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Higher Solitude Canyon

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Main Wall 
Sailing Wall, The 
Whisper Wall, The 

Higher Solitude Canyon Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 8,600'
Location: 35.24123, -111.61784 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 7,831
Administrators: Greg Opland, James DeRoussel, JJ Schlick, Hendrixson, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide), Emily Roeben
Submitted By: JJ Schlick on Apr 23, 2010


54° | 24°

59° | 25°

59° | 25°

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58° | 25°
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Higher Solitude Canyon is an awesome mountain sport crag, which is perched on the center western flanks of Mt. Elden at about 8600'.

The Sailing Wall is a beautiful, 50' tall fin of rock which juts out of the hillside just below The Main Wall, and is nice if some folks in your party don't climb 5.10 because there will be at least a couple routes for them to do. You will find five routes with every grade from 5.8 through 5.11, and all of them generously display a fine array of pockets, rails, and fins.

The Main Wall itself is just a minute up the trail. This wall is unmistakable, tall, and stunning. The pitches on this section range from 70' to 100' tall, and there are certainly enough routes to wear you out, and make your day. Especially if you are wrestling with the harder lines.

**These two walls face almost due south, and once they see the sun in the morning, they stay in the sun till late in the day. Generally, if the temps for Flagstaff are in the range of 45-65 degrees you will be comfortable, though much on either side of that you will be either freezing, or complaining about how hot it is and hiding in the shade. It's elevation makes it somewhat counter intuitive, but the season up here is fall, moderate winters, and spring. Usually by April the season is coming to end.**

With a rack of 15 draws and long draws/ full length runners, a 70meter rope, between two people, the approach takes about 45-60 minutes. I have seen the hike and the altitude conspire to take it out of people. A certain conditioning is helpful for full enjoyment.

Rock Climbing Photo: Joel Unema above it all on Solitaire 5.12-.  James...
Joel Unema above it all on Solitaire 5.12-.

James Q Martin Photo

The rock is dacite, and as such has its own peculiarities. The quality of the rock runs the scale from poor to excellent, but the routes themselves are of generously good rock. However, that same rock has been described as sharp, and that it is. Tape will help many if you haven't been climbing on dacite all that much. There were efforts to take the sting out.

This is a newer area so watch your foot holds, and don't assume that every hold you might want to grab has been tested. I've seen plenty of holds come and go here, especially foot chips. Climb smart.

Rock Climbing Photo: Wade Forrest, done with the traverse crux, and clo...
Wade Forrest, done with the traverse crux, and closing in on the finish of Lucky Old Sun 5.10+. Great exposure for the backyard...

All in all an excellent local crag that certainly has it's miracle days once you figure it out. The views are great, the ambiance at the base is rugged, and though you park in town, once you are at the crag, you have a sense of being above it all. It is a unique, and raw area. There may come a day when this place will sport 40-50 lines, but time will tell. Also please be aware that this area is still a work in progress, so the occasional fixed rope may be encountered on a new line. Also, Due to the approach, it is common practice to stash gear over night for a two day affair. Please be respectful of this practice, and leave others gear where you might find it.

PLEASE LEAVE THE ANCHOR BINERS, unless it's days are numbered, and you are swapping it for a new one...

Getting There 

The easiest approach for Higher Solitude will actually take you around the foot of Mt. Elden and Glorias via the Pipeline and Oldham trails. The reason for this is that in the seasons you will want to access this crag (Fall, Winter, Spring), there is a 50/50 chance that you will be hiking through some snow. The route described here will get you to the crag via the sunniest, and driest path. See map below.

Rock Climbing Photo: This map is exaggerated to show the intended path ...
This map is exaggerated to show the intended path more clearly, and is certainly not to scale. The Pipeline/Oldham route may be a hair longer than skirting Glorias, but in the seasons you will want to access this crag (Fall, Winter, Spring), it will be sunnier and drier. The hike takes about 45 minutes.

Park at the Cul de sac on N Paradise Rd.

