Rainbow Wall Approach and Rappelling Beta

30 10 2009

I hear that a lot of people get lost in Red Rocks. Often I will start wandering the wrong way only to have Lizzy call me back to the path. In the end it’s no fun getting lost and it takes a lot of time.  The Rainbow Wall is stunning and really not that far away. While it make take some people over three hours the hike should be doable under two hours with bivy gear if you don’t get lost.

One can either approach from Oak Creek or Pine creek. I am pretty sure the Pine Creek trail is shorter but it requires you drive in the loop road. This is the way we took so I will describe my experience.

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Starting out the hike from the Pine Creek Canyon parking lot.

If you have climbed in Pine Creek and done either the classic Cat in the Hat or Dark Shadows then the above photo should look pretty familiar. The small red capped tower/formation in the middle of the shot is named the Mescalito. You walk towards this formation passing three or four turn offs for nature walks, fire trails and other areas.  A good 15 – 25 minutes out from the parking lot there will be a homestead on the left followed shortly with a sign similar to the one in the photo below. This sign should have a leftwards arrow pointing to the Arnight Knoll trail. This is the trail you take to get into Juniper Canyon.

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Making the second turn.

One travels towards a ridge through some bushes and you will eventually encounter the sign above. It is pretty obvious but go left (the only real option).   This will quickly bring you to another junction where you stay left again. This is shown in the photo below. This left turn (the third from the main trail) will take you up a hill to the top of the aforementioned ridge which is really more of a plateau. The trail is pretty flat and you should make good time towards Juniper Canyon. Do not turn off this trail, trending up and right towards the entrance to Juniper Canyon. Be careful of the many types of cactus that line the trail.

Once you travel a ways across the plateau head towards the center of the canyon. The trail will split many times to the side areas, with Crimson Chrysalis and Cloud tower on the left. We stayed on the well cairned trail which led us up the right side of the canyon. Eventually you will work your way down into a wash which can be tricky to follow. Most of the way there are cairns but use good judgment to make upwards progress.

[Edit: So, Luke has oversimplified this a little, I think. The main idea here is that you start on official hiking trails – first the Pine Creek Trail, then the left turns get you onto the Arnight-Knoll Trail, then you stay right on the Knoll Trail when the Arnight Trail splits off, then you have to turn right-ish off the Knoll Trail to head into Juniper Canyon – if you stayed on the Knoll Trail it would take you to Oak Creek Canyon. As I recall, this turn is obvious and intuitive, but just realize that there is a point at which you go right, into Juniper Canyon, instead of bearing left (on the main hiking trail) across the plateau to Oak Creek. ~Lizzy]

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Make sure to go left and then up the hill!

After a ways in the wash the trail should get better and eventually head up a steep sandy hill. Make sure to follow the trail and stay a bit to the right. There is a well traveled trail after you get to the top of the hill. This will lead through some trees and eventually to a distinct Y with a cairn. This is the split for the Rainbow wall, left, and the Brownstone wall, right.  The left fork will take you to the left edge of the canyon where you can make good progress right next to a wall. Eventually you will break back into the wash and eventually come upon the slabs seen in the photo below.

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Roberto coming down the fixed line.

Hand over hand up the fixed line and make your ways up the slabs via the path of least resistance. We started up the left and did a lot of zig-zagging before finishing up the right side. At the very top you will need to stay right in order to get to the upper most ledge and the start of the Original Route. Ideally you approach to the base of Sauron’s Eye and the traverse left about 200 feet. There are two places to bivy at the base, one on a crazy stone pedestal and one in the sand directly below the base. There were a ton of bugs when we bivyed so I would suggest bug netting or buy spray.

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You top out here. The tree to the right of the rope has rap slings and biners. (Rap Photo 1)

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You make a short rap down to this tree. (Rap Photo 2)

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Just to the right of the tree, on a ledge, is a set of bolts! (Rap Photo 3)

Rappelling Beta for a 70 meter Rope.

Rap from a tree  (at the top of the final gully/pitch) with slings and biners (Rap Photo 1 above) or down climb ~50 feet of 4th and 5th class. This will get you to the  the bolts next to the dead tree in (Rap Photo 2 and 3 above).

From here you should definitely knot your ropes since you have to swing HARD to get back to the belay after the Red Dihedrals.  I had to swing way left and then back right to get to the belay. Since I was holding the rope I had to use my feet to grab the small foot ledge. Very close!

Next you can rap straight down on independent rap stations on the face.  Two raps will put you on the ledge about 40′ below the Red Dihedral and on the far side of the Over the Rainbow ledge.

Rap to a station on a small ledge in the middle of the face skipping an anchor about 25′ below the main ledge. From here rap again and with a 70m rope you will just make it to a ledge.

There was another rap anchor on the face that could be used if you have a 60m rope or don’t want to down climb. We opted to rap off the end of our rope and did  one easy 5th class move to get down to the gully/ledge with the fixed rope.

From the rap station behind a small tree rap the two 5.10 pitches. If using two ropes be careful of getting the knot stuck in the branches.

