Yosemite

Yosemite
photo by Bradford MacArthur

Saturday, 11 August 2018

The Chinese Puzzle Wall: Hidden Dragon 12c, Crouching Tiger 12b, Manchu Wok 12d, 500m

The Chinese Puzzle Wall, Chilliwack River Valley, BC
Hidden Dragon, 12c Topo (pitches 1-6)
Hidden Dragon (pitches 7-11)
Crouching Tiger, 12b Topo

Manchu Wok (pitches 1-8)
Manchu Wok (pitches 9-13)

Approach:

Park at the Mt. Slesse Trailhead.  Follow the trail towards Mt. Rexford.  The trail steepens as it ascends through a first growth forest (30-40 mins). As the trail enters the old growth forest hike for about 5 minutes and keep an eye out for green flagging on the left hand side. (The first one is also marked by an old tin reflector pinned to a tree).  Follow the green flagging as it sidehills up through the old growth forest with a constant incline upwards (30mins).  Cross two gullies of alders. The second alder gully climbs up a few steps of rock, then exits on the left.   A few moves of down climbing and traversing lead to a slab traverse. Traverse the slabs to access the gully. (fill up with water here).  Climb up the slabs to the base of the climbs. Keep your eye out for fixed lines to avoid wet slabs.




Hidden Dragon 12c, 500m

  1. Follow the granite tufa past two bolts. Place a .5 Camelot into the obvious slot in the dike after the second bolt.   Corners and cracks lead back to the tufa. Clip a bolt and traverse left into a left-facing corner.  Belay at the ledge. One bolt plus gear.  12c, 45m
  1. Climb right-facing corner on immaculate black granite.   Make a gear belay at a comfortable stance(#3, #4). 12b, 30m
  1. Continue up the right-facing corner and into the roof (may be wet).  Exiting the roof, climb the right-facing corner to a bolted belay.  12b, 35m
  1. An overhanging and gravely chimney leads into a short off-width and blocky climbing.  Pull a difficult boulder problem to enter the right-facing corner, then traverse rightward onto flakes and face cracks.  Belay at a stance #1’s, 12b, 30m. 
  1. The Mirage Corner. Climb up the chimney and into a left-facing corner. Belay at the ledge with one bolt and .75.  12b, 30m
  1. A powerful traverse leftward leads into a right-facing corner. Climb the corner then traverse back leftward into a left-facing corner.  Climb past a tree into a chimney grove and belay on a small stance with one bolt and .3.  11c, 35m
  1. A right-facing corner leads into overhanging hand crack then into a technical left-facing stemming corner.  Make a gear belay where the corner eases into a slab stance.  12b, 35m.
  1. Traverse across the slab to enter into a powerful right-facing corner.  Belay near the tree at a single bolt and #2.  12a, 30m
  1. Climb up a gentle ramp around the right corner.  One bolder move (bolt protected) leads into a thoughtful traverse back left.  Gear belay 11b, 40m.
  1. 5th class tree climbing following the line of least resistance. 35m
  1. Easy but unprotected slab to an 11- boulder roof traverse.  Belay at a tree. 


Gear:
Singles in Blue alien, #3, #4
Doubles from .3- #2
Doubles in large offset wires 
Singles in small wires

Decent:
From the final tree belay look directly across to find a large wire placement and bolt. Rappel down the slabs to the lookers left to a bolted rappel station. 20m.   Rappel down overhang to reach the bolted rappel stations for Hidden Dragon.  (Can be done with two 60m ropes, but some rappels will reach the ropes full extent.)



Crouching Tiger 12b, 500m
Crouching Tiger climbs a central line up the Chinese Puzzle Wall.  It is named for its prominent orange stripped corner on pitch 4. Marc-André and I planned on climbing this line together after we established the first ascent of the wall via Hidden Dragon 12c, in 2016.  Caro North, Chris Kalman and I, completed Crouching Tiger, 12b+, 500m, 2018.  Its eight pitches link into the the upper three pitches of Hidden Dragon.

