Howdy alpine rock climbers. This edition of the Alpine Conditions report is focused on the Sawtooth Range and specifically the vicinity of the Incredible Hulk. We just spent a few days there in Little Slide Canyon and would like to share with you our findings. Read our recent trip report from the Red Dihedral for a nice photo gallery that will further inform and titillate you. (Love that word titillate, and glad for the opportunity to use it with you here today.)
First of all, the Hulk is popular. If you haven’t been there in a while, or at all, you should realize this. In 2.5 days we saw 8 climbing teams up there. That means an early start is a good idea. There was apparently a few parties stuck up there high on the climb in the dark past 2am the day before we arrived. The Supertopo guidebook makes it sound like doing it in a day is a good way to go, but really this recommendation is only for very fit, acclimated, competent, and efficient alpine rock climbers.
Days are long and the sun is high and strong. We experienced low temps in the lower 50’s and highs in the low 70’s at camp at 9600′. Sun hit the wall by 12:30pm. With the usually present breeze this made for pleasant temps, but without the breeze it was almost too warm mid-day. Cumulus clouds are building up in the afternoon so check your forecast and again, start early. The standard approach and descent are completely free of snow. There is snow and plenty of running water at the high campsites. It is lush and green up there. The mosquitoes are the only issue at the moment, especially if the wind is calm and if it is warm then they are active all day and night. If you camp, bring a shelter with a bug screen. Another word of caution is that there is a family of marmots that live up there that are completely tame. We were constantly surrounded by 4 of them and they seemed completely unafraid of humans. They also eat unsavory things like foam trekking pole handles and shoe rubber. Make sure everything is hung up or in the proper food storage containers (bear cans required these days) while you are out climbing or sleeping.
Enjoy your climbs on the Hulk this season and let’s all take good care of the place for each other. Hope you find this information useful. Thanks!