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[TR] Incredible Hulk - Positive Vibrations/Red Dih

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Trip: Incredible Hulk - Positive Vibrations/Red Dihedral (sort of)


Date: 9/6/2009


Trip Report:

Over Labor Day Micha and I climbed The Incredible Hulk outside of Bridgeport CA. I've been wanting to get on Positive Vibrations for a long time, often claimed as being the best multi pitch crack route in America. We met two locals down there that thought Positive Vibrations was better than Astroman or the Rostrum.


Full pics here


Unfortunately my dreams were crushed by poor weather. We climbed the first 5 pitches of of Positive Vibes before high winds forced us to traverse 3 pitches over and join up with the classic Red Dihedral and then to the summit. I was bummed to have missed out on the upper part of Positive Vibes, but we got to climb half of two really good routes in a amazing setting.




The Hulk from base camp. Positive vibe goes up the prow on the left side. Looks awful huh?



We hike in Saturday night and settled in for a cold bivy near the base of the route. The wind was already really strong at camp, small tasks became painful with frozen hands. Already I'm thinking were going to bail, climbing sustained finger cracks in this weather does not seem possible. Oh well, a scenic bivy.





Sunday we wake up to more wind and more cold, we stay in our bags till 10:00AM before getting motivated enough to rack-up and hike to base of the route. I'm wearing 4 layers on top and still cold. Damn!




Micah leads the firs pitch, crux is a steep layback bulge to gain a hand-crack. ST rates this 5.10 but I'll go with 5.10b/c.


I take the lead for the second pitch and find stiff .10+ or 5.11 boulder section right at the belay. Tips fingers right here with glass for feet. This pitch gets better with more crux fingers in a layback slot to gain a huge belay ledge.




Micha following the 3rd pitch about to launch into the 5.11 change-over. The locals tell me this is the crux of the whole route, not too bad but really exciting! After a bunch of mellow 5.8/5.9 cracks your forced out right under a roof to change cracks. A yellow alien goes in low on a flexing flake and then it is go time across a smooth face with nothing for the feet (look for smear dish) and inverted crimper things under the roof. Committing to the moves is hard, once I'm on the face there is no going back. Thankfully a huge #2 jam welcomes me at the end of this. Amazing way to finish the pitch! (Note you can't aid or sew up this part)




Henry Leading pitch 3 right before the face climbing moves.





Micha leads pitch 4. Wild bridge and stem problem. A long pitch with two roof bulges. 5.10C. Micha styles this pitch.


I lead a short double finger crack that makes up pitch 5 (5.10+ish left side) that takes us out of the protection of the corner system were in and onto the exposed arete that makes up the upper half of the route. Were now getting hammered by the full force of the wind, talking even at arms length is difficult and I can feel my body being pushed around while tied into the belay. Doh! We decide to bail which is not possible as we only have one rope. The topo indicates that is it possible to escape from Positive Vibes to the easier Red Dihedral by traversing right across the wall. Of course the topo doesn't actually tell us anything more then that, just move right. This is really our only option so with a bit of sadness I leave Positive Vibes and lead right into no mans land.




All roads lead to Rome? Looking up some of the features on the traverse between Positive Vibes and Red Dihedral. At this point I have no idea where were supposed to be going or where were at, somewhere on this nice rock I guess. I lead a long 5.10 pitch only to have it dead-end and have to down climb the whole pitch. I repeat this process several times before forcing a flared corner and face climbing. to the right. This part of wall is covered in features but for some odd reason the cracks are more like rounded dykes and refuse gear and jams, I get 3 pieces of gear in 200 feet of climbing and jig a belay with a slung horn.



Thankfully after that mess I'm able to move right from this stance and get into a nice chimney system, a long stretch of back to wall and and Bam! Pop out right on a nice crack system. As best we can tell, were somewhere around pitch 5 of the Red Dihedral and out of the wind and on route. Yeah! The race is on to make the summit before sunset


Beta alert: Directions for traversing from PV to RD. Move right and slightly down on a foot ramp for 180 feet to bolted belay. From bolted belay down climb 20 feet to ledge system, then up on a variety of cracks and slab moving right when in doubt. Gear is sparse here on 5.9/5.10 terrain for 200 feet. Belay just left and below of a chimney. Climb 5.8 chimney aiming for a chockstone that is on the ridge crest, this is where the RD pitch 5 joins.



Leading up pitch 7, a long bit of perfect tight-hands is right above me. The sun is setting and were flying up clean granite cracks and flakes with everything bathed in a pink alpine glow. Amazing.



We lose the race with the sun and top-out in the dark. We have one headlamp and wander around for several hours trying to locate the rap anchors. The anchors are hard to find and guarded by a few hundred feet of exposed 4th class down climbing. Ugh! Thankfully I can't see anything so the exposures is non-issue, just feels like a bunch of boulder problems going the wrong way. With much relief we find the anchors, make the rap and do a long scree descent back to camp under a full moon. (Super Topo beta for the descent is useless, really you'd be better off just jumping off the wall. The better beta is to walk down off the back, when your cliffed out reverse your steps and keep moving down till your cliffed out again. Repeat until you find rap anchors.)



Lake views from the parking lot, Twin Lakes.





Gear Notes:

For Positive Vibes we took doubles from Blue Alien up to #3. Triples on #1, .75 and .5. The first 5 pitches eat-up small hands and finger gear. Cold weather gear, route gets no sun till late. I walked off in climbing shoes, painful but doable.


Approach Notes:

Once your in the basin heading to the Hulk follow the trail right across the stream. ST has has you going up left on this huge scree field, why you would want to do that is unknown but the right variation is a nice trail with easy boulder hopping.

Edited by eldiente

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Good job guys. Not sure about that 'one headlamp' business with a 10am start, but sounds like you were pretty set with the full moon on white stone.

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Hey! Tell Michah that Garrett from CA said hi. Just browsing around here for stuff to do when I visit my bro in Wash and saw his pic.



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