Well boys and girls, it's that time of year again. Rocktober is upon us and my attentions are being pulled to lower elevations. This heat might hold, or it might snow tomorrow- either way this last weekend felt like a bit of a goodbye to the high country for the season- at least for me and my schedule.
Mr. B recently moved back to the Bay after a year and a half in Tanzania. After running into him at Ironworks we made plans to get after it. Warmed up in t-shirts on Crying Time Again, stuffed ourselves at the Mobil and then crashed out.
We left the Mono Village parking lot at 7 am, and at a leisurely pace made it to the base of the Hulk at 10 am. Thank you nature for allowing us the temps to climb a route that is in the shade until 330PM! I have no idea why it took 11 trips to the Hulk to finally get on this route, as unsurprisingly it is yet another mega-classic on one of the finest chunks of granite in the range.
We took our sweet time racking up and eating- there were already 9 people spread out across the big 3, but no one to compete with in the Eastern Bloc. The first pitch is a beauty- 5.10 fingers and hands forever. I linked through pitch 2, stretching the 80M rope to the belay.
Mr. B cast off through incredibly fun sequential climbing to gain one of the coolest OW splitters anywhere. He blew right through the pitch 3 belay and stretched every inch of the 80M to link through the 4th pitch for 262 feet of unparalled crack heaven. Butterfly stacks forever with insane position- what more could you ask for?
Now before you old-schoolers get all panty-twisted about long ropes and how 50 meters was plenty back then and should be plenty now and is just as fast- these 2 mega pitches were some of the most fun I've had on a rope- minimal drag, not too heavy at 9.4mm, perfect amount of rope to reach ledge belays, and now we are 525 feet up the Hulk in 90 minutes! As evidenced by picture taking I was not rushing- taking it all in, loving the climbing on and on in the alpine.
At this point the Polish route continues up for 1 pitch, or you can opt for a 2-3 pitch variation called Escape From Poland. I downclimb to the right a good 25 feet, make a sweet traverse into an incipient corner and stem all the way back up to parallel with the belay. The climbing is great 10+ with stemming, layback, and overhanging hand jamming leading to strenuous flared corner climbing. I have to fight pretty hard to send, and I'm starting to feel like maybe I escaped Poland into war-torn Chechnya, or as my friend put it- "felt like an angry Yugoslav border cop."
Mr. B pulls the 10+ Iron Curtain roof and then punches through easier ground and then a short section of mildly heinous OW to the ridge- we are definitely still blue collar climbing in the eastern bloc.
A downclimb to the top of the Polish tower and 6 raps with the 80M (mandatory) down Blowhard and we are on the ground. We bask in the warm sun and absorb the life flowing through the hallowed terrain around us. Goodbye hulk- see ya next year.