Rainbow Slabs Rock Climbing
|GPS:||44.021, -71.256 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||David Aguasca! on May 7, 2008 · Updates|
|Admins:||Jay Knower, M Sprague, Lee Hansche, Jeffrey LeCours, Jonathan Steitzer, Robert Hall|
A 70m rope is helpful on this cliff. Otherwise, double ropes are often needed for raps; and some raps still need doubles.
Spring 2018 NOTICE - All of the culvert pipes (about 7) on the last 0.4 mile of the logging road from Covered Bridge to the start of the climber's path have been removed and the resulting ditches left open. As a result, "biking in" much beyond the "steel bridge" ( 0.9 miles from Albany Covered Bridge) has become more difficult. After the 2nd log footbridge, take the old ski trail as it branches off left, then it comes back to the road about 100 ft before the path to the slab takes off on the right.
If you've driven up the Kancamagus from the Conway area, 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) [Climbs listed generally in increasing order of difficulty]:
Dead Easy (5.1-5.2, gear to anchor)
Livin' Easy (5.4- 5.5, gear, 3 bolts to anchor or top-out)
Face Dances (5.6-5.6+, 2 bolts to anchor)
V-2 (5.6, 4 bolts to anchor)
Tsunami (5.6, gear to threaded flake anchor)
Perfect Wave (5.7, gear & 2 bolts to anchor)
Lucky Charms (5.7, gear) & Direct Variation (5.7+, 3 bolts to anchor, or P2 to top out)
Coloring Book (5.7, gear to 2 bolt anchor on P1) [ Variation: 5.8, 2 bolts to same bolt anchor]
Road to Lhasa (5.7, gear to anchor or P2 to top out)
Friday's Friend (5.7, gear: small & med nuts, 2 bolts )
Cruise Control (5.7+, 3 bolts, some gear, to tree anchor )
B-Day Brushings (5.7+, gear, 2 bolts to anchor, or P2 top out to tree)
First Wave (5.8, with small & med. nuts for gear, 2 bolts, right to Perfect Wave anchor, or up left-ish to tree anchor)
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)
L'Anniversaire 5.8 X (original 1985 1/4" anchors (which were placed in the water-flow) have been replaced (down and right, out of water flow) and the climb maye be TR'd with 70M rope from the "Launch Ledge". The 1/4" hangerless bolt ("stud") mentioned in Handren was replaced with a 3/8", but this is believed to be on a slightly different climb to the right of L'Anniversaire.
The usual approach is described well in Webster's Guide: If the river is high, (or cold!) walk (or bike) up the Nanamocomuck Ski Trail from Albany Covered Bridge parking. [This approach is now a "superhighway" logging road.] At 0.8 mi. the logging road passes a open staging area. Stay left; at 0.9 mi the logging rd crosses a stream on a bridge and then bears left again. (Ignore the right-hand branch that goes uphill) The logging rd continues slightly downhill. As of 2018, much beyond here is difficult to bike since there are open ditches across the road (the larger ones resemble World War 2 tank traps !) where once there was flat road; if you're on a bike it is best to take the old ski trail that branches left after the 2nd log footbridge. The ski trail rejoins the logging road in about 0.2 mi. near the "large flat boulder" described below.
At about 0.4-0.5 mi. from the bridge (1.3 - 1.4 mi. from car) the logging road passes a large, flat boulder on the right and, shortly thereafter the old ski trail comes back in and soon branches left at the "9KM/ 5.6Mi" sign;[photo] A few feet beyond, look for a cairn on the right marking the climber's path. SEE MAP/PHOTO
Follow the path up a (usually) dry stream bed. The path bears to the left after about 100 yds.
Continue on the path, passing through one area where the path has now been cleared through "slash", step over a large downed tree (with a single rock cairn) and continue on about another 50 yards to a "skidder path" (rough logging road)
Turn right up the skidder path (cairns). Follow for about 100 feet, turn left (at a cairn, also a tree branch down across skidder road) and regain the path.
In about 200 yards cross over a dry stream bed (old cairn, and  trees across) and continue to a second skidder/logging road. You should be able to see the cliff from here. Continue straight ahead on the logging road, in the direction of the cliff, following cairns on tree stumps. [photos] As of 2018 this section is getting overgrown, although efforts try to keep it clear.
After about 100 yards, look for an opening in the slash on the left to regain the path.
The above sounds complicated, but is easy to follow and should take no more than 5-10 minutes from the main logging road to this point.
Cross the (usually flowing) stream, and continue on the path, up and right. About 5 feet after passing a sawed-off, 4-inch fallen tree branch there is a flat area. Here, a less-traveled side path branches left and provides a cut-off to the "toe" area and climbs on the left side of the crag. The main path continues slightly right and ends just left of route Perfect Wave. If you wanted to go to the left side of the crag and missed the cut off, there is a good path that leads up and left, then down to the "toe" area.
If the Swift river is low, you can save more than a mile of walking (each way) 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 DOWNSTREAM ABOUT 0.3-0.4 MILES TO REACH THE NORMAL APPROACH PATH 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. From what I can gather, almost everyone who "gets lost" trying to get to Rainbow does so because they take this "upper" river crossing and then go into the woods too early. GO ALL THE WAY TO THE CLIMBER'S PATH marked in green on the map.)
What seems to be a better river crossing 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, hop over the guardrail (usually there's a small cairn on one of the posts) and find a small sandy beach. Wade across the river. Your "target" is an orange, triangular rock on the other side [photo]. Exit the river on the downstream of the triangular rock, at 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 [photo], thence 1-2 min to the "9KM/ 5.6Mi" sign, where the Nam-- trail meets the new logging road; here the 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.
Classic Climbing Routes at Rainbow Slabs
Days w Precip