Sun Spot Dihedral 5.11b

  • Currently 5.0/5

Incredible Hulk

High Sierra, California USA

Trip Report
Hulk-O-Rama 2013
Friday July 12, 2013 5:21pm
Brevity, Humor, Photos. Ok here we go!

The springs moan as Adam navigates his Malibu around another steep curve going up Sonora Pass. Vitality keeps my mind off the road with jokes from the back seat. We've managed an early start to a three day weekend and I couldn't be more thrilled. Two months of running have left me itching to climb outside. The Incredible Hulk is the perfect place to jump start my summer climbing season!

Another beautiful day at the Hulk!
Another beautiful day at the Hulk!
Credit: Adam Sheer

Adam has signed on to play rope gun and I'm along as the tour guide. I've got un-finished business all across the Hulk and we are here to try and slay those daemons. After the mandatory wind sucking approach we find the hulk nearly empty. Cold weather prompts a leisurely lunch and we start up Sun Spot Dihedral a touch after eleven.

Adam on Pitch 3 of Sunspot

Luke makes a cruxy reach on P3 of Sunspot Dihedral. Photo by Adam Sheer

The granite bites into my soft fingers and we romp up the first few pitches. Adam calmly dispatching the pumpy underclings and spooky corner on Pitch 3. I'm feeling a bit anxious as I slot in nut after micro-nut on pitch four. On a previous visit I ripped off a large hold n this pitch and we had bailed, bloodied and defeated.

Adam follows the amazing 4th pitch

Luke enters the Sunspot. Photo by Adam Sheer

Meter after meter my forearms taunt me and threaten to release. The anchor, so far away at first, finally is within reach and I've done it. We keep swinging leads and make it through the next few pitches before rapping off down Solar Flare. We hoot and holler across the face at Hamik and Vitaly who are rapping down Blowhard.

Rapping down. Photo by Vitality M.

An aversion to cold leads to another leisurely start which is the cherry on top of our long night of sleep. The masses have come out of the woodwork and the conga line will grow to 7 parties on Positive Vibrations. Luckily Adam and I have chosen Tradewinds and don't have to worry about the crowds.

Adam starts up P1 of Tradewinds

The starting corner appears casual but packs quite a punch and denies Adam the onsight. I barely squeak my way through trying desperately to remember sequences from three years prior. After the brutal warmup we get into a grove and swing pitches with Adam leading the spicy ones.

Adam leads the 6th pitch of Tradewinds. Photo by Vitality M.

Luke gets psyched for some thin laybacking. Photo by Vitality M.

The weather on the middle section of the hulk is amazing and I wonder why Tradewinds </a>isn't more popular. I strip down to a T-shirt and set off on the first of two crux pitches. My confidence wavers and I still end up hanging and falling a handful of times. But upon reaching the last bolt I filled with laughter. A great SuperTopo trip report comes to mind: If you like Off Width, You'll Love Tradewinds on the Hulk As I dyno towards the jug, below the belay, I'm glad that I love offwidhths!

Luke on the first crux pitch. Photo by Vitality M.

Adam contemplates the all points off dyno to the belay

Fulfilling his duty as rope gun Adam sends the first crux on follow and swings through for the last hard lead. Thin laybacking is the name of the game and he makes quick work of the pitch, a great showing of fitness. A stream of people has been rappelling down the Venturi Effect and we squeeze our way up between parties. It takes 100% commitment to dig my fingers into the thin seam and layback to victory.

Adam laybacks up the last pitch on Tradewinds. Photo by Peter Valchev

Adam leads the final pitch up into the Venturi. Photo by Peter Valchev

Plenty of daylight remains as we join the stream of climbers rapping down the face. Back at camp we savor the tales of the day hanging out with new friends under the supermoon. We take no pictures the following day as cold winds and occasional rain drops chase us off the polish route. On the hike out I'm already making plans to go back. Adam is hooked too and I'm sure we will be roping up again shortly.

Part 2:

The next weekend couldn't come soon enough and magically I've found another partner for the Hulk. An email showed up from a good friend checking to see if I was free. His friend, Sam, an acquaintance I was soon to make, was looking to get on the Venturi Effect.

