Oct 27, 2015

The incredible Hulk - High Sierra big wall

The incredible Hulk - High Sierra big wall

Said to be the highest rock face in the high Sierras of California, the Hulk is an incredible rock climbing area, if you are in to crack climbing that is.

The easiest route up this impressive wall is "red Dihedral". A crack system with a very obvious dihedral, somewhat reddish, with up to 5 .10+ climbing over almost 450meter.

To top that one there is the classical Positive Vibration, 10 pitches of max 5.11+ and the marathon route "Venturi Effect". A route with a number of 5.12 pitches stacked on each other. Arm your self with a bunch of endurance and rattle fingers for this one!

What ever route you chose, get ready for a big and great day out!!

The area it self is at Hoover National forest close to the sleepy town of Bridgeport. This used to be a busy place for fishing, the surrounding lakes attracted masses of tourists during the summer. But nowadays the lakes has almost disappeared, with both fishes and catchers. This has reduced the numbers of shops and markets, leaving the town with a second generation of 649 habitants that mostly have given up and gives the feeling of wanting to leave this place. The local Sports bar still provide a modern tasty Burger and almost local beer, great after a Hulk visit. If you're looking for a new business, this is the place to buy something. But don't expect to find it easy!

Leaving Bridgeport for the Hulk the road aim for Mono Village, not to be confused with Mono Lake. We found this place most hostile and it performs better as Mongo village.

The people at the campsite, both owners and quite a few of the locals are not helpful,but are very happy to take the 10 bucks for the parking fee. The bear activity is very high so no food or any thing that looks like food, bear cans included, should be left in the car. If so, you might have a Black bear settlement moved in on the return. There is bear boxes at the campground but to use them you will have to rent a campsite for 25$ a night. Better then to ask any of the fisher campers to share.

The hike up to the Hulk is mostly easy, but for the first timer it would take anything between 3-6 hours. Depends on if you find the trail that skirts of the main trail or not. If you do the whole thing is quite straight forward. Since the number of people heading up ther to climb has increased a lot over the last years, almost becoming a problem that could mean restrictions to come. It fact of human waste and pollution with people leaving their trash behind. So far it is a open no pay area and still the water is clean and drinkable.

Just report with the ranger station located south of Bridgeport before heading out.

The number of people to enter the park is limited during periods, down to eight people a day.

The trail starts at Mono Village Campground up Barney Lake, yellow signs. Follow this for 2.25 miles until reaching a big rock in front of a big pine tree. The climbers trail now takes a sharp left turn over the meadows down to the stream. To cross the stream there is a couple of logs that bridges the stream. From here walk back a bit until there is a number of switch backs up the hill, before the exposed steep hill, this is passed on the left side. Head up the trail trough the trees and talus staying on the left side of the stream, look for cairns, until you see the waterfall. Then cross the stream and pass the waterfall on the right over a complicated talus field. The Hulk is clearly visible high up on the left.

For first timers it's not recommended to try this when it's dark.

At the campsite, expect both bears and squirrels, so leave the food well away from the tent, both day and night.

Also birds can be a problem on packs and shoes if they smell a bit tasty!

The routes.

The High Sierra Super topo has most of the routes included. But still here are way more routes established on both the Hulk as well as on the surrounding crags and walls.

If attempting any of the classics as Venturi or PV both belays and rappel anchors are in place. Otherwise ring extra cord and slings to improve any of the rappel points. For Red Dihedral the best way of descent is by foot.

For a first time visitor the obvious route would be just any of those above Red Dihedral, Venturi Effect and Positive Vibrations. Another great climb is the Polish Route and Escape from Poland.

Return from the summit

Both Venturi and PV uses the same rappel anchors.

For Red Dihedral the best option is to walk, scramble and rappel down. Follow cairns from the summit to the south. A bit exposed at places. Make a 30mts rappel and continue scramble left down the gully passing an other anchor above a chock stone.

Allow some 45minutes back to the base of the wall.


2x50m rope or a single 70mts

A big rack of gear.


Black to Red Alien x2 or more.

