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Solar Slab - Upper Tier
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Sunspot Ridge 

Sunspot Ridge 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- British: HVS 4c

   
Type:  Trad, 12 pitches, 1500', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8- French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- British: VS 4c [details]
FA: FRA: John Hegyes, John Wilder, George Urioste, Larry DeAngelo
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 4,287
Submitted By: Larry DeAngelo on Jan 27, 2006
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Windy day on the route.

Description 

Red Rock isn't normally known for its ridge climbs, but this route has a good line, airy location, and even a gendarme or two. The rock is good and the route is long-- a great combination!

To the left of Solar Slab, the base of the wall bends down, reaching the streambed a few hundred yards to the west. The buttress that protrudes into the canyon continues upward as a blunt ridge separating the Solar Slab from the large wall containing Black Orpheus. Sunspot Ridge climbs this feature.

On the left side of the southeast-facing buttress is a gully system. Some bushwhacking leads to a belay alcove at its base. Climb a pitch up the crack on the left wall of the gully and belay in a cavelike chimney/tunnel. Move up and right, passing a small bulge. Continue right and up the varnished face, protected by tricky wired nut placements. Eventually move left and belay on a good ledge. Climb up for about thirty feet to a small triangular ceiling, then traverse right until you reach a left-slanting crack. Follow this crack to the Lower Shoulder. This shoulder can also be reached by climbing Solar Flare or by complicated scrambling and easy climbing from the west.

From the large shoulder platform, scramble up on an easy pitch of mostly 4th-class climbing, staying slightly left, to a good belay niche near a bush. The next pitch involves face-climbing straight up the knobby ridge crest above. Another face-climbing pitch continues up the ridge, with limited protection, to some good ledges. Two more fourth-class pitches lead up the ridge, passing a gendarme or two. These pitches end at The Notch, a spacious and airy perch where the ridge merges into the main wall. The improbable headwall above turns out to be beautiful 5.0 climbing on varnished plates. Another pitch up one of the cracks above (both are about 5.7) leads to the ledges at the top Solar Slab's fifth or sixth pitch. Either continue to the top and descend via the Painted Bowl, or rappel Solar Slab via the bolted rap stations.

(Another descent option begins at the Notch: downclimb east for 15 feet to a short rappel from a flimsy bush and a jammed knot. This takes you to the top of Solar Slab's second pitch. Then rappel Solar Slab.)


Protection 

Standard rack, wires.



Photos of Sunspot Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Delightful climbing up the varnished plates above the Notch on Sunspot Ridge.
Delightful climbing up the varnished plates above ...
Looking down at the P1 belay alcove.
Looking down at the P1 belay alcove.
Clean face climbing on the second pitch of Sunspot Ridge.
Clean face climbing on the second pitch of Sunspot...
more easy varnish
more easy varnish
Sunspot Ridge: Airy climbing on the ridgecrest above the lower shoulder.
Sunspot Ridge: Airy climbing on the ridgecrest abo...
the S walls of Oak Creek Canyon
the S walls of Oak Creek Canyon
easy climbing
easy climbing
and more slabs
and more slabs
The right-hand crack high on the Sunspot Ridge.
The right-hand crack high on the Sunspot Ridge.
Overview of the Sunspot Ridge
BETA PHOTO: Overview of the Sunspot Ridge
The final pitch of Sunspot Ridge has two choices, each goes at 5.7.
BETA PHOTO: The final pitch of Sunspot Ridge has two choices, ...
Black Arch Wall
Black Arch Wall
Start of Sunspot Ridge, first three belays marked.
BETA PHOTO: Start of Sunspot Ridge, first three belays marked.
Oak Creek Canyon
Oak Creek Canyon
Climbers on the upper Ridge.
Climbers on the upper Ridge.
route beta consultation
route beta consultation
Follow the varnished plates aiming for the crack that splits the right-hand pillar.
BETA PHOTO: Follow the varnished plates aiming for the crack t...
looking up Oak Creek Canyon
looking up Oak Creek Canyon
the Lower Shoulder and junction with Solar Flare (I recommend this link-up)
the Lower Shoulder and junction with Solar Flare (...
close-up of the crack
close-up of the crack
Comments on Sunspot Ridge Add Comment
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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Apr 5, 2006
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

We did this route late last week. We were the first of two parties to get on it on a Thursday morning!