1. Start up the central crack system. Pass through blocky roofs to gain a ledge stance. Belay by slinging a large block. 11a, 30m 

2. A tricky boulder problem leads into a left-facing corner.  Beware as the left wall becomes hallow, place thin gear in a seam around the arête to avoid the flake.  Continue up the corner to a small rooflet and pull around the arête to a bolted belay. 11a, 20m 

3. Climb the technical stemming corner past two bolts.  Follow the crack that splits the wall on the right.  Traverse out the roof to the right then follow the crack to a bolted belay at a stance. 12a/b, 30m

4. The Tiger Stripe. From the belay move right up cracks then traverse leftward to reach the left-facing corner with the orange stripe. Belay in the chasm with one bolt plus gear.   11a, 30m

5. Follow the wide corner as it narrows down to hand size through a series of roofs.   Belay at the ledge (One bolt, plus gear). 11b, 30m

6. Start up the chimney passing a tree on the left.  Climb an overhanging crack through blocky terrain.  Traverse rightward and build a gear belay below the slab.  10c, 40m

7. A few moves up gravely rock lead into a left-facing corner.  Climb the relentlessly flared corner past three bolts, placing thin gear intermittently.  Bolted belay.  12b, 25m 

8. Climb up the crack. At easier ground clip a bolt on the left and make a few moves across a slab to reach a steep right-facing corner. Belay at the ledge (one bolt and #2)  12a, 30m

Pitches 9- 11:
  1. Climb up the wide cracks at 5.9 to reach a crux boulder problem (reach dependent).  Traverse left on thin crack and technical gear, 11b, 40m.
  2. 5th class tree climbing following the line of least resistance, 35m. 
  3. Easy but unprotected slab to a 5.11- boulder roof traverse. Belay at Tree.  
Gear:
Standard double rack, plus wires.  Triples in #1 and #2. One #4 and #5.  Offset cams in the smaller sizes could be helpful.  (The #5 is not necessary if your comfortable running it out on easy terrain on pitch 5.)

Decent:
Rappel Hidden Dragon.  

Manchu Wok 12d, 500m

From the base scramble up the scree to the lookers-right to find a small ledge.  Traverse leftward to reach the prominant tree.
  1. Begin at the tree and climb to a stance under a thin seam.  A tricky boulder problem leads to continuous climbing. At mid hight step right then continue up to gain easier ground around large boulders.  A down leaning traverse leads to a bolted belay at a prominent ledge.  5.11, 30m.
  1. A series of corners and ledge traverses lead to a bolted stance 10a, 20m
  2. Technical climbing leads into ever-powerful boulder sequences.  Bolted belay at a stance. 12d, 30m 
  3. Hand jam up the overhanging double cracks.  Bolted belay at a stance under a roof. 5.11, 25m
  4. A wide corner leads through a small roof then continues upward to a bolted belay at a ledge.  5.11, 20m
  5. A short traverse leads to a single bolt stance. 5.9, 8m (Can link with Pitch 5)
  6. A wide corner leads through a roof and into a chimney with a face crack on the left.  Climb to a bolted belay at a ledge. 11-, 25m
  7. Step up and left to gain a left-facing corner.  This leads into a large chimney and out through a large roof.  Belay at a stance above the roof.5.11, 25m  
  8. Fun climbing up a chimney leads to a thin grove.  Belay at the tree.  5.10, 25m
  9. Step right and climb up to a ledge.  Traverse leftward and over a large block.  Continue the leftward traverse which feeds into a short downclimb and further traversing.  Belay at a ledge where a bolt is placed.  5.10 ,20m
  10. Tricky boulder move leads to a leftward slab traverse and into a fun finger crack.  Belay at the ledge. 11-, 20m
  11. The tree pitch. 5.8
  12. The roof pitch. 10+ 
Gear:
Standard double rack (.3- #4) 
Set of  wires.
Decent:
Rappel Hidden Dragon. 



Monday, 30 July 2018

Taku Towers: New Routing


We flew in via Helicopter and set up basecamp below the Taku towers West face on the Juneau ice field. 

Solarsphere 12a, 360m. FA: Gabe Hayden, Brette Harrington. June 2018. 

