Snow Creek Falls

5.8
Location: 
Yosemite Valley
Area: 
Tenaya Canyon

First ascent: Paul Minault and Tim Laidman, October 17, 1998

Approach: Follow the trail up Tenaya Canyon past Mirror Lake to the point where it reaches the bridge over Tenaya Creek. At the bridge, follow the faint remains of the old CCC trail along the north side of Tenaya Creek and up Snow Creek to the base of the falls. Rope up at the boulder pool at the base of the slabs (1.25 hrs from Upper Pines Campground).

Description: The route follows nearly continuous exfoliated flake/corner systems about 50 feet to the left of the falls for 11 pitches. (1) Begin at the boulder pool at the base of the slabs and follow a small traversing arch immediately to the left of the creek, belaying at a small cedar tree (5.7). (2) Continue along another long traversing arch past fixed pins, manteling up to the belay at an oak tree (5.8). (3) and (4) Two pitches traverse easy slabs, ending at a belay at a big dead tree stump (4th class). (5) Traverse to small cracks and climb up easy slabs to a big ledge near a pool at the base of a small waterfall (5.7). Eat lunch here. Snow Creek Fall Topo(6) Unrope, cross to the other side of the creek, scramble up the right of the little falls and then cross back to another pool at the base of a wall to the left of a long waterfall. Belay at a small ledge 10 feet above the pool (3d class). (7) Climb flakes and cracks to a right-facing dihedral, belaying at its top (5.8). (This is the crux pitch.) (8) Walk up easy slabs past a brushy oak and climb an easy ramp to a belay at a cedar tree (4th class). (9) Continue up the ramp/corner to its end, then downclimb an awkward crack to the right, placing protection for the follower. Climb up and right, either on runout slabs or traversing under a flaring roof to a belay at a small cedar tree growing in a pothole ("The potted pine tree belay") (5.8). (Save your #4 Camalot for the roof if you want pro for this part of the pitch.) (10) Continue up the dihedral, belaying at a cedar tree at a sandy ledge. (5.6). (11) Continue up the dihedral to the top, wishing the slabs to the right were bolted so that you didn't have to follow the dirty, vegetated crack to the left (5.7). Pro good. Pro to 5".

Descent: At the end of the route, thrash up and left on third class ledges to the Snow Creek trail. (2 hours to Upper Pines Campground)

Notes: The climbing is generally easy and not particularly stimulating, with only about 50 feet of 5.8 on the whole route. The pleasure in the climb lies in its proximity to the falls and the remote beauty of Tenaya Canyon, with great views of Half Dome. This route may only be possible in the fall, when the water is low. The Snow Creek Slabs route described in the Roper guidebook at page 163 lies 100 or so feet to the left of this route and offers similar easy climbing. Above and to the right of the end of the route is a mermaid pool below yet another falls, offering a well-deserved chance for a refreshing dunk. The roaring you hear is from the Tyranasourus Rex colony in the jungled canyon further up the creek.