Back in 2010, I passed by the Incredible Hulk as a part of the Sierra Challenge (http://www.snwburd.com/bob/challenge/2005/wsj.htm nice article by Michael Ybarra RIP). I did not rock climb much back than, and seeing climbers half way up this magnificent rock face made me a bit dizzy. "They must be professionals," I thought.
|Incredible Hulk- great piece of granite|
After the challenge was over I felt reasonably fit (I completed all 10 challenge peaks topped with another 7 bonus peaks in 10 days), and slowly shifted towards rock climbing. Peak bagging did not seem challenging to me any longer. Through second part of 2011 I got out to climb rock often. Bryan and I developed a good partnership and attempted to climb Beeline on the Hulk in the late September.
It was the longest and most sustained route we attempted. Although we would push ourselves hard on that, it seemed possible. On the other hand Red Dihedral looked way too sustained, long, and intimidating. Combination of a late start, getting off route, a coming thunderstorm, and fear of a long route shut us down. We were simply not ready.
Although not naturally gifted with incredible strength and finesse, my new passion for rock helped me improve my skills. Climbing with better people more often, and going after climbs that seemed over our head gradually taught Bryan and I a few lessons. It was a first weekend of 2012 and we had a re-match with the Hulk. We knew Beeline would not be too challenging, so we bumped our aim to Red Dihedral-"One of the best 5.10s in Sierra."
Since Bryan was able to get off from work early on Friday, and we had a few friends camping up there, we decided to hike in on Friday as well. We left the trail-head at 5pm and were setting up our tent around 7. Just a few hours of walking to get a view of an awesome sunset.
After eating and chatting with our friends (Cristiano and Brian) we went to sleep a bit early to get sufficient rest for the 'big day.'
Start of the route is easy to locate. It is a exposed 3rd class ramp which trends left, and than another ramp leads you towards a giant dihedral-Red Dihedral pitch. From the bottom this dihedral looks overhanging.
|Me leading the Red Dihedral pitch (10b crux)|
I took the first 5.8 pitch, which was a good warm up, but not as easy for a 5.8 move. Bryan linked the next two 5.9 pitches like a pro, and we were at the base of the Red Dihedral in no time.
Although my hardest leads were all 5.10a before, I decided to push myself and took the next pitch. Seemed like a good occasion for a first 10b lead. RD featured a tight (for my hand size) hand crack in a beautiful corner and even required a few ring locks. Although a friend told me it features a good amount of rests like the Hospital Corner at Lovers Leap, I figured that to be B/S! The exiting moves (stemming in a flare) were fairly insecure without the bomber hand crack I followed up. But after reaching the bomber finger lock and a few face moves, I was home safe. It felt good.
Before the climb Bryan requested the 10a hand crack pitch if I get the Red Dihedral. He linked the next two pitches in one, which set me up for another glorious pitch. I 'forgot' that the next pitch features the crack (sorry Bryan :) ) and went for it. Quality of climbing on this pitch was superb, but the hand crack was SUPER thin for my hands. I mostly protected it with .5 and .75 pieces, and that is NOT my happy size! After a lot of grunting and a good amount of over protecting I got to the top of it clean anyway.
|View of 5.10a hands pitch from the side- taken while climbing Beeline on an another day|
|Me leading 5.10a hands pitch|
|Looking down the awesome 10a thin hands splitter|
From here Bryan linked another two pitches on one of his leads and we were up through more blocky and not too sustained climbing. Although there was a thin crack with a fixed red Alien that was VERY tough, rest of the climbing was much less sustained. Also, it is better to avoid going directly up the 'shattered pillar,' it is full of death blocks.
After we finished the route and did the loose 3rd class across the ledge, we had another two pitches to go. These pitches were not the reason why we came to climb the Hulk, but birth canal was an interesting part we all heard about. Going through it, I was glad to be a few pounds lighter than in the mid 2011 (or 20 lbs to be exact).
We scrambled to the summit and waited for our friends to join us. While waiting, Cheburashka captured the Hulk ball and I went through most of the summit registers.
|Our group on the summit (Hamik, Me, Brian, Cris, and Bryan)|
|That's a cool natural bridge|
|I saw a short youtube movie about their climb!|
Saw numerous entries from all kinds of pro climbers, and logs of impressive ascents by non pros. It was a great experience without the usual wind and thunderstorms that Bridgeport attracts oh so well.
After our friends joined 'the party' we took a few photos, signed our topo, and descended. Turned out my friend Hamik did the whole route (aside from the RD pitch) in his approach shoes. Fantastic.
Top ramen in camp did not sound as good as Burgers in Bridgeport, so we decided to hike out. We had plenty of daylight to make it back to the car without being required to use our headlamps.
|Had to look at it for the last time. What a beauty!|