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Elevation: 8,158 ft 2,487 m
GPS: 35.24104, -111.61822
Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 84,348 total · 489/month
Shared By: JJ Schlick on Apr 23, 2010
Admins: Greg Opland, Brian Boyd, JJ Schlick, Kemper Brightman, Luke Bertelsen

Overview Suggest change

Higher Solitude is an airy mountain sport crag perched high on the western flanks of Mt. Elden in the upper portion of Solitude Canyon. The name of the crag started as an inside joke with myself and just sort of stuck. Yet it was most definitely that; a higher calling towards a sense of solitude. We started establishing routes here in the fall of 2009 and more or less enjoyed the peace and quiet for years. At this point in time it’s gained a following as it is a very sunny, cold weather crag with 100’ sport routes and ass kicking views. However, weekday visits will most likely still provide solitude if that’s what you’re craving.

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 routes 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 five minute scramble from the Main Wall. Good long pitches.

Crag Details Suggest change

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 limited 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.

However, during the warmer months the Main Wall does go into the shade around 4:30 in the afternoon, though the hike up would still be sunny. If higher altitude heat doesn’t bother you, it is a different place in the shade.

 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 1,300’ elevation gain on the hike up and the 8,300’ 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. At least the crux sections. Make no mistake though, there are still patches of choss clinging to the lower sections of most of the routes here. The 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. This is a newer area so watch your foot holds. In general the rock quality improves with height. 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, 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. 

Google Earth- Higher Solitude 

Getting There

Suggest change

If you really want to find the mouth of the canyon you can approach as for Gloria’s Boulders, then follow the base of the mountain west until you reach the Solitude Wall. The Higher Solitude trail moves into the gully just before the Solitude Wall. 

That said, the easiest approach for Higher Solitude will actually take you around the foot of Mt. Elden and Gloria’s Boulders 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. Other options are commonly used.
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 northwest towards the mountain. As of 10.1.2018 a massive forest thinning project has changed the initial hike. Whole section of Lower Oldham Trail are demolished, though you now get countless views of the crag on the hike in, where you did not before the thinning. 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 continue on this small trail. Once you can see the base of the mountain, keep it in sight. 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 canyon 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!!

30 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
 117
Man on the Moon
Sport 4 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 50
Thunderbird ArĂȘte
Sport
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 32
Rusty Blade
Sport
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 16
Thunder Moon
Sport
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 17
Lucky Old Sun
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 40
Broad Axe
Sport
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
 34
Whiplash
Sport
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 18
Slipstream
Sport
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 6
Clear Air Turbulance
Sport
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 72
Solitaire
Sport
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
 19
A Faint Horizon
Sport
5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b
 12
Continental Drift
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 23
Black Solitaire
Sport
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
 11
The Hermit
Sport
5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a
 4
Lost Solitude
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Man on the Moon Main Wall
 117
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport 4 pitches
Thunderbird ArĂȘte Main Wall
 50
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Rusty Blade Main Wall
 32
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Thunder Moon Main Wall
 16
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Lucky Old Sun Main Wall
 17
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Broad Axe Main Wall
 40
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Whiplash Main Wall
 34
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Sport
Slipstream Main Wall
 18
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Sport
Clear Air Turbulance Whisper Wall
 6
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Sport
Solitaire Main Wall
 72
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
A Faint Horizon Main Wall
 19
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
Continental Drift Main Wall
 12
5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b Sport
Black Solitaire Main Wall
 23
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
The Hermit Main Wall
 11
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport
Lost Solitude Main Wall
 4
5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Higher Solitude »

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