Beulah's Book to Sunflower Link
to Sunflower makes for a pretty solid south facing winter route at Red Rocks. I climbed Horndogger to Sundog
, which shares the same upper slab, five months prior and knew I would be back to continue up these lines during the winter months. These southeast facing lower and upper slab routes comprise what is known as the Solar Slab area at Oak Creek Canyon. The lower wall routes are spread out but basically funnel you to the upper slab lines on Rainbow Mountain’s upper south face. Beulah’s Book is probably the best as well as most difficult of these lower routes that can access the upper tier. Its middle pitch, 5.9 face climbing (new arête bolts-2008) to 5.9 lie back (trad) in the corner, is classic Red Rocks mixed climbing.
On the upper slab, Sunflower is similar to Sundog, offering several 5.9 face climbing pitches among easier ones to the top of the upper face with several slightly run out stretches. Although you can scramble off of these upper slab routes towards the same descent used for Black Orpheus
, it is quicker to rappel from the upper slab back down to the Solar Slab Gully.
5th Pitch- 120’- 5.9
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. This section of Rainbow Mountain features quite a few popular routes. Follow the trail into the canyon and turn right to stay out of the canyon floor and follow the trail until below Solar Slab gully, left of the Friar. Turn left and ascend close to the wall through the brush to the base of a broken chimney/corner that sits at the base of a partial large arch above (2nd pitch layback section). This is the start of Beulah’s Book.
1400’, 8 Pitches, 5.9
Beulah’s Book, 3 Pitches- 550’- 5.9/
The guidebooks mention Beulah’s Book as four pitches, but it goes at three by combining the last two which are lower 5th class. The first pitch goes at an easy 5.7 in my opinion, particularly when compared with Johnny Vegas
next door. The 2nd pitch of Johnny Vegas is a much more challenging 5.7 lead. The 2nd pitch of Beulah’s Book is fantastic and one of the better mixed 5.9 pitches at Red Rocks. A bolted arête variation is what I recommend. It skips the lower chimney and traverses back into the corner for the crux lie back portion which is easily protected with cams. From out on the arête, the corner looks more overhanging and difficult than it really is. Once you reach that section, small ledges on the right face will appear.
4th Pitch- 160’- 5.7/
Once you top out on Beulah’s Book, drag the ropes straight away aiming for a heavily varnished corner to the right of Solar Slab. Hike through a few bushes and sand to a comfortable belay spot below the corner. Climb some easy 4th class until you are below the black varnish and significant crack. Climb the easy, but fun, 5.7 black corner to the shared belay ledge with the 1st pitch of Solar Slab (tree on the ledge, but bolts for the belay).
5th Pitch- 120’- 5.9/
This has to be one of the finer pitches on the upper slab. Follow the rightward curving varnished seam above the belay, placing gear as you go. Pretty sweet stuff leads to another comfortable belay ledge.
6th Pitch- 190’- 5.8/
One of several very long pitches of the day. Starts out on an easy 5.8 varnished right facing corner directly above and turns into a crack that takes smaller gear which eventually peters out onto the face leaving you to wonder where the hidden station is as you pass a bolt and near the end of your rope. It requires an aggressive traverse left on suspect holds into a shallow scoop directly below the first bolt of pitch 7. This will be a hanging belay.
7th Pitch- 165’- 5.9/
This is the only required gear station
on Sunflower (2008). Clip 5 bolts as you ascend 5.9 typical slabbish whitish face. Stay right of the bolts to find the moves. Straight over the bolts would put you on 5.11 slab. Eventually you hit another varnished crack and the going gets easier as you start placing gear again. As the crack deepens and gets larger, you will find a comfortable scoop/pod in which to set up a gear belay right below the corner above.
8th Pitch- 200’- 5.6R/
Follow the easy corner placing gear whenever you want until you are about 20’ below a significant roof. Traverse out left onto the face above the corner and arch aggressively to your left in an attempt to reach the upper rappel on Solar Slab. It is located in a scoop about 30’ above the pillar to your left. If you can’t reach it, there is a gear belay back right and higher up in a few cracks.
This is all run out, but lower 5th class terrain to deal with when you are looking for the rappel. Do pay attention to the credibility of the “chicken heads” you are pulling and stepping on. You could girth hitch a few features if you so desired.
Climbing Sequence II
Rappel the Solar Slab route with double ropes. Four raps will get you back to the top of the first tier. Then rap Solar Slab Gully with a single rope (just down and to your left). The descent at this point goes a lot faster if you just keep pushing the spare single rope ahead. We always down climb the first short rappel into the top of the gully. Makes about six single rope rappels down the gully. The first two are quite short and the last four are full length. You could combine the last two with a double rope rap, but the 3rd and 4th rappel are best done on a single line or you will more than likely get your ropes entangled.
It is an easy walk back to the base of any of the lower routes, so you can leave your approach shoes at the base of whichever route you used to access the 2nd tier slab.
Please be careful when rappelling (especially if others could be below you which is most likely the case) at Red Rocks or on any sandstone in southern Utah or Nevada for that matter. Coming from the Canadian Rockies, it is a given that we tread lightly on our rappels. Some rambunctious dudes hop out as they rap pounding the rock with their body weight, not a great idea. Remember, your rap lines are not normally the climbing line, thus not as clean. When climbing Sundog to the east of Sunflower, a large hollow flake busted in many pieces as my 2nd partner rapped above us. I was showing one partner how to simul rap and we were at the station below. Both of us could have been seriously hurt. My foot and her head sustained minor injuries as it were. We were lucky. One of my double ropes was not; as 16m was cut off from a direct rock hit. Made for interesting double rappels down the rest of the route.
Double 60m ropes are a must for this route. Double cams from .4” to 3” and a single #4. Single set of nuts. Several double runners to avoid rope drag on Beulah’s 2nd pitch if you are doing the arête version. Comfortable climbing shoes for the long day and descent. Helmets are essential on this kind of rock. Several liters of water if warm, you could be in the sun all day.
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