There are two ways to approach the climbs in the Oak Creek Canyon / Solar Slab area:
FROM THE OAK CREEK CANYON PARKING AREA (LOOP ROAD)
Start at the Oak Creek Canyon parking area located at the end of a spur road leading off the scenic loop road. The approach is very straightforward. Just follow the North Oak Creek Canyon Trail for about a mile from the parking area to the base of Solar Slab. Solar Slab is obvious from the parking area, so you can't get lost. When you get within a few hundred yards of the base, cut uphill on any of the many braided trails.
FROM THE OLD OAK CREEK CAMPGROUND (NV 159)
This is a good choice for those climbers who want to get an early start (the scenic loop road doesn't open until 6am). This approach is a little longer, but it is very straightforward. Begin at Oak Creek Campground which is 1.4 miles south on Nevada 159 from the exit of the loop road. Or, you can start at any of the nearby pullouts. Hike on Oak Creek Road (dirt, no cars) or on one of the many nearby trails to the base of Solar Slab. Solar Slab is clearly seen from the road, so you can't get lost. Hike for about 1.5 miles, and cut uphill on one of the many braided trails when you get within a few hundred yards of the base.
These approaches skirt around Wilson's Pimple- A large dirt mound at the mouth of the Oak Creek Canyon.
The Solar Slab is a classic easy climb located near the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon on the north side. Facing south, the route gets sun most of the day. The climb makes a good winter or off season climb, and by late Spring or Summer can be downright scorching hot. The route starts about 500' off the ground! You must use Solar Slab Gully, Johnny Vegas, or Beulah's Book to reach the terrace that marks the start of Solar Slab.
After reaching the terrace, start below a face that has a beautiful hand crack starting mid-way up it. This is about 100' up and to the left of Solar Slab Gully. This climb is often described in 9 pitches, but it's very easy to do it in 6 with a 60m rope.
|Pitch 1 (5.5) (165')||Climb up the slab to the steeper face with the crack. Go up the crack or stay slightly left of it for easier climbing. There are huge knobs and chicken heads everywhere. Follow the crack to a belay ledge with a bush.|
|Pitch 2 (5.5) (165')||Head up the left leaning ramp. Pass a possible belay ledge, then continue on to a large ledge above.|
|Pitch 3 (5.6)||Head right for about 15', then go up a plated finger/hand crack up to a ledge (NOTE: Don't traverse all the way right to the dihedral). At the ledge, go right for about 10', then continue up another crack. To a two-bolt anchor. If you don't have a 60m rope, you'll have to belay here. Otherwise, traverse right and either head up the crack or continue out onto the thin face. Both are fun and a little tricky for 5.6. If you went up the crack, step right onto the belay ledge (two-bolt anchor). If you went up the face, you'll arrive there naturally.|
|Pitch 4 (5.5) (190')||Shoot up an amazing hand crack for a full 190' (if you don't have a 60m rope, you'll have to do this in two pitches). The crack looks a lot harder than 5.5 from below, but there are a lot of good face holds to keep it easy. Belay in an alcove/ledge at the top of the crack.|
|Pitch 5 (5.2) (120')||Fly up easy, low angle rock to an anchor.|
|Pitch 6 (5.5)||Walk and scramble up easy slabs for a couple hundred feet to the base of a left leaning dihedral. Climb the varnished dihedral to the top of the route. You're still not at the top of Rainbow Mountain!|
SEVERAL POSSIBLE DESCENT ROUTES
1) You can rappel with two ropes. The first rap anchors are near the top of pitch 5. They do NOT follow the route. If you want go to the top of the climb or the top of Rainbow Mountain, this is not the best descent option.
2) Hike up about 800' from the top of the climb until you get to red rock. Head right to the second gully. Follow this gully all the way down to the base of the climb. This involves some non-trivial route finding, rough bushwhacking, and lots of scrambling. If you can't down climb 5.6, you'll have to do several rappels.