Type: Trad, Alpine, 1500 ft, 12 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Bard, Farrell, Locke - June 1975
Page Views: 67,005 total · 435/month
Shared By: Chris Owen on Aug 22, 2006
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

249 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick


This long strenuous route is a back country classic, and one of Peter Croft's "Big Four Free Climbs" of the High Sierra (see Peter's book here).

Free topo at supertopo.com/freetopos.htm…

Start early, or move fast, or both. A very popular climb for the High Sierra.

Start on the right side of the west wall - close to where the descent gully emerges. Class 3 ledges lead left across the face.

P1 - Class 4 ramp/cracks lead to the first stiff bit - a 5.8 bulge above a short corner - a couple of moves regain easier climbing and a ledge below a steep vee chimney.

P2 (long pitch) - A technical, steep, and strenuous pitch. The chimney is tricky, follow cracks and vertical flakes up and right, with another cruxy move before the old stance (and a bolt) - keep going up enjoyable and technical moves until right underneath the Red Dihedral, stiff final moves lead to a small footledge (small pieces), rappel slings located here. Some sparse protection in places.

P3 (CRUX) - Your mates big lead. Steep and sustained 5.10- dihedral with good pro to the best rest beneath the bulge, over the bulge (5.10) to a step right, then big flakes to a belay alcove - a super-classic pitch.

P4 (long pitch) - Around onto the exposed ramp which leads steeply to easier ground, with strenuous steeper bits (5.9), followed by a 5.6 ramp/groove to a ledge below the "Splitter Crack".

P5 (200ft) - Nice approach to the splitter @ 5.10a (pure and classic), or a dihedral to the left at 5.9 (more varied) - it all depends upon what you like. Continue up more steep steps and cracks barely reaching a notch beneath the "Shattered Pillar".

P6 - Left of the pillar, corner and cracks lead to a fierce lttle lieback and a superfluous bolt. Ledges then to a 5.8 lieback, then a ledge on the left.

P7 - Up the easy corner/slab, then right beneath an overlap to a steep crack through a horizontal crack with a bulge (5.9) to step right onto a ledge/ramp, go right then up a steep crack, wander then to a ledge below a corner, and a wavy crack.

P8 - The corner and crack (5.7) lead to a slab and the notch in the north ridge.

P9 - The Class 3 ledge easily (with a final exposed step) to a chimney jammed with big blocks.

P10 - The chimney at 5.8, over blocks to a large ledge.

P11 (short) - The 5.8 corner behind (will it ever end?) and up the sandy ledge (ugh) to the bottom of the final chimney.

P12 - The chimney (5.6) to the "Keyhole" where you make your final strenuous effort and are finally birthed by the Red Dihedral. Big people will have trouble - shed all gear.

See descent on Incredible Hulk page.


On the right side of the west wall, up a shallow buttress of somewhat less monolithic rock - the actual dihedral can be seen here too.


Full rack of cams with doubles in the 1" to 1.5" sizes. Wires and small cams are useful for some of the belay anchors.


Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
Thanks AJ. Just showed my 3 year old your lizard picture, now he knows a new word: "Chuckwalla"! Sep 10, 2006
The Red Dihedral is a very good not great route. I give it three stars. Good climbing on above average rock and not too sustained. Jun 8, 2007
John D
John D  
We did it in a day, starting at 3AM and using mountain bikes for the initial section. We passed three parties who had hiked in their bivvy gear and created base camps. On the way back, the bikes added an enjoyable single-track ride to the end of an already thrilling day. If you move fast enough, there is extra time for afternoon swimming in Twin Lakes (back at the car). Now, if only my climbing partner had believed me about bringing sandals / extra approach shoes for the creek... Jul 3, 2007
I agree w/ Jim D. The Red Dihedral pitch itself is the only really great one.

Re the hole at the finish: as long as the leader doesn't place any gear w/in it, the second can easily traverse around it. Jul 3, 2007
M. Morley
Sacramento, CA
M. Morley   Sacramento, CA  
Incredible route, comparable to the Casual Route on the Diamond in both difficulty and length.