I was a little worried that the description here would prove too thin, but it was just enough. Note that to get to the initial belay cave (not visible in the beta photo), you 'scramble' up a rock step and then bushwack. We ended up belaying the step, mostly out of confusion. The guys who were following us roped up, scrambled, and bushwacked left instead of right, continued partway up p1, and apparently had an epic day of adventure climbing - we saw them rapping off from 3 pitches up at dusk. Study the photo of the p1 belay alcove/tunnel, which can be spotted from way down the trail. If you hit that right, the rest of the route description falls into place.

On the easier pitches there are lots of options.

Yields great views of climbers in the crux of Black Orpheus.

We went left on the final pitch, and didn't quite make the chains on Solar Slab with a 60m rope.

I would compare this route in quality and difficulty to MysterZ or One-Armed Bandit - bring your mountaineering aesthetic.

By Jason D. Martin
Jan 20, 2007
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b R

This was a really fun route!

The route is a bit on the loose side. It might be a good idea to avoid matching hands on holds...especially on some of the more run out pitchs.

The combination of loose rock and run-outs warrants an R rating. However, I think that if this route becomes popular, much of the loose rock will get pulled off.

I don't think that any individual move is harder than 5.7. But as Doug stated there are some variations here and there.

I believe this is the longest individual route on the Solar Slab Wall. It's great that you barely have to walk uphill before your climbing and then you don't stop until your at the top of the Solar Slab Wall! As a result the route provides a lot of bang for the buck.

Jason

By John Hegyes
From: Las Vegas, NV
Feb 16, 2007
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

I'd recommend bringing a #4 Camalot or equivalent for the start of p2, and some Ballnutz for one of the belays above the lower shoulder. I don't feel like the route is run-out or unusually loose, I might support a 5.7 rating rather than a 5.8 however.

By Andrew Carson
From: Wilson, WY
Dec 13, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

This is a fun route that will improve as more parties climb it and the loose stuff gets cleaned off. There's a fair bit of it right now so be careful and enjoy a great day in an airy location. Four of us did it in 11 pitches, on December 11, so it goes fairly quickly, especially the upper part. There are many belay options so pitch length and numbers will vary, especially higher on the ridge.

By Karl K
From: Phoenix, AZ
Mar 20, 2009
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b PG13

We did this in 14 pitches to the top (down the Painted Bowls descent). (For the record, I would strongly recommend rapelling down Solar Slab...)
The line is pretty continous in the 5.7 range. I thought that at least 8 of the pitches had many 5.6 or 5.7 moves. There are at least two very memorable steps over empty space as you change sides of the corner. Fun!
Many of the pitches follow beautiful, exposed aretes & faces. You need to be really comfortable placing pro on the varnished faces (try Spiderline in Willow Spring if you want a good preview)www.mountainproject.com/v/nevada/red_rock/willow_spring/1061>>>
While not technically difficult, the route's loose holds (my partner and I broke off at least one hand/foothold on every pitch) and strange protection slowed me down a lot while leading and left me more mentally drained than physically tired.
As others have said, as more people do the climb it will get better and better.
BTW - my PG rating is more for the looseness of the holds, not the actual protection which was usually good and at least adequate.

By sqwirll
From: Las Vegas
Mar 14, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Climbed in 8 pitches with some simulclimbing to the last anchors of Solar Slab. We climbed the chimney that forms the right side of the gendarme (left side of ridge)to get away from the 30-40 mph winds. This variation checks in at around 5.6 or so and was pretty fun. Also, I thought the left hand crack on the last pitch was a little awkward and probably 5.8. A cam to 4" would be useful for the start of pitch 2 and the lefthand variation of the last pitch.

By Peter Lewis
From: Bridgton, Maine
Oct 1, 2010

Does anyone know if it would be possible to do the first half of this route and then break left (somewhere near the notch) and access the upper pitches of Black Orpheus?

By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Oct 15, 2010
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b R

If memory serves me, you'd actually want to top out on sunspot (where it joins solar slab for the final pitch to the summit), then scramble up and left, then drop into the ramp system that splits the halves of Black Orpheus- the final corner system of Orpheus starts much higher than you think it does. You end up about 200' above it when you hit the second terrace on solar slab.

By Doug Foust
From: Henderson, Nevada
Dec 10, 2012

I'm not sure if the scrub oak protecting the alcove at the bottom of the first pitch has grown, but getting past it looked quite daunting if not impossible. We ended up starting the pitch lower down and to the left of the tree right on the arete. We still had to navigate past a couple branches, but seemed quite a bit more civilized.