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Rainbow Slabs

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1. Left Side 
2. Height of Land  
3. The Mid Section 
4. The Perfect Wave Slab 

Rainbow Slabs  

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Location: 44.0209, -71.2561 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 9,617
Administrators: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Robert Hall, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: David Aguasca! on May 8, 2008  with updates from Robert Hall and 1 more
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BETA PHOTO: Rainbow Slabs with Key Climbs Marked, as Viewed fr...


If you've driven down the Kancamagus, chances are you have seen Rainbow Slabs. The 200 - 250 feet of southeast-facing, water-streaked granite offers a selection of moderate (5.4 to 5.8+) friction climbing, some of which is reasonably protected, while some routes are seriously run-out.

While all climbs will have some run-out sections, and the climber is responsible for making make his/her own decisions, the run-out section of the following climbs is usually two or three grades below the crux, and the crux(es) have reasonable protection, either with gear or bolt(s) [generally in increasing order of difficulty]:
Dead Easy (5.1-5.2, gear)
Livin' Easy (5.4- 5.5, gear, 1 bolt)
Face Dances (5.6-5.6+)
Tsunami (5.6, gear)
Perfect Wave (5.7)
Lucky Charms (5.7) & Direct Variation (5.7+)
Coloring Book (5.7)
Road to Lhasa (5.7)
Friday's Friend (5.7)
Cruise Control (5.7+)
B-Day Brushings (5.7+)
First Wave (5.8, with small & med. nuts for gear, 1 bolt)

More run out, or with run out sections only slightly less difficult than their cruxes, include:
Pillars of Dickulese (nominally given 5.6, but perhaps harder?)
Take a Giant Step (the 5.8+ crux(es) are well protected, but not the approach moves)

Getting There 

The description in the Handren guide is a bit confusing, and it MAY, in fact, be the ancient route to the far south ("Left End") of the slab.

The usual approach is described well in Webster's Guide: If the river is high, (or cold!) walk up the Nanamocomuck Ski Trail from Albany Covered Bridge parking. [This approach is now a "superhighway" due to logging, the plus-side is than Mtn bikes can significantly cut the time to the approach path.] At 0.9 mi the logging rd crosses a stream on a bridge and then bears left. The logging rd continues (the old ski trail branches left about 0.1-0.2 mi from the large bridge, then rejoins the logging road just before the climber's path.) At about 0.4-0.5 mi. from the bridge the logging rd passes a large, flat boulder on the right and, shortly thereafter the old ski trasil branches left at the "9KM/ 5.6Mi" sign; here [photos], look for small cairn on the side of the road and then hike up the fairly well trodden path. [If you get to the end of the logging road, you've gone about 1/4 mi too far.] At first the path is on slabby rock in a (usually dry) watercourse. After about 1 min.'s walking the path bears left out of the watercourse; after about another 2 minutes it bears left again, walks through open woods then swings left and crosses another (usually dry) stream (cairn on each side). It then continues, with a few flags, to a stream crossing (again, 2 cairns) where WATER is available except in the driest of summers. From here it climbs steeply for 3-4 minutes, generally up-and-right reaching the slab at the junction of the Mid-Section and the Perfect Wave slabs. The whole approach should take no more than 12-15 minutes from the Ski Trail. To get to mid-section climbs like Face Dances, True Colors take a short path on your left which crosses high and then descends to the "toe" of the cliff.

If the river is low, you can save quite a bit of walking by wading across. Historically, the usual place was 0.6 miles West of Lower Falls at a gravel pull out. [Also used for Crack-in-the-Woods.] Once across the river and back on the Nam--- Ski Trail, one must WALK BACK DOWN (i.e. downstream direction) ABOUT 0.3-0.4 MILES TO REACH THE NORMAL APPROACH AS DESCRIBED ABOVE. This includes going over an old bridge; the climber's path is just about where the old Nam-- ski trail hits the new logging road. (Going into the woods too early is the normal problem people have.)

