4th Pitch- 100’- 5.9
Solar Flare was the first route I climbed on the long ridge separating the Solar Slab face from Black Arch Wall in Oak Creek Canyon at Red Rocks
. This area of fantastic black varnished rock
(Sunspot Ridge) is often overlooked for the more popular routes on either side of the ridge, i.e. Black Orpheus
. Solar Flare is a good route to combine with another lower canyon objective, i.e. The Friar
or Beulah’s Book
for a full day of climbing.
The crux moves on the route both involve pulling roofs. The first one is a 5.10c large roof pull backed up by a suspicious bolt. The second is a 5.9 bulge with a little better protection but climbing on lesser quality rock. I like this climb in general and it represents a good one to switch leads with a less experienced partner the way the pitches alternate.
The rock is pretty fantastic by Red Rocks standards. This route is not to be confused by another route at Red Rocks by the same name at Calico Basin, a single pitch sport route. As the name suggests, this can be a decent sunny route. However, in the winter, Mount Wilson will interfere with most of the sun in the afternoon hours.
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. Many routes are reached from this trailhead, so no worries about various vehicles in the parking lot in regards to who is climbing what. Most folks are there to climb much easier routes like Solar Slab and Solar Gully. There are plenty of good routes to climb that climbers won’t be on. We combined the Friar with Solar Flare this day out, 9 pitches in all. Follow the trail into the canyon and turn right to stay out of the canyon floor and follow the trail until below the Sunspot Ridge routes which are well left of the Solar Slab area, but before you reach the pinch in the canyon floor. Ascend any faint trail you can find with a little bushwhack until at the base of the right face of the ridge. Solar Flare begins in the most prominent varnished wall.
Route Description490’+/-, 5 Pitches, 5.10c
1st Pitch- 100’- 5.7/
A quick non-remarkable corner/crack pitch leading up bomber black varnished rock to a small stance just under the left side of the large roof. You can build a station in a crack here but might have to sit into a hanging position to make it work comfortably or you can set come cams higher up and down climb back to the small standing position.
2nd Pitch- 70’- 5.10c/
This is the crux pitch of the route. Traverse easy ground below the roof to its right end. Ascend up to a suspect bolt that can be backed up by a nut or two. Make an incredibly fun roof pull on pretty good rock. Swing your feet up fast or even heel hook.
Once through the one or two hard moves, the pitch eases way off up to a fixed station.
3rd Pitch- 100’- 5.7/
Another easy corner on great rock leads straight up to another fixed station below a small roof or bulge.
4th Pitch- 100’- 5.9/
The rock starts to change color at this height on the wall which is the norm for this canyon or Red Rocks in general. Still pretty solid though. Move up and left over the bulge and past a protection bolt. The route can wander left or right here, but basically tracks pretty straight up and slightly to the left. Easy climbing after the bulge to yet another fixed station.
5th Pitch- 100’- 5.6/
Easy climbing on good rock takes you to just below the shoulder to another fixed station. This is low angled ground at this point.
DescentDo a single rap back to the top of pitch four to start so you don’t get your rope hung up on the many features sticking out of that last low angled pitch.
Then do a double rope rappel back to the top of pitch two and one more double rope rappel to the ground. Double 60m ropes are needed for the rappel as there is no fixed station at the top of pitch one.
A single rack to 3”, double .5” to 1”. A dozen shoulder length runners. South facing route, but can still be cold in the winter as Mount Wilson blocks out the sun. Dress accordingly. Might want a screamer for that first bolt at the big roof crux move.
External LinksRed Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM
Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association