The Hulk: requests from Hoover Wilderness


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Social climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 18, 2009 - 12:27pm PT
Hey Supertopians,

Jeff Weise, the Hoover Wilderness Manager for Toiyabe National Forest, recently requested assistance from the Yosemite Climbing Rangers (myself and a couple other lucky blokes) with managing climbing related "issues" at the Incredible Hulk.

I've been working with him on a long term plan that will help climbers minimize their impacts in Little Slide Canyon, and leave that incredible gorge feeling like a voyage to a foreign--pristine mountain range.

I first heard from Jeff and Hoover, after one of their Rangers went up there for a patrol and was shocked to find a virtual locker room of cached equipment near the base of the Mountain. They also reported that many climbers weren't taking the time to get their free wilderness permit before their trip. There was a laundry list of other complaints including; use of power drills, non-permitted guiding, fires in a this no-fire zone, and inadequate food storage.

Throughout our discussion I have assured the NFS folks that 99% of climbers really want to do the right thing, be Leave No Trace, and even help volunteer if they have the time and opportunity to do so. It's all about communication, and outreach. I feel like we're doing a pretty good job of bridging the gap here in Yosemite and I want that relationship to be consistent throughout the Sierra Wilderness Ecosystem.

That's why I was so psyched to get involved at the Hulk.

After the NFS request, last week a couple of my guys, Eric "Grasshopper" Bissell, and J. Max Talsky, went up to the Hulk on a two day patrol to see what we could do to help the situation, and get some feedback from climbers directly from Hulk Base camp.

My good friend Jake Whittaker (and Hulk aficionado), and the NFS folks had given us some beta on leftover cached items, garbage, a fixed/stuck rope, abandoned bear canister, and a couple other things.
(I'll have Eric upload some of his photos to complete the TR)

I put the word out at Climber Coffee in Tuolumne and told a few other Hulk frequentsters that we would be heading up there, and if anyone wanted to help out please head on up. Apparently the message was heard. A friend and local East-sider (initials TH) beat us to the work. The story I heard was he went up with his girlfriend climbed Positive Vibes, proposed to her on top, and before they left they had cleaned most of the nasty stuff (bear canister with rotting cat food inside, for example), and removed the fixed line. Thanks so much guys!

We still packed out a cached back pack, left there for a year or so, and returned it to the owner. No citation, no hassle, just a silent request to help us keep the Hulk and the Sierra Wilderness clean and gear closet free. I'm sure he'll be helping us out in the future :)

Finally we (Eric and I) earned the glory of a trip up Positive Vibes. We happened to choose one of those notoriously, horrendously, windy days. We thought about bailing onto Sunspot Dihedral to be sheltered from the winds, but foolishly chose the exposure of Positive. Wrapped in multiple layers, fighting the constant 30-40 mph gusts, and shivering at every belay we managed to carry on and send, concentrating on the amazing climbing it almost resembled that feeling called fun.

I'll be continuing this conversation throughout the summer/fall and hope to hear from all of you who care about this awesome place. We'll be potentially doing a couple volunteer trail days to eliminate some of the extra social trails, an even put place a strategic additional log bridge to help reduce the impact of the Robinson Creek crossing. So if you have ideas, issues, concerns, let me know.

Get out, and enjoy the Sierras!

Jesse McGahey
Yosemite Climbing Ranger

adam d

Aug 18, 2009 - 01:00pm PT
Thanks for your work out there. I've only been to the Hulk once but it's a special place to be sure. C'mon & light = no crap to leave behind anyway! LNT = good style.

Aaron Johnson

Bear Valley, CA
Aug 18, 2009 - 01:14pm PT
A little TLC and education at the Hulk is great! How about a wilderness permit kiosk at Twin Lakes (e.g. - in the overnight backcountry parking lot at Annett's Mono Village)?

Trad climber
Aug 18, 2009 - 01:24pm PT
Sounds like we need a few more rangers like Jesse, and a few less like the Ranger I saw slinking around the base of El Cap who refused to acknowledge us when we walked by him and said Hi. He just scowled at us. Tall dark haired dude, very rude. What was his problem I'd like to know.
Sorry Jesse about the Hulk problems and let us all know what we can do to solve any problems. It is this type of dialogue that find solutions and solves problems instead of creating them.

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 18, 2009 - 01:47pm PT

The extra attention, articles, and guidebooks have indeed brought more climbers to places like the Hulk (not to mention the Cathedral Range/Tuolumne). I do think that Chris Mac et al, and Croft have worked at including a minimize your climbing impacts message, as well as mentioning the local wilderness regs.

