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North America, United States, California - Sierra Nevada, The Incredible Hulk, West Face

The Incredible Hulk, West Face. Joe Kiskis, Bob Grow, and I converged once again on Twin Lakes to approach a climb at the head of Little Slide Canyon opposite the pinnacles that had diverted us on our first trip. We approached the Incredible Hulk over talus and began the first lead up the side of a 200-foot triangle until we arrived at the first ledges. Above us, but 80 feet away, yawned a left leaning, overhanging slot guarded by loose overhangs. We climbed straight up 70 feet, tensioned across, then the long chimney led to good bivouac ledges. Above, many leads away, was another series of roofs, the apparent crux, which we had visions of turning the following day. The next morning a bit of nailing led to a hanging flake in the book beneath the ceilings. Nuts and fright put me atop the flake quickly. A short stretch of good crack led up until the corner could be turned and then there was nothing but a 100-foot seam. I came down to allow Bob to tension out to the right, away from the horror above. When the hassle was over, we had come to a ledge in the middle of the face, out from beneath the overhang, but with blankness above, and blankness below. It was not long, however, before a thin line put us some 100 feet to the right and about 50 feet higher. Still with no good way up, another traverse landed me on the buttress bounding the right side of the wall, where I built a place to sleep while Joe and Bob fought with the cleaning job below. Bob, the third man on a two-man ledge, left early in the morning to finish the chores below, while Joe started chipping away at the distance remaining to the top of the wall. Frequently clinging against the force of the wind, he took out a full rope up the buttress, as the going got easier and the ledges more frequent. Another lead and then third class until we reached the top. There was no way off, but for the way we had come, so 10 rappels later we reached the ground. Now it has been climbed, although if you think of it as a mountain, we did not go to the summit. It might be one of the hardest summits in California; 1300 feet in front, probably 1000 feet on each side, and even the ridge connecting the summit to the massif behind looks like about a quarter-mile of 4th and 5th class, well guarded with many spikes and pinnacles. So the summit is still waiting along with a thousand other possibilities. NCCS V, F8, A2.

Greg Donaldson, Stanford Alpine Club