Red Dihedral 5.10b

 
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Incredible Hulk


High Sierra, California USA


Trip Report
The Tortoise, The Hare, and The Hulk - Red Dire-Hedral
Monday July 30, 2012 5:23pm
This is a true story of a very unlikely day. The scenario is so preposterous that it deserves to be told in fable form.

I am the tortoise, a frumpy middle class housewife that began climbing 24 years ago. The opportunities for real adventure are seldom for tortoises or moms with teenagers, mortgages, and a job in corporate finance. Every climb provides me an adventure, a break from a mundane life, and a feeling of being truly alive. For many years, I have volunteered for and supported the Access Fund, thus I attended the 20th year celebration last fall.

The Hare earns his living from his climbing prowess and coincidentally supports the long term survival of the sport by volunteering for the Access Fund. He donated a day of climbing for the silent auction last fall.

As I cruised around the tables of interesting items at the auction, I strategically bid on items that were clearly underpriced. I never expected the phone call that announced I had the winning bid for the climb.

World class and middle class, tall and short, lanky and wide – what could two such different people possibly do? More importantly, how could two such different people have a fun day? The e-mail from The Hare was a wide open invitation to adventure. The tortoise started to dream bigger dreams. The Hare mentioned that he had not yet climbed anything on the Incredible Hulk, and the tortoise had never considered such an objective before. Five seconds after hearing the suggestion, the description in Mac’s book sold me – the best 5.10 route in the High Sierra, sustained and challenging, perfect, clean, golden granite, crack cruxes. My plane tickets were purchased that evening.

Now a sustained 1,200’ climb at altitude would be quite an adventure for a 770’ dwelling tortoise. A roadside route that meets this criteria would be a long day. Let’s up the ante by moving this prize 5 miles out and 3,400’ up a canyon to the base. Perhaps The Hare can dash off these classic climbs with long approaches without a second thought. This was going take a lot of preparation for me. The soggy Cascades conspired to limit time on the rock. At least I could walk uphill for hours to improve the odds of surviving the approach.

Lacking raw talent and youth, the tortoise had to prepare meticulously. We arrived days ahead of time to acclimatize. After reading every TR published on the web, it seemed that folks often lost time on the approach. Thus my husband and I scouted the approach several days in advance. It took promises of great fishing and a flat hike to coax my husband into the scouting trip. He fished the Robinson Creek while I slipped up the canyon to spy the objective. My GPS broke the bad news – it barely registered a few hundred feet of gain in the first 3 miles of the 5 mile hike. So the final miles of the approach would extract a toll.

We warmed up the Sierra granite with a few terrifying pitches in the Meadow and some mellow pitches in the Mammoth area. The Hare blazed in late Wednesday night for the Thursday morning climb. He picked through the enormous rack to select just a few pieces for the climb. All too soon the alarm buzzed, and the tortoise and Hare were off to the Hulk.
Park at the Boat Launch
Park at the Boat Launch
Credit: Seamstress

The Hare consulted with his version of a magic 8 ball. “Will we have a great approach?” “Yes”. We hit the trail at 6:30 AM, followed the “yellow brick road” through the campground, and stormed up to the junction. Although the cairns had been dismantled, the intersection looked familiar. We reached the river and stashed some water bottles for the descent. We scurried through the brush and talus.
First glimpse of The Incredible Hulk
First glimpse of The Incredible Hulk
Credit: Seamstress
The Hare took over the route finding as we wended our way up the third class gully. I’m not a lover of river crossings and did my best to keep the whining to a minimum despite the number of times that The Hare chose to cross the creek. We arrived at the base of our route in 3 hours and 45 minutes – excellent time for a tortoise that hates crossing water.

The third class start allows you to ease into the climbing. We saw one party ahead of us, up on the crux pitch, as we racked up.
Party on the Red Dihedral
Party on the Red Dihedral
Credit: Seamstress
Smoothly and efficiently, the Hare made quick work of the opening pitches. I have very few pictures of this as belaying kept me fully occupied. As promised, the route was straightforward, full of cracks, and not at all height dependent (yes!!!). The tortoise felt like a climber and even started to imagine leading a pitch of two.

The Red Dihedral looked very appealing. The right wall is red, the hand crack is friendly, and the left wall is golden, not even vertical. Deceptive. The Hare slowed to a human level, pausing before the crux exit moves. The tortoise methodically followed. The left foot started to paw on that left wall. For some reason, that yellow wall seemed slicker, covered with some invisible substance. As the tortoise pulled its head into the shell, tunnel vision developed, and the right foot missed all stemming opportunities. It was wedged in the hand crack along with the hands. One unexpected release of the left foot caused a fall. Damn! I so wanted a clean ascent. The steep exit moves demanded that I stem like I was 25 instead of 55. Finally I pulled onto the belay next to The Hare. Alright!!
Easier Pitches - See The Hare on the Top
Easier Pitches - See The Hare on the Top
Credit: Seamstress
The “easier” pitches above presented their own challenges. Leaving the belay above the red dihedral, my left hand cramped. The middle and ring fingers clamped shut, while the other three fingers pointed straight out. This was not the desired configuration for the crack in front of my face. In 24 years, I never encountered this before. Up rope I bleated, trying to figure out what to do. My mind raced, solve the problem, solve the problem. I’ve watched my husband, the massage therapist, work on athletes cramping after long events. This was not a no-hands rest stance, and I needed to “knead” that forearms without the use of my other hand. I laid the forearm against the rock, seeking to press my body on those pressure points and release the cramp. After a couple of minutes, it let go. Gingerly, I moved the left hand into place for the next move. Egads! The claw returned. More pressing against the rock. Finally it released enough to scamper up to the next belay.

