Rainbow Slabs Rock Climbing
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DescriptionSpring 2016 NOTICE - The logging around the old access trail seems to have finished for now. (They seem to be concentrating elsewhere) .
A "skidder" path has been cut in a zig-zag route that intercepts and cuts across the old approach path. The access description ("Getting There") below was updated Apr 19, 2016, and revised 5/5/17.
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)
Livin' Easy (5.4- 5.5, gear, 3 bolts)
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, 2 bolts )
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)
Getting ThereGETTING 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 (or bike) up the Nanamocomuck Ski Trail from Albany Covered Bridge parking. [This approach is now a "superhighway" due to logging.] 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.
At about 0.4-0.5 mi. from the bridge (1.3 - 1.4 from car) the logging road passes a large, flat boulder on the right and, shortly thereafter the old ski trail comes back in and immediately branches left at the "9KM/ 5.6Mi" sign;[photo] 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 logging road (cairns, green tape). 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 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]
After about 100 yards, look for an opening in the slash on the left (green & old orange flags, one cut tree ) 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, which ends at the cliff, just left of Perfect Wave.
If the Swift 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 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.)
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, find a small sandy beach, and wade across the river. Your "target" is an orange, triangular rock on the other side. [photo] 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.
Classic Climbing Routes at Rainbow Slabs
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Prime Climbing Season