From the Cul de sac you will want to make your way through the snarl of social trails that sprout from the trailhead, and head for the mountain. You will most likely encounter an old road/trail that heads up a hill. Pass this, and continue on the small trail in the gully which will lead you up to the Pipeline trail. Head west on the Pipeline trail for 5 minutes to the junction of the Lower Oldham Trail.

Continue up on the Lower Oldham Trail for another five minutes until you get to a large junction. Stay right. Continue ten minutes to a junction of a social trail which comes in from the right. You can see Higher Solitude from this little junction. The former game trail, turned climber's trail breaks off above this junction area. There might be cairns, maybe not. This will eventually lead you to Lower Solitude.

Just before you get to the actual wall of Lower Solitude, look for a small trail that breaks off left, and leads you into the gully. Follow this trail for a minute or so staying in the gully, and then look for a sharp left hand turn, and the trail which starts to lead you up and out of the gully on the left West side.

Continue on this steep and scenic trail as it winds it's way through the boulders, and small cliff bands high on the west side of the canyon. For most of this portion of the hike, you will be well above the bottom of the canyon, and have open views of Lower Solitude. Keep pumping to the top!!

Climbing Season

For the Solitude Canyon area.

Weather station 4.8 miles from here

27 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',3],['3 Stars',20],['2 Stars',4],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Higher Solitude Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Higher Solitude Canyon:
Rusty Blade   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
Man On the Moon   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 4 pitches, 350'   Main Wall
Whitecap   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   The Sailing Wall
Thunder Moon   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
Thunderbird ArĂȘte    5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
Lucky Old Sun Direct   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
The Sundial   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   The Sailing Wall
Lucky Old Sun   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
The Scythe   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
Whiplash   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Main Wall
Broad Axe   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
Slipstream   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
Solitaire   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
The Assassin    5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Main Wall
A Faint Horizon   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
Holy Roller   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Main Wall
Continental Drift   5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Main Wall
The Black Solitaire   5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Main Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Higher Solitude Canyon

Featured Route For Higher Solitude Canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: JJ Schlick on the classic move to the "Black ...

Solitaire 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a  AZ : Northern Arizona : ... : Main Wall
For the grade, Solitaire stands out as one of Flagstaff's more classic sport routes, and one of the most beautiful...Start by small pine tree on the right side of the squaty pillar, just up hill from Man on the Moon. Surf through a large weakness filled with jugs to the first bulge. Eye your footholds on the right, below the bulge, because they will disappear all too quickly as you start to move up. Clever stemming, a hand jam, and a little laybacking (there are a hundred ways to do these mov...[more]   Browse More Classics in AZ

Photos of Higher Solitude Canyon Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: This map is exaggerated to show more clearly the p...
BETA PHOTO: This map is exaggerated to show more clearly the p...
Rock Climbing Photo: The full view of Higher Solitude Canyon
The full view of Higher Solitude Canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Controlled burn, seen from Higher Solitude.
Controlled burn, seen from Higher Solitude.

Comments on Higher Solitude Canyon Add Comment
Show which comments
By Blake M
Feb 3, 2012
Here is a GPS track I made for the hike up
By Wylie
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jan 13, 2014
Although there aren't many lines up here the good ones are incredible. Perfect beautiful stone, long routes, and great movement. I can't wait to go back.
By Paul Zander
From: Tucson, AZ
Feb 21, 2015
Huge thanks for all the effort put into this area, its unbelievable! Really appreciate the fine trail work.
By JJ Schlick
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Feb 22, 2015
Thanks Paul. Where many people walk, there is a trail. There are a lot of unsung hours that go into crag building on this scope, aside from establishing the routes, and the whole place is obviously still a work in progress. Some of the base work will take a season for Mother Nature to do her thing. Anything that folks can do to help preserve the infrastructure is greatly appreciated. Especially now since the trail to the crag is being frequented by scantily clad trail runners....
By Casey Niggemyer
From: Flagstaff, Arizona
Dec 2, 2015
found a pair of sportiva flip flops at the base of solitaire yesterday. message me if they're yours.

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