What to do? The brotherhood of the rope requires no secrets. “I need a drink and a quick snack, my hand was cramping a bit.” The Hare kindly allowed me a moment to consume some food. It never occurred to me to abandon the climb, even though just as many pitches lay ahead of us. I wanted to go up and experience the adventure.

The next pitch began just as badly. The claw took over the left hand, and then the right. More bleating escaped from my lips, then the Hulk allowed me to pass upwards to the ledge. I could see in The Hare’s eyes that he understood that my speediest moments were behind me. He offered me some electrolytes. I wolfed the tablet down and dissolved it in my stomach. Shattered Piller tried to shatter my dreams of the summit, but upwards we continued. The claw came and went.

Base of Exit Chimney - Looking ACross the 3rd Class Ledges
Base of Exit Chimney - Looking ACross the 3rd Class Ledges
Credit: Seamstress
Finally we gained the summit ridge and proceeded along the third class ledge system. The food and tablet were now working their magic. My hands were now functioning. As the route description clearly states, the last two pitches are loose and dirty. I pressed against the wall as the Hare and the rope showered me with sand. Tortoises LOVE their shells, their helmets. There was a long pause above me, more movement, and then it was my turn to battle the last pitch of the Hulk.

In those final chimney pitches, I pulled on the chockstones in every conceivable direction to flop on top of them. Beauty and grace – Nope! As I stared up at the last difficulty, we paused to take dueling camera shots of the squeeze.
The Squeeze
The Squeeze
Credit: Seamstress
More grunting and groaning, and the tortoise was alongside The Hare. We dropped the rope to scramble a few feet to the summit – very brave for the tortoise and no big deal for The Hare. Fabulous. Total time to climb the route was about 7 hours, endless for The Hare, but very satisfying for the tortoise. The book said 6 – 10 hours to climb, and we were definitely on the faster side given despite my unprecedented difficulties.

The Summit Register
The Summit Register
Credit: Seamstress
Did I mention that I HATE dirty gullies? If you are also a hater of scree filled ledges and drops, you will also find the descent of this climb far more grueling than the route description indicates. In fact, the 45 minute descent to our packs took me 2 ½ hours. Go ahead and laugh. I will spare you the description of all the techniques I tried to use to speed it up. A few pieces of abandoned webbing in the gully told me that others have had a very similar experience getting off the climb. We reached the packs as the last light of day slipped away.

The hike out was a surreal experience. The sage smell was incredibly powerful. The trail seemed to glow under the light of the headlamps and was actually easier to follow than the hike in. It was a warm, breezy night. With my fingers lovingly latched onto my trekking poles, there was steady progress going down. When we reached the stream, I knew that the adventure was over, and the prize was claimed.

While we were out on the route, my husband added another log to the log jam to cross the creek. It made a convenient handrail. He replaced the cairn and lined the trail intersection with rocks. The last 2 ½ miles went as quickly as the morning start. Soon we reached the parking lot, and the amazing journey to The Incredible Hulk was over.

Many thanks to the generosity and patience of The Hare. I also want to thank my husband for encouraging his wife’s need to find adventure in her life.

  Trip Report Views: 2,306
Seamstress
About the Author
Seamstress is a trad climber from Yacolt, WA.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
eKat

Trad climber
  Jul 30, 2012 - 05:31pm PT
VERY, VERY NICE!

TFPU - - - - - FOR SURE!

:-)
10b4me

climber
  Jul 30, 2012 - 05:44pm PT
I am glad you achieved your goal; and the tale was very well written.
spenchur

climber
Flagstaff/Thousand Oaks
  Jul 30, 2012 - 05:57pm PT
thanks for cementing my need to do this route!
Technogeekery

Trad climber
Sydney, Australia
  Jul 30, 2012 - 07:50pm PT
Great TR - and good on you for getting yourself together for what looks like an amazing climb. Sometimes its wonderful to have the service of a Hare.
klk

Trad climber
cali
  Jul 30, 2012 - 08:10pm PT
awesome
Morgan

Trad climber
East Coast
  Jul 30, 2012 - 08:37pm PT
Cool. What a rad place to visit!
QITNL

climber
  Jul 30, 2012 - 08:51pm PT
Great stuff. Sometimes salt helps with cramping; you can get fancy with tablets or electrolytes, or just bring some salty snacks with you.
shipoopoi

