Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Climbing Incredible Hulk, Lemhi Range, Idaho

Incredible Hulk Trip Report

Incredible Hulk, Lemhi Range
East Ridge on Left, North Face Flanked by the Northeast and Northwest Ridges

Back in the Lemhis again. This range has a vast variety of mountain experiences. Climbing Incredible Hulk has to be among the best. First of all, the mountain itself is a hulking beauty. The three major ridge lines to the top from the east and north provide a class 3 or above experience depending on the route. The north gully/face, between the northwest and northeast ridges may also provide a route to the top for the intrepid climber. The east canyon, breaking off from Rocky Canyon, is absolutely stunning. I picked to ascend the northeast ridge to take advantage of views of both the north gully/face and the eastern canyon on the way up. I was not disappointed!

The approach to the mountain is very good for Lemhi Standards. A high clearance vehicle is recommended. Ben and I made the trip in my Forester without any problems. We rode many high rut ridges in the road to avoid high centering. Now, some may recall my last debacle in the Lemhis in my Forester and wonder about my above recommendation. The previous North Creek trip resulted in a beat up fender, scratches, digs, and two flat tires in the middle of nowhere. The road to Incredible Hulk is not even in the same ballpark as North Creek. I learned a good lesson during the North Creek trip and hope not to repeat it.

Getting There:

Heading North on Highway 28 from Mud Lake, we turned southwest at 44.32642 N 113.06042 W. The road led to the entrance to Meadow Canyon. Incredible Hulk, on the south, and Meadow Peak, on the north, guard the entrance to the canyon. We drove until the end of the road. There is a gate barring vehicles from further entrance into the canyon at this point. This location puts one literally at the foot of Incredible Hulk. An approach just can't get any better.

We began by hiking up the north gully and traversing a bit to the east to make the ridge line. See GPS tract at the end of report. Once on the ridge it is just a matter of going up. Above the tree line, there are several obstacles. Rock towers and small cliffs stand in the way. None of these present any challenge above easy class 3 climbing. In fact, many can be avoided by dropping slightly off the ridge and skirting the obstacle. Ben just delighted in making the climb more interesting by taking challenges straight on.

Ben Scrambling

The Summit in View

Class 3 Scrambling
Class 3 Scrambling

Looking Down the Ridge Line
Ben Just Couldn't Resist this Tower
Umpleby From the Northeast Ridge of Incredible Hulk
I kept looking over to the ridge in the west. I was gauging what kind of climb it would be and wanted to gather information for others to make an informed decision before attempting this line. Here is a photo of what I consider to be the crux of the northwest ridge. At one point, the angle rises to 50 degrees and stays between 45 and 50 for a sustained stretch. Anyway, here's the photo.

Northwest Ridge on Incredible Hulk
Northeast Ridge Leading to the Summit of Incredible Hulk
East Ridge on Left

Once high on the ridge, the east canyon comes into view. The north face of this ridge is stunning. See above. This was a definite highlight of the trip.

Looking into the East Canyon
Detail of East Canyon
It's not to far to the summit once the east canyon is on left of the ridge. Ben and I found a small cairn at the top and decided that such a mighty mountain deserved a more respectable cairn. We gathered more rocks and built a more substantial pile. We decided to sacrifice a Nalgene for a register and both added our marks in the bottle. Not sure way so many registers have disappeared in recent years. I think registers are incredible historical records and add to the community of Idaho climbers. Hoping for a long life for the Incredible Hulk Register.

Ben Relaxing on the Summit of Incredible Hulk
Yes, he is in his pajamas...Says he forgot to bring pants
Ben Snapped this Photo of Me on the Summit

The summit provides great views of Meadow peak, Umpleby Peak, Bell Mountain, Rust Peak, The Brow, Lame Jake Peak, Diamond Peak, and the Beaverhead Mountains in the east.

Lame Jake Peak, Rust Peak, Diamond Peak, and The Brow over the East Ridge of Incredible Hulk
Just a Bit More Zoomed
Early Snow on the North Faces of Diamond Peak

Looking Down the East Canyon

Bell Mountain

Umpleby Peak
East Ridge of Incredible Hulk

Meadow Peak in the North
Looking to the Beaverhead Mountains
Italian Peak, Huh's Horn, and Scott Peak with a skiff of snow
On the way up, about a half mile from the summit, we found many crystals including a large rock encrusted with crystals. I decided to pick the rock up on the way down. Thanks to Ben's good finding ability, we found the rock and I awkwardly loading it into the top of my pack. I estimated it weighed about 30 pounds. I carefully plodded down the ridge and back to the car with this big rock on my back.

Just weighed it today, It weighs 40 pounds. Had a good workout going down.

Collection of Crystals
Dime for Scale
Forty Pound Crystal Encrusted Rock

Forty Pound Crystal Encrusted Rock
GPS Track of Climb
Drove back to Rexburg and stopped by Great Scott's to rent the video, Incredible Hulk. Ben wanted to  watch the movie after climbing the mountain. It was a good way to extend the experience into the evening. Albeit, the movie was about a 2 star flick.

For more trip reports of other mountains visit Idaho Climbing

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