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