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Red Dihedral – A stellar alpine weekend

The Objective:

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk

The Protagonists:





The Slideshow:

The Trip:

Friday, August 14, 2009

6:00 PM: Swing by Derek’s house, load up his gear.

6:30 PM: Hit the road.  Grrr, gotta fight the traffic escaping the Bay Area for a while.  237 to 880 to Mission Blvd… Crap, radio says there is an accident on 680, and our soul sucking internet access devices (yeah, we’re wired) glow bright from red lines on the map.  So we try something new, stay on Mission until it hits 680 again.  This works out fine, and we avoid the worst of the slowdown.  205.. I don’t need to say anything, do I?

8:00 PM: Pull into Chipotle (my favorite burrito joint) in Manteca for a quick dinner.   Mmmm good.

8:30 PM: Back on the road.  120, rock on.  Our destination for the night is Sonora Pass, to suck up some thin O2s to get our bodies used to the altitude.

11:30 PM: Pull off onto a dirt road on the right just over the pass.  I toss out my bivy sack onto some flat ground, and with one look at the dark sky, lit by the Milky Way, I drop immediately to sleep.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

7:30 AM: Crawl out of bivy sack, stumble around, pack up and hit the road.

8:30 AM: Pull into Hays Street Cafe after cruising down Main Street in Bridgeport.  It’s the place with all the cars, must be good.  Breakfast is filling, that’s for sure!

9:30 AM: Hit the ranger station for our wilderness permit.  No problem, the ranger is friendly.

9:45 AM: Take off for Twin Lakes.

10:30 AM: Arrive at Mono Village Campground, pay for parking ($10!), and start racking & packing.

11:30 AM: Finish packing, toss the packs back in the truck and head over to the cafe for lunch.  Nothing on the menu is appealing (still full from breakfast), so we each have a small salad.

12:30 PM: Toss the packs on our backs and start walking.

1:30 PM: Arrive at the turn off for the climbers trail up into Little Slide Canyon.  The hiking trail to this point has been great.  I don’t know how anyone could miss the turnoff, there are no less than five cairns, and this big tree & boulder marking it…

Turn off onto climbers trail

The Turnoff to Little Slide Canyon -- well marked with a tree, boulder, and no less than five cairns!

1:35 PM: Arrive at the river crossing.  This also seems to be impossible to miss.  We didn’t get wet on the way across, but Derek slipped and got a foot wet in the dark on the way back.

The river corssing

The river crossing

2:11 PM: Phew.  We finally made it past the “switchbacks through the trees” part of the approach.  We didn’t have good luck finding a trail through here, but found one once we emerged near the top.

2:13 PM: First view of The Objective!

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk

3:50 PM: Finally arrive at our bivy spot.  We scored a great site that had just been vacated from a couple of climbers from South Lake Tahoe.  They attempted Tradewinds, rapping (for purity, I guess?) after the leader took a fall one pitch from the top.

5:45 PM: After chilling in camp, listening to tunes, and checking out the views for a while,  I decide to fill my thermos with coffee for the morning.  This didn’t go so well… my coffee-making-device seems to clog up with grounds so the water doesn’t drain through fast enough.  This causes two problems:  the coffee is cold, and it is bitter.  Grrr.  I try using some toilet paper as a filter instead of the mesh, and this turns out much better.

6:45 PM:  Mmmm. freeze dried mac & cheese.  Turns out we both brought the same dinner, hah!  It didn’t help that I tried to heat up my coffee by sticking the thermos into the hot water, without cleaning off all of the granite sand stuck to the bottom!  Whoops!  I recover by cleaning out the stubborn coffee filter and straining the water through the fine mesh, and it turns out OK.  No crunchies in my mac & cheese (well, other than the bits that didn’t re-hydrate!)

7:40 PM: Watching the sunset with a hot cup of tea while agreeing on a strategy of attack for tomorrow.  Sunrise is 6:11 AM, so we set the alarm for 6:00 AM, and figure we’ll be hiking to the base by 7:30 AM, and on the climb by 8:00 AM.

Sunset on Incredible Hulk

Sunset on Incredible Hulk

8:30 PM: The long day catches up with me, and I’m asleep almost as soon as I get in my sleeping bag.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

6:07 AM: Dude, wake up!  Ugh, what time is it?  I stick my head out of my  bivy, and brrrrr, it is cold!  The peak gets last light, which means it gets no morning sun.  What is this?  There is ice on my bivy sack from the condensation!  Dude, it’s too cold to climb.  Let’s sleep some more.

7:00 AM: Rattle, rattle, scrunch, scrunch snaps me awake.  What’s that?  Crap, a party of three is heading up to the base, braving the cold!  We better get going.

7:15 AM: Breakfast water is on, and we’re gearing up and getting ready.