This line climbs the Central tower on the Taku Tower.  The feature is looks rocket-like hence the name Solarsphere.  To start, we opted to climb the right-leaning ramp for the fastest approach to gain the upper wall, however, this section is feathered countless variation possibilities. Around 170m traverse a ledge to access the steeper face, marked by an obvious white corner. 

The first pitch is the crux.  I used a mix of free and aid to establish the pitch, then placed a hand drilled bolt while on rappel.  We then freed the pitch at 12a.

P1. Climb up the White Corner on layback flakes.  As the corner pinches down, clip a protection bolt and dive into a bolder problem (reachy) on the left face. Trend up steep terrain, climbing to the left of a roof. 10m more to reach a belay stance under an overlap (#2, .3, .4 for an anchor).  12a, 45m.

P2. Follow the line of weakness trending up and slightly right.  At the ropes length reach a ledge where a bolted anchor marks the next belay.  (1 bolt and 1 piton) 5.10, 60m.

P3. Climb left past a large flake. Thin gear protects a bolder move off the ledge.  Climb up cracks and into an overhanging corner protected with a black alien. Belay at the tip of a sub-tower.  11a, 50m

Move the belay down into the notch. 

P4. Traverse right, onto the exposed face.  Climb the hidden right facing corner, with good jams and good gear.  A crux boulder problem on edges leads to a shoulder. Slab climb to the top, and belay at at slung horn.  11c, 30m. 



Decent:  Downclimb the ridge making a few rappels, on set anchors where needed.  Rappel the Harrington-North line (tricky to find).  

p1 Gabe coming up P1 of Solarsphere before the bolt was added (hence the bird beak placements)
Brette starting up p4 Solarsphere
Brette Starting up p1 Solarsphere
Solarsphere: Belay at the end of p2
Sweet&Spicy 11c, 360m. FA: Gabe Hayden, Brette Harrington. June 2018.

Sweet&Spicy is named after the ever popular tea brand. The name seemed a fitting tribute to my dear friend Caro who had left her entire bag of tea to supply our tea needs.  

I spotted this line a week or so prior our ascent while climbing on the left wall with Caro North.  It stood out to me as the most stunning feature on the face, fashioning a thin crack system up a rounded buttress, crossing through a roof, then dissolving out of view.  With some imaginative scanning, the upper wall looked to lead into a series of dihedrals that all were potential candidates to link to the the summit.  

Gear: Standard free climbing rack, including a #4. We brought aid gear but never needed it.  

P1. The first pitch climbs a gentle depression, leading to a belay under a roof at the full 60 meters.  5.6, 60m

P2. Pitch two begins with a crux, pulling around the thin roof, then leads into easier terrain following a crack.  Belay in the red band of rock, to the left of a sharp tooth flake. 5.9, 55m.

P3. Traverse right around the flake and start up the steep wall.  Challenging and sustained. 11b, 60m

P4.  Climb up, trending leftward to position in a right facing corner below the roof. (Be careful not to continue up into the obvious Chimney system).   After the roof make a few committing moves in a thin layback corner, then continue up an elevator shaft chimney. Make a a belay at easier terrain.  11c, 60m.

P5. Climb up 4th Class terrain and build a belay at the base of a splitter face crack.  30m.

P6. Climb the crack that splits the face, predominately hand sized, and belay at the extent of the rope.  60m, 10c

P7. Make a few bouldery moves off the belay to mantle over the shoulder, then wind through blocky terrain to the summit ridge. 5.10, 40m.

We continued to the true summit from here.  

Decent:  Downclimb the ridge making a few rappels, on set anchors where needed.  Rappel the Harrington-North line (tricky to find).  
p3. Sweet&Spicy

Gabe climbing to the belay on p3 Sweet&Spicy


Climbing through the roof on p4 of Sweet&Spicy
Sweet&Spicy: P6


Solarsphere: Gabe coming up p4

Solarsphere p4

Gabe starting up p2. Sweet&Spicy
Toping out of Solarsphere


Harrington-North 5.10, 5 pitches
As shown in the topo, Caro North and I climbed a line on the left wall of the Taku Towers.
It begins in the obvious ramp system, then weaves up the face, as direct as possible.  The gear was often spaced, but the climbing exceeded 5.10.  The rock is very featured with sculpted holds and gentle crack systems.
Caro climbing through roofs on p.3


Brette on p2

climbing up p3

Brette starting up p4.





