat to the portfolio, visited Lovers Leap and Phantom Spires as well as the Valley and Tuolumne....... Caught a trout in June Lake!
Tim has had a blast, Bronwen, Loz and I are climbed out! Currently in a nice hotel about to do SF for a day.