Another possible crossing place is 0.2 mi. West of Lower Falls. Park (wheels off the road) in the EASTBOUND DIRECTION between a "CURVE"-sign and a "PEDESTRIAN /35MPH" sign. Cross the road, find a small sandy beach, and wade across the river. Your "target" is an orange, triangular rock on the other side. Exit the river on the downstream side of a large downed tree. The Nam--Trail is a few feet into the woods. Walk UPSTREAM on the NAM--Trail for 150 feet to a relatively "new" wooden bridge, thence 2 min to the "9KM/ 5.6Mi" sign, where the Nam-- trail meets the new logging road; here climber's path turns off. If the river is low enough to cross here, it takes me less than 20-25min. of hiking (plus 5 min or so to change out of wading shoes) to reach the cliff. You could also park at Lower Falls (fee) and walk the 0.1-0.2 mi. up the Kanc. to reach this crossing.

Climbing Season

Weather station 6.8 miles from here

40 Total Routes

['4 Stars',3],['3 Stars',15],['2 Stars',10],['1 Star',8],['Bomb',4]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Rainbow Slabs:
Face Dances    5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 200'   3. The Mid Section
Perfect Wave   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   4. The Perfect Wave Slab
Take A Giant Step   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   4. The Perfect Wave Slab
Browse More Classics in Rainbow Slabs

Featured Route For Rainbow Slabs
Tsunami Ledge Topo

Cruise Control 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b  NH : Kancamagus Crags : ... : 4. The Perfect Wave Slab
Just the most wonderful, clean, white rock with excellent protection....although it was not always this way. The first time I climbed it the original drilled-on-the-lead 1/4" bolts were the pro! Soon these were replaced with 3/8". I gave this an additional star over the "consensus 3-star" Perfect Wave because there's nearly twice as long a section of climbing-at-the- grade. Approach - Same as for Tsunami.This can be led in one long pitch with a 70M rope. Those with 60M ropes have two choices...[more]   Browse More Classics in NH

Photos of Rainbow Slabs Slideshow Add Photo
The "New" wooden bridge is no longer enc...
BETA PHOTO: The "New" wooden bridge is no longer enc...
Bike IN on the new road! 10-15min. from Covered Br...
BETA PHOTO: Bike IN on the new road! 10-15min. from Covered Br...
Junc. of logging road, ski trail (left) and Rainbo...
BETA PHOTO: Junc. of logging road, ski trail (left) and Rainbo...
At the new cairn marking the turn-off from the new...
BETA PHOTO: At the new cairn marking the turn-off from the new...
Making a road for the loggers (No work was being d...
Making a road for the loggers (No work was being d...
view from waterfall area (at the far right end of ...
BETA PHOTO: view from waterfall area (at the far right end of ...
This is the river crossing described in both Webst...
BETA PHOTO: This is the river crossing described in both Webst...
A possible river crossing spot (not the crossing d...
BETA PHOTO: A possible river crossing spot (not the crossing d...

Comments on Rainbow Slabs Add Comment
Show which comments
By Russ Keane
Jul 3, 2014
Holy moley, this is IMPOSSIBLE to find. We walked all over the place, in circles, all day, and never found it. How can that be? It was frustrating.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jul 4, 2014
Did you start at Albany covered Bridge or cross the river ??
By Russ Keane
Jul 15, 2014
The river was too high to cross, so we parked at the Albany Bridge. I have the new Handren guide, and felt pretty comfortable that I followed all the directions: Find the intersection with the logging road, walk up a stream, etc). It was just so hard to see anything through the trees. We were very very close, I am sure. In fact we ended up finding one portion of the long crag up there, but I am not sure where it was.

Truly an elusive cliff.
By Robert Hall
Oct 1, 2014
The description above works, although the logging road has now been pushed through to where the path leaves the ski trail, but the km/mi sign is still there as of late Sept 2014 and the path to the cliff is still intact.

With the new road, consider biking in. Even with a climbing pack, my old knees and less-than-optimal-conditioning for biking it was 15 minutes in from Albany Bridge, and 9 minutes out, to the cairn at the start of the path. (i.e. the photo of 2 climbers by the new cairn.)
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