Type: Trad, 1200 ft, 8 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Joe Herbst & Joe Frani, 1970's
Page Views: 18,425 total · 84/month
Shared By: George Bell on Apr 21, 2001
Admins: Larry DeAngelo, Justin Johnsen

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Red Rock RAIN AND WET ROCK: The sandstone is fragile and is very easily damaged when wet. Details


This is the easiest way up the Eagle Wall. Given the length of the approach and descent, it's a long day. Due to lack of fixed anchors, you cannot rap this route so plan on going over the top (leave extra water, etc in the creek bed before heading up the the base of the wall).

I found the crux pitch a bit scary for 5.8, there is pro but some 15' runouts, but a 5.9 leader should have no problem with it (except for this one pitch, the rest didn't even seem 5.8). The final pitch used to be very runout but there is now a bolted alternative.

I've heard several negative opinions on this route from people who would give it one or even zero stars. The rock is not as good as it is on other routes to the left. I enjoyed the length and position of the route, so I give it 1.5 stars rounded up. If you are up for the challenge, Eagle Dance or Leviation 29 are much more highly regarded.

Follow the approach ramp up and right, past the start of Eagle Dance and Levitation 29, until you reach a sort of a col where you can look down into the Painted Bowl. The route begins at the col. We found the route fairly easy to follow using Swain's description, just follow the easiest line up cracks to the right of a buttress leading up. We thought we would be able to chat with friends on Lev 29 but this is around the corner and no communication was possible.

After about five pitches there are two alternatives: (1) head up and then angle left as in this
Eagle Wall from the lower Painted Bowl with routes marked (note that bottom pitches of these routes are not visible due to the "foreground bump") , or (2) traverse right to an obvious left facing corner (easy), belay and then climb the corner (crux). The second alternative seems to be slightly harder but is followed by many parties (including us) because it is such an obvious corner.

Eventually you will reach a final slab, the original 8th pitch went up and left 5.5X to the summit. However now there are a bunch of bolts leading straight up at about 5.7 for a much less terrifying finish.

Swain claims the descent can be done in an hour, but this is speedy. We followed his descent description and made no wrong turns; we were not in a hurry as we were hoping our friends on Lev 29 would catch up so it took us at least 2 hours from the top all the way to the car.

There is an entire chapter about this route in Red Rock Odyssey


Standard rack to #4 Camalot


George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
By the way the "descent times" quoted above are just to the spot in the creek where you turn off to the base of the route. You still have almost 2 hours from this point to get back to your car!

Also, do not confuse this route with the more well known Rainbow Wall, the steep wall up Juniper Canyon. Feb 23, 2004
We diverged from the line drawn on the photo for Rainbow Buttress. Instead of going left after the Black Tower, we headed right for the large left-facing corner in the photo. The corner is the crux pitch. Afterwards, some loose chimneys get you to the final slab. Apr 12, 2004
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
10b4me brings up an excellent point. In fact the dihedral he mentions in the photo looks like the crack we climbed too, so I think we didn't go where the line goes either! I drew the line from a photo in the Urioste Guide, which definitely shows the route going left around this dihedral (see all route photos showing route 7-12). The route "7-13: Kaleidoscope Crack (5.8)" in the Urioste guide is shown going just right (?) of that prominent dihedral.

Unfortunately I didn't bring a camera during my ascent, and don't have a great memory of where exactly we went. However I do remember traversing right into the base of a corner that looks a whole lot like the one in the photo. The question remains of whether this is the Rainbow Buttress route or some variation ...

Swain calls the crux pitch "an obvious, left facing corner" which looks exactly like the dihedral in the photo, but he also mentions "extra #3.5 and #4 friends" for this pitch, which doesn't make sense to me as I don't remember it being wide at all, in fact the crack was often pinched off at the crux of this corner. Apr 12, 2004
Ooops. Didn't change the name field the first time around. Sorry 10b4me. Anyway, the belay at the base of the corner takes #3, 3.5, and 4 camalots, or maybe some big hexes. Additionally, there is a section maybe 150' above that belay where the crack widens to take bigger gear.

The descent is spectacular. Apr 21, 2004
Red Rock Odyssey includes a chapter about this climb, with a description and photo of climbing the right-hand dihedral. May 29, 2004
John Hegyes
Las Vegas, NV
John Hegyes   Las Vegas, NV
We climbed Rainbow Buttress last week. This climb was a lot of fun and I found it to be difficult for the grade - definitely an old school Joe Herbst-style 5.8. The hike in was tough, it took us three hours. We stashed our approach gear next to the pair of pine trees that marked the start of the ramp out of the North Fork to the base of Eagle Wall.