Monday, 30 April 2018

Jupiter Shift



Jupiter Shift




It was Late February in southern British Columbia.  The icy arctic winds had pushed out any remaining warmth from the January warm spell, leaving behind a bone chilling cold that settled into the mountain valleys.  As per our usual routine, Marc and I returned to the Mt. Slesse cirque in the North Cascades to attempt some more of our winter climbing projects. This was my sixth visit to the mountain this winter, and for Marc even more. Over the years the Nesaquatch valley has become a home to us; one in which we have explored the ins and outs of, but even still, it holds many mysteries.  It holds beauty and quiet in it’s silence. Marc grew up in a nearby town and had some of his first alpine climbs in this area.   At age 15 he had his first overnight epic on the Northwest Buttress- an experience that drove him back to the mountain countless times. Mt. Slesse became his training ground for alpinism, but one which is much bigger, larger and scarier than one would ever expect. 

Marc first introduced me to the Nesaquatch River Valley in 2014, when we simul- soloed the Northeast Buttress.  At the top he wrote in the summit register how he never thought he would be soloing this climb with his girlfriend, the climb which had taught him much about the challenges of alpinism. Together we have established many lines including, mixed, rock, and ski descents in the area.  Marc returned in the winter of 2015 and soloed the The Northeast Buttress, claiming it as his most challenging solo climb to date.  The big terrain and steep slopes makes for excellent powder skiing, then when the snow firms into a crust the alpine climbing becomes good. This is what brings us back there time and time again, despite the long approach. 




This time we hiked in with the notion of attempting the East Pillar, a route Marc had been wanting to try for a long time.  I looked at the forecast and imagined what it would be like-  shivering cold on a dark north face in the dead of winter for two days during an arctic outflow.  There was going to be a whole lot of suffering I would have to endure.  I knew that this mountain meant so much to Marc and that this was most likely the last opportunity to climb it this winter. He had dedicated the past two winters to living in southern BC, waiting for the ice runnels to form. I would put in my suffer time for him.  


The access road into the Nesaquatch Valley was buried under a deep snowpack so we parked the car at the Chilliwack Lake Road then began the long ski tour in. The valley had been coated entirely in a crisp white from the previous night’s snow fall.  The morning sky glistened with ice crystals and the air had a biting chill.  As we skied up the road the winds of the Arctic Outflow blew through the spruce and fir trees, speckling the white ground with needles and branches.  With each step we sank to our knees in the deep powder, making trail breaking an exhausting effort. I wore my thickest base layer, hat, mitts for my hands, and yet I never broke a sweat, that’s how cold it was. We followed the long road through the forest to where it meets the river.  We stopped here for a snack before crossing the river and making our way up the switch backs to the memorial plaque.   From here we got our first view of Mt. Slesse and spotted our objective- the East Pillar; a prominent strip of ice feeding down from a large cave high above.  The route looked to be in superb condition, however, the approach slopes at the base did not. There was no sign of avalanche debris at the base, meaning the slopes were still awaiting a slide. This would make accessing the climb highly risky. Marc and I continued upward to reach our gear which was stashed a few kilometers up the trail.  When we reached the poor little fir tree that held our gear it was nearly buried under snow revealing only its crown. Marc dug down and pulled out our colorful Arc’teryx duffle bags that held our tents, boots, crampons, ice tools, climbing gear, ropes, food and gas. We spent the next while stamping out a level platform to set our tent in the soft snow.  The warm rays of the sun had long since left the valley, leaving behind the blue tinge of numbing cold. Despite all of our stomping around I could feel my feet losing blood flow; an inevitable consequence of being a poorly circulated Californian. Once the tent was set up I hurriedly climbed inside.  I wished I had the flexibility to warm my feet on my own belly because my hands were like popsicles.  Marc sat down across from me and with his gentle smile said he would warm them up for me on his belly.  He then stated that he wouldn't do this for ANY of his other partners, not even if they asked nicely. I laughed at the thought, then I told him I felt very lucky. 