The original name of the route is "Yggdrasil" - a mythological tree of Norse lore connecting the realms of heaven and hell. Ironically, the "red" dihedral is not particularly red at all. Jul 9, 2007
Oakland, Ca
snowhazed   Oakland, Ca
Can be done in 7 pitches with a 70m. Very nice. Oct 1, 2008
Rick D
Reno, NV
Rick D   Reno, NV
Does anybody have any beta(i.e. season, parking, time, etc) on skinning in round spring time? Dec 10, 2008
Chris M
Hailey, ID
Chris M   Hailey, ID
Agree with Donini. The dihedral pitch is sustained and the exit exciting and the 10 handcrack above the notch is great as well. Personally, I thought the climbing on the Mithral on Russell was better. Oct 17, 2009
Brady Robinson
Boulder, CO
Brady Robinson   Boulder, CO
Very nice route, but Positive Vibrations is quite a bit better! Jul 25, 2010
e Dixon
Durango, Colorado
e Dixon   Durango, Colorado
I agree that the Red Dihedral has some good climbing in an amazing setting, but overall is probably over-hyped. Outside of the Red Dihedral pitch and the handcrack splitter higher up, nothing is all that memorable. I thought that Mithril was a better route at the 10- grade and Positive is definitely in a different league all together. Cool route though. Aug 4, 2011
Ryan Williams
London (sort of)
Ryan Williams   London (sort of)
Did this route in late August. It was my first true Grade IV, first route in the High Sierra... first route in the high anything. I felt like it was a pretty good intro... not much 5.10 but still a ton of climbing and none of the pitches should be taken lightly.

We were slow and it took us all day. We walked down in the dark. It was also our fourth day climbing together, ever, and my fourth day climbing after a two month hiatus. We took our time and there were no fast transitions at the belays, so I'd like to think we could have been much faster under different circumstances.

Still a huge route, and I can't imagine doing anything on the Hulk car to car w/o having been up there before and being used to approaching and climbing in the High Sierra.

Don't underestimate the descent. If you don't find the rap before dark, you'll be spending the night up there. I know you can rap off the face w/ a 70m via PV anchors... ask around 'cuz walking down the scree gully kind of sucked.

Finally, I'll echo the comments about the route being over hyped. It's got two outstanding pitches on it, several more good ones and quite a bit of forgettable climbing. Definitely NOT the "Best 5.10 I Ever Did" as was stated in the mags.

Great route none the less, and will leave you wanting to go back for PV. I know I will. Sep 13, 2011
Jebus H Bomz
Sacramento, CA
Jebus H Bomz   Sacramento, CA
The majority of 5.10 climbers out there will find Red Dihedral to be a full day in the alpine and a fantastic experience. It would be highly foolish to cross this one off your list just because some people here have lost perspective in order to play the cool kid. Quality alpine rock on fun, mostly sustained climbing while ascending one of the cooler hunks of stone in the Sierras. Yeah, sounds totally lame ;).

If the rock quality isn't up to snuff for you, go to Temple Crag and report back.

My partner and I found some of the 5.9 climbing to be a little more spicy and sustained than advertised. Pitch 2 in particular relied on technical climbing over small protection.

Doubles from fingers up to 3" with triples in 0.5" (purple Camalot-sized) and 0.75" (green Camalot-sized) proved very nice and allowed some pitch linking. Additionally, brassies (and some peenuts) as well as a set of DMM aluminum offsets were used. Aug 1, 2012
Sacramento, CA
coreylee   Sacramento, CA
Great route, better (and harder) then the Casual Route on the Diamond. The dihedral and the splitter pitches are certainly memorable but I thought every pitch, minus the last, were enjoyable.

The Hulk is a beautiful piece of stone and the alpine setting creates the perfect adventure. Have fun and crush! Oct 2, 2012
Nick Barczak
Nick Barczak  
If you scramble/simul up to the "5.8 bulge" shown in the SuperTopo and belay from there, you can reach the base of the dihedral with a 70M rope.