The route finding was straight forward. Pitches 1 and 2 featured nice dihedrals and large belay ledges. Pitch 3 had an awkward off-width. In the DeAngelo guide, he refers to the variations at the top of pitch 4 (the top of the Black Tower) as the Original Route that goes straight up, and the Dihedral Variation to the right. When presented with this decision, our choice was obvious, we headed for the striking dihedral and we were not disappointed. This is how the route goes in the Swain guide. As a matter of fact we were able to link pitches 4 and 5, bypassing the belay station on top of the Black Tower completely. The long 5.8 dihedral was tricky climbing - the central crack closes down to a thin seam. Some sections could only be protected by thin RPs quite some distance apart. The final, eighth pitch goes up rotten rock on a pink face. I don't condone retrobolting, but to consider going up this 5.7 face on rotten rock without the sporty bolts would have been crazy, and would have ruined an otherwise great day.

The walk-off took four hours to get back to the car at the Oak Creek trailhead. Finding the way down was no problem, we just headed for the castle of dark rock to the east (George Washington Tower) and stayed on the north side of it until we reached the saddle and then headed south. The scenery was unworldly, especially the marble-like water trough with colorful swirls that took us down to the North Fork and our packs. Oct 18, 2005
steve p
Scotia, New York
  5.8 R
steve p   Scotia, New York
  5.8 R
We did this route this past week and found it to be a hidden jem. The rock is very good until the last 2 pitches, gear anchors, nice ledges, great views, stunning walk-off. We did the original route that goes straight up from the tower instead of traversing to the large white corner. The seventh pitch using this method is really interesting. Very run-out on less than solid patina flakes (none broke though!) for 60M until you get to the large pine tree at the base of the last pitch. We then headed up and right across pink rock to a wide crack facing left in a small corner of sorts. From the summit to the car in a casual 2:50 minutes. Highly recommend - and we didn't have to clip a single bolt! Apr 5, 2006
Las Vegas, NV
J W   Las Vegas, NV
What a great route up the eagle wall, although I wouldnt recommend the Dihedral Variation for the budding 5.8, or even 5.9 leader- its quite difficult and sustained. The protection is adequate, although if you dont have RP's or the smallest C3s, you'll be risking a pretty good sized fall (25'+) if you blow the crux move- assuming they would hold. Luckily, the fall is clean.

The final '5.7' pitch is on some of the worst rock i've ever climbed in Red Rock and the state of the rock was so terrible, the pitch climbed more like 5.10 than 5.7 in my effort to avoid the bad rock. Thankfully its fairly low angle so the stress of pulling on holds was minimal. It's only a matter of time until this pitch gets to be much harder. Thankfully the bolts are solid in what good rock is there. I would say, though, if you're capable of leading the dihedral pitch below, this pitch is very doable.

Rack- bring a single to 4", but if you plan on taking the dihedral variation, an extra #3 or #4 would be good to have- I had a pretty good run-out on the dihedral pitch- probably 30' or so.

Descent- I HIGHLY recommend the Chicken Lips descent if you've already done the burly walkoff descent to the top of Oak Creek (which is worth doing once)- this descent took less than an hour back to the Upper painted bowls- and i'm convinced i can do it in 30 minutes next time now that i know the way. From the Upper Painted Bowl to the car is about 1hr 30min. See Anthony's excellent beta and photos on the Chicken Lips page- its a bit longer of a walk- stay high until you cross a high point on the wall, then start looking for the gully (its the second gully (the first doesnt quite look like it'll go) once you've gone over the high point).

(we linked this route with Solar Slab yesterday and it was amazing- and highly recommended if you're looking for mileage at a moderate level!) Nov 15, 2009
san mateo
powderfinger   san mateo
I found the first crux on the dihedral pitch(the thin pro portion) protects with a .4 piece 00 gray metolius. I did not need a #3 or #4 for the upper portion. Since all of the anchors require gear and some of the pitches are lengthy I doubled up on .75 to 2.5 Great climb with beautiful views! Mar 29, 2010
San Francisco, CA
jpvandever   San Francisco, CA
the last pitch follows an obvious line of bolts up the face directly above the pine tree at the ledge. the rock is hollow in some places - i broke off a good sized chunk in my hand. the bolts are solid though. bolted belay at the top. Apr 14, 2010
leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
Per Dow's suggestion on summitpost, the crux on the upper dihedral pitch is directly protectable with ball nuts (#2-3 Camp sizing). Jan 24, 2011
Doug Foust
Henderson, Nevada
Doug Foust   Henderson, Nevada
Great position of this route, dihedral pitch is amazing. Bolted last pitch felt like 5.8 with the crappy rock. Mar 6, 2011
harihari   VANCOUVER
Single rack to #4 and an extra .75 and #1 Camalot. Long slings. A few 5.9 moves. Bomber gear.

