photo by Bradford MacArthur

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!  

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