I personally like your idea of a portion of profits going to protecting the area of a particular guide. Even a token percentage would send a message to the climbing community to be aware and responsible of their impacts.

I forgot to mention that Little Slide Canyon has an overnight trailhead Wilderness Permit quota of 8. This doesn't mean that only 8 people can be there overnight at any given time. Rather that every day only 8 more people can arrive. I feel like keeping the numbers down actually gives climbers a better experience up there. I mean who likes crowds.

I also wanted to reiterate that the entire Sawtooth Range of Hoover Wilderness is a no fire zone. Even if you see a fire-ring please don't use it. There are few trees up there and all of the dead/down wood needs to be left to help regenerate the scarce soils of the canyon.

Thanks for reading,


Trad climber
Wall Climber Wannabe
Aug 18, 2009 - 01:59pm PT
Going up to the Hulk both July and August I saw some nice changes. I second the idea of a self serve permit station at Twin Lakes. This would allow climbers to arrive at a variety of times instead of having to plan around the hours of the Bridgeport ranger station.

It would also be great to be able to get a permit by phone or by internet. This would allow permits to be acquired quicker than the current mail in option.

Someone cleaned up all of tat from the anchors on the Venturi Effect and replaced them with fixed biners. THANKS!

One of the optional rap/belay stations on VE is currently missing a 3/8" (I think) nut. If someone can bring one up it would be great and the hanger and washer are tied to the other hanger.

There is a bunch of tat on the rap station on top of the Power Ranger start. It would be great if this could be replaced with a couple rap rings or biners to minimize visual impact.

Both PV and RD seemed pretty free of trash thought the amount of fixed slings/cord at the belays varied.

During my 5 or so days up there this year I saw 4 ascents of PV, 7 ascents of RD, 1 of Sunspot and 1 of Tradewinds. Lots of traffic!

My two cents,

tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Aug 18, 2009 - 02:27pm PT
Why is there cat food in a bear can?

Aug 18, 2009 - 03:01pm PT
A "one-year" gear cache sucks! To second Dingus' point (not saying the he will agree with me on this one), I suggest that gear caches like that should be immediately sold, no returns, and the funds donated to SAR and/or other environmental clean up efforts. And go ahead and cite the culprits Jesse. Don't let 'em off just cause they're "bros" or something. People gotta learn a lesson.

I'm far from a fan of authoritarian systems and I know there are real problems with overly-restricted, heavy-handed permit systems, but, feck, some some people should not be allowed in the backcountry. Climber trash is no different, and no better, than the waves of detritus left by insensitive and uneducated masses that one finds at urban crags. Think of all the crap on Watkins awhile back. If you can't clean up your shite, stay at home, certainly stay out of the backcountry.


Boulder climber
Bishop, CA
Aug 18, 2009 - 03:11pm PT
"Why is there cat food in a bear can?"

Ummm. I think I know...

Social climber
san joser
Aug 18, 2009 - 03:17pm PT
Great job Jesse and others to foster a dialogue with land managers outside the NP. Positive outcomes for access and positive outcomes for the environment. Next time I see you in the Valley Jesse I'll have to buy you a b..., I mean soda!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Aug 18, 2009 - 03:28pm PT
Nice work Jesse. Great example of how good behavior can be encouraged with education and action. Jesse for Superintendent!

Great idea DMT - that is what i am trying to with my ebay auction for climbing non-profits

Last year we (me and supertopo community) raised 10K plus. Not sure how much will be raised this year with the down economy. But we'll try.

Trad climber
primordial soup
Aug 18, 2009 - 05:44pm PT
(front page)

I would agree that a self service kiosk for permits would be better, not sure how that works with limits though...

As far as fires in areas where they are not allowed-
what is the fine for something like that?
perhaps it should be higher?
(and there ought to be super clear signage at whatever trail-heads access such areas too)

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 18, 2009 - 06:11pm PT
Thanks for all of the feedback guys,

Although the self service permit would be far quicker and more convenient at Twin Lakes closer to the trail head there are a few problems with the idea.

-One of the main reasons for wilderness permits is to limit concentrated use to different areas. The quota for Little SLide Canyon is 8 people per day. So when you go to the Ranger Stations to get a permit there is an actively updated record of how many people have entered each trail head. There are usually times of the year when quotas are lifted, mostly because it is off season and rare that the quota would be filled any way. At these times it is a self registration process as most wilderness units don't have the funding to keep personnel on at all times.

-Another reason for wilderness permits is to have a human contact with rangers for education and information purposes.