Combine pitches 1 & 2 and 4 & 5 with a 60m rope and some long slings (easy). Top of P5 does indeed need a #3 and #4 camalot for belay. great view from summit and beautiful, easy walk off-- about one hour back to where you walked up into Painted Bowl. Nov 13, 2011
An hour to there is a full sandbag unless you know the area well and have daylight. I know the area well but with snow+dark it took us several hours to make it back to the car. Full value.

Crux moves take #4 BD wire, gold (#3?) ballnut (very good), and a #5 BD wire. Pitch is full-on, in-your face 5.9+, reminded me of some Sierras 5.9+++'s I've done recently. The rest of the route is less intense, I brought single to 5" and doubles from .4 to 3" and used pretty much all of that on the crux pitch except the extra 1+2 camalot, which came in handy at the anchor. Linking pitches is doable but annoying considering all the good ledges.

A worthy adventure, kudos to those that like running it out with a SR, personally I'm really glad that I had all the pro I wanted on a long, fixed-hardware-less route like this that has a bunch of crunchy rock, including on several tough, physical moves on the crux pitch. My buddy took multiple lead falls on this thing and is a solid 5.9 leader, I took over on the crux pitch and wished I wore a better pair of shoes when my foot slipped+nearly took the ride onto the tiny gear. Edging shoes helpful. Nov 16, 2011
Josh Janes    
Not a single fixed piece of pro in 1000' - awesome! Except for that stupid Mountain Beast finish that totally impinges upon the Rainbow Buttress finish. I thought 5.8 was fair - just more like an Eldo or Valley 5.8 than typical RR fare.

I got a good wire and blue Alien in at the crux - nothing micro-micro. On the large end, it's nice to have a #4 Camalot, or at the very least a #3, for that flare at the start of the 3rd pitch. Dec 8, 2011
Hello...I climbed this route on Dec. 29, 2011 and lost a shoe somewhere along the way. If anyone found a 5.10 Guide Tennie (W7) somewhere near the base, please let me know at michelle_patterson@sfu.ca. Thanks! (By the way, the walk-off is not too bad...even if you have to wear a climbing shoe on the descent...but it took me close to 2.5 hrs to get back to the base of Solar Slab). Jan 8, 2012
Nathan Scherneck
Portland, OR
Nathan Scherneck   Portland, OR
We linked 1/2 and 4/5 easily with a 70m rope. We were tempted to also link 6/7 but were glad we didn't. I didn't place any pro on P6 but still had rope drag as I traversed left to the tree. Best to pitch the last two out if doing the bolted final pitch. I agree with the comment above about the 5.8 rating for the final bolted pitch.

The walk-off descent was easy to sort, mellow, and a really scenic hike. From the summit to our car took 3:39 with a stop in the canyon to retrieve our packs, no rests.

More of a "backcountry" (more hiking than climbing) Grade IV. Feb 1, 2012
Andrew Yasso
Las Vegas, NV
Andrew Yasso   Las Vegas, NV
Climbed this yesterday - certainly enjoyable. There is a really new #5 camalot stuck on pitch three. I worked on it for a couple of minutes and moved it an inch or so by banging on it with my nut tool. I'm sure someone could probably get that thing out, and they really should because what a cool route to not have a single piece of fixed gear (save for the bolted last pitch alternative).

I tried to create an anchor at the top of the black tower that I could belay directly off of, and had one of the more awkward belays of my life. In retrospect, I should have kept climbing about 30 feet into the next pitch, where there is a decent ledge with a #2 camalot sized belay. This would have kept the rope running straight above the black tower/previous pitch, and allow for some cool photos to be taken of your follower on the tower stepping across. The tower itself is a pretty cool place to hang if you would like though.

As other people said, I recommend the Chicken Lips descent. The descent is descriptive enough on that page. I found the bolts at the top of the waterstreak to be less than desirable, and would happily offer to replace them when I learn how to do it. Jan 11, 2013
Kyle Jackson
Las Vegas, nv
Kyle Jackson   Las Vegas, nv
I really enjoyed the route, it has an adventure feel that you don't get on a lot of red rock routes that I've done. Don't underestimate the approach and decent, it took us longer than the route itself. The bolts on the chicken lips decent are pretty bad and I would not recommend using them until they get replaced. We did the route in six pitiches linking 1-2 and 4-5 and found this to work out well. Jan 22, 2013
Tim Wolfe
Salt Lake City, UT
Tim Wolfe   Salt Lake City, UT  
I