In Bridgeport I overhear Sam talking to his significant other, assuring her that he would be safe and that I was an experienced climber. It sounded like an echo of the conversation I had with my wife the night before. It takes a lot of trust to climb with new people and Sam and I were lucky enough to get along almost instantly.

Sam checks out the crux traverse on P2 of Venturi

The weather couldn't be more different than the week before and we fry on the hike in. We meet lots of people heading out who are all raving about the bugs. Polly, a friend of a friend, even gives us a can of bug spray to help defend us from the madness we are about to encounter. I've never seen more mosquitoes and we spend the rest of the day trying to avoid them and the piercing sun.

We get a 5am start and despite the early hour are easily climbing in T-shirts on the first few pitches. Sam takes the sharp end until pitch five and does a great job on a series of difficulty leads. He is not pleased to have fallen more times than his past ascent but I'm impressed by his climbing. I manage to just squeak by pitch after pitch on follow. The Book of Secrets is a blur of tips locks and pump.

Sam chills out on the Book of Secrets

I'm determined to lead a few pitches and I take over the sharp end as we get onto the amazing headwall. The first 5.12 pitch goes well as I hang only a few times to figure out a tricky sequence. With running beta Sam easily follows clean and I charge off on the next pitch.

Sam follows the bouldery 7th pitch

The climbing is phenomenal with shorty tricky sections split up by good rests. The crack starts pinching out and soon enough I'm cruxing below a 1/4" bolt, unsure how to make further progress. Yet again it takes me a few hangs before I've figured out the right sequence and make it to the bolted finale. The crack closes out completely and I'm faced with a series of grooves and pinches. Lackbacking is the name of the game and I sprint up past the next few bolts. All of a sudden the holds run out and I'm faced with a moment of truth.

Luke on the amazing pitch 8 splitter

I double gaston the grooves and lurch up for a distant crimp, praying my feet stick. My skin wraps around the perfect edge and I barely power through. The crux is over and I monkey across a line of crimps to the belay. Sam yet again shows his skill, hanging only once while trying to retrieve a stuck cam. On the other hand I am totally cooked and Sam swings through for the hardest pitch of the route.

Sam on the long headwall splitter.

A steep flared finger crack looms above us which turns a roof and runs wildly up into the Venturi. A smattering of bolts, gear and try hard get Sam up the pitch. Each time he falls off the pitch I feel the lactic acid grow heavier in my arms. We've done three 5.12 pitches with a handful of 5.11 and it is finally taking it's toll.

Luke fights up the steep ninth pitch

Neither of us send the pitch clean but the climbing is out of this world. It is the definitive crux pitch for us and the challenge keeps our psyche high. I take the lead for our final pitch and barely make it thought the tips laybacking. We have joined up with the final pitch of Tradewinds and the familiarity helps me send. Soon enough we are both sitting above the Venturi chimney contemplating the past hours of adventure. It is one of the hardest climbs we both have ever attempted and it went shockingly well. Neither of us expected a send and now the numbers and features on the topo have more meaning. We imagine Peter Croft, well past 50, styling the route.

The next day Sam hikes out to make the long drive to Denver and I replace a few 1/4" bolts and tat on Tradewinds. I'm back to the infatuation stage with the Hulk and can't stop thinking about all of the amazing pitches. Sam and I both know that the route will draw us back to the Hulk. It seems like I just can't get enough!


  Trip Report Views: 3,370
About the Author
Luke is a trad climber and occasional runner from Sunnyvale, CA.

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dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  Jul 12, 2013 - 05:27pm PT
Thanks for the report, great pics you got. What an amazing wall to climb, wish I was that good :-)

beneath the valley of ultravegans
  Jul 12, 2013 - 05:31pm PT
Bad ass!!!

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jul 12, 2013 - 05:35pm PT
Wow! Beautiful pictures, and great work. Thanks.


Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Jul 12, 2013 - 05:46pm PT
I second that, great pictures!

Edit: I mean I third that

Social climber
Joshua Tree
  Jul 12, 2013 - 05:48pm PT
Thanks for the stoke Luke. I really, really need to get up there soon, never been on the Hulk and you've got me drooling on myself.

Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
  Jul 12, 2013 - 10:04pm PT
Awesome! Great job. That video of Croft on the stemming pitch of Venturi effect shows how gnarly that thing is.

