Red Dihedral 5.10b
Trip ReportJuly 4 wknd, 2010: Lucky Streaks and Red Dihedral
If there's one thing I've learned from reading other people's trip reports, it's that people hate it when you clog up the report with lots of gratuitous pics.
So here it is, a 100% text-only accounting of 1 guy and his girlfriend's climb of two Sierra classics, in which said party climbs at its limit, advances slowly, and generally makes a mess of things, but nothing really bad or even particularly interesting ever happens.
Crusher and I got back last night from an amazing weekend--Lucky Streaks in Tuolumne on Friday, then an overnight trip to Red Dihedral (hike in sat, climb sun, hike out mon).
Lucky Streaks doesn't get sun until mid-day, so we used our nut tools as mini ice axes to get up the 80' of steep hardened snow at the base. The climb itself was quite hard (harder than Little Sheba--my thin-crack yardstick), but we got up it through sheer determination and grunting noises. Then we rendezvoused with Phyl, Michael, and Denise at their eastside campsite for a belated dinner (delicious chicken and rice, a step up from our usual potato chip entree) and celebratory beer.
Sorting gear and packing for a backcountry climb takes pretty much forever. We eventually hit the trail around noon on Saturday after navigating the dusty, beery, sunburned hell that is the Twin Lakes RV "resort" on a holiday weekend. The hike in is 5 miles of mostly-uneventful hiking and scrambling. Turns out that the Incredible Hulk is tucked in an absolutely stunning canyon--it would be a glorious backpacking trip even without the climbing. Along the lines of Young Lakes or Cathedral Lake, minus the crowds (and the lakes).
Megan started up the first pitch at 9:30am. We were both bundled up, and I was quite cold. We wouldn't get any sun until mid-day, and the 10k elevation and cold wind sucked the warmth right out of me. P1 had a 5.8 bulge crux. Crusher led it with minimal grunting, but it gave me fits, and I arrived at the belay uncharacteristically scared of what lay ahead. I regretted spending so much energy on Lucky Streaks. After a couple of pitches of tenuous climbing and fruitless stalling (hoping the sun would catch up to us), I shed my clumsy down jacket and headed up the Red Dihedral pitch, a mind-blowing corner a third of the way up the route. Just past the crux (another damn bulge), I stepped out onto a ledge in the sun.
Ahhhh. With the hardest section behind us and the air warming up, things started to look less scary. After that came several more pitches of gorgeous, fun granite--including a beeYOOteeful 10a splitter that would have lines around the block if it were at Manure Pile Buttress. Layers were shed, sunscreen was applied.
About 100 feet from the top I got thoroughly lost, and eventually gave up on the topo and wandered up mostly-moderate terrain to within 10 feet of the summit ridge. I ran out of slings about 30 feet before I ran out of rope, and started using increasingly less conventional techniques to lessen rope drag, including a couple of tricams as slings. Tricams always seem to be the gear of last resort, but damn if they don't come in handy when you need 'em. Oh Pinkie.
Crusher led the last little bit to the summit ridge. We had climbed quite slowly before the sun came out, and I'd blown a huge amount of time with my routefinding debacle; the sun was disappearing. We still had 2 pitches to the top, plus a lot of "third class" downclimbing, a rappel, and a steep, snowy couloir to get back home.
We squeezed through the tunnel at the top, and Crusher hustled off to find the descent while I coiled the rope (we didn't have enough time to actually stand on the true summit--a privilege reserved for faster parties). After 300 feet of sketchy "third class" downclimbing, we found the rap anchors as the last light was fading, which was a big relief. The couloir was a bit firm at that late hour, and Crusher made good time by "butt-jamming" in the melted-out gap between the rock and the snowfield (the side of her leg now sports an intriguing polka dot pattern of bruises). We eventually stumbled down the talus to our camp after 11pm, and went to sleep with very little fanfare.
Overall, Red Dihedral is my new favorite climb. The rock and the moves are fantastic, and the setting is just mind-blowing. Not as hard as Lucky Streaks, but... definitely harder than Little Sheba.
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