On August 16th James Colborn and I climbed "Beeline" III (5.10) on the Incredible Hulk. This route has become quite popular since it's first ascent last fall by Tahoe locals Glen Poulsen and Dave Nettle. This popularity is likely due it's moderate grade and some impressive photos, as well as a "Nettle Topo" posted on the internet. I talked to several people who had done the route who had issues with the topo, but we found it to be accurate enough for the backcountry. In the era before Supertopo and the internet, information for Sierra backcountry routes were a bit vague. The first backcountry route I ever did was the North Arete of Matterhorn Peak. I used the written description in Steve Roper's guide. It's interesting to note that it was rated II (5.5). In the early 90's I started climbing with Dave Nettle and he shared some of his "secret" topos with me. He told me I could share these detailed maps with others, only after I had done the route. As I began to tick off Dave's recommendations and routes in John Moynier and Claude Fiddler's "Sierra Classics" I learned to trust my route finding instincts. I also started to draw my own topos and share them with others. But when I was blamed for a few misadventures I became more guarded with my route information. The nature of the climbing in the High Sierra allows for many route finding options. Just because you choose a line different from the route description doesn't mean the topo was "wrong", or that you did a "first ascent". It does mean you are thinking for yourself, and developing some route finding ability.
The first pitch of Beeline features wide, loose and bushy (5.10) climbing, but the remainder of the seven pitch line is barley (5.9). I'm sure at some point a moderate variation to either side of the first pitch will be established to create a grade III (5.8+) "classic" that would introduce a whole new "element" to Little Slide Canyon. The day before James and I did the route I ran into Glen at Tacos Jalisco. He told me in his typically vague manner that the right facing corner on the fifth pitch, would (?) or does (?) go at middle (5.10). The original route goes right across a slab, then climbs a fun water groove/crack. From here you have a choice of the A-B-C-D-lines or all of the above variations. We climbed two more moderate pitches to a point on the ridge just above the rappel anchor. From here it's an enjoyable scramble to the summit. James and I did the route round trip from Truckee. We climbed it behind long time Donner Summit locals Bird Lew and Mark (sorry Mark, I don't know your last name). We also saw teams on Sun Spot, Positive Vibrations, and Red Dihedral. The name "Beeline" comes from Glen and Dave being attacked by bees on the approach during the first ascent. It also has another meaning as the "B-line" to the often crowded Red Dihedral route.
The summer continues to be slow at garage gym. Most of the athletes who train here are busy climbing and cycling. Everyone seems psyched to train hard this winter. We will also be starting a pre-season ski training program for those wanting to get a jump on the season. Dates will be posted soon. Photo-James and I on the summit of the Incredible Hulk 5:00 pm 8-16-10