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Sunspot Dihedral 

YDS: 5.11b French: 6c Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, 1200', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.11b French: 6c Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Nettle, Hayden, 1999
Season: Summer
Page Views: 16,392
Submitted By: Scott Bennett on Jul 26, 2009

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Amazing corner climbing on p4 of sunspot.


Sunspot Dihedral is another spectacular climb on the Sierra's best chunk of rock: the Incredible Hulk.

P1&2 Same as Positve Vibrations. These pitches can be linked with a 70m rope or a 60 and some easy simuling. 5.10c

P3 Follow the leftmost crack off the big ledge. This is the same as P.V. until just after the roof, where PV goes right and Sunspot goes straight up. Build a belay just below the next set of roofs (up and left). A short pitch, 5.9.

P4 Go up and left under the roofs, some wild underclinging here (10c). At the left end of the roof, make a big step left into a splitter crack. Climb this until it pinches down to a seam, and then step back right into the main dihedral. Climb the flared corner (tricky pro, offsets useful, 10b) up to a bolt, then step left onto a ledge. Climb up 20' of easy terrain off the ledge to a 2 bolt anchor. This is the first spectacular pitch!

P5 The obvious left-facing corner above. The crux (11a) comes directly off the belay, with some small stoppers/RPs for pro. The rest of corner is sustained 5.10, mostly fingers. There are two sections where large flakes stick out of the corner, forming mini-corners on the left. In both of these sections I found it easier to stay left, climbing the flakes. This is a long pitch, and it ends at bolts. This is the money pitch!

P6 The crux (11b) again come right off the belay. Climb past two bolts (you can get small gear in before the first) in the overhanging corner, using stemming, face climbing, and lie-backing. Once past this, you've reaching the eponymous Sunspot, and are rewarded with some spectacular 5.10 finger and hand crack. This is a shorter pitch, maybe 100', and it ends at one bolt (plus good gear). The third stellar pitch!

P7 There are two left facing corners above, climb the left of these (11a). Follow parallel corners above, switching back and forth to whichever one seems easiest. (5.10) This is a long pitch, and it ends atop a block/ledge, belay with small gear just below a large chockstone.

P8 Tunnel behind the chockstone and climb easy, loose terrain up the ridge, aiming for a large, steep, blank headwall. Belay on a sloping ledge just left of the headwall. 5.8

P9 Climb the short corner above the ledge (5.10), and then wander up ledges with a few more steep corners until you've gained the ridge proper.

From here, it's 4th class along the ridge to reach the base of the summit tower. Here you have the option of a 5.8 loose chimney, followed by a tunnel through (I haven't done this), or a good looking 5.10 corner. Climb the corner, which gets wide (4") at its top, and then the striking finger splitter to the very top (5.10) This can be done as one long pitch.


Sunspot shares it's start with Positive Vibes, so just look for the queue forming. If you're fortunate enough to be first up there, look for a prominent triangle on the lower quarter of the face, and the route starts up a blocky dihedral on the left of the triangle.

Descent: From the summit, follow the direction on the main Hulk page. If you've already summited, or the weather looks crappy, it's possible to rap from the ridge down "Venturi Effect" (about 20' south of the PV topout, look for fixed nuts and slings) with a 70m rope. This takes a long time.


Rack: Cams from Purple C3 (black Alien) to #3 Camalot, with doubles from Green C3 (blue Alien) to #2 Camalot. Triples in finger sizes might be nice. A full rack of RPs and wires, small offset nuts are useful.

Photos of Sunspot Dihedral Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: the "scary" pitch. Scott said he had off...
the "scary" pitch. Scott said he had off...
Rock Climbing Photo: Doug Englekirk on P4 of Sunspot Dihedral, photo by...
Doug Englekirk on P4 of Sunspot Dihedral, photo by...
Rock Climbing Photo: looking up at P4, Sunspot, photo by R. Leavitt
looking up at P4, Sunspot, photo by R. Leavitt
Rock Climbing Photo: Up high on the awesome corner, pitch 4.
Up high on the awesome corner, pitch 4.
Rock Climbing Photo: Me stemming hard on P4
Me stemming hard on P4
Rock Climbing Photo: When your partner links pitches 3 and 4, runs out ...
When your partner links pitches 3 and 4, runs out ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Coming up the final pitch. I think this pitch was ...
Coming up the final pitch. I think this pitch was ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The step across move at the end of the undercling ...
The step across move at the end of the undercling ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Me leading off the 2nd pitch ledge passed the 2 bo...
BETA PHOTO: Me leading off the 2nd pitch ledge passed the 2 bo...
Rock Climbing Photo: crux pitch
crux pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: RNclimber leading Pitch 3
RNclimber leading Pitch 3
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 4
Pitch 4
Rock Climbing Photo: p3 of the sunspot.
p3 of the sunspot.
Rock Climbing Photo: Randy Leavitt on pitch 4, SunSpot Dihedral (11b), ...
Randy Leavitt on pitch 4, SunSpot Dihedral (11b), ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Miranda on one of the early pitches of Sunspot (1 ...
Miranda on one of the early pitches of Sunspot (1 ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting up the handcrack on pitch 3.
Starting up the handcrack on pitch 3.
Rock Climbing Photo: Transitioning between the roof and handcrack on P3...
Transitioning between the roof and handcrack on P3...