#0.5-#4 Black Diamond x2

1 set of nuts

1 set of RP's

Time of year.

May, expect snow, to November, expect snow again!

June and October might be the best month.

Tips of the day

After some camping days in the mountains a day or two at Paradise Shore some 5minutes outside Bridgeport is recommended. Here you can rent a modern camper and just relax. See Paradiseshoresrvpark.com

"we arrived in Mono in mid October, after a couple of warm up days in Tuolomne. The weather was perfect and way to warm to be climbing down in Yosemite Valley. People had been repelling of from he Nose cause of the heat! And big lines of people. Waking up early in the morning to get a effective start and a chance of a bit of climbing as well up a the Saw Tooth. But things would not be easy. To start with the morning was freezing cold and last weeks precipitation wa to be seen high up in the for of snow. Finally we came in to conversation with a Bask and wince a south European Spanjard was into taking the walk up I could not see the reason that we couldn't do the same. Problem 2, our food. We had a big box of food that we thought could be left at the campsite in any of the big number of boxes. How wrong could we be?! The local owner didn't have the same opinion, renting a campsite would include a box. But since we jut paid them 10 dollars to leave our little car on their back yard lump site, the use of any other facilities was to be forgotten. Upon being more then frustrated on these land of the free people and ready to leave Mongo Village People Anna found a nice Carson Family that was more then willing to help out with our food problem. Once at the trail head we had given up the days climbing, just getting to the camp site would be enough.

Which proved more the right. In fact that we had a bit of information bout the hike, we still didn't have any map or GPS, except a tourist map from the car rental.

But going easy we made progress and after a five hour hike we found ourself at a most perfect camping spot some 15 min below our goal.

After pitching our Crux bivy tent the sun was still high enough to become a bit restless. My eyes focused on piece of rock just behind the camp, providing a couple of interesting lines up a 30 mere wall. After a bit of exploring we aimed for the nowadays known "Swedish Corner" A 30meter hand and fist corner crack at 5.10. The day was completed as close as just missing the afternoon coffee, which was to be had as the sunset over tomorrows goal, the Hulk.

Next morning was just as blue as a sky can be. A light breakfast and we set out to climb Positive Vibrations. After a bit of messing around regarding if we should bring shoes or not and also to find out that the local squirrels are to be found everywhere, giving us some food storage problem, we could finally start the climb. A very windy climb it would turn out.

And as an effect of that I made some odd route finding and soon had changed the route to the much harder Venturi, struggling on a supposed 5.10 that later turned out to be a more realistic 5.12. Hepp! Anyhow, the climbing was great so we swallowed my mistake and continued up the

The Venturi hit us as hard as well, and after been blowed away a number of times from the crack we decided we finally had it, leaving the last couple of pitches for later.

The evening and nights at these back country areas are always stunning, the stars somewhat shines greater at higher altitude. And at 11500feet it's high enough to get a bright sight over milky way. And the night to come dreaming of tomorrows climb.

Loading the back pack with gear and rope we head out for Red Dihedral. A bit of a rest day after yesterday's workout. The start of the route is very obvious and soon we are at the base of the dihedral it self. A pretty close to 50m involving pitch with a boulder crux at the top. With that in the bag the rest of the climbing is more of a route finding issue. There are cracks all over, just chose the size, finger hands or fists...

The climbing is just pure satisfaction with no wind, whit yesterday's storm fresh in mind, and the sun over heating us. Our 1 1/2 liter of water is soon gone.

At the top of the ridge we happily flee into the cooling shadow for a while before scrambling over to the last pitch before the summit.

Last day out.

Because of a counting error, we realize that we are one day short of food.

But the weather and surroundings are to good to leave just because lack of such a minor problem. The coffee situation is still on the plus side so no reason to panic.

We decide to get a new one on The Hulk, finishing PV and the last bit of Venturi.

Filling one more day up with High Sierra granite before our return to civilization and burger and beer in Bridgeport and the Sports Bar.

