Where in the world is Hugh? (originally posted 4 October 2012)

I’m in Bishop USA!

Bishop is warm. 97 degrees (36C) warm in fact.
We have just got back into town after spending the last few days up in the High Sierra climbing on The Incredible Hulk. Without really recovering from Half Dome we drove to the Twin lake trail head near Bridgeport then packed our bags and bashed up the valley into the High Sierra.

On my last trip to Yosemite and surrounds I spent some time walking in this area, The Saw Tooth range a couple of valleys over, and it was what 1st drew me into spending time in high places. It was terrific to be entering the vertical scenery as a participant rather than as an observer this time.

The Incredible Hulk is just that, an Incredible Hulk of buttress of granite that dwarves everything else in the valley, it draws the eye from way down the valley and cries out to be climbed. As we walked further and further up the valley features, splitter cracks and corners, started to distinguish themselves from the rest of the rock.

After 2 1/2 hours of walking we crested a rise and the entire monolith came into view. so to did camp which I set up whilst Dunk did a trip up to the creek to collect some water. This left me with some time to consider our rock and to become very excited about the 5.11 climbing we would be doing the following day.

5.30 am the alarm is ringing. I hit the off button and Dunk and I make noises about getting up.

7.30 am, no alarm this time but we seem to wake simultaneously with an urgency that showed our sub consciences knew we had well and truly over slept. Still, relatively, it is a short route right? we are both getting good at climbing in the dark… we drink a lot of coffee to blow out the cobwebs and hit the scree to the base.

What followed was 6 or 8 pitches of quite good climbing, broken by a block of three 5.11 pitches of the best climbing I have ever been fortunate enough to look at much less climb on.
The 1st pitch, my lead, and 50m of the best stemming and finger locking I have ever been on. Unfortunately this was the 1st purely free climbing I had done in some time, and ended up in some weighting of the gear high on the pitch.
The 2nd pitch, Dunks lead, shorter but with some ridiculous moves off the belay. It backed off after the initial hard moves into a more sustainable hand crack to the belay.
Pitch 3 5.11- or 5.10+, another 50m wonder and my lead again, the long pitches and big run-outs (which I manage by back cleaning) are starting to take their toll. Still I am keen to get this pitch free and fight hard all the way up to the belay which I flop onto in such a dazed state that it is almost a surprise when Dunk arrives and collects the gear for the next pitch.

The rest of the afternoon passed in a bit of a blur, easy climbing with difficult route finding along a loose-ish ridge-top to the summit. We hit the summit right on dusk, a beautiful time of day, shot a quick vid then searched out the descent. A hundred meters or so of scrambling, 30m abseil, and an hour of scree bashing (in climbing shoes) later we were back at the packs.

The following morning was not exactly a bucket full of laughs. Neither of us were well hydrated, neither of us were recuperating as well as we were at the beginning of the trip, and neither of us were enjoying the constant intake of Ibuprofen and coffee needed to keep us up and running. Never the less, Coffee and Ibuprofen were on the menu for breakfast before heading back up the scree to climb Red Dihedral.

I took the 1st couple of pitches, having a hard time until shoulder warmed up enough to be confident about it holding my weight. Dunk took the crux, then I punched it though to the top. Another classic climb, this time with a much faster descent, shoes and daylight helped here…

Being back in Bishop licking our wounds, hanging around in the pool, and packing our gear before the flight home has provided the opportunity to reflect on the trip. For 2 guys who’s only goal was to get up The Nose in a push, we seem to have got a quite a bit done. Maybe we could boulder for an hour or so tomorrow before driving into LAX…


PS. There’s more photos in an album on our face book page

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