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Higher Solitude Canyon

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Main Wall 
Sailing Wall, The 

Higher Solitude Canyon  

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Elevation: 8,600'
Location: 35.24123, -111.61784 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 51,866
Administrators: Greg Opland, James DeRoussel, JJ Schlick, Hendrixson, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: JJ Schlick on Apr 23, 2010
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Higher Solitude Canyon is a great local sport crag, perched on the western flanks of Mt. Elden.

The 50' tall Sailing Wall is warm up central, where you will find five routes with every grade from 5.8 through 5.11. All of them generously display a fine array of pockets, and fins.

The Main Wall itself is just a minute up the trail. This wall is unmistakable, and beautiful. The pitches on this section range from 70' to 100' tall, and while there are not a ton of pitches yet, there are certainly enough to wear you out, and make your day. Especially if you are wrestling with the harder lines.
Joel Unema up high on Solitaire.  James Q Martin P...
Joel Unema up high on Solitaire.

James Q Martin Photo

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 is certainly climbable in mild to moderate winters. The approach, with a rack of 15 draws, 4 long draws or runners, 60 meter rope, between two people, the hike 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.

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 new area so watch your foot holds and don't assume that every hold you might want to grab has been tested.

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 in the wilderness. It is a unique, and raw area. There may come a day when this place will sport 40-50 lines, but time will tell. And with that said, please be aware that this area is 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...

Thanks to Wade Forrest and Colin Cox for helping out with motivation, hardware, and hard work.

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.

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. maps.google.com/maps/place?fti...

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 Oldham Trail. There is a small shortcut on the more north trail of the Pipeline just before the main junction proper. Continue up on the Oldham Trail for another five minutes until you get to a junction of a social trail which comes in from the right. You can see Higher Solitude from this little junction. Walk off trail, up the hill a little ways on the left side of wash/canyon. Look for a faint game trail that takes a fairly direct route up hill. 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

Weather station 4.8 miles from here

18 Total Routes

['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',11],['2 Stars',5],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Higher Solitude Canyon:
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
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
Coldsnap   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   The Sailing 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
A Faint Horizon   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Wall
Solitaire   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
Browse More Classics in Higher Solitude Canyon

Featured Route For Higher Solitude Canyon
Jim pulling the roof.

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
This map is exaggerated to show more clearly the p...
BETA PHOTO: This map is exaggerated to show more clearly the p...
The full view of Higher Solitude Canyon
The full view of Higher Solitude Canyon
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.