The Hulk: requests from Hoover Wilderness


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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...

Trad climber
Aug 19, 2009 - 04:13am PT

Thanks a lot for bringing up this issue. Little Slide canyon is a very pristine place and I hope it stays that way for a long time. I also find the current permit system very problematic. It's not so easy to go there just for a weekend and also have a backcountry permit without very advanced planning. I have a feeling the 8 person quota doesn't make a lot of sense, considering that over half of all climbers who go there don't get a permit at all when there. I've seen way more than 8 people hike up there one Friday night. Some changes need to be made. Perhaps self-registration though the internet or phone could be made possible? That way it would still be possible to keep track of the number of permits.

Delhi Dog

Trad climber
Good Question...
Aug 19, 2009 - 10:40am PT
My 2 cents...
Jesse you and your brothers that take the time to open dialogue, stay positive, act on your conscience, etc are the kind of folks that do make the difference-keep it up.

Little Slide is a special place, but then the whole Sierra is-no?
I've never had a problem with the permits to get in there, but that doesn't mean it can't be improved somehow.

Thanks to those that put in these selfless acts.
Seems like bringing out any trash we can is a fairly easy thing we can all do, no matter where we happen to stumble upon it.
...and cmac- kudos to you too.
Big Piton

Trad climber
Aug 19, 2009 - 11:01am PT
I am not use to this "NEW" way of climbing. When rangers are climbers and climbers trash the area that they climb in. WTF!

I enjoyed it when the rangers were scared of climbers and didn't have a clue of what was going on. The climbers policed them self’s. If you trashed an area, then we as climbers took care of it, if you know what I mean ;> . This was done without the WWW and crying boards. ( Sorry supertaco ).

I know I haven't made my solution public. But, here it is in all its harshness. Just close the area for five years. But, this is from a person who thinks the whole Sierra Nevada Range should be closed for 10 years. I know, what about the impact on business, personal adventures and the all mighty right of the citizens of this great country to venture forth and explore. Well to bad for you. JUST CLOSE IT!

Because I will sneak in under the cover of dark and climb, without a trace.

scuffy b

Sinatra to Singapore
Aug 19, 2009 - 11:20am PT
Moof, permits for the Emigrant Wilderness can be arranged over
the phone.
They can only be arranged one day in advance this way.
I've never had any problem.
They are willing to leave your permit in their mailbox, so you
can pick it up on your way to the trailhead while they are
I've picked up permits from four different ranger stations in
the Stanislaus NF after hours.

Aug 19, 2009 - 12:18pm PT
We hear often from those who are willing to change the rock so that they might do what they wish with public property, that the complainers "should just go to areas that are more difficult to reach."

Well by stashing gear you use strategems to make it easier for you to do what you will farther afield and when you get there you continue to do what you will.

It is no great extension for you to ask that there be roads built with valet and food service provided you while you develop the wilderness

for your personal purposes.

Wilderness others have protected and to which you hold no special title.

Under these conditions stashed gear should be considered


And not a further thought given.

Big Wall climber
Aug 19, 2009 - 12:51pm PT
Lets try to keep this positive! The Hulk is still pristine! Only a couple people have left gear piled in plain sight!(for 3+ years actually) Most of the times I've climbed there my partner and I have been the only people I saw! Climbers cleaned up the small amount of trash and gear before the Forest Service had to do it or cite people!

Jesse's starting the communication and motivation early in the Hulk's popularity so that the area stays wild and awesome and there aren't ever any problems.

This isn't about "gear caches being weak"(its totally legal to hike your heavy stuff up the day before and save your back...and "finding" it is no different than stealing a backpackers camp while they're bagging a peak) and we don't need to "close it for five years." We just need to keep our camps and the gear we leave at the base minimal, clean, and neat...and make it disappear when we leave.

ONE goal can eliminate ALL impacts and issues. We should try to climb the Hulk without anyone knowing we did it. Of course we're likely to see other climbers and hikers, and meet some great people, but this one goal can ensure that we all "Leave No Trace" and preserve the wilderness experience.


Aug 19, 2009 - 01:00pm PT
JakeW, there is a big difference between leaving your camp to climb for the day and leaving a bunch of sh*t up there for months or a year, because you are too fecking lazy to hike it in yourself. Gear caches like that are weak, and are a symptom of self-oriented thinking that is all-too prevalent in climbers these days. (See the 'Bouldering Pad Ethics' thread.)

"A temporary problem that will definately rectify itself as new route potential becomes limited..."

Umm, no. No offense, but that is a very naieve view of how this situation will manage itself.

Big Wall climber
Aug 19, 2009 - 01:28pm PT
Apogee, I think that if you find a pile of gear while going about your business, and then see it again and again for months or years, you should carry it out and attempt to return it to the owner and educate them about how their actions affected your experience and impacted the if marmots tore it to pieces. This is what I witnessed at the Hulk and what ultimately happened.