4 Corners Area
  Jul 12, 2013 - 11:02pm PT
Hulk-o-rama is right.

I must climb that thing . . .

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jul 13, 2013 - 01:11am PT
Shazam! Nice

Oakland, CA
  Jul 13, 2013 - 03:59am PT
That Book of Secrets pic is like something from a dream...

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Jul 13, 2013 - 11:22am PT
Nice work you guys . . . way to send.
Johnny K.

  Jul 13, 2013 - 12:07pm PT
Awesome stuff Luke.Thanks for posting all the pics/beta on your site also.Cheers!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Jul 13, 2013 - 10:58pm PT
Was looking forward to read about your climb of Venturi. Glad it went well!

Trad climber
going big air to fakie
  Jul 13, 2013 - 11:00pm PT
Looks so great!!!!!!!!!!! Every pic I'm thinking, oh man i want to do that, and that, and that.... awesome TR!!!!!

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Jul 13, 2013 - 11:41pm PT
wow! and w.r.t

(Luke's photo, not mine)

Be still my heart.

  Jul 14, 2013 - 12:13am PT
This is the stuff! Proud climbing, killer photos, great writing.

Thank you, I must visit this hulk sometime.

Mountain climber
The Ocean
  Jul 14, 2013 - 01:12am PT
Where is the soundtrack?
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 14, 2013 - 08:43am PT
Awesome, thanks!!!!!

Trad climber
  Jul 14, 2013 - 09:33pm PT
Luke- hero

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Jul 14, 2013 - 10:51pm PT
so psyched!

perfect timing

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Jul 15, 2013 - 11:36am PT
Wild!!! Thanks for another quality TR :)

Mountain climber
San Francisco, CA
  Jul 15, 2013 - 11:51am PT
It was nice to see that the mosquitoes were a week late! It's great to see that you got on Venturi... I can imagine how much you've been wanting to do that route with all the years you've spent at the Hulk. Moreover it's great to see an acquaintance get on a hard climb; it makes them seem possible.

Trad climber
  Jul 15, 2013 - 12:54pm PT
Stevee B

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
  Jul 15, 2013 - 01:10pm PT
Sick!!! TFPU!

Social climber
San Francisco
  Jul 15, 2013 - 03:04pm PT
Great to hear that you got a taste of Venturi! Thanks for the report! Can't wait to go there soon. I think starting with the weekend after next I'm putting HULK on my calendar for every weekend.

Sport climber
  Jul 15, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
Great pictures, great storytelling - well done!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jul 15, 2013 - 03:39pm PT
Superhuman! Way to get all Marvel Comic on it and smash the place up, angry Bruce Banner style!

See you in the hills,

Trad climber
Mountain View
Author's Reply  Jul 18, 2013 - 01:50pm PT
Thanks for all the comments! It's hard to have a bad trip to the Hulk, especially when your friends are there to take a ton of photos!

So many good pitches and tons of routes!


Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
  Aug 13, 2013 - 12:39pm PT
Prettiest rock I ever laid a hand on. Excellent work. Makes me want to go back and give it a go.....

Trad climber
  Aug 13, 2013 - 12:57pm PT
Nice TR! Always like reading your stuff here and on div.

Trad climber
Mountain View
Author's Reply  Aug 13, 2013 - 01:25pm PT
Thanks Sean. Your Cathderal Traverse TR makes me want to do that link-up. Sounds like a fun day out!

beneath the valley of ultravegans
  Aug 13, 2013 - 02:30pm PT
Credit: marty(r)

Luke, you set a mean example! Keep it up.


Sunnyvale, CA
  Aug 15, 2013 - 11:47pm PT
Not sure how I missed this when you posted up, but rad!

Trad climber
Mountain View
Author's Reply  Sep 18, 2013 - 02:41pm PT
Thanks Ben! One of these days you are going to have to come up to the Hulk!
Jebus H Bomz

Sacramento, CA
  Jan 15, 2014 - 03:31pm PT

Social climber
Lida Junction
  Mar 13, 2014 - 11:33am PT
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Incredible Hulk - Sun Spot Dihedral 5.11b - High Sierra, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The route as seen from the bivy spot.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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The route as seen from the bivy spot.