The Red Dihedral is one of the classic great hard climbs of California’s Sierra Nevada. The peak is a huge cleaver of pure white granite split by numerous crack systems that resembles Yosemite Valley rather than the typical high Sierra. The cruxes are crack climbing rather than face and as such require technique rather than brute strength.
The first ascent of this route was by three 1970s Yosemite climbers: Dale Bard, Bob Locke and Mike Farrell. They originally named the route Ygdrasil after the mythic ash tree of Norse mythology. But it has since become best known as the Red Dihedral – probably because no one could spell or pronounce Ygdrasil.
We also combine this route along with The Third Pillar of Dana into our Third Hulk Linkup giving two of the best hard climbs in the Eastern Sierra in three days.
The best guidebooks are Supertopo’s “High Sierra Climbing” by Chris McNamara. and Peter Croft’s “The Good, The Great, and the Awesome”.
Get them from Maximus Press.
We highly recommend that you spend at least one night at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000′) just prior to the trip. Spending a night in Mammoth or camped in the Bridgeport area would do the trick. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more info.
We have to pay the Mono Village and overnight parking fee of $5.00 per night.
Return to Classic Alpine Rock Climbs
We meet in Bridgeport, do a thorough pack and equipment check and distribute group gear before packing up and heading for Twin Lakes. The approach starts off through the Twin Lakes campground, then takes the well-maintained Barney Lake Trail for about an hour or so. We then cross the stream and begin climbing more steeply. From here there is a climbers trail that comes and goes but gains the less than 2,000 feet to the base of the Hulk. The last bit of the approach involves some talus and brush. Camp is a beautifully flat sandy platform barely 20 minutes from the start of the climbing. Water can sometimes be an issue here so for late season falls we need to camp a little lower.
This is going to be a big day so we start early. The first few pitches are always in the shade so we dress warmly. Things start easily with some 4th class with a few hard moves. But the angle steepens and the hard moves get closer together and we get into 5.9 terrain and small stances. The crux is pitch four – the Red Dihedral pitch. The first 100 feet are sustained 5.9 with nothing harder – and nothing easier. One foot jammed in the crack, the other smeared out on the face or searching for small face holds. The crux comes just before the belay and involves a long reach to a good hold. The hard part is getting the feet high enough to make the move. A reach to the right, pull up and suddenly it is 5.7 to the belay and you barely have time to get too pumped and worked up about it all.
Around now we will come into the sun and warm up. We encounter great cracks with good ledges and resting places as we continue up to the summit ridge. But we are not done yet: after an easy 3rd class traverse we have a grainy 5.8 pitch and then a tight chimney to squeeze through just below the summit. The summit itself is a perfect pointed block with barely enough room to sit. Open the summit register and there is even an “Incredible Hulk” superball.
The descent takes us down the south ridge via one long rappel and then we downclimb a gully and talus back to the base and our gear. You can expect to spend most of the day on the route and return back to camp. Once back, we’ll rest a little and pack up, then hike back to our cars. If you would rather relax a little more and spend 3 days and 2 nights in the backcountry, talk with the office to make this a 3 day trip instead of 2.
Elevations and Distances
Trailhead to camp: 4.0 miles, 2570’ of gain, 138’ of descent
Camp to summit to camp: 1.0 miles, 1870’ of gain, 1870’ of descent
Camp to trailhead: 4.0 miles, 138’ of gain, 2570’ of descent
You should be in good physical condition, have some backpacking experience and have the ability to traverse broken uneven slopes with a moderate pack. Prior experience at altitudes above 10,000’ is recommended. You need to be able to follow at the 5.10a level and have experience on multi pitch routes.
Price includes guiding, permits, group climbing gear, tents, kitchen gear, breakfasts, lunches and dinners (you bring hot/cold drinks and snack items). Scheduled dates include USFS trail fees. Private programs do not.
Local accommodation is not included.
★ Please Read before you go ★
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Details, itinerary, and equipment list for your trip
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Incredible Hulk Map
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