Incredible Hulk: Rained off of Positive Vibrations September 10-11, 2011
Having both wanted to do Positive
Vibrations for a long time, Karen and I finally set the time aside to do
it and hiked into the Hulk on Saturday. There was one problem: there
was a 30% chance of thunderstorms for the next 4-5 days, which got
upgraded to 60% on Friday night... but we decided there is only one
way to find out if it'll rain or not - and that is by trying to go
for it. Driving out of the Bay Area, there was crazy lightning and
rain - something I've never seen for this time of year, in the 5
years of living here. Definitely a real storm, I guess! The question
was, will it hit the Hulk, or would we be able to sneak in a window
of opportunity? I mean, this is California, the weather is not
supposed to be bad in summer, ever!
Saturday morning was actually mostly sunny in Bridgeport as we
picked up our permit - typically, these thunderstorms don't
arrive until the afternoon anyway. So we hiked in, as the sky
progressively darkened. Sure enough, 15 minutes after setting up
camp it started raining fairly hard - and we were tent bound for a
couple of hours. Eventually it stopped so we could make dinner,
but then it rained some more. Oh well... typical afternoon/evening
thundershower, we thought - it'll be better in the morning. It
didn't start raining until 4pm anyway - by that time on Sunday we
should be well off the face, if the rain timing works out to be
the same (big "if").
Sunday morning, however, was not the blue sky we were hoping for -
instead, it looked pretty grey. However, it hadn't rained for a few
hours at least, and the rock was dry - so let's go climbing already!
We made coffee, ate a couple of bagels and hiked up - starting to
climb around 7:30am. We were not in a rush - but perhaps we should
have been - around 11am we were on top of pitch 5, and that's when
the rain arrived, all too suddenly. Strangely, the sky was looking
better in that last hour - and I thought we had it in the bag. It
was really cold, but at least it wasn't windy. Still hopeful, we
spent about 30 minutes huddled at the belay there while rain was
pouring... "It'll stop any minute, and then the sun will come out!"
- I kept saying. Eventually, sanity prevailed and we bailed -
thankfully straightforward due to double ropes. Thanks to nice
anchors and clean pulls we were on the ground in 40 minutes, while a
waterfall formed left of the first pitch - yikes! It rained hard on
the whole hike out, and we were completely drenched by the time we
got to the car... at least there was no second guessing our decision
Hiking into the Hulk is always beautiful
But the skies are gloomy...
Spires on the right side of the Hulk
Camp is setup
Chilling for all of 15 minutes before it started raining
Karen on the first pitch of PV, at the 5.10a bulge
Second pitch, 5.10c tips and then 5.10b traverse higher up, but not very sustained (good wake up, however)
On the third pitch, before the traverse crux
The traverse is to that flake on the right
The third pitch of Positive Vibrations (on the short side)
Cleaning a piece before the "5.11a" traverse (more like 5.10a, or 5.9 if you're tall)
Starting up the next pitch - easy but spectacular stemming and then a 5.10 bulge followed by sweet fingers at the end, very nice
The end of the fourth pitch
Move by move beta :)
The 5.10b traverse ends quickly with a jug
The exposure is sweet
Starting the 5th pitch, while the sky is still blue
Clouds are building..
In the 5.10a handcrack on pitch 5 (starts wide/awkward but turns awesome)
It's raining, and we're having fun. Here I'm hoping it's just a minor few drops and then everything will dry - hence the smile
Karen is amused at the attempt at positive thinking... whlie the rain intensifies
Ok, it's not looking good.
The pitch 6 dihedral (in the rain) :( We waited for a while to see if the storm would pass, but it intensified...
My smile is slowly disappearing
Karen is also skeptical - note the black clouds above :)
Ok, bailing sucks, but time to do it :(
A two minute appearance of the sun gave us a rainbow!
We ate lunch under this boulder/overhang before packing up...
Back in camp after successfully rappelling and getting soaked to the bone
Badass clouds in the mountains (as seen from Bridgeport)