Juggernaut, New Routes

California, High Sierra
Author: Jim Barnes. Climb Year: 2014. Publication Year: 2015.

My infatuation with the Juggernaut began years ago. Dave Nettle and I were high on the Incredible Hulk, waiting out a summer thundershower. As the rain eased and the clouds lifted, I noticed the profile of the Juggernaut to the west. I later asked Dave about it; naturally, he’d put up a route on its beautiful north face. Each visit to the Hulk’s summit ridge increased my desire to visit this remote part of the Sawtooth Range.

In July 2013, I wrangled Nate Greenberg to join me. We made our way in past Little Slide Canyon and into the upper reaches of Robinson Creek. We had Dave’s topos for the three established routes: the original route (Beckey-Black-Roberts, AAJ 1974), the Dihedral Route (Clevenger-Dougherty-Farrell-Rowell, AAJ 1975), and Irresistible Force (Ferman-Nettle, 2000). The Dihedral Route, a beautiful left-facing corner that splits the north face, immediately caught our eye. The climbing was outstanding, and the descent, we discovered, is an easy walk-off. The next day we tackled Irresistible Force, a sandbagged 5.10+. We were smitten. Here was an amazing cliff with tons of potential. Though the cracks are often lined with lichen, the rock is generally very good. Any intrepid climber could see the diamond in the rough.

Over the next several weeks, Nate and I stared at our photos, brainstorming potential lines. In August we finally returned, excited about the prospect of picking some plums. Over the next three days, we established three routes and started a fourth project (out the obvious, huge corner left of Irresistible Force). All of the routes are five to six pitches, with most of the climbing in the 5.9 to 5.10 range. We only placed one bolt and a pin for an anchor; all the climbing went clean. Staying with the superhero theme, we named our routes Crimson Gem (III 5.10), Arch Rival (III 5.10+)—both on the north face, left of the Dihedral Route—and Hidden Agenda (III 5.11-), which climbs the right side of the formation.

As the Hulk gets busier, formations like the Juggernaut seem more appealing. While it is justifiably overshadowed (the approach is longer, the routes are shorter), Juggy boasts great camping, easy-access water, no crowds, and moderate climbing on good stone. A motivated team could climb two or more routes in a day.

– Jim Barnes

Media Gallery