However, if you're poking around and find someone's discreet cache that might just be left for the day while they do a route or take a rest day and swim in the lake, and STEAL it because you're to lazy to contribute to the production of your own resources, and because you like to elevate yourself to a higher ethical plain...THAT is a selfish action.

If you actually know anything about the caches at the Hulk, you'll know that the folks who left them are far from lazy, and are responsible for equipping, cleaning, and telling you about all the routes up there...and I'm obviously not talking about myself. I also think they've thought more about what they did and no longer leave anything up there.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Aug 19, 2009 - 01:31pm PT
Thanks to all for this thread. It showcases the best of climbing. I do, however, have one quibble, and it's with Big Piton's modest proposal. There are already too many whose idea of wilderness is "close it to everyone but me."

I think jstan's implicit ethic is much closer to the ideal -- when you use a public resource, don't alter it outside of publicly-accepted limits (If I'm misstating this, John, please correct me.) We don't use pitons where clean climbing is possible because that unnecessarily alters the rock. We don't place bolts on rappel or with power tools in Pinnacles, but do on the lead and by hand, because that comports with the historical and accepted practice in the area.

Similarly, in Little Slide Canyon, we should not be caching gear, burning fires, or machine-drilling bolts (frankly, I'm not even sure about hand-drilling. I still remember how I felt about the FA of the original route on the Hulk. The rappels were from bolt stations because the first ascensionists did not want to leave more expensive pitons. I and several others would gladly have contributed to reimburse for non-bolt anchors. Now, almost 40 years later, I think differently because I would find pitons and slings more intrusive than bombproof bolts and chains, but that's another story).

Thanks, Jesse, for the diplomatic, yet forceful and effective way you've dealt with this issue.


Aug 19, 2009 - 01:39pm PT
"I think that if you find a pile of gear while going about your business, and then see it again and again for months or years, you should carry it out and attempt to return it to the owner and educate them about how their actions affected your experience and impacted the area..."

Then you just might be a better man than I am, JakeW, because I would be just as inclined to hike the stuff out and sell it on CraigsList or somethin'. If they are simply inexperienced and ignorant about responsible land use, then they are sure to remember the loss and not do it again. If they are experienced and chose to leave their sh*t out there anyway, then any kind of compassionate education effort would be lost on them.

"However, if you're poking around and find someone's discreet cache that might just be left for the day while they do a route or take a rest day and swim in the lake, and STEAL it because you're to lazy to contribute to the production of your own resources, and because you like to elevate yourself to a higher ethical plain...THAT is a selfish action."

That's not what I said. Go back and re-read my post- there is a big difference b/w leaving your gear for the day while you climb or swim and leaving your sh*t out there for months at a time.

As much as I respect the patience and educational efforts that people like Jesse are demonstrating in dealing with this kind of abuse, I am just not capable of the same benevolence any longer, I guess. After decades of travelling and climbing in the mountains, and watching countless abuses such as this that the user rationalizes in one way or the other, I just don't have the patience for it any longer. Land managers do the best they can to educate and mitigate the impacts, but are completely overwhelmed, and the abuse continues, and the resource degrades. Think of my actions (and those of many who feel very similarly) as a public service.

Aug 19, 2009 - 02:00pm PT
Thank you JE. You are very good with words.

I'll modify my found gear post a little.

If there is no one around and the pack stuck under a rock has no dated NPS or FS permit attached to is found.

Now I would never trust gear whose provenance I do not know so I would pack it out and turn it in, unopened, to the rangers telling them where I found it.

Now one of the earlier posts suggests tents and other camping gear is being left for a base camp. A common approach used here, if no one is around, is to drop the tent, leave it in place, and report it to the rangers.

We all appreciate what Jesse is bringing to the table. Reminds me a lot of Thom Scheuer who looked over the Gunks for thirty years. (Hopefully he makes it to Park Supervisor long before that.)

But there are other functions that need to be served if we all are to benefit.

Natural processes find an equilibrium point only when there are restoring forces. That is why we have to pay for the things we buy. That is why "making your house work for you" has been such an unmitigated disaster.

When people are deciding to leave their unpermitted climbing gear out in the open they have to view its disappearance as a real possibility.

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Aug 19, 2009 - 03:27pm PT
I have gone out there without a permit, but solely because of logistics. If you drive after work to get out there for an early morning start up Little Slide, the ranger station is closed. Unless you want to wait until they open, drive up and force yourself to have a short day on the Hulk you really have no option. In El Dorado National Forest they let you fill out a permit and put the carbon copy in a box, without actually going into the ranger station. This would make it perfect for those long drive/early start trips.

About the stashed gear, come on, we all know better. Man up and carry your rack in or go climb one of the thousands of drive up crags in the state.

Big Wall climber
Aug 20, 2009 - 12:27am PT
Well...the FS rangers saw the stuff at the Hulk multiple times but did not carry it out. They took a few of the most expensive pieces of gear and hoped to lure the offenders in for citations. Instead, those folks went and carried out the rest of their stuff. What remained was one pack and some garbage and the owner of the pack has been busy with other stuff and felt bad that it was still up there and Jesse et al had to carry it out (He said he had no excuse and apologized...although I personally think having a kid is a damn good excuse.)