Rap each of the 5.11 pitches. Next to a bush below one of the belays there is a rope eating crack. I wedged a twig in here so our rope would not get stuck.

The final rap from the top of the blank 5.12 corner will require a short downclimb since it was about 40 meters to the ground.

Take a look at the photo topos below showing the rap stations that are mentioned.

60 meter Rap Beta

With a 60m rope I assume you would need to make an intermediate rap to the cave belay from the bolts next to the dead tree. From here you should be able to rap straight down to the Belay atop the Dihedrals and continue with the description above. It might be necessary to use one or both rap stations we skipped descending from Over the Rainbow ledge to the lower ledge.


Rainbow Wall - Upper Pitches

The upper pitches.

Rainbow Wall - Lower Pitches

The lower Pitches

Enjoy,

Luke

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A photo essay from the Original Route on Rainbow Wall

25 10 2009

They tell me fall is the time for sending, the best climbing time of the year. Well now is October and the desert is starting to cool down.  With these thoughts in mind I drove to Vegas.

This past weekend I had the chance to climb the Original route on Rainbow Wall. This experience flowed beautifully as I embraced a feeling of relaxation and avoided nervousness. I talked my self up, filled my coffer with positivity, and went to Red Rocks to climb this great multi-pitch.

This would be my second 5.12 long multi-pitch of the year but I was unsure how I would fare. My friends, Josh and Stein, had loved this route and recommended it highly. They gave me tips and I set out ready to slay the beast. I had to stay psyched because deep down I still fear failure.  I have come to learn that failure is not absolute and can even be acceptable. This allows me to climb more freely and I am a better climber because of it.

Roberto and I managed not to get lost on the hike in, despite hiking the final section in darkness, and bivyed at the base. We were helped out by a pair of Czech climbers who were rappelling by headlamp. Their lights on the wall helped guide us up the slabs to our eventual buggy bivy at the base. We had no tent and were tormented by gnats and mosquitos throughout the night.

The morning was spectacular and we were climbing around 7am. The first hard pitches were stunning and I crimped my way up, reveling in the technical climbing. The cruxes were many on these two pitches and I marveled how face holds would appear at the perfect time when the crack seamed out.  We were making great progress as Roberto lead the next two easier, but still 5.11, corner pitches to finish the first hard block.  In no time we had climbed the next two 5.10 pitch, linking them, and simuled and then re-belayed to get to the Over The Rainbow Ledge.

Overcome by our excitement we forgot to stop and eat although it was just about noon. Roberto led the exciting traverse, no falls please, and set me up at the base of the Red Dihedrals. The next few pitches were the final crux and I was stymied by a baffling stemming move. I was not committed and could not visualize the sequence. After a quick rest I magically stuck to the wall, made the tricky reach and finished the pitch. The next dihedral pitch involved a bunch of grunting, foot slips, and honest hard work. A onsight was in the cards for me with enough holds to pull myself to the next belay. One more 5.11 pitch and an awkward 5.10 pitch put us at the top.  The sun shown brightly and I was quick to lose my shirt. We had been in the shade all day and it was at least ten degrees warmer at the top.

The quality of the rock and the climbing was excellent and this route is a red rocks Must do! I’ll write another blog soon with approach and descent info for future parties.

Enjoy the photos from our crazy journey!

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PB and J for life!

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The Rainbow Wall. So tall, so beautiful!

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First pitch completed, oh man this is going to be a good day!

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Two pitches down, Roberto’s turn to lead.

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A stunning 5.11 corner (P3 as we climbed it)

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Pitch four with the scary loose pillar in the bottom of the frame.

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A cool little roof at the end of pitch four. Belay bolts seen on the right.

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Luke starts up P4 with the ground slowly growing further away.

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Such high quality rock and  very nice to be climbing without a pack.

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Killer fingerlocks and laybacking.

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Roberto placing a TON of nuts while  linking the two 5.10 pitches, our P5.

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Enjoying early lunch and some  shoe free time at the first ledge.

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Thanks to hauling a mini-bag we had lots of food and water!

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Looking down at the spectacular final corner pitch of Cloud Tower.

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Roberto still grinning ear to ear on the traverse pitch, P8 from Over the Rainbow Ledge

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Still smiling on the first Red Dihedral Pitch, P9… I must not have realized the next move was the trickiest of the route.

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Luke almost done with the business on the sustained crux pitch (the 2nd Red Dihedral Pitch aka P10)

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I’ve seen this look before, must have just tried really hard!

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Roberto is still psyched and ready for the crux tenth pitch!

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Strenuous steep laybacking with poor feet. Wow!

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5.11 is nice after 5.12  Lets go UP!

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Wahoooo! Sweet stemming rest! Thank goodness for all the face holds.

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At the cave belay. Holy crap we are almost to the TOP!

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Summit was so warm! Oh man we made it!

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Wow! Original route on Rainbow Wall – 12 pitches, 2 people, only 1 fall .

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Looking out at Vegas after signing the Summit Log!

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Roberto going down the fixed line below the slabs.

What an amazing route. Still hasn’t hit me yet.  Can’t wait to go back  the climbing is SOOO good! Rainbow Country next time!!!

– Luke