Over hot meals we discussed strategy:
The morning sun should hopefully cause the slopes to release, but we would wait it out to be sure. 
That night the temperatures dropped to -20c.  I slept in two sleeping bags, my 8000m peak jacket, down pants but despite everything my feet still froze. 
It was a slow and painful process to get out of our bags the next morning because everything needed to be warmed up, including ourselves. 

A misty cloud pooled behind Slesse’s sharp summit as it found shelter from the strong northeasterly winds. The winds howled through from the notch between the first and second peaks.  As the sun hit the upper wall we watched small avalanches cascading down the East face. The face was active and the slope was unstable.  Marc and I looked at each other and in mutual agreement decided this was not the right time to try the East Pillar- this was the right day to go powder skiing. 
We clicked into our skis and dashed down fluffy powder fields below camp. The snow was light, creamy and very deep. I followed Marc bouncing off of drops and diving between trees.  When I reached him- about 1000m below at the basin- he was beaming from ear to ear.  Marc has a quiet contentment about him, a peaceful energy that emanates from somewhere deep, deep within. He’s able to see the full picture, absorb what’s around him and appreciate everything at once. He and I have come to know this mountain so well; discovered it’s secrets and now we can simply enjoy them.  As we toured back up to camp we stopped for a moment to admire the valley below- completely covered in snow it looked like something out of a dream. We agreed that this was the most unique and most beautiful view we had yet seen of the Nesaquatch valley, a reminder of why we go into the mountains. 

Turning my view back towards the ski track I noticed that Station-D peak was framed perfectly between the trees of the old logging road. Hiding from view was a beautiful and mysterious line Marc and I had been referring to as ‘The Andromeda Strain Line’ (due of its resemblance to the classic Rockies line.) Marc had sent me a photo of this line a year previous, after he had spotted it from a perched vantage from Slesse’s Second Peak. 
-Marc, what do you think about trying The Andromeda Strain Line?  
- Well it depends on the condition of the slopes below, but yeah… for sure that could be a good idea.

It was settled, we would go for that line, but we would need to come up with its own name.  Marc thought of Jupiter Shift, to follow along with the Space theme.   (Station- D refers to the old Boarder Patrol station, but I think it sounds more like a space station. ) 

The morning sun rolled slowly over the mountain peaks and warmed the frost from our tent walls.  We prepared the usual breakfast of maple-brown sugar oatmeal with a handful of dried fruit,  then began the ski up to the base of the mountain. Our packs were gigantic- I cringed under the weight. My shadow was cast into the snow, looking more like a sherpa than a fast and light alpinist.  Marc’s voice called up:
-These bags are stupidly heavy! With this load we’re preparing for an overnight epic. Let’s ditch half the gear and make due with what’s reasonable.
I agreed so we ended up leaving behind one double rope, the tag line, a handful of pitons and some cams.  This meant we would be committed to reaching the top and walking off the opposite side of the mountain then traversing to a steep gully to make a single rappel or two.  
 We continued the hike to the base of the climb where we dug out a small stance on a snow arête to rack up and stash our skis.  At this point I had noticed the exceptional pain coming from my frozen feet. They would get frost bite if I carried on without tending to them.  I looked at Marc, his expression was calm and patient.  
—No worries Lil-B, let’s warm them up. 
After abut a half an hour with my feet warming under Marc’s jacket we began up the steep snow, one at a time, to be mindful of the avalanche potential.  Reaching the choke of the couloir we built a belay to start the technical climbing.   We looked up into the funnel of the mountain, the line looked superb- compressed snow gullies leading into steep rock chimneys and a roofed exit to where we could not see above. It was difficult to tell how long and how hard the climbing would be. After one more feet warming session I racked the gear onto my harness then started up the squeaky nevé.  I stopped about twenty meters up to pound in a knife blade piton into a thin seam in the otherwise compact granite. I tied it off short with a sling, then continued up the pitch. Soon I found another knife blade seam but again I had to tie it off short. This reminded me of a climb Marc and I did the previous year; the North Face of Lady Peak which had very minimal gear opportunities -which were marginal at best- for the entire route. I hoped this would not be the case today.  I reached a ledge at the rope’s full 60m length where I found a perfect belay stance and to my luck found two bomber #1 cams for an anchor.  Marc cruised up to me so fast and causal he wouldn't have needed the belay, nonetheless we were both having fun and stoked to be out there together. We had already discussed that I would lead the entire route because it was my winter project line and Marc was stoked to support me and get rope-gunned up the route. 