Positive Vibrations

P1 5.9 48m. Nice easy going up the crack system. A couple of different choices. Belay just at the base of the finger crack. Rap anchor below to the left.

P2 5.10+ 40m. The wake up pitch. Fingery crack and then a boulder move higher up.

P3 5.11- 40m. Go straight up from the belay and just at the red color roof head right. A piton at the start of the traverse. A long reach on delicate steps to a hand jam. Then up a couple of meters to the belay.

P4 5.10+ 40m. Great pitch. A lot of stemming. Very obvious from the base.

P5 5.10+ 10m. Short delicate climbing to the bivy ledge.

P6 5.9+ 49m. Just magic climbing up the hand crack. The Venturi Effect shares the anchor but goes straight up.

P7 5.11+ 49m. The crux pitch. Make a two step left to the corner. Micro nuts useful at the start in the corner. A 0.75 BD useful at the top of the pitch.

P8 5.10 46m. Just aim for any of the cracks. Awesome.

P9 5.10+ 35m. Fine finger, hand to fist crack in the corner and over a small roof. You can climb all the way to an exposed ledge on the arête.

P10 5.10 30m. A great hand crack to the very top. Step some 10m right on the ridge to get to the rappel anchor. A stunning climb! Not. Make a short second rappel to the bolts to avoid getting the rope stuck.

Summit pitch of Positive Vibrations


2set of cams #0.75-3 BD, green-red Alien. 1 set nuts, Blue Alien and micro nuts optinal

10 QD's

2x50m rope.

The Venturi Effect 5.12 / 7b+

P1 5.11+ 35m. Start at a thin flake some 30mts right of PV. Left of the wider crack of Eye of the Sorm

P2 5.11 30m. From the terrace ledge head up to find a fix piton in a horizontal crack. Make a airy steep right and move up to a fixed nut anchor.

P3 5.12 35m. The Stellar Corner. Thin corner, useful with small RP's Belay on fixed gear.

P4 5.11 25m. Committing lie back climbing and steep left to join belay with PV

P5 5.10 15m. Easy climbing straight up to a 2 bolt anchor.

P6 5.12a 35m. Starting up the great Shield Pitches. A boulder hard crux move past 2 bolts.

P7 5.12+ 40m. Continue up the rattly crack passing an old rap anchor. The crux is at the one and only old piece of bolt!, .12?!. Up to a triple of new bolts, belay out to the left.

P8 5.12 40m. A flared thin splitter passing 2 bolts. Traverse the roof on its right and head up the strenuous overhanging splitter on the right side of the arête. And make an awkward move right to the next splitter. Then pull cruxy slab moves past yet other 2 bolts.

If you done it so far you make the rest!

P9 5.11+ 35m. The Venturi pitch. Pass a blank wall with a few bolts and stem past the roof at 5.10 to The Nest Ledge.

P10 5.11+ 35m. Continue up the amazing splitter to the ridge.

Anna fighting on one of Venturis 5.12+



Rappel down to the bivy ledge and then down PV.

Not. Make a short second rappel to the bolts to avoid getting the rope stuck.

Or continue the ridge and descend same as for Red Dihedral.


2-3 set of small cams, Blue - Red Alien, #0.75-2 Camalot.

1 set of nuts and RP's

8 QD's

//Jagad av blixtar andas jag krut och elektricitet


Oct 8, 2015

Tour d´Areu - Vallée d´Arve. Compact climbing

Tours d´Areu - No alarm clock needed but maybe a sleep clock. 
Cause there is plenty och sheep clocks! And the local terrorist cows.

Les Tours d´Areu is 6 towers of compact limestone, suited in the center of value d´Arve above Sallanche. The routes are high quality on slab and steep and clean limestone in a great mix. 
As the approach is on the longer side, approximately 2h from Burzier. The number of climbers is few. To reduce the daily walk the use of Refuge Doran at 1500mts as ”bivvy” makes life easier. Or, go camping at the meadows above the refuge. Just look out for the local ”habitants”. The sheep are very active, do they ever sleep? And the cows, well look out!