I feel like Jesse's approach of going up and dealing with the problem: carrying out abandoned and unused gear and trash in the wilderness, and returning it to the owners and communicating wilderness ethics to them, if possible, is a much nicer and more proactive approach than stealing someone's stuff or just trying to bust them.

I personally try not to affect people's lives negatively by leaving my gear and trash laying around, by taking and keeping theirs, by getting them busted, or by calling them weak.(When I think of the primary offender in this particular issue being called weak it actually really cracks me up...that's positive I guess!)

Have fun out there! Maybe someday we can all be as passionate about the entire planet as we get about the places that haven't been completely trashed yet. Everywhere used to be wilderness, and your house is a giant cache!

Aug 20, 2009 - 12:41am PT
JakeW, you are rationalizing. Leaving a bunch of sh*t in the backcountry, even if it is a bunch of spiffy, shiny gear that you really, really like is lame. Even if it is a bunch of equipment for FA's, it's lame.

Once upon a time, it used to be commonplace for climbers to siege any mountain they climbed, then leave all of the fixed ropes and pitons behind, not to mention their trash, too. Progressively, the high-aspiring ethics of climbers have tried to rise above this practice, and 'fast and light' alpine ascents (w/o fixed ropes and gear) are now considered the highest standard.

Once upon a time, climbers used to pound pitons into the rock, scarring it forever. Again, the higher-aspiring ethics of climbing sought a better way to climb without leaving impacts on the rock. And climbing was better for it.

Get the picture? Leaving a bunch of sh*t in the backcountry is lame, self-oriented, and is a step backwards for the higher standards that climbers strive for. We consider ourselves to be different as a wilderness user group- we need to walk that talk.

Aug 20, 2009 - 12:58am PT
Once you stop focusing on words it seems pretty clear we all are in agreement. Unpermitted stuff should not be left laying around in wilderness.

So then, do we huk it all out to the ranger station? The garbage goes into the ranger's trash bin?

The other stuff gets plopped onto the ranger's desk?

I'm good with that.

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Aug 22, 2009 - 01:20am PT
Hey Jesse,

Thanks for all you're doing up there. Great work.

Could you be sure to post when those volunteer days are? I'd love to come help out. What could be better than volunteering to keep the Sierras the amazing place that they are?



Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Aug 22, 2009 - 01:52am PT
I used to spend a lot of time in far off places and never bothered with any kind of permits because it seemed imposing rules in the wilderness was ludicrous. But that didn't mean we didn't have our own rules, and answering to ourselves was much more stringent business than answering to a government employee, which I just couldn't bring myself to do in the backcountry.

But - the idea that people leave stuff behind, and leave ANY trash or fixed lines and so forth in the backcountry, is unforgivable. It's an eco-crime. And when I was climbing all the time, I didn't have enough money to be leaving my rack behind. Who are these people?

I can appreciate the need for rules these days, especially limiting fires, less so limiting people. Given the fiscal crisis of California it amazes me that the gov. is not trying to shake people down for fees or writing tickets left and right.

But man, leaving trash and gear behind (other than stashing stuff for immediate use) is pathetic. It's hard to accept climbers ever do this - till you climb the Nose.

I hope the Hulk doesn't end up like the ass end of Camp 6.


Trad climber
Yosemite, CA
Aug 22, 2009 - 03:56pm PT
Jesse, C-Mac and all you other bros,
Thanks for being such dignified diplomats for the climbing community. Better gear, better topos and more well defined trails mean more climbers who may not be in tune with the local/leave no trace ethic. Education and communication are imperative, and yous guys should be proud of the good work your doing. So for all you dirtballs out there who think the very slight regulation going on in the Sierra is bad and "harshin' your mellow", think about arriving at the hulk bivy like I did a month or two ago and finding trash, tat, and turds all over the place. It can totally ruin the sublimity of such a beautiful place as the hulk. Thanks everyone, and when you see that piece of trash, pay it forward and pick it up for the next person.
happy and safe climbing!

Trad climber
San Leandro, Ca
Aug 22, 2009 - 07:44pm PT
In some areas that have a really super topo, climbers tend to bunch up a lot, consequently making a tempting target of opportunity for the authorities. As a group, nowadays climbers are a cross section of society exhibiting a wide range of behavior. Some heavily used areas will inevitably become fouled... I applaud the efforts of those who bat clean-up.
As for permits...that system doesn't work well for blue collar weekend warriors who just want to send something before dragging their tired arse back to the jobsite on Monday EARLY...
I've always been at odds with any authority that tells me where I can and can't be at any given time. There is a lot of grey area when it comes to that sort of thing, like what is camping? What is overnight travel? Are we really talking about a CURFEW, a la martial law? Why can't I sleep in my car in a legal parking spot? Why is it illegal to sleep outside in the great city of Santa Cruz?
By the way, isn't Yosemite a people's park?

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