The Rainbow Gully is home to a pair of good, easily accessible ice climbs and is located down the road (west) from the Careno Crags area along Icicle Road outside of Leavenworth, WA. Good climbing, quick access, and a lot of ice makes this a worthwhile stop.
From Leavenworth, turn south on Icicle Road on the west side of town. Follow Icicle Road for a little over 4 miles to the Snow Lakes Trailhead parking area (there are restroom facilities and a few county buildings in and near the parking area). The ice climbs are easily visible on the side of the hill across the highway. Pick a trail and head up - you will end up below Rainbow Falls Right with a side train heading over to Rainbow Falls Left.
Rainbow Falls Right (WI3)
Rainbow Falls Right is the obvious long flow up the right side of the Rainbow Gully area. The bottom 3/4 of the route consists of lower angled ice (with a couple of short, vertical, and potentially hollow steps depending on the exact line you take. The upper quarter of the route is steep and generally thin. When we climbed it, there was running water just to the left of the climb. We generally followed this to the headwall, and then climbed through the center. The top out is a little awkward - the ice thins out to nothing (watch your pick placements), and there are a couple of well positioned alders to help you up over the mossy turf to the solid ground above. Belay (and rap with two ropes) from a solid tree anchor at the top. There is a lower set of chain anchors just to the right of the base of the headwall if the upper section is too thin to climb.
Rainbow Falls Right:
|Rainbow Falls Right |
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Rainbow Falls Left (WI4+)
Rainbow Falls Left is the steep climb in the left corner of the Rainbow Gully area, uphill from Rainbow Falls Right. The falls offers a couple of unique routes to the top.
Starting up the right side, a few feet of ice scrambling quickly leads to steepening ice with a lot of good stemming moves and rests off the various pillars. There is a small 'ice cave' about half way up that's easy to get sucked into, you may have to reorient to get better placements above. Good placements all the way up for the leader.
The left side feels a little steeper due to the lack of stemming options. The crux is about a third the way up - transition to the upper section with icicles to the left, and not much on the right. Near the top you can stem left against the rock face. This climb was pretty hacked up when we climbed it, and protection would be dubious at best.
Both sides top out to new chain anchors. Lower or rap with a single rope.
Rainbow Falls Left:
Two ropes for Rainbow Falls Right, a single rope will work for the left side. Five to six 13cm - 16cm screws. Chain anchors exist on both climbs, if you top out on the right side bring some webbing to set up a tree anchor.
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