The 100 ft leading into the dihedral, and the dihedral pitch itself are the hardest bits of climbing. After that, everything feels really soft for the grade (even the "10a splitter hands" section) and the climbing becomes more ledge-y. You can move pretty fast. We did the whole thing in 8 pitches, but only because we didn't feel like linking those last, dirty bits together.

My advice would be, do this route car-to-car. Its just not sustained enough to warrant camping up there. Although, the camping is very nice (when the mosquitoes aren't terrible).

All in all, a good route. Not GREAT, but good. Of course, I've lost perspective because we climbed it at the tail-end of a big Sierra trip where we basically only climbed 5-star routes from The Needles to Tuolumne. Jul 1, 2013
Nelson Day
Joshua Tree, CA
Nelson Day   Joshua Tree, CA
+1 for the 70m linkup of pitches 1&2 as posted. We solo'd up to the 5.8 bulge and belayed there. I was on double 60m ropes and was short of the base of the dihedral by about 40 feet when I stopped and built an intermediate belay. I think I had about 25 feet of rope left and didn't want to run out of rope before making the belay. The first 5.9 pitch is heads up - don't fall! If you are a budding 5.10 leader, I would not recommend this climb. A leader in the party ahead of us took a really nasty fall at the first 5.9 section. If you are solid at moderate 5.10, you should not have any problem. Jul 2, 2013

I lost my sleeping bag on the descent hike somewhere in the talus field on 6/21/14. I know its a long shot but if anyone finds it, let me know!

Erich Purpur
828 773 7140 Jun 24, 2014
Eric Kuenstner
Los Angeles, CA
Eric Kuenstner   Los Angeles, CA
After reading a recent article in Ascent and seeing comments about the second pitch as described here, I felt compelled to share my own experience. One must be fastidious with placements, but solid protection exists, especially with small nuts. The only spicy part was entering the chimney before getting a piece in. After the dihedral, it's smooth sailing. The splitter thin hands (p5) was also phenomenal. Jun 24, 2014
With a 60M rope we linked 2&3, 5&6, and 9&10. 7 pitches total to the ridge, with two more to the summit. Watch out for the "X" block at the belay atop the Red Dihedral pitch. Do yourself a favor and go left around the birthing hole near the summit. It's easy to do and you dont have to squirm and struggle through the hole. I passed a guy who was stuck in the hole for about 10 minutes this way. Jul 9, 2014
Nelson Day
Joshua Tree, CA
Nelson Day   Joshua Tree, CA
New trip report:
Red Dihedral Trip Report Jul 18, 2014
Ryan Nevius
Chiang Mai, TH
Ryan Nevius   Chiang Mai, TH

"Scattered afternoon thunderstorms" in the Sierra almost always means "Don't even think about doing an alpine route" Jul 21, 2014
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
Or from my POV get an alpine start (summit by 8 or 9am) and get back before they kick in. Jul 23, 2014
Mike   Phoenix
This is a nice route on a great formation. I give it 2 stars for The Hulk, which means 3 stars anywhere else. The Red Dihedral pitch is awesome, but several of the other pitches are ok to good. Oct 8, 2014
The dihedral itself is reallllllly good but the rest of the climb was just ok. Felt kind of a disappointed from the hype it seems to get though. Still better than being at work though! Oct 15, 2014
Darshan Ahluwalia
Petaluma, CA
  5.10a/b PG13
Darshan Ahluwalia   Petaluma, CA
  5.10a/b PG13