We took a walk up, brought a tent and food for a two day adventure. The time of year, late september, makes the rock even more sticky and the south east facing walls has sun from early morning to late afternoon. And with the altitude its not to warm.
A liter of water, harness and shoes and a handful of quick draws to go with a twin 50m ropes. 
The walk up from Burzier is straight forward, just follow the 4x4 road, up to the refuge. From there it is a good path heading up towards col du Forclaz. Once up at the base of the towers, it is easy to traverse out below any of the walls. Take a reminder of which one of them the aimed route is on. They are quite different in character so its easy to count them while passing. To get to the 5th and 6th tower it might be good to have a Chamois in the family, since the grass slopes are a bit, well say exposed.
All the others are easily reached as long as you don’t try getting there in the flip flops.
And if you look out there is a good chance to see an Gypaète Barbu

There is a number of classics
Band Piola, Michel Piola with Daniel Stolzenberg and Thierry Périllat put up a number of routes here in the late 80´s. In the shadow of aig. Midi and the more ”obvious” mountains around. And, it was still 2hours of walk at that time! Most of the routes are drilled ”en route” so suspect some distance between the spits.
Alcootest, 7a+ 180m, is one of them. But a much nicer one in my opinion is Mélusine on the 4th tower. A 6c climb with 4 long pitches. And very engageant, specially the 6c pitch! Just be prepared that the pitches are up to 40m and there is only need for 10QD´s.
An other brilliant climb is X Scream limit. A most beautiful route up on the orange colored rock on the second tower. Steep climbing and also very engagée climbing. But better protected than Mélusine.

The days
”We took the Ford up to Burzier and headed of in the low temp morning, well it was closer to mid day since there is always things to do on the way, bank, bakery…you name it. Loaded with a small pack with our new CRUX bivy tent, the X1 Raid , and a bit of real mountain food (coffee and Rosti).
A set of twin ropes and a handful of quickdraws. And some small aliens, green-yellow-red! 
The walk up to the refuge Doran is very easy once you start walking. I have skied the classic couloir from col de Forclaz, same approach, a number of times. As well as skinning up to Les Quatre Tetes for speed riding. It is the last bit from the refuge that is a bit tiresome. But on the other hand, than you have had the chance to leave all the camping gear behind which means super light packs. 

X scream limit, 7a

Once up at the meadow we stop and start to sort out the spot for the tent and were to leave the bivy gear. It is then, in the corner of my eye, I see one of the cows being a bit to interested of my gear. And ”whips” i see my t-shirt disappearing down its throat. Well most of at least. It sort of comes up and goes down again i a number of times. Trying to get it back is…impossible. 
At least that leaves out if I should take it to the washer later, because when I finally are able to force it back. It is out-used so to speak. At least now I know how a ruminated shirt looks like!

Food time at the Meadows....

Yummy, happy cows!
Hiking the last part up to the base of the tower, our goal was Mélusine. And as always i start to mix up the routes and towers…my picture in the phone doesn’t make it much better. So i just sit down and wait for my partner to show up…and since there still isn’t anyone after 15min I suspect something like trouble. Heading back on the track there is no one. But a single person with a red back pack is heading back downwards to the tents. i again suspect trouble and start to descent as well. Finally getting physical contact I am only to realize it is someone else. So, only to turn around again and walk back up. Meeting a likewise tired Anna at the very end of the walls…
Back to the original business, climbing, we soon find the route with the help of the topo. 

A little frustrated I start up the first pitch but soon the climbing takes all my focus and I am just back to enjoying the high quality performance to come. Every move and grip takes full concentration. And on this route falling isn’t an option many times.

Anna following on the first pitch of Mèlusine

Quality Camping
Since we started climbing late we have a cold afternoon/evening but after a little persuasion we climb the last pitch as well. Before rappelling back down, enjoýing the marvelous views over massif du Mont Blanc.
after a nice comfy evening we take a early night to be fit for next days fighting.
Well forget it! Does a sheep never sleep!? And who´s idea was it to put a bell on every single one of them!??! Sleeping is not to think of but now and then we anyhow doze of a couple of minutes here and there. Until its finally morning, arriving with a warm sun.
Which hit the tent already at 07:00. 

