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After being thunderstormed out two weeks prior, we set out for Yosemite Valley Saturday morning with a clear weather report. Tom, Robert, Dan, Allison, and I attended this trip. We took Robert's Prius since the Subaru as in the shop for a suspension repair. All our gear and food barely fit and the car had to be packed with gear at our feet. As we pulled up to the North Pines campground, Allison introduced herself and the booth ranger responded, "I know who you are!". Wade and Liz had arrived ten minutes before and given the Ranger Allison's name. Still, at first it sounded as if Allison had quite the reputation in the Valley.

After greeting Wade and Liz, the five of us climbers racked-up and drove over to After Six, a five-pitch 5.7 right of El Cap. We practiced climbing in our parties for the next day: I followed Allison in the first party, and Tom and Robert followed Dan as a second party. Two free-solo climbers passed me on the climb up and I gave one of them some water. All our systems worked well and we finished right as the sun set. Unfortunately, I was unable to enjoy the last three pitches due the need to use the facilities. As soon as I summited I dropped my harness and took one of the largest poops of my life. And I'm not even allowed to exaggerate on the Elephant! Luckily the soil was sandy enough that I could burry it and leave no trace. Feeling much better, four of us descended on a nearby trail in the dark. Dan had scampered down in bare feet already to retrieve a "stuck" cam on the first pitch.

For dinner (and for all other meals that weekend) Tom ate Quest Bars. Dan, Allison, and Robert re-heated chili, and I made bacon, egg, croissant breakfast sandwiches. Whoever eats breakfast in life the most wins. We chatted with Wade and Liz over dinner and quickly went to bed around 11:45pm in anticipation of a 5am wake-up for our big day. Wade and Liz were concluding a cross-country road trip from Maine before returning to Ithaca for their phd's - always good to have friends in Ithaca.

The next morning we racked-up and were at the trail head at 6:15am. By 9:30am we had reached the base of the climb with only about 10 minutes of lost time finding the approach. The last bit of the approach above Nevada Falls has a few tricky moves traversing a ledge so we put our shoes on briefly. I dropped one of my socks out of might right pocket (no used to how pockets function with a harness on). There were several parties in front of us and a hardcore german couple who live in SF behind us.

Allison started up Snake Dike at around 10am. We started climbing briskly, but slowed significantly towards the top as the route became unclear. The eight pitches start with three pitches of 5.7R (X?). It gets technically easier after that, but a late 5.6 pitch is probably the psychological crux. The route follows a strip of slightly different granite (a Dike) up the side of the dome. Think of it like the raised remains of a crack once separating the bones on a baby's skull. The dike is bumpy and has significantly more holds than the surrounding granite as well as a pinkish hue. The climbing went well and I was surprised by how fast I picked up slab climbing having never really done it before. I regret slightly short-roping Allison once when my leg got caught in a loop of the flaked rope (pretty much all the belays are hanging which means a little less rest on the way up. Also, I think Allison climbed past the fourth belay anchor because we ran out of rope and I had to simul climb up about 15 feet or so so we could get to the next anchor. There was a both between us (very little gear placements/bolts available on this climb), but still, I recommend a 60m rope.

After building a gear anchor on the last pitch and overcoming one last roof, we walked up what the guidebook calls "class three slabs forever". At first all fours seemed necessary, but eventually we could stand and walk up in our climbing shoes. I reached the false summit first and was very surprised by what I found there. ten minutes later the rest of the group showed up. We summited together as Robert began showing the beginning symptoms of HAPE. Next came a summit selfie and the descent on the cables. My rope gloves came in super helpful here! Also, this is the halfway point milage wise and it was already 7:30pm.

The sun set as we completed the 8 mile hike down. I switched which foot my lone sock was on every two miles to avoid blisters and I think Robert's knee appreciated the breaks as well. We chatted about indie pop and the politics of white rappers with our headlamps on. For the first seven miles or so of the descent we were without water since we are somewhat limited in what we can carry on the climb - only the followers brought packs. 17.5 hours after starting we reached the car. Snake Dike involves about 15-16 miles of hiking from the parking lot and 8 pitches of climbing. Since Dan and I fared best on the descent we did the driving back to the bay area. I started with a two hour shift. Dan finished it out as I passed out in the back seat. At 5am I crawled into bed having been awake for 24 hours on 4 hours of sleep. Monday was 100 percent a sick day.

Snake Dike was completely type two fun for me. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Peanut M&Ms were clutch. I am glad we had all climbed together as a team ahead of time - it contributed to our success.