Sideline, like Frieda’s Flake, is a worthwhile but overlooked new route on the Lower Solar Slab wall in Oak Creek Canyon at Red Rocks. Handren does not give Frieda’s Flake or Sideline any recommendation in his guide book, Red Rocks, A Climbers Guide, probably because they are relatively new and not climbed much. In any regard, Sideline is a worthwhile objective for those of you who have already climbed the two classics on this wall, Beulah’s Book and Johnny Vegas.
Sideline’s 5.8-5.9 climbing is not as sustained as one would like, but the route does sport two nice finger/hand cracks: A short crack involving a fun traverse at the top of pitch two and a vertical crack at the opposite side of a chimney squeeze on pitch three. Sideline does not see much action so the rock is still suspect in places. However the climbing is never such that you feel you are very exposed to a potentially bad hold. The first and forth pitches are mostly just 5th class climbing terrain. The last pitch ends up at the top of Johnny Vegas behind the large boulder. Larry DeAngelo, John Wilder and Gigette Miller put this route up in 2005. There are no fixed pro or stations.
Access is via the Oak Creek Canyon Trail head which is the last parking turn off on the right from the Red Rocks loop road. You will actually drive down a gravel road for quite a distance to reach the trailhead. There is a restroom at this location. Follow the trail into the canyon and turn right to stay out of the canyon floor and follow the trail until beyond the Friar. There is a well trodden switch back trail that leads to the base of the wall where Solar Gully and Johnny Vegas start. Frieda’s Flake is a 250’ tall white flake that forms a chimney on its right side. It is between Johnny Vegas and Solar Gully. Sideline is a chimney/crack system just to the right of Frieda facing south. Scramble 50’ up and right of the flake, then traverse left along a bushy ledge to the start of the chimney where a pool of water normally forms during the winter. Face north and climb the first pitch to a bushy ledge 200’ above.
Route Description500’+/-, 4 Pitches, 5.9
1st Pitch- 180’- 5.7/ Face north on the large ledge you scrambled up to. There is normally a considerable amount of water collected here during the winter and you need to work at keeping your ropes dry. This long chimney/crack pitch is broken up by easy ground for the lower half and then gives you a few sustained moves toward the top. I might have placed two pieces of gear as I recall. Belay off of tree. (photo)
2nd Pitch- 100’- 5.9/ Climb the left wide crack on the west wall, a .75” being your first logical piece. Climb it to its terminus and then traverse left with decent hand holds in the large ramp/tunnel that leads to a good belay ledge out right. (photo)
3rd Pitch- 75’- 5.9/ Chimney out left through the narrow slot to a finger crack at the opposite end of the chimney. There is a small foot ledge if you are skinny enough to drop down a bit. You can also scramble up and left onto the top of the block that forms the chimney with the wall. Climb the finger crack and follow it as it bends right towards the top and another belay ledge. Fix belay with 1”-3” gear. The holds on this wall, even the varnished ones, are still coming off. Climb with care, keeping balance. This route does not get climbed often if at all. (photo)
4th Pitch- 180’- 5.5/ Scramble out right following the obvious ledge system. Most of the rock from this point on is of the weak white sandstone nature. At any point you feel comfortable, run up the white face on your left to the top behind the boulder forming the top of Johnny Vegas which is the broad ledge between the Lower Solar Slab and Upper Solar Slab. (photo)