Back up at the tower and the days goal, we rack up for X scream limit. A route that will have us all on toes over its 6 pitches climbing. It starts with a super hard boulder problem and tops out 170m later with a crack system over vertical limestone. 

But in all a most perfect multi pitch sport route.
Nothing more to do than rappel off and scramble back down to a cold pression and well deserved dinner in the valley!

le bellevue, mont  Blanc!

Getting there
In Sallanche drive up towards Outredière and Burzier, head for Burzier.
From the parking follow the route for ref. Doran, approx 45min/1h.
After the refuge there is an other 45min walk up the track to col de Forclaz. Go all the way up to the base of the first tower and traverse out from there. Following the obvious path. 

2x50m rope, 10QD´s, midsize Aliens/cams (alien green to red is useful), a couple of loose carabiner for the belays
Extra cord to improve the anchors.
Best time is spring and autumn. Ok in summer, June/July, but can be a bit warm.
Camping and refuge style, ref. Doran.

//Livet är en krusning på stilla vatten, så länge ingen kastar sten...

Oct 3, 2015

Balme - Vallée d´Arve - Chamonix

Balme - Vallée d´Arve - Chamonix

Climbing on Balme is one of my favorite climbing areas in d´Arve. Its south facing wall keeps warm enough do be climbable all year round. Well, it might be a bit to warm during july-august. 
But I have had some great days there in december as well as february, in between skiing days.
The approach is nothing but short and quick. La vieux de la montagne might be one of the most complicated to get to…and it is still super easy. So if you have the effort of a max 15min approach, it might be a good choice.

Expect anything on Balme...

The climbing
The limestone is overall steep and crimpy. But a bit of friction on slabs as well. 

The only issue is the effect of parking the car. This fall it was a big rockfall which took out a car completely. That ”pocket” is nowadays closed. But the grass field between the road bend isn’t super safe either.

Last week I took some days off and climbed some off, in my opinon best routes.
First out was the classic ”Punk not dead”. A straight forward 5 pitch route at 6b max. Some loose holds at the start but after it just gets better and better. The 4th 6a+ pitch is close to perfect. And now there is both new bolts and re-equipped anchors.

Anna on the crux section of la vieux de la Montagne

An other great climb is its neighbor ”Zébra” A 6c max route which has a couple of boulder crux sections at the top pitches. But again at this date at least, very good bolts and not to far between them. The first and fifth pitch is amazing. But except the 6th rope length it is a very uniformed route.

Steep climbing on Zébra

A little shorter but still well worth the effort of climbing is ”les parapluies de Cherbourg”. A 7a+ Piola route. Steep and crimpy!

Then ”les Jardins de Neptune”, a 7a classic. With a very smooth 3rd pitch and a close to desperate 4th one. Three 6c rope lengths in a row that keeps the focus up.

Cruxing at one of the 6c pitches of Zébra

An other nice climb is "La vieux de la Montagne” 6c max. Very good climbing on compact and steep rock. Pay attention on the start of the 3rd pitch, if you like me aim for the bolts going out to the right you will end up on a 7b instead…

Airy rappelling of "de la Montagne" 

How to get there.
Between Cluses and Magland. Follow route D1205 and take the road towards Araches at the roundabout close to the Super U. From the highway, take junction Cluses.

Classic routes
Punk not dead 6b, 130m
Les Jardins de Neptune 7a, 190m

Must do
de Cherbourg 7a+, 90m
La vieux de la montagne 6c, 170m

Not to be missed
Réalité non ordinaire 7a+, 180m
Zébra 6c, 160m

2x50m rope, 13-14 QD´s
Most of the bolts are 10 or 12mm, But some routes still holds old 8mm, like l´Urgo dans l´air!!
Bring some extra slings in case of needing to re-equippning of the anchors. 
Rappel of the routes or take the long walk back via the road.

//Livet är en kamp mot tiden. Måltider är en kamp mot kroppen...