Report from June 4, 2023
Brought to you by Mono County Tourism
The Incredible Hulk.
Just the name draws you in…
Who wouldn’t wanna ski The Incredible Hulk!?
We’ve wanted to ski this gem for a long long time.
This is one of the very best chutes in the Sierra Nevada.
Over 45º steep in spots.
I’m not gonna lie – on the way up I was simultaneously in the pain & fear caves…
The snow on the way down was picture perfect.
This was a day we’ll never forget.
11,520′ Incredible Hulk, CA – “Hulk Couloir Left” Details
- Summit (actually a ridge line): 11,200′
- Car: 7,000′
- Vertical From Car: 4,200′
- Vertical skied: 1,500′ in chute – 3,000′ total
- Max Pitch: 45+º
- Avg Pitch: 40º
- Aspect: Northwest
- Distance: 11.5-miles round trip
- Time From Car to Top: 5 hours & 30 mins
- Car to Car Time: 8 hours & 30 mins
- Recommended Equipment: Crampons, 2 Ice Axes, Skins, Ski Crampons
- Note: Follow the directions closely in “Backcountry Skiing California’s Eastern Sierra” book to hit creek crossing correctly
First of all, let me vent a little frustration about the ski line names in the Sierra.
You have a mountain called “The Incredible Hulk” and you then could only muster the creativity to name the wicked, consequential chutes on either side of it “Left” and “Right” chutes?
Why not “Superman” & “Green Lantern” couloirs?
“The Joker” & “Lex Luther”?
You could even branch out and call them “James Bond” & Octopussy”!
Anyway, I digress.
We started the day hiking from the RV park at the end of Twin Lakes at 8 am.
The six of us told each other stories and lies down the meandering, swampy trail for approximately one hour before we got to the left turn into the canyon that holds “The Incredible Hulk.”
There’s a creek crossing there and our group dynamic instantly helped us miss the turn, argue about what to do next, and wander around looking for a crossing.
After 30 minutes wasted, we found the correct trail and crossing.
The crossing was a bit sketchy, but very doable and no one got wet.
Creeks, rivers, and streams are raging in the Sierra right now after the record snowfall winter.
After the creek crossing we scrambled up cliffs and pine needles to the start of the snow.
Had we not gotten lost, it would have been 1.5 hours of dirt walking to get to snow.
At the snow we donned skis and skins and started up canyon.
The travel was easy right to the base of the Hulk.
Note: this entire zone is spectacularly gorgeous.
All of it.
Twin Lakes, the trail in, the Hulk’s canyon, all of it.
We were able to skin right to the base of “Hulk Couloir Left.”
Crampons and ski poles for the start of the steep couloir.
About 1/4 of the way up the chute steepened and we swapped out one ski pole for one ice axe.
Not much further on as the chute steepened further and became more firm, I grabbed my second ice axe.
I went first and putting in the booter was scary.
For much of the chute, I was two-tooling and front-pointing more than I’d liked to have had.
I eventually made it to the top after about 1.5 hours in the chute.
My time from car to summit was 5 hours and 30 minutes.
It was approximately 1:30 pm.
Lee & Trevor were right behind me.
The evening shadows were already creeping across the chute.
Our fear was that those shadows were going to firm up the steep snow making both climbing and skiing through those zones more dangerous.
We didn’t hang out on top.
We transitioned to skis with fear in our eyes.
Thunderclouds were also threatening to eliminate any sunshine for the rest of the day.
As per usual, attaching skis to our feet perceptually lessened the steepness of the chute by about 10º.
We were comfy again.
Greggy hit the ridge just as Lee dropped in.
Lee informed Dwanis and Martin that they should turn around where they were.
I dropped shortly after Lee hoping to absorb the last direct solar photons of the day.
It just worked…
Martin & Dwanis hugged the skier’s left wall as I sprayed down.
I was able to ski the chute top to bottom without stopping due to the snow being so damn perfect.
The snow was a touch firm up top, but still good, then it became A+, 5-star corn.
We were ripping down this 45+º chute like it was nothing!
Had it been firm, we’d have been shaking lab rats…
What a dream come true.
After Lee & I hit the base of the chute we posted up and watched everyone else through.
Martin continued to the top.
Dwanis transitioned where he was.
All skied it like rock stars.
The very base of the chute was nearly melted out.
We had to sidestep and shimmy through the rocks for about 50 yards before opening it back up on the apron below the chute.
We regrouped, pole-tapped, exchanged stoke and compliments, and continued downhill under a rolling blanket of gray and occasional flinch-inducing thunderclaps.
No energy was required to get back to where we’d left our shoes.
Shoes on, we meandered down sometimes finding, sometimes losing the “trail”.
Reversing the stream crossing was uneventful.
Oh, wait, Martin did drop a ski pole.
It floated and Greggy and I valiantly rescued it from the clutches of oblivion.
The one hour stroll home was littered with myriad flowers and smooth as silk “Butt Wipe Plants” (Mule Ears).
We arrived back at our cars on the lake 8 hours and 30 minutes after we’d left them.
We packed up and started driving toward Bridgeport for Jolly Cone burgers, fries, and ice cream.
As we drove along the lakeshore it hit me that we needed to swim!
I yanked the car over and we all piled out and into the lake.
The water was icy but we were still heated from the hike home.
It was the rush of the day.
Dopamine was increased.
With clean skin and shit-eating smiles we drove through Bridgeport’s spectacular, cow-filled meadows.
Jolly Kone was spot on.
Ice cream, bacon burgers, fries.
The drive home was easy ridin’.
Yesterday was a dream come true.
SPRING 2023 REPORTS
- 6/2/23: Trip Report: 13,187′ Basin Mountain – “Basin Couloir Alternate”
- 5/31/23: Trip Report: 12,808′ Four Gables, CA – “Tungstar Bowls”
- 5/27/23: Trip Report: 11,160′ Mt. Scowden – Lundy Canyon – “North Face Chute”
- 5/24/23: Sierra Nevada, CA Report: Skiing Through A Lava Tube Cave
- 5/24/23: Sierra Nevada, CA Surf Report: Shredding The Lazy River At High Flow
- 5/23/23: Trip Report: 13,118′ Mt. Emerson – The 45º Steep “North Couloir”
- 5/20/23: Trip Report: 12,200′ Mt. Esha, CA – “2nd Chute”
- 5/18/23: Trip Report: McGee Creek Peak, CA – 2,800-Vertical-Foot “Wineglass Couloir”
- 5/16/23:Trip Report: 10,908′ Carson Peak, CA – 45º Steep “Pete’s Dream”
- 5/5/15/23: Trip Report: 11,812′ Mt. Laurel, CA – 3,500-Vertical-Foot “Pinner Couloir”
- 5/10/23: Trip Report: 13,005′ Mt. Morgan, CA – Nevahbe Ridge Gullies