Comments on Sunspot Dihedral Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 13, 2017
By Luke Stefurak
From: Seattle, WA
Aug 6, 2009

A bit of info and a topo can be found here:
By Nick Stayner
From: Wymont Kingdom
Aug 6, 2009

Absolutely the most incredible climbing I've ever done in the mountains. The corner pitches are phenomenal.
By Bob Rotert
Jan 31, 2011
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

Loved this climb. Every pitch was stellar. The topo ratings down play the sustained nature of the route. An alpine classic for sure!! As good as Positive vibes and a few steps up in difficulty.
By Drew Thayer
From: Denver, CO
Sep 22, 2012

Absolutely stellar climbing on gorgeous rock in a fine alpine setting! Climbed with Adrian Weaver on 9/21/12. A step up in sustained difficulty from Positive Vibes, with a much harder crux.


We brought C3s purple-yellow, Aliens blue-yellow, one .3 Camalot, doubles of Camalots .4-2, an extra .5 and .75, one #3, and one #4 Camalot. One set DMM mini-offsets and regular offset stoppers was perfect. Used the 2nd and 3rd smallest mini-offsets getting off the belay on pitch 4. We did not find the purple C3 or extra .5 and .75 Camalots necessary, and we only used the #4 Camalot once, for the belay (supplementing one bolt) on top of the 5th pitch (silly to bring a big cam all the way up just for one belay?).

After the 6th pitch we tried to follow "400 ft of 4th class with occasional boulder problem" (High Sierra Climbs) to the summit, but we were definitely not on that route because we ended up climbing lots of short, quite difficult sections including a 40 ft dihedral we'd call 5.10+. Can anyone describe how to access the easy scrambling to the top?
By Leavittator
Jul 28, 2013

We climbed Sunspot Dihedral on July 12, 2013 under clear skies. It was a fun and excellent climb. Rather than down-climb the descent, we rapped off the top of the 6th pitch (the 10d pitch) from some red slings jammed way back in the crack, then down the bolt belays of Solar Flare. I am not sure if those slings were the ones described in previous comments/topos as on a "spike". Anyway, I was not stoked on rapping off slings that could not be thoroughly inspected. Perhaps the "spike" was 40 feet higher??. I climbed 20 feet above those slings and didn't see a spike. If this is indeed the rap anchor, I suggest something be added to this in the future. Note that we could rap all of Solar Flare with 1 80 meter rope, except for the rap to the ground where we were about 25 meters short from reaching the ground. Normal shenanigans followed, so I suggest two ropes if you want to rap down Solar Flare, even if you have an 80M rope.
By Jan Tarculas
From: Riverside, Ca
Aug 31, 2014
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Climbed this 8-28-14 with Nelson Day. Got a green alien stuck on pitch 4 or 5, so good luck on the new owner.

We followed the Topo Luke Stefurak posted except a few differences.

At the end of pitch 2, I built a belay about 15 feet short of what was suggested. Another party was ahead of us and said the semi hanging belay sucked and be better to built a belay a little lower. I built my belay after the 5.9 pillar past the 2 bolt anchors on the huge ledge. More comfortable that way.

I wouldn't recommend bringing a #4 for an anchor on top of pitch 5. You can build a belay using 1 bolt and a very solid #1 c4.

If you don't want to top out or do the suggested rappel of the slings on a horn that Leavittator mentioned above, you can climb half of pitch 6 before the 10c corner and traverse left to Solar Flare Anchors.
By Nelson Day
From: Joshua Tree, CA
Sep 1, 2014
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Trip report from me and RNClimber's trip Trip report
By Mike
From: Phoenix
Oct 8, 2014
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

Great route! IMHO it's almost as good as Positive Vibrations.
By Max Tepfer
From: Bend, OR
Sep 9, 2016

The 11b crux is way harder than anything else on the route. Given its location on the pitch and the large ledge right above it, it's a good candidate for leaving the rack at the belay and tagging it up after getting through the crux. Also, the pitch after this is mid 5.10, not 11a. I have no idea where that grade came from. It's locker fingers in a corner with feet...
By snowhazed
From: Oakland, Ca
Jul 20, 2017

We also found tat wedged as some sort of rap set up at the top before the tunnel through. I added a truck large nut to the setup and it is now safe for rapping to solar flare. One 80 is all you need, rap solar flare to blowhard.
By Goran Lynch
From: Oakland, CA
Aug 7, 2017

Beautiful route!

Two notes:
(1) The "10c" traverse pitch (P3 for us) felt straightforward until the slick ramp section. I didn't see any offset cam placements that looked trustworthy, and instead protected this with two or three RPs in the corner. They were good.

(2) The 11b bolted section was challenging, but more than the climbing, the main difficulty was in finding good clipping stances. While the moves are bolted and mostly safe, I did not want to become a hat for my partner. So that was a bit interesting.
By Tim Heid
From: AZ
Sep 13, 2017
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

What a route! We had a great day linking this and Positive Vibes in a day.

We were able to link 1/2 to the big ledge (like most do). 3/4 (lots of drag without a ton of slings), 5/6 (the MEGA!), and pitched out the last pitch (~100' to the Solar Flare anchors).

3 raps down Solar Flare (generally moving leftwards) with an 80m to a huge ledge to the climbers left (below the splitter of the Polish route), then 1 more rappel climbers left as far as we could to 2nd/3rd class ledges below.

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