Climbed with Kia Ravanfar last weekend. What a fun day! Aug 26, 2015
Anouk Erni
Portland, OR
Anouk Erni   Portland, OR
The Red Dihedral pitch is a classic, but so sustained that it feels harder than a .9 (more like 10b). The .10b crux at the top felt way easier than the rest of the pitch. The rest of the route is so-so, and the topo does not mark the easiest way up, so look around you for easier lines if you don't feel like doing the .10 sections. This is a great alpine climb, but it's not my favorite. Sep 8, 2015
Mike Holley
Boone, NC
Mike Holley   Boone, NC
Getting to and actually getting on the Hulk is certainly the makings of a remarkable outing in an impressive and on occasion formidable setting. If you choose to camp, which we did and I recommend, it logistically and mentally allows for a much immersive experience. Waking up at the base of such a beast and knowing (hopefully) you’ll be sitting on the top by days end is a pretty radical sensation and when you eventually do make the summit you are rewarded with not only just having finished an amazing and classic route but also a stellar view of your camp way below. A proper Alpine adventure in any book!!

P.S. Don’t forget your wag bags!! Dec 18, 2015
B. Smith
Denver, CO
B. Smith   Denver, CO
Here is my trip report from last summer:

Basically, we had a blast...just know how to do the descent. :-) Jun 28, 2016
Rude Boy
San Francisco, CA
Rude Boy   San Francisco, CA
Use a 70m rope to make this go fast. Solo up to the 5.8 bulge like others say and pitch one will be from there up to the start of the dihedral. Looking at ST, pitches 4 and 5 can be linked. Then just run the rope out to a full 70m for the next two pitches and belay where you feel comfortable. Given the blocky/ledgy terrain above the dihedral it is easy to build belays anywhere. Instead of going all the way to the top like most people do, you can traverse left just under the headwall/ridgeline for 2 pitches to reach the top of Venturi Effect and then rap that back down. Everyone seems to agree that this is a much preferred descent rather than going to the top and walking down the gully. So essentially 4.5 70m pitches put us just below the ridgeline/headwall and 2 more pitches of traverse took us to Venturi Effect. You can rap all of VE with one 70m. Jul 7, 2016
Jebus H Bomz
Sacramento, CA
Jebus H Bomz   Sacramento, CA
Venturi Effect anchors from Red Dihedral is standard? For Positive Vibrations, that is the case, but I'll be a summit endorsing ass pimple and say that if you're doing Red Dihedral, the birthing canal pitch to the summit register is well worth doing. It's not that bad to descend via the single rap and talus scramble down the south gully. It's also fairly in line with the rest of the route compared to two pitches of traversing. But whatever gets you down, that's a personal choice.

It is interesting to see the backlash on this climb with 2 * ratings becoming the trend. I agree it is not an all stars classic, but between the experience of meeting this hunk of stone and the alpine adventure this route affords, that is a bs quality downgrade borne of saying "meh" to life's better offerings and a sure sign of a low t level lilly liver ;). Jul 16, 2016
Aaron Formella
Atascadero, CA
  5.10b PG13
Aaron Formella   Atascadero, CA
  5.10b PG13
Supplementary info: Recommend linking p 2 & 3 (as mentioned in previous posts). The p3 belay has a few large horns to sling. On the Red Dihedral p4 look for a few opportunities to rest by stemming out between the walls when you see an edge on the right wall. Edges on the right are fewer than on the left. Be careful not pull loose blocks just after crux 10b bulge of p4 dihedral. Save a 0.3 C4 and a #3 C4 (in downward flare) for the p4 belay. I linked the dirty chimney pitches 11 & 12 without placing any gear in p12 and the rope drag was still horrendous. I would recommend pitching them out. I used a secure, seated, braced belay at top of p12 after tunnel through in lieu of building an anchor. The descent rappel anchor could use some reflective and glow in the dark tape for parties that arrive late. A party of 3 behind us endured an impromptu cold bivy on top even though having started at 8 am. Onsighting the descent in the dark would be tough but possible with headlamps if you can locate the rappel station which is down and skiers left of the south ridge from the summit. There is another optional 12' rappel to pass the overhanging chockstone in the descent gully (it's about 100 yards down from first rappel). The anchor above it is a cordelette and sling along with biner around a block. You can do a 10' down-climb on either side of the boulder at ~5.7 to pass it as well. If planning to rappel, keep your harness on and rope ready to speed things along. The safest way to descend the very loose gullies is to hike down side by side on different paths to avoid sending blocks down onto your partner. Jul 27, 2016
Definitely agree with Gearoholic on this one: the Red Dihedral pitch is very sustained and just making it to the crux is much harder than actually pulling the crux sequence.

