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What Peter Croft Said About His Classic Solar Flare

Peter Croft and Conrad Anker make the first ascent of Solar Flare back in 2007

Peter Croft and Conrad Anker made the first ascent of Solar Flare, a nine-pitch 5.12d on Incredible Hulk in the Eastern Sierra back in 2007. This film about their ascent won the John Muir Gold Award at the 2009 Yosemite Film Festival and the Seven Summits Award Winner at the 2010 Mountain Film Festival.

In 2008, Croft wrote about the first ascent in the American Alpine Journal, in which he said: Although this route follows disconnected corners, it consists mostly of face climbing, the first of its kind on the Hulk. About 60 feet up the first pitch of Sunspot—where that route cuts right—we climbed straight up on a crack and then a face for a couple of 5.10 pitches that turned to 5.11 as the wall steepened. Conrad led the fifth pitch, the first of the 5.12s, pitching off a few times on the delicate stemming corner, while I shivered in my puffy jacket at the belay. Higher, spicily runout stemming led to a bouldery traverse that brought us to a belay under the orange arête.

This is the coolest pitch on the route: pimping and high-stepping up the edge— white granite on the left wall of the arête and orange on the right. After that, Conrad led one more 5.12 stemming pitch, just as the first rain fell, and we scooted up the 10th and last pitch to the ridgecrest. Rain mixed with sleet induced us to rationalize about how we’d done all the new climbing and that the remaining ridge climbing was easy (although we didn’t become so delusional as to say that summits don’t count), and we decided to rap. So, depending on how high your horse is, we succeeded on a great new route or wimped out when push came to shove. Either way, we cut it close. If we had taken the time for one more bowl of cereal at camp, we wouldn’t have gotten that far. Next morning dawned beautiful, however, and all four of us succumbed to summit fever and chased each other up the classic Positive Vibes, putting whipped topping on top of an already great trip.

Solar Flare has gone on to become one of the most classic routes in California and has been repeated several times, including by Alex Honnold and Emily Harrington which you can watch here.

Solar Flare FA