Big Wall climber
oakland
  Jul 31, 2012 - 01:34am PT
wow, the tortoise can keep up with the hare. great tr, and having talked to the exhausted hare himself the day after, i salute the effort, ss
aliebling

climber
San Francisco, CA
  Jul 31, 2012 - 02:02am PT
Brilliant stuff and inspiration to those of us a few years behind you to keep on keeping on!
sullly

Gym climber
  Jul 31, 2012 - 02:16am PT
Great job Seamstress. Beautiful rock up there too. Is this a warm-up for Hood to Coast?
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
  Jul 31, 2012 - 02:59am PT
All politics aside, at 55, speed doesn't matter, getting up and down it does. It's no small accomplishment making a climb like this happen so good on you.
Riley Wyna

Trad climber
A crack near you
  Jul 31, 2012 - 06:43am PT
It's beautiful up there isn't it?
Just walked and climbed in the same dirt and rock a few weeks ago.

Congrats!!
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Author's Reply  Jul 31, 2012 - 11:48am PT
It is gorgeous in there. It took a lot of discipline to keep moving and not stop for lots of photos, scoping other lines, touching the smaller cliffs.

My team did not get a spot in Hood to Coast - but this fitness will not go to waste. Perhaps another Hare will need a belay slave!
Walter

Trad climber
Bolinas, CA
  Jul 31, 2012 - 02:46pm PT
Your writing skills have just changed my life! On the verge of retiring from the ropes (leaving my gear atop Midnight Lightning for the bold to plunder) I'll keep aged dreams alive and one day go back to 'Yggdrasil'- The Doodad - Matterhorn - and Three Sisters. To the Sawtooth Range, where I first tied the knot.

Keep this writing going - all too fun & the stuff of dreams!
Thank You!
 The 'Berry'
em kn0t

Trad climber
isle of wyde
  Jul 31, 2012 - 07:19pm PT
congratulations, and thanks for a great TR
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 1, 2012 - 11:55pm PT
Stellar TR, Seamstress,
Who is the Hare? If you don't mind revealing???
Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Aug 2, 2012 - 12:19am PT
Anyone that climbs the Hulk is no Tortoise. Way to rock it Seamstress.
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Author's Reply  Aug 2, 2012 - 03:42pm PT
I hate to sully his reputation by association. Considering it was a charitable donation, he deserves recognition, and I can be a handfull of trouble. Hans Florine was the generous donor and rope gun for the day.
aran

Trad climber
berkeley, ca
  Aug 2, 2012 - 04:03pm PT
Such a great TR- congrats on the great climb! Hope you visit the Sierra more!
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Author's Reply  Aug 2, 2012 - 04:20pm PT
aran - In my dreams, I will visit often. I really enjoy the long days, the granite, the challenge.
QITNL

climber
  Aug 2, 2012 - 04:29pm PT
Hats off to Hans!
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Aug 5, 2012 - 11:11am PT
wonderful TR! Congrats on doing the approach, the climb, the depproch - the works!
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Aug 5, 2012 - 11:23am PT
Still never been there and your TR just makes me want to go even more. Great job!
jahil

Social climber
London, Paris, WV & CA
  Aug 15, 2012 - 06:08pm PT
Grat TR ! Dying to get on the Hulk !
steve
murcy

Gym climber
sanfrancisco
  Aug 15, 2012 - 06:14pm PT
Well done!
Pcutler

climber
Iowa
  Aug 15, 2012 - 11:26pm PT
super cool
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Aug 16, 2012 - 12:32am PT
cool
Daphne

Trad climber
Northern California
  Aug 16, 2012 - 01:15am PT
Yay for the tortoise and the hare and the supportive husband. What a great read. And, I'm glad the powers that be granted you a re-do on the spelling of this tr's headline
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
  Aug 16, 2012 - 10:23am PT
Great story! Who's the Hare?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Aug 16, 2012 - 10:26am PT
Very nicely written! You don't sound "frumpy" to me.
10b4me

climber
  Aug 16, 2012 - 11:41am PT
Good for Hans for volunteering to be the hare.
Zander

climber
  Aug 16, 2012 - 01:26pm PT
Woo hoo!
looks easy from here

climber
Ben Lomond, CA
  Aug 16, 2012 - 06:44pm PT
Awesome TR!

'Grats on fighting through and topping it out. I know that in my experience generally the harder the climb, the greater the satisfaction.

Having Hans as a guide is pretty sweet, too.
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Incredible Hulk - Red Dihedral 5.10b - High Sierra, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The route as seen from Maltby Lake.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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The route as seen from the bivy spot.
Incredible Hulk - Sun Spot Dihedral 5.11b - High Sierra, California USA. Click for details.
Sun Spot Dihedral, 5.11b
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The route as seen from the bivy spot.
Incredible Hulk - Falling Dihedral Var. 5.10a - High Sierra, California USA. Click for details.
Falling Dihedral Var., 5.10a
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The route as seen from the bivy spot.