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 feet of southeast-facing, water-streaked granite offer moderate but extremely run-out friction climbing.
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 Cover Bridge parking. [The first 0.9 mi. is now a superhighway due to logging, and one can only guess at how long it will take for the loggers to move on and destroy all the landmarks in THIS description!?] At 0.9 mi the trail crosses a stream on a bridge and then bears left. It then crosses a 2nd and 3rd large bridge (ignore a couple of smaller 'bridges'); the 3rd being relatively new [photo]. 2 minutes further you'll reach the "9KM/ 5.6Mi" sign; here leave the trail [photo], look for small cairn on a log [photo] and then hike up the fairly well trodden path. At first it 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; if you miss the climber's turn-off you'll hit the NEW bridge. (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 the 3rd bridge (the "new" bridge), thence 2 min to where the climber's trail 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.
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.)