The second pitch started out with better protection, but the climbing was a bit more challenging. This pitch consisted of sustained mixed climbing in a chimney.  I arrived below an overhang and couldn't think of how to possibly climb it.  I contemplated my next move- left looks hard, right looks hard, straight up looks hard, hmmm…
- I don't know how to get over this overhang! I called down
Marc answered,
-What do you mean? You know how to climb overhanging rock!

I laughed.  Of course I know how to climb overhanging rock, but this rock was buried under a wave of overhanging snow and a thin veneer of ice. I began inching my way up one move at a time, uncertain of where this would take me.  I stemmed as wide was I could; my right crampon points on the vere glassed face, and my left crampons on the lip of the roof, smeared onto a slab.  I dug through the offending snow bulge to the boulder above.  With the snow gone I reached my tool around the block and to my surprise, found the most amazing hook.  A hold crafted perfectly for my pick.  I matched both hands on my tool then proceeded to layback up the corner with my tools. The climbing continued in an engaging and sustained nature until I reached the roof where I built another belay with a nest of micro pieces, wires and pitons. 

I watched as Marc blissfully climbed the pitch, tip-toeing his front points between small edges and ice blobs, delicately taping his tools into the veneer of ice.  When he reached me he was cold.  He had been shivering at the lower belay- “Soul Shatteringly cold”, he said.  

Pitch three was the crux roof traverse that began with some deep snow digging. I squeezed my knees into my chest making my body as small as possible to fit into the chasm under the roof, pressing my hands in opposition against the blocky features for support. Carefully I stepped my front point rightward on micro edges until there were no more edges but sheer slab. Once again I ran into a crux where I didn't know what to do.   Marc called up to me again:
-Try a Stein Pull in that block!
-‘What?’  I thought to myself.  Which block?  He’s confusing me.
-Flip your tool over and crank down on the handle!
-Ah, Marc thats so sketchy!  
But alas, that was my only option.  I carefully pressed the front point of my right crampon into the slab, doubtful that it would hold, and pulled down on my sketchy  inverted tool.  Then, being sure not to move my lower body, I reached my right tool far around the corner and miraculously found a blind hook. That was the end of the physical crux, but next came the psychological crux.  I stood up into a precarious stemmed position in a corner.  The corner very thin, without any obvious holds. One move at a time I progressed up the delicate corner on questionable holds the entire time.  The ice was too thin and breakable to hold my weight but the small amount of dirt that had accumulated in the corner was just enough.  I’m sure I could have pounded in a knife blade or bird beak at this point, but the climbing was too demanding to take my hands off my tools.  Nonetheless, I reached the snow gully above and with a breath of relief continued up to the end of the rope. 
      Up top everything was covered in a thick layer of rime so it took me a long while before I found a semi decent belay.  As Marc climbed up, the sun was setting behind Mt. Slesse sending a cast of colors into the sky, illuminating the ridge lines in a blue and yellow contrast.  He met me at the belay and we simul climbed together to reach the summit just as the light was fading. We high-fived, but did not take a summit photo, which I later regretted. I wish I could have captured the energy during this moment in a photo or a video.   But I know, that even through a photo, it is only the person who lived the experienced who can appreciate it. It’s the feeling of camaraderie, a partnership, where each person is working towards the betterment of the whole, no longer an individual but a pair.   It was very cold up top so Marc and I hurriedly packed up the rope and hiked down the western slope to reach a notch.  We made two rappels off of pitons to enter into a steep couloir, then we down climbed back to our skis.  It was dark and starry night as we skid down to camp over the snowy mounds of glaciated granite with the light of our headlamps illuminating the way.


Marc and I reflected back on the climb, aware that this climb was not particularly ground breaking, nor life changing. It was not the biggest nor proudest line we have established together but this was a climb where we were synchronized. We listened to the environment and made choices based on what we were told and based on each other.  It is in these moments of simplicity that we find peace and contentment.  


