After that introduction, you might think that a technical climber could have some fun on the Hulk. You'd be thinking right. I climbed Positive Vibrations with Andy Magness a few weeks ago, and I only hope I will be lucky enough to climb another alpine rock route that is even close to as good as this one.
The topo and written description for this route in Peter Croft's book "The Good, The Great, and the Awesome" make route finding easy. Don't even bother bringing the topo in Moynier's "Climbing California's High Sierra," as it's hard to follow, rates a few of the pitches incorrectly, and is vague on where to start the route. The only detail I would add to Croft's topo: the thin cracks above the bolt on the 6th (crux) pitch are off route, as Secor and Moynier mention in their descriptions.
I guess there are several variations for the start, but the one in Croft's book is the most direct. Start by climbing the thin steep cracks on the left side of a huge, roughly triangular slab. There is a 5.11+ crack variation with a bolted anchor just to the right of this start - you'll know you're starting in the right place if you see some dark slings hanging at the end of this difficult-looking crack.
After that, follow cracks up for eight pitches, roughly following the arjte dividing the west and north faces. Only one pitch is short (pitch 3), and we guessed the average pitch length to be about 150 feet. All of it is sustained technical terrain, with a few short and well-protected 5.11 sections. Few moves on the route are easier than 5.9 - we brought a lot of gear and used most of it. One great thing about this climb is there are no wide sections - one 3.5 Camalot is the biggest you'll need.
The route has rappel anchors from the 5th pitch down to the ground (brand-new cold shuts - weird to see in the backcountry). I think there probably are rappel anchors all the way up to the summit ridge, but at the 5th pitch the rappel route veers off from the climbing route so we couldn't see them. If I did the route again, I'd bring 2 ropes and descend by rapping from the top of the ridge, assuming I could find the first rap station.
We tried the Southeast Arete on Outguard Spire the next day, but bailed after 2 pitches - the rock quality was poor and the route hard to follow. Probably about average for the routes listed in Moynier's book, but disappointing compared to the Hulk.
Additional details on Positive Vibrations are located at Supertopo.com, but you have to purchase the High Sierra e-book to get them, so I don't know if they add anything to Croft's description. But as I mentioned, his is the only guide you really need for this exceptional route.
We followed Croft's belay position recommendations and they worked well. All pitch lengths are approximate.
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