Coltrane is another of many Jorge and Joanne Urioste classics put up during the 70’s. There are several reasons it has seen few ascents (by 5.9 Red Rock standards) despite its above-average quality rock: it has a lengthy approach, located near the origin of Oak Creek Canyon; and it was labeled with an exclamation mark in Handren’s guide for the fact that its old hangers and bolts were in need of replacement. Since the majority of the route involves sparsely bolted face climbing, the run out between questionable fixed gear has been the main deterrent over recent years. Several good natured locals replaced all fixed gear in 2012 eliminating the second issue. I can’t help the tourist climbing crowd with the first issue. Maybe someday they will establish trams up the canyons in Red Rock.
Handren’s guide book has Coltrane listed as five pitches, however the 5th pitch can typically be soloed to the exit ramp. The first four pitches are long, mostly face and slab climbing, on solid rock. Handren has the first pitch at 140’, although it is closer to 120’. The next three pitches however are the approximated 165’ or more. The climbing is relatively easy for the grade with the exception of a crux slab move or two during the first pitch. The scenery this far back in Oak Creek Canyon is second to none. More than likely you will feel like you have the canyon to yourself. The largest ponderosa pine trees in all of Red Rock are located directly below the route. We ran across a tarantula en route on the wall as well. The whole route offers an alpine feel despite its quick track once you are actually roped up.
Park at the Oak Creek trail head. Hike back to the trail below Solar Slab. Continue as it dumps you into the canyon floor. Follow the right (north) fork of the canyon, beyond Eagle Wall, to almost the very orgin. The largest slab waterfall in the canyon is located below the last wall before you turn right and hit the summit ridge of Rainbow Mountain. This is a well varnished wall with two large roof/dihedrals above and is named Celebration Wall. Coltrane pretty much runs up the center of this wall and exits left under the second of those dihedrals/roofs. Continue to the base of the waterfall and turn right using the slab to avoid the brush. Scramble up to the high point of the brush and scree. Coltrane starts via three bolts between two arches.
Route Description785’+/-, 5 Pitches, 5.9
1st Pitch- 120’- 5.9/ This pitch is definitely the crux pitch of the route. The first few slab moves off the deck through three bolts are probably the most technical. From there you hit some slab that requires route finding. When it looks blank above, look to traverse left on micro features a meter or two and the moves above you will open up to the next bolt. After the last bolt, make a mantle move to a foot rail and traverse right to the fixed belay. I placed no gear on this first pitch and clipped approximately half a dozen bolts.
2nd Pitch- 170’- 5.7/ Follow the open varnished face above via easy edges and slab to the next fixed station. You can place a few pieces of gear on this pitch and follow approximately four bolts.
3rd Pitch- 160’- 5.8/ A tarantula and I shared this pitch. Follow the shallow corner up approximately 60’ or so to a bolt, then diagonal up right past several other bolts to a fixed station. I found this pitch to be no more difficult than the preceding 5.7 pitch.
4th Pitch- 200’- 5.8/ This pitch is the second most challenging pitch of the route. It will involve considerable rope drag if you clip all the available fixed pro. Traverse right and climb up the left side of the white pillar. Clip a bolt at the top of the pillar and down climb the opposing side to its base. Then traverse right and up a shallow left facing corner clipping several bolts along the way. Double sling the fixed pro or perhaps skip the lower bolt before starting up the left facing corner. Climb up easier ground to a significant ledge with fixed belay.
5th Pitch- 100’- 5th/ Climb up the jugs just to the right of the belay and follow the scoops to the long narrow ledge above. Build a gear belay.