We never know when will be the last time we get to climb with someone.  We will never know when is the last time we will share such a beautiful moment together.  It is important to be present and appreciate what you have while you have it, because nothing lasts forever.  I hold the simplicity of this adventure, climbing Jupiter Shift, close to my heart for it was not about the climbing, but about the experience.  Skiing out with heavy packs on our backs, the familiar pattern of life kicked into the subconscious and lead us to where we needed to go.


Monday, 21 September 2015

A photo journal of The Incredible Hulk- The Venturi Effect and Solar Flare

My shadow and I climbing up the Crux pitch of Solar Flare 12d
In late August Marc and I decided to hike in to the beautiful Hoover Wilderness above Bridgeport, CA to climb on the Incredible hulk.  Having grown up in the Sierra I felt drawn to climb in these mountains, and for the past few years the idea has been filtering through my mind waiting for the right moment.
We chose to start on the ultra- classic  'The Venturi Effect' a Peter Croft, Nettle and Davis line (The Venturi Effect), and return on a later date for Solar Flare.
The Hulk in the afternoon sun- view from basecamp

The elevation took me by surprise having come straight from Squamish at sea level.  The peak resides at 11,040'.  ( Video of us on Venturi )

After hiking in, the exhaustion overtook me and I spent the rest of the afternoon stretching, drinking gallons of water and admiring the different lines on the Hulk.  Marc on the other hand had plenty of energy to boulder on some of the infinite rocks that lay about the base.

Hanging out at basecamp
  

With an early start I took the first pitch, a burly 11c with frozen hands.  We swapped leads till the end, each getting to lead two 12 pitches.  Pitch 4 was my lead, the 12d stem 'The Book of Secrets'.  I was nearing the top and found myself with both hands and feet pressing outward in a full bridge between the walls.  With one impatient move I eagerly pushed down on my palms and popped off the wall.  
Overcome with sadness I pulled back up and sent the rest of the pitch.   This was the only fall of the entire day.  Marc managed a full onsight, and I was one move away.  The day spiraled upwards from that moment on.  The sun came around the corner and we cruised up the headwall, enjoying the amazing cat-scratch splitters that line the face.
Me leading up The Book Of Secrets

Marc starting the stemming corner
Topping out the 12a, first pitch of the headwall


Marc coming up the 12b headwall cracks

Marc lead the second Crux pitch with a steady pace, teching his way up the insecure and physical moves.     
We made it to the top around 4pm, both extremely content with our efforts.  We then rapped the route, packed up our tent and hiked out of the valley, looking forward to return.  
Smiles from the top!


Solar Flare 12+,  Peter Croft and Conrad Anker 2007

This is a line which I did not expect to do so well on.  It follows a striking prow that is known for having bouldery moves while bouncing back and forth over two sides of an arête. The day started out with a frigid wind howling through the valley.  We both regretted having started early this day.  We inched our way up the first 4 pitches, with numb fingers and toes huddling together on a small ledges for 2 hours waiting for the sun to arrive.
Pitch 1, Frozen hands


12b stemming
I lead pitch 5, a bouldery 12c.  Crimping my left hand on a micro edge and smearing my right foot out across the face I reached as far as I could; leaning towards the arête.  My reach was a few inches shy and my only option was to fall towards the arête and hope for luck.  I fell rightward and my hand happened to catch on a small incut, hidden on the other side of the arête.  I looked back at Marc, eyes full of surprise thinking that this was some sort of magic.  I finished the pitch without a fall and finally made it to a sunny belay ledge.
Warming my hands before making the crux move on the 12c

Marc coming up the 12c

Marc took the final crux.  The 12d that leads up the golden prow.  Right from the start the movements are technical and it never eases until you reach the belay.  Huge gusts of wind almost knocked him off as he balanced from one side of the arête to the other, but he made it to the top without a fall.
Marc on the 12d arête

It was then my turn and with a calm excitement I too sent the pitch.  I then lead us up the final 12a/b where the route connects with Sunspot Dihedral.  
Marc on the final pitch, 12a/b


Despite the cold and windy conditions that were playing against us, we both managed an onsight of the route!