Saturday, August 6, 2016

Hulk, Dana, Tuolumne

Incredible Hulk
The Incredible Hulk in the high sierra of California has been on my radar for a long time.  This summer I finally got the the opportunity to check it out.  I joined up with Jeff at the Bridgeport Ranger Station in the evening and bivied in the parking lot.  Jeff got up early and moved his pad and sleeping bag to in front of the door and fell back asleep.  We weren't taking any chances since it's first come first serve for permits.  While waiting for the station to open we had the pleasure of meeting Trevor and Emily who are also desert tower connoisseurs and heading to climb the hulk.  That afternoon Jeff and I hiked in and set up camp below the Hulk.  Jeff's long time friend Tony was coming in the next day so we climbed Positive Vibrations while it was just Jeff and I .  I've noticed a trend with Jeff were he underestimates his abilities and then crushes when it's game time.  Positive Vibrations was no different.  Before the climb he had his doubts but when he was on route he made it look easy.  
Jeff on the crux of Positive Vibrations
 After climbing the stellar route Positive Vibes, we rappelled the Venturi Effect and met Tony at our camp.  Tony has been climbing for decades and is super fun to be around.  We geared up for the Red Dihederal the next day.   We didn't get an alpine start which unfortunately put us behind a slow crew sporting big packs with mountaineering boots strapped to the outside and metal water bottles hanging off their harnesses.  No wonder they were moving slow!  We finally got passed them and bolted for the top.
Summit shot after Red Dihederal
 After the descent Jeff and I headed back to the TH leaving Tony to walk out at his own pace.  We headed back to Bridgeport for some food then back to the ranger station to bivy once again in their lot.  Jeff wanted a rest day but since Bill and Elise couldn't meet us for one more day he sucked it up and climbed the Third Pillar of Dana with me.
Jeff on the final pitch of the 3rd Pillar of Dana
 Any route that claims it's last pitch is the best in the universe, is a must do.  The only downside to the experience came on the last pitch when I said, "Jeff, watch this!".  Instead of looking up and witnessing my sweet all points off dyno he looked down to grab his camera.  So, I guess it didn't actually happen since he didn't see it, and more importantly didn't capture it on film.
Elise on the crux of OZ.
 After the Third Pillar, Jeff was adamant that he was taking a rest day so we headed to the Tuolumne store to meet Bill and Elise.  While waiting for them to drive up from the Valley, the highlight of my trip occurred.  I got to meet Dan Bailey and Matt Fraser!!!  Obviously way cooler then any climbing California has to offer.  Well maybe not, but pretty cool.
It's always great to see Bill and Elise.  Unfortunetly, Bill's feet weren't feeling great so while Elise and I climbed OZ on Drug Dome he hung out with Jeff at Tenaya Lake.  OZ was a great route even if I did feel like Bill and Jeff had sandbagged us a little bit.
Jeff on Fairview Dome.
Bill and Elise had to get back to reality the next day and Jeff was all rested up so we decided to get on the ultra classic Regular Route on Fairview Dome.  Once again we didn't get an alpine start and got stuck behind a slow party.  After a few hours of awaiting we finally passed the party by climbing a dirty runout pitch to the right of the actual route.  We climbed the final 8 pitches and descended.  While walking past the base of the route on our way back to the car we noticed that the party we had passed had made it up 1.5 pitches since we passed them.  Hopefully they had headlamps.

What a great trip, made better by old friends and new friends!