7:20 AM: Yum!  Outback oatmeal rocks.

7:30 AM: Rattle, rattle, scrunch, scrunch.  Crap.  A party of two is heading up.  Rattle, Rattle, scrunch, scrunch.  Oh no, there is another party of two on their heels!  Hey, it’s our friends Sarah & Chris!  Double damn, we better get a move on before someone else jumps ahead of us!

8:15 AM: Arrive at the base.  The party of three is moving really slow.  They’re not linking pitches.  This could be bad.  Sarah is belaying the leader of the first party of two, while the follower gets ready to go.  Before long, he’s moving up and Sara is leading up behind him.

9:37 AM: Finally, it’s our turn to launch.  I start up P1.

Ready to launch

The protagonists getting ready to launch

10:00 AM: I arrive at the P1 belay.  Chris is still there belaying Sarah on a linkup of P2 and P3.  We chat a bit while I bring Derek up.

10:15 AM: Derek arrives.  Chris has to simul a bit so Sarah can reach the next belay.  We have a 70m rope, so we figure we’ll be OK.  Turns out that 70m is barely enough to get into the corner at the base of the dihedral.  I  built my anchor in the corner, and had to move over to Derek’s first piece (barely in reach!) to free up enough rope for him to make it.  Not quite simul-climbing, but almost.

11:00 AM: Did I mention we were last in line?

Last in line

Last in line on the Red Dihedral

In this picture, the party of three is out of sight above.  The second in the first party of two is visible at the belay at the top of the dihedral.  Chris is leading the dihedral with Sarah belaying, and Derek is finishing up P3, almost to the base of the dihedral.  Phew.  Luckily this is the last time we felt bottlenecked.  Above the dihedral, the party of three sped up and we all kept on each others heels without waiting.

1:08 PM: I’m belaying Derek up the dihedral, with a huge grin on my face.  No matter that we were last in line.  I finally had my turn to lead it (5.10b crux, which felt easy).  Mostly it’s 5.9 hands in a corner.  Whoo!  Awesome pitch.

Derek following P4 -- the Red Dihedral

Derek following P4 -- the Red Dihedral as the sun arrives

2:00 PM: Derek nears the top of P6.  I linked P5 and P6, moving from the shade into the sun.  While belaying, I stripped down to a T-shirt, removing my sweat shirt, long sleeve shirt and long johns (don’t worry Derek, I had you on an auto-block belay).  First time I’ve had to remove my leg loops on a climb!

Derek nearing the P6 belay

Derek nearing the P6 belay

2:15 PM: Derek is moving on up P7, a beautiful 5.10a face splitter, which he dispatches after a small spot of trouble getting established in the upper crack.  With a “Whoop!” he’s over the bulge and into the easy climbing beyond

Derek leading P7

Derek leading P7

3:15 PM: By this point, I have reached the top of P8, and Derek is following.  He will link the next two pitches to the summit ridge.  Yeah.

3:35 PM: Derek heads off on the final two pitches of the main face.  After this, we have a 200 foot scramble along the top of the ridge and two more pitches to the top.

Derek heads off on P9

Derek heads off on P9

4:40 PM: Derek arrives at the bottom of P11, after I followed his P9 & P10 linkup and scrambled across the ridge to the base of the final headwall.

5:00 PM: I start bringing Derek up to the top the short P11.  We would have linked the last two pitches, but we had to wait for Chris & Sarah here anyway.  So I led P11 and Derek got P12.  He was grinning at this.  Not only did he get to top us out, but he didn’t have to deal with the pack through the hole!

5:35 PM: I’m staring out the hole at the top of the chimney at the end of P12.  Somehow I have to squeeze through this with a pack!

Hole I have to squeeze through to top out!

The hole I have to squeeze through to top out!

5:40 PM: without too much trouble, I figure it out and have gotten the pack and myself through.  Whoo, success!

6:30 PM: Finished the scramble down to the rap anchor, and started the descent down the South gully back to camp.

7:17 PM: Hoist our packs on our backs and start the hike back to the trailhead.

9:16 PM: Hit the campground after an uneventful hike back down.  We found a much better way down through the “switchbacks through the trees”, that dropped us out directly above the log crossing.  Sarah and Chris had no such luck and ended up wading through the stream!

10:00 PM: After spending some time chatting with Sarah & Chris back in the parking lot, we hit the road for the long drive home.

12:30 AM (Monday): I stop in Jamestown and trade off driving with Derek.  I suck down a half liter of water and some crackers and cheese (dinner), and promptly pass out.  I don’t come to until we’re on 205, about to miss the 680 interchange!

2:15 AM: Arrive at Derek’s place.  Unload his stuff, and head home.

2:38 AM: Crash in my own bed, and sleep like a log.

Whoo.  An excellent alpine weekend.

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