i had a ww barb with ik set, wich is not real pricy, and it got me through hell with a point in berserk, so i think its possible, but not super easy, some areas wil be difficult, but its possible with a might/defiance merc
my barb, current lvl 85, can. He's build isn't unusual, I use berserk, whirlwind, frenzy sometimes, shout, battlecry. My hireling is an act 2 w/ holy freeze. My items are geared for better mf - shadow armour wealth, uni chain gloves i forgot the name, 2 better mf rings, etc. Also I have a highlord's & uni warboots (crushing blow, deadly strike + open wounds!). I kill stuff with a hi damage (about 150-650, all physical) polearm. Sometimes I switch to my barb set (all except sacred armour), which is slightly quicker killing, but i prefer my mf (total approx +500). Hireling uses arioc needle, (+%damage) griswold's heart (i might have switched to m'avina's battle hymn i can't remember) + a death mask (for 10% health steal).
My secret is: Just before major enemies die, I switch to double gull (for +200 mf) and let my hireling finish off. I also have a 40 odd chance with itemfind, which is great on champions and better. I did up to hell on /players 8 and then switched to /players 3. For some reason, I'm lucky with runes too - on single player u need to be!
I always play single player only, and I've killed Baal on /players8 (but it took a long time). Normally I do 3 or 5 players. I prefer superuniques, particularly act 5 (eldritch, frozenstein, pindleskin(didn't kill nihlathak), sharptooth + so on), for more varied item runs.
The only hard thing for me was hell ancients. Took me about 15 goes to kill them by myself - but be patient and sooner or later they'll have bad attributes (none cursed, none might/fanaticism/holy freeze) .
The controverisal bit:
I reckon barb is actually the easiest char to solo on hell, after single player only - berserk lets you hurt everything, pally's are <insert appropriate derogatory term her> + boring too, sorc's can't find items + kill things immune to cold in hell, druids + necros are too boring to get past act 2 hell, on single good claws for assassins are too rare (except low damage jade talons maybe). bowazons are good.
Anyone ever soloed hell in single player with a barb using throwing weapons? I'd love to see that build...
Wwbarbs with Botd+beast and 1 point in berserk are pretty much immortal in pvm. For extra insurance, use draculs gloves and get 1 point in frenzy; if a bosspack is hard just frenzy them until lifetap triggers then whirl away. You cant die unless you screw up by getting iron maidened in a long whirl.
With base str and dex you get ~5k life easily. Def or block is NOT needed. Botd+beast makes you kill quite fast (not hammerdinfast but fast enough to solo, not to mention almost nothing is immune) even in 8-player hell games (i.e. baalruns). My barb often was the only one alive after bad tps into bosspacks of bloodlords or dolls.
Absolutely for sure that a well-built barb can solo Hell - not only in SC, but also on HC ladder. I didn't do, but a friend of mine did it last year. His barb was nothing special but an IK barb using WW. This barb used the big mace most of the time without a shield on HCL - a bit crazy.
However, saying Barb is the easiest char to solo Hell is overstated. Just a few weeks ago I installed D2 and started to play on ladder again. It only took me a Sunday for my untwinked level 77 necro with "uber" crappy gear to finish off Hell on HCL again. I'm sure that no barb in equivalent gear (you probably couldn't trade everything on my necro at that time for a total of 40 pgems) can solo Hell without dying at all. BTW, during his adventure in Hell, he got IST, +2 Valor, Demon's Arach, etc, so I can say that Sunday wasn't wasted even from the point of view of MF.
I was bored of HCL because it was almost a deserted world now. So I started to use my HCL accounts to play SC. Last weekend, I beat Hell with my level 78 sorc and my level 75 necro on SCL at the same time. I played the sorc a whole day and finished off Hell from act1 to act5 while the necro was waiting in down. I switched to my necro only for doing Hell ancients, because my sorc's gear was too crappy (she was using Sigon's Shield in Hell, can you imagine that?). This sorc took lots of risks but she survived without dying even once - and that was a 2-player game on East SCL. So, it is doable for a sorc to solo Hell too. The difficulty doing Hell ancients is not just for sorc, but for every char. The two chars above got IST and GUL from Hell hellforge. I traded IST and a couple other runes and armed my sorc with full tal's set and SS. With this gear (or a more customized one), there should be littel trouble for her to finish off Hell ancients solo. She was built to handle both MF and PA/rush.
By my past and current xp, well-built necro, asn, sorc, pally, ama can all solo Hell. And many builds of those classes can do so more easily than any Barb - I do mean any barb, assuming roughly equivalent gear, similar char levels and similar game difficulty.
i dont see anything that crazy about IK set not using a shield... no shield saves your dex points to vitality and thus you have more life (going otherwise "untwinked", on the charm department mostly). and of course the way you play will effect it. if you run to the middle of fana archers with amp on, ye, you might die just play it smart
got a 90 ik-barb on HCLEu atm, and he's going strong with 4,4k life and no shield :b