Also, if you have big hands, prepare for insecure off-hand jams the whole pitch. Aug 1, 2016
C Archibolt
Salt Lake City, UT
C Archibolt   Salt Lake City, UT
Matt Miccioli - I have your blue master cam, one of the nuts, a sling, and a biner or two. The gear is in SLC now. PM me and we can try to figure out a return path.

As for the *stars* discussion, I'm giving this route four stars. Pitch 3 and 5 are mega-classic. The other pitches are two stars and somewhat forgettable, but the setting is fifty stars. My math skills are a little fuzzy, but I think it averages to four stars when I run the numbers. I can't wait to return next summer and try some of the other lines.

Lastly, for those using the SuperTopo - The route beta and descent beta is very accurate. The approach beta is very outdated. There is no wilderness sign before the turn into Little Slide. Also, there is a stellar trail most of the way through Little Slide Canyon. It should not take 6 hours, even with heavy packs. (Big thanks to whoever built that trail!) Aug 1, 2016
Michael Douglas
Yucaipa, CA
Michael Douglas   Yucaipa, CA
I got to lead all the crux pitches on this amazing climb! Climbing felt harder (for me) because of the altitude at 11,000 ft although I am already quite sensitive to altitude - remember to breathe. Took a 70m and we were able to do it in 9 pitches. Feb 20, 2017
This climb definitely favors small hands: the dihedral and splitter pitch are both a little on the small side. Overall the climbing is good, but not too much was spectacular; perhaps only the splitter is amazing. Jul 9, 2017
North Las Vegas
Rprops   North Las Vegas
Stuck behind a slow party, we decided on traversing to Venturi to rap. We left a bail anchor, and got to the raps eventually, but unless there is a better traverse path we did not see, I could not in good conscience recommend attempting this to the party below or above us that day. I liked rappping but it was easily the highest level of adventure for the day, and not for the timid. Aug 3, 2017
Natalie Nicole
San Francisco, CA
Natalie Nicole   San Francisco, CA
Got stuck behind a slow first party and waited at the base for 2-3 hours as a result. I second Nelson's comment above and would caution against the budding 5.10 leader attempting this; the first party had a major strugglebus up the dihedral, and had difficulty with the earlier pitches which went at a lower grade.

P2 was the only pitch that was harder than expected. There wasn't any mandatory chimneying on the whole climb except for the last pitch. In my opinion, the dihedral gets its 5.10 grade from its sustained nature rather than from the move at the top. The splitter pitch was definitely my favorite.

Did the descent in the dark due to the delayed start. Honestly, if you've done a decent amount of 3rd class, the descent is not that bad. As of August 2017, there were a series of cairns that made it relatively easy to find the rap anchors, even for a party who has never been there before. Sep 11, 2017
Pink Thunder
Sacramento, CA
Pink Thunder   Sacramento, CA
Just did the route yesterday. Only other people we saw were two parties on Positive Vibrations. Don't know how we got so lucky having it all to ourselves, but it was gorgeous and clear. Amazing views of the Sierras. So damn glad we did it; the entire thing went like clockwork.

I took triples of three finger-sized cams (red, black and green metolius) and was glad I had them at a couple points. Nothing bigger than 3", though. We had a 70 meter rope and linked 2-3, 5-6, 9-10 and 11-12, and the only one that rope drag really sucked on was 11-12.

Agree that the crux of the whole route is the sustained 5.9 section on the 4th pitch. The 10b moves are over quick, but the lack of rests for 50 feet of 5.9 was the toughest part of the entire 1,200 feet. The crack on the 7th pitch is great, but I found it more fingers, while my buddy (who has smaller hands) thought it was a splitter hand crack.

Overall, tons of fun. Can't wait to try Positive Vibes. Aug 5, 2018