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 always responsible for making make his/her own decisions, the run-out section of the following climbs is usually two or three grades less than crux section, 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+, 2 bolts)
Tsunami (5.6, gear)
Perfect Wave (5.7, gear & 2 bolts)
Lucky Charms (5.7, gear) & Direct Variation (5.7+, 2 bolts )
Coloring Book (5.7, gear)
Road to Lhasa (5.7, gear)
Friday's Friend (5.7, gear: small & med nuts, 1 bolt )
Cruise Control (5.7+, 3 bolts, some gear )
B-Day Brushings (5.7+, gear, 1 bolt)
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 which are about 5.6-5.7)
Spring 2015 Update - As of 4/21/15 the Forest Service has "reopened" the new logging road for foot and bike travel. (It HAD been closed on WEEKDAYS to all use due to active logging.) About half the routes are currently dry of spring "melt off", including: Road to Lhasa, Face Dances, Dead Easy , Livin Easy, and the routes on the "Perfect Wave Slab". The tops or routes on the Left Side are still damp, although the first pitches are dry.
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 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 trail comes nback and immediately 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, 30-40 min. from Albany Covered Bridge. To get to mid-section climbs like Face Dances and True Colors take a short path on your left which crosses high and then descends to the "toe" of the cliff. [More detailed descriptions in each of the separate "Areas"]
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 where the old Nam-- ski trail hits the new logging road. (Going into the woods too early is the problem people normally 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 or annual WMNF pass) and walk the 0.1-0.2 mi. up the Kanc. to reach this crossing.
Weather station 6.8 miles from here
40 Total Routes
['4 Stars',3],['3 Stars',15],['2 Stars',10],['1 Star',8],['Bomb',4]
Browse More Classics in Rainbow Slabs
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Rainbow Slabs:
Featured Route For Rainbow Slabs
Dead Easy 5.1 2 6 II 7 MD 2a NH
: Kancamagus Crags
: ... : 3. The Mid Section
Four Stars !? No joke. I've climbed it 10 or 20 times now (From "launch Ledge", soloing to the trees to set up solo-top-ropes) and it continues to impress with the quality and timelessness. If P2 of this climb isn't the best "first Trad Lead" in the state (if not the Northeast), then I don't know what climb could be. According to Webster's guidebook, this is one of six (6 !) First Ascents made by Paul Ross and Tana Cathcart on Aug 7th 1973, the first exploration of Rainbow! START From the...[more] Browse More Classics in NH
Latest Regional Forum Messages
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.)