Eastern Sierra Escapades

Trip Start Mar 21, 2012
Trip End Mar 25, 2013

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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, September 17, 2012

We have been gawking over photos and guidebooks of the granite alpine rock climbing of the Eastern Sierra for many years now.  This August was our chance to fulfill the dream to climb of bunch of these peaks with some great friends.  After waiting out a period of unstable weather – daily thunderstorms in mid August -- we met up in Bridgeport south of Tahoe with our friends, Greg, Doug, and Sara, and hiked into the Sawtooth range, home to the famous granite face known as the Incredible Hulk!  This 1500-foot granite face is riddled with such good granite that Peter Croft calls it the best alpine bigwall in the lower 48! 

Sara stoked to be getting away from work and going into the Hulk! GOPR0604
Walking into Slide Canyon, home of the Incredible Hulk!

Meet Greg Horvath!

The Hulk! There are amazing routes all over this massive piece of rock!

On our first day, Sara, Ben and Lindsey climbed the Red Dihedral (5.10b), while Greg and Doug climbed Blowhard, one of the tougher, more technical routes on the northern section of the Hulk.  The next day, Greg and Ben climbed the ultra classic Positive Vibrations while Sara and Lindsey took some time away from the rock to explore the area natural splendor.

Sara climbing on the lower pitches of Red Dihedral

Lindsey enjoying one of the rare moments when the sun came out that day!

Sara doing yoga on the summit

Lindsey and Ben downclimbing on the descent

Greg giving a fist pump way up high on pitch 5 of Positive Vibrations. Our new rope shines on the rock!!

Group shot!

Ben and Greg goofing around at one of the many belays

Ben pulling the crux moves of the climb.

A quick return to civilization (read: burgers and beers) and we were off on our own respective adventures with friends Tim (currently living in San Francisco) and Lynne (who flew down from Seattle to join Lindsey) for a week. 

Lindsey and Lynne were making friends all over Tuolumne as a rare, all girl, climbing team. Even through it's more popular in Tuolumne than many places, we only saw one other all-girl team during our week's time there!

Of course, we HAD to hit Cathedral Peak, a Tuolumne classic...

But being a classic, the face was zoo full of climbers of all abilities, criss-crossing each other and queuing up for the famous chimney pitch.


We decided to take a variation about 100ft to the right to avoid the traffic jam, but still ran into a family of four on our way up and had to build extra belays so as not to interfere with their climb. The climbing was still tons of fun!


AND, being a classic climb in the easier grades meant many free solo climbers (without a rope). Here's a couple guys (the one below is on his first ever free solo!).

These two were having a blast on the route, but we ran into another free soloer at the summit who concluded he shouldn't be free soloing...and that's why we never bother in the first place and always take a rope!!!

Needless, the summit was beautiful and we snapped a couple shots of other climbers perched atop the classic Eichorn's Pinneacle, a great extention to do after topping out on Cathedral Peak.


Summit of Cathedral and other climbers on Eichorn's Pinneacle

Lynne and Lindsey enjoyed other great days of climbing easy classics, such as Holdless Horror, and taking afternoon dips in Tenaya Lake.

Lynne working on her leads on DAFF Dome!

Budd lake after climbing Cathedral Peak

Panorama on top of Fairview Dome, Cathedral Peak in the background

Meanwhile, Ben and Tim took off for the Third Pillar of Dana and then onwards to the Mt Whitney area where they climbed the East Face and Buttress routes on Mt Whitney and the Fishhook Arete on Mt Russell. The rock quality on these alpine peaks is simply magnificent!

Third Pillar of Dana

Splitter crack climbing on the upper pillar

Tim on the East Buttress of Mt Whitney

Mt Whitney mountainscape - L -> R: Day Needle, Keeler Needle, Mt Whitney

Tim playing air guitar near the summit of Mt Whitney - Mt Russell can be seen in the background left with all its impressive buttresses

Looking down from half way up Fishhook Arete on Mt Russell

Ben roped up and ready to lead off on the East Face of Mt Whitney

We left the Whitney area for a quick rest and burritos and then headed up to Temple Crag where we climbed Sun Ribbon Arete in a relatively comfortable day.

Temple Crag in morning light

Tim starting up the first pitch

Making progress up the arete


There are several towers on the arete which in some cases can be simple climbed over, but at one point, a tyrolean traverse is required!

Fun moves on some of the better rock on this route (overall the climb was chossier than we expected)

The four all joined a week later to share their stories and sport climb in Clark Canyon.  Tim and Ben – who had spent the majority of the week talking to each other in their ridiculous British accents – put on a thespian performance the last evening for the ladies.  Bravo!

Lindsey and Lynne at Clark Canyon

When the week came to an end, we were sad to see our buddies go, but happy to return to married life in the van and celebrate our 2-yr anniversary on the road!

Ben Custom Skis - Kunz Pro Model :)
Ben's custom-made skis, courtesy of Kam Leang. What an anniversary surprise! Can you guess who's face is on his skis?

More pics of this leg of the aventure can be found here:
Tuolumne with Lindsey and Lynne
Third PIllar of Dana with Ben and Tim
Mt. Whitney and Russell with Ben and Tim
Clark Canyon
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David Kimber on

And you damned fools didn't boulder AT ALL!!! :-) Ah the leisure of having all the time in the world...

Rob Fatland on

wow. i gotta get out more.

seriously phenomenal photography; thanks so much for taking the time to put this up!!!! (I don't suppose I could use this as a Tour resource?!...)

Tony Nguyen on

Great travel and climbing shots! Seems like you guys have been just ripping through the classics! I was pretty close to you guys, as I was in Yosemite last weekend, doing Astroman! We plan on doing the Hulk in a couple weeks. If you're in the Bay area, hit me up! and never give it up! two years is insane.

Carrie Snow on

Gorgeous! Love you guys!

sally kunz on

Interesting skis. What happens when you do a forward face plant?
Smack or smooch?

Donat on

What the frack is a tyrolean traverse?

Bon on

A Tyrolean traverse is a method of crossing through free space between two high points on a rope without a hanging cart or cart equivalent!

Max on

Groovey skis

Pedro on

Looks like you had a blast! I wanna do so many of those routes. Great photos!

benglenn on

Man this makes me miss California. Awesome shots, especially the one of Eichorn. Miss you guys!! xoxo

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