-Finally there are dozens of trailheads in Hoover Wilderness alone, the NFS would have to provide kiosks at all of these trailheads to be fair. I can assure you that 1000s of backpackers have wanted to be able to have a hassle free trip to
the backcountry and not have to wait in lines, make reservations, or stop at all for their free wilderness permits in Yosemite. One price we pay for so many people wanting access to our precious protected areas.

Matt in Yosemite it would be up to a $350 fine for a fire outside of designated areas. Constructing a fire-ring would also be a violation and potentially another fine.

Brian, if someone left a cache or knowingly littered/abandoned property without doing anything about it for this long in Yosemite I would cite them with a violation notice (ticket). I agree that this is going across the line of reasonableness. At least have one of your buddies go up there and help you out if you can't make it. Hoover Wilderness is not my turf, I am not allowed to cite people there.



Aug 18, 2009 - 09:33pm PT
Sorry for jumping on you regarding this issue, Jesse. The story just sort of touched an environmental nerve. My real beef is with climbers in general.

We all say "no regulations, climbers can police themselves! Keep the tool/man/park service/government out of our business!"

However, the same folks who say this pretty much resolutely FAIL to help "police" other climbers.

We need to call out other people who toss their shite instead of packing it up El Cap, who leave rotting gear caches, who destroy vegetation for convenience sake, etc. No one want to do this because no one wants to seem like the one uptight person. Junior high kicks in and we all want to be 'cool.'

But we can't have it both ways. Either we start calling each other on this stuff, as uncomfortable as it is, or we deal with the consequences of climbing restrictions, permits, quotas, enforcement, etc.

Again, not a specific comment about this incident. Just a general comment about climbers who want to have it both ways (again, clearly not Jesse, who works for the NPS and, I presume, takes our responsibility toward the environment seriously).

If we really want freedom, its price is responsibility.

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Aug 18, 2009 - 09:46pm PT
i added links to all the Hulk Pages on this site

Red Dihedral

Positive Vibrations

Sun Spot Dihedral

Aug 18, 2009 - 10:05pm PT
Many many props to Jesse.

To pick up on some of Brian's good points, climbers form a much more diverse crowd than we ever have before. The problem of making sure people from all the backgrounds get to see the larger picture is the first step.

Proactively involving people while they are still at their sources and before they come out seems necessary.

Going to be a big job.

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 19, 2009 - 12:36am PT
Right on Brian, Jstan, C-mac,

I get pretty fired up about the "cool" climber blinders as well. I do think overall we are a pretty thoughtful bunch. The Facelift exemplifies this as well as our deep connection with our community that crosses borders and cultures.

One of my goals has always been to encourage the young climbers and "cool" climbers that style, ethics, and cleanliness is part of the coolness of any ascent.

I also want people to change their behavior to minimize their footprint not because they'll get busted or cited...but because they believe its the right and dignified way to go. Respecting these incredible places and all of the creatures in them (including ourselves) every step of the way regardless of how bad-ss the climbing is, is really what its all about. Of course we all know that hundreds of other climbers have passed over El Cap, Half Dome, The Hulk etc...but imagine having to seek out, really look hard to find the human signs.

Well I'm off to bed, I'm going for a mid-day (wait till the shade) jaunt up the old East Face of Washington Column tomorrow to send off Grasshopper. I know 99 degrees is not ideal Astroman temps, but Eric has to go back to school and is psyched beyond his own imagination do do that route.

g' night,

Trad climber
Sunny Aiea,Hi
Aug 19, 2009 - 12:58am PT
Original post said 99 percent of the climbers want to do the right thing. I agree and I know where we can find those 1%ers. They are riding those Harley Davidsons up and down 395! So let's stop this problem and you Eastsiders need to pull these guys over and demand they clean up their act.

Always happy to be part of the solution.


Aug 19, 2009 - 02:08am PT
What Brian said.

Gear caches are weak, and signs of self-oriented climbers.

Thank you to Jesse for being patient and productive in your efforts- you are a prime example of a land manager who really gives a feck.

Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Aug 19, 2009 - 02:27am PT
I have only general comments, as I have never been to the Hulk.

In general permit hassles are a fairly big deal. The first time I went to Emigrant Wilderness (several years back) it was necessary to get to the forest service office during business hours for a permit that could easily have been self service (i.e. off season, no quotas in effect, etc). It cost me half a day's work to take off early enough to get the permit. The following two times I drove in late after work and skipped the permit since I figured out that the ticket would cost less than the missed work. Similarly Whitney (albeit quota'ed) cost me a full extra day's work versus a permit by mail, or off hours pickup.

Worst off most ranger stations are not open weekends when the tourons would most benefit from someone to talk sense into them.

Just my $0.02...
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