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Areas in Higher Solitude

Main Wall 0 / 21 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 21
Sailing Wall, The 0 / 5 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 5
Whisper Wall, The 0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Access Issue: Portions of Mt. Elden are closed for Forest Thinning Details

Description

Higher Solitude is an awesome mountain sport crag which is perched on the center western flanks of Mt. Elden in the upper portion of Solitude Canyon. I named the crag Higher Solitude as it was most definitely that. A higher calling towards a sense of solitude. We started establishing routes here in the fall of 2009. At first people thought we were crazy and that no one would make the hike. Well, It took a number of years and a lot of work, but at this point in time it’s gained a following as it is a very sunny, cold weather crag with full pitch sport routes and ass kicking views.

Joel Unema above it all on Solitaire 5.12-. James Q Martin Photo

The Sailing Wall  is a beautiful, 50' tall fin of rock which juts out of the hillside just below The Main Wall, and is nice if some folks in your party don't climb 5.10 because there will be at least a couple routes for them to do. You will find five routes with every grade from 5.8 through 5.11 and all of them generously display a fine array of pockets, rails, and fins.

The Main Wall itself is just a minute up the trail. This wall is unmistakable, tall, and stunning. The pitches on this section range from 70' to 100' tall, and there are certainly enough routes to wear you out and make your day. Especially if you are wrestling with the harder lines.

The Whisper Wall is a complex of decent stone with just a handful of lines currently. It’s a beautiful section of the canyon and quite isolated from the other areas even though it is only a three minute scramble from the Main Wall. Good long pitches.

**These walls face almost due south, and once they see the sun in the morning, they stay in the sun till late in the day. Generally, if the temps for Flagstaff are in the range of 45-65 degrees you will be comfortable, though much on either side of that you will be either freezing, or complaining about how hot it is and hiding in the shade. It's elevation makes it somewhat counter intuitive, but the season up here is fall, moderate winters, and spring. Usually by April the season is coming to end for most people.**

 With a rack of 15 draws and long draws/ full length runners, a 70meter rope, between two people, the approach takes about 45-60 minutes. I have seen the hike and the altitude conspire to take it out of people. A certain conditioning is helpful for full enjoyment.


The rock is dacite, and as such has its own peculiarities. The quality of the rock runs the scale from poor to excellent, but the routes themselves are of generously good rock. However, that same rock has been described as sharp, and that it is. Tape will help many if you haven't been climbing on dacite all that much. There were efforts to take the sting out.

This is a newer area so watch your foot holds, and don't assume that every hold you might want to grab has been tested. I've seen plenty of holds come and go here, especially foot chips. Climb smart.

All in all an excellent local crag that certainly has it's miracle days once you figure it out. The views are great, the ambiance at the base is rugged, and though you park in town, once you are at the crag you have a sense of being above it all. It is a unique and raw area. There may come a day when this place will sport 40-50 lines, but time will tell. Also please be aware that this area is still a work in progress, so the occasional fixed rope may be encountered on a new line. Also, Due to the approach, it is common practice to stash gear over night for a two day affair. Please be respectful of this practice, and leave others gear where you might find it. 

PLEASE LEAVE THE ANCHOR BINERS, unless it's days are numbered and you are swapping it for a new one...

Getting There

The easiest approach for Higher Solitude will actually take you around the foot of Mt. Elden and Glorias via the Pipeline and Oldham trails. The reason for this is that in the seasons you will want to access this crag (Fall, Winter, Spring), there is a 50/50 chance that you will be hiking through some snow. The route described here will get you to the crag via the sunniest, and driest path. See map below.

This map is exaggerated to show the intended path more clearly, and is certainly not to scale. The Pipeline/Oldham route may be a hair longer than skirting Glorias, but in the seasons you will want to access this crag (Fall, Winter, Spring), it will be sunnier and drier. The hike takes about 45 minutes.

Park at the Cul de sac on N Paradise Rd.

From the Cul de sac you will want to make your way through the snarl of social trails that sprout from the trailhead, and head west towards the mountain. As of 10.1.2018 a massive forest thinning project has changed the initial hike. There is now a wide dirt road used for logging operations that you will pass over. Past this road is the Pipeline Trail which is another wide cut near the base of the mountain. Head west if need be on the Pipeline trail for a few minutes to the junction of the Lower Oldham Trail. Even Lower Oldham is a total mess in certain sections.

Continue up on the Lower Oldham Trail for another five minutes until you get to a junction which is somewhat destroyed. Stay right. Continue to a junction of a social trail which comes in from the right, which again is somewhat demolished. If you’re lucky and find the faint former game trail turned climber’s trail Which leads up the west side of the mouth of Solitude Canyon. Once you get near-ish to the base of the mountain, keep it in site. Eventually you will arrive at the beginning of The Solitude Wall on the east side of the canyon.

Just before you get to The Solitude Wall look for a small trail that breaks off left and leads you into the gully. Follow this trail for a minute or so staying in the gully. Then look for a sharp left hand turn, and the trail which starts to lead you up and out of the gully on the left West side.

Continue on this steep and scenic climber’s trail as it winds it's way through the boulders and small cliff bands high on the west side of the canyon.  For most of this portion of the hike, you will be well above the bottom of the canyon and have open views of The Solitude Wall across canyon. Keep pumping to the top!!

29 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Higher Solitude

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 19
Rusty Blade
Sport
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 73
Man on the Moon
Sport 4 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 22
Thunderbird Arête
Sport
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 8
Thunder Moon
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 13
Lucky Old Sun
Sport
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
 24
Broad Axe
Sport
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 20
Whiplash
Sport
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 5
Slipstream
Sport
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 41
Solitaire
Sport
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 5
The Assassin
Sport
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
 11
Holy Roller
Sport
5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b
 11
Continental Drift
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 11
The Black Solitaire
Sport
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
 7
The Hermit
Sport
5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a
 3
Lost Solitude
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Rusty Blade Main Wall
 19
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Man on the Moon Main Wall
 73
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport 4 pitches
Thunderbird Arête Main Wall
 22
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Thunder Moon Main Wall
 8
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Lucky Old Sun Main Wall
 13
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Broad Axe Main Wall
 24
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Whiplash Main Wall
 20
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Sport
Slipstream Main Wall
 5
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Sport
Solitaire Main Wall
 41
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
The Assassin Main Wall
 5
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Holy Roller Main Wall
 11
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b Sport
Continental Drift Main Wall
 11
5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b Sport
The Black Solitaire Main Wall
 11
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
The Hermit Main Wall
 7
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport
Lost Solitude Main Wall
 3
5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Higher Solitude »

Weather Averages

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Prime Climbing Season
J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Blake M  
Here is a GPS track I made for the hike up

g.co/maps/apdse Feb 3, 2012
Paul Zander
Bern, CH
Paul Zander   Bern, CH
Huge thanks for all the effort put into this area, its unbelievable! Really appreciate the fine trail work. Feb 21, 2015
JJ Schlick
Flagstaff, AZ
JJ Schlick   Flagstaff, AZ  
Wade and I have started the process of upgrading the anchors at Higher Solitude with ClimbTech steel mussy hooks provided by the American Safe Climbing Association. Many thanks to thier organization for the hardware and for helping to make crags across the country safer for all involved. With a Wade’s help we have enough mussy hooks for every route at the crag, though it may take a while. If anyone feels like buying some 3/8” quick links and hiking them up there that would be awesome. We’re going to need a LOT of quick links for the whole project. It would be much appreciated I promise that.

Updated anchors as of 11.10.18

1. Lucky Old Sun
2. Thunderbird Arete
3. Thunder Moon
4. Man on the Moon
5. Solitaire
6. Black Solitaire Nov 10, 2018

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