This was a really amazing trip with good friends up little slide canyon to the Incredible Hulk, which is at the northern end of the the Sawtooths (Bridgeport). The Hulk is a huge 8-12 pitch granite wall attached to Mt. Walt, with it's own summit. The hike in is beautiful, and flowers are waist high right now in Big Slide Canyon. Near the end of the valley you cross Robinson Creek on a log bridge and follow cairns and a vague climbers trail up to the base of the wall.
My first time hanging out with Eric Perlman, long time Squaw/Truckee local who has climbed since 1966 and helped establish many climbs around Tahoe, the Sierra, and beyond.
First sight of the hulk half way in. It's about a 4 hour hike if you go all the way to the base of the climb with overnight packs. There are plenty of flat, sandy bivy spots along the way. Croft measures 5.5 miles and 3000' from the car to the base, then 1200' for the climb. The summit is about 11,200'.
Getting a late evening start, we camped just before dark about 500' below the base. Hiking up to the Hulk in the dark would be tricky without a daytime hike under your belt. Not dangerous, but possibly slow and inefficient.
we left camp around 7am and dropped all our gear at the high camp below the Hulk. We had perfect temperatures and minimal mosquitos.
BAM. I remember seeing this for the first time skiing up in this area years ago. Holy ***! Greg and I skied the couloir climbers left of the summit this winter with John Crus and Kevin Starr.
Greg and I stayed 2 days and climbed 2 routes to the summit July 12/13, on the right side of this picture. On Monday we did the classic Red Dihedral climb is mostly 5.9 with two 5.10a pitches. Actually the top of the red dihedral pitch is rated 10c I believe for a moment. The second day we did Dave Nettle's new ""Beeline" route which was a little shorter and easier, although had a few pitches of 5.9 and one 5.10. The topo is at the bottom of this thread.
My arrow points to the famous Red Dihedral 4th pitch. Greg did a great job leading it, figuring out the crux step-over at the top with no problem. I loved every inch of these two routes.
Here Eric and Michael are hiking a few hundred feet higher up the climber's right couloir, to start "Beeline".
I led up from the ground to a point about 100' below the start of the Red Dihedral Pitch - where supertopo shows the top of Pitch 2 and a bolt on the rock. Greg got our 60 meter rope to combine pitch 3 and 4 and was psyched on this long challenge.
fyi I'm not letting go of the brake hand! My camera is hung on my body, and I don't even look through the viewfinder. I just point and shoot occasionally when the leader has a good stance, and is getting gear off the sling.
I led the next pitch and started to wonder what the descent would be like. We never got a good view of the descent gully (snow couloir). It looked steep from here! I'm not even sure if this is the same snow, in the end it wasn't bad at all; soft, short, and about 30-35 degrees.
Greg led the next pitch which had the second 5.10a crack. This was amazing, and the crack was longer than it looked.
next was the shattered pillar pitch, where you skirt around the left side.
Here's Greg coming over to me on the 3rd class ridge. I'm not sure if I started this in the right spot. We were definately at the "notch" , but I didn't find a 3rd class way over to the flat ground. Or if it was, I placed gear being exposed and downclimbing a little vertical rock. We unroped and walked over to the "dirty 5.8 chimney pitch". I enjoyed leading that one, and stopped to swap leads for the final chimney pitch. You could combine them, but the rope drag would be bad. The final chimney pitch wasn't that easy either. Slippery footholds once you get in there, and a super tight squeeze through the hole. We didn't split it up a further pitch however like in Croft's guidebook. That might not be a bad idea though, if for no other reason then to watch your partner deal with the last pitch!
You're definately not getting through there with a backpack. I'm pretty thin and needed to take off all my gear from the harness, chalkbag and all.
Looking north at 3 peaks I have ski trip reports for on this forum.
Greg and I skied the main avy path on Victoria early this winter with Logan. here's my TR thread with a few ski descents of this massive slope above Big Slide Canyon.
Greg had no problem walking down the ridge from the summit unroped, to the rap anchor. I was a bit nervous and slow, mostly from being worked climbing near my limit of skill all day. On our second climb the next day, I had Greg belay me while I downclimbed. Not a bad idea to speed up the descent. Supertopo calls this 3rd class. It feels like it going up (Beeline last pitch), but not going down. Pretty typical scenario I admit.
In the pic on the right, go left to find the belay anchors.
Take a left at the fork in the descent gully, and downclimb a tricky vertical 20' spot. Or take off your pack and dive into an obvious hole in the boulders to avoid the difficulty. I used a sling and cam to protect my downclimb over the micro cliff.
The snow doesn't look steep here,but it is just barely steep ENOUGH where you would get worked below in a crash if you started sliding. I don't think you would need crampons or axe in hard snow conditions, but you would have to get crafty.
Back at camp
On the way down we checked out the new "Beeline" route for the next day. It follows the cracks just next to my white line. You can't see the top few pitches. The first pitch is this dirty wide 5.10 crack. We stayed inside it chimney style as it got wide enough. Eric and Michael used the narrower parallel crack instead, as Dave's Topo below suggests too. Incut holds inside the wide crack are the trick on this 1st pitch. It wasn't easy with a backpack, or at least mine was too big.
Hunewill Peak on the left, Victoria Peak on the right.
Greg starting Beeline 5.10- put up by Dave Nettle and Glen Poulsen Sept 14 2009. This is the easiest climb on the Hulk (not including the descent gully of course)
I led pitch two, which was really awsome. Maybe the best pitch on the climb. Greg took over for pitch 3 and 4. This shot is the start of pitch 4, which I felt was hard; 5.9 stemming.
I led pitch 5, rated 5.9. Not really strenuous, more just shopping for gear placements and hand jams you can trust in the crumbly, flaring wide crack. You really aren't protected down low during the 5.6 slab traverse, you would hit the deck if you slipped here. You'll need long slings for rope drag when you place the first cam on the left. Then the crack is too wide for gear in places, and a little fragile for gear in the middle. This is where I used the #4, bumping it up many times until finally leaving it halfway up. Some face holds appear higher in the wide crack that help. Eric (a million times better climber than me) said he wouldn't even take a #4 next time. You aren't going to fall out of this crack, being wide and sloping. But if you like pro every 10 feet at this difficulty like me....you'll wish you had both a #4 and a #5!. Anyway, I had no problem moving my gear around, keeping the larger cams by back cleaning and bumping. This was a really fun, beautiful spot on the mountain; and like most of the Beeline pitches, near full rope length.
Greg following on pitch 5 of Beeline. I looked around hard for solid rock to build an anchor on top, and it's really only available in one spot. At the same elevation of the ledge where you pull over, just walk straight back to the wall. Our friends Eric Perlman and Michael Decker did a variation the day before, leaving this ledge to climb another 5.10 and two 5.8 cracks to the summit. If I understand the story right, this is probably the way Dave would have gone if he hadn't started to feel really ill from mega bee stings that morning. Both routes are fantastic. The original Beeline being a little shorter and easier, while Eric and Michael named their variation "A-line". The A-line variation up high is the way you should go if you have time, the rock quality is a lot better. Both ways are fun though.
Some guys saw my post on Beeline and climbed it a few days later. Cool! They went up pitch 5 in the corner (pic on the left). They said it was 5.10. If you know you'll go this way, leave the #4 at home.
As taught to me by Bela, I clove hitch in so I can be wherever I want when belaying a second. With an autoblock I can be hands free anytime and move around too. Rope stretch is a good thing too if I fall off my belay stance. The only hitch with this system is you have to know how to lower. If the rope isn't super taught, you can just pull the biner up from it's locked position in the device, and let some rope slip through. If your partner is hanging however, you'll need to do two things. 1) put the rope into a munter hitch on a locker, on your belay loop. This is the new point of belay/lowering. And 2) girth hitch a long sling to the device or locker, run it through an anchor point, and pull back in a crafty way to fully release the auto block. If you skip step one, your partner will go down in short, fast jerks.
Above pitch 5, we went over to the new "A-line" climbed the day before by our friends. We weren't exactly sure this was it, and kind of wanted to go up Dave's original route anyway. We also wanted to get back to the car before dark, so Greg led up the A-line crack until it got vertical (5.10) and then went up right to join the last pitch of Beeline. The right picture here shows where we traversed more right out of view, joining Beeline. If you want A-line, keep going up. It's all pretty obvious at the top of pitch 5. Go left into the attractive, shaded alcove and up perfect clean, steep, granite fingerlocks for A-line. Or climb the easy rotten rock directly above where you came up from pitch 5 for Beeline.
I led the last pitch to the summit, which is the descent route. Knowing the summit from our previous day's climb, this was nice and stress free now.
Crown Point is the big guy in the middle. The peak to the left looks like a ski tour is in order up the east couloir, but multi-day. Without looking at a map, that's probably 10 miles out there with low angle terrain you'll be pushing through to get back.
Rock what you got. torn pants, greg's mis matched shoes, $10 used ripped pack from Logan, duct taped 12oz supermarket water bottles. Not that we skimp, we have all the light gear on the rack.
The steep 3rd class ridge descent below the summit.
The essential left fork of the descent gully.
The Incredible Hulk. We only saw a few other people up there, and no one on our routes during our climbs. Eric and Michael climbed Dave Nettle's Outgaurd Spire East Face 10d while we did Beeline. thanks Dave! You are an inspiration and more!
this is a sweet camp some folks had in the small meadow below the Hulk. We drank right out of the snow-melt stream. These guys just showed up as we were leaving, planning a 5 day trip. no kids, eh?
we had trouble following the climbers trail on the way down. I knew to stay left of the waterfall, and we boulder hopped back and forth until we found it.
Reaching the meadow in Big Slide Canyon at the log bridge.