Snake Dike is the easiest technical route to the top of Half Dome, which is probably Amerca’s most recognized rock feature (this Ansel Adams photo has hung in many an apartment and dorm room).
Snake Dike ascends the slabby southwest face of Half Dome.
More serious routes attack the steeper northwest face to the left.
At 5.7, Snake Dike isn’t a technical challenge, but it’s a fairly long route guarded by a strenuous 3-4 hour approach. It also has 50 foot runouts, so you definitely don’t want to fall. My partner, Jose, and I hiked in the day before and started climbing at dawn.
Me on the second pitch of Snake Dike
We made good time and summited at around 10:30. From the top, you have an amazing panoramic view of the High Sierra and the Valley floor 5,000 feet below.
Kevin and Jose on the summit of Half Dome (2003)
We descended the cables route, which is probably the most dangerous part of the climb (no ropes if you fall!). At least one tourist dies each year going up or down the cables.
Looking back on the cables route
It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place than Yosemite. Combine that with stellar weather and many lifetimes of climbing possibilities and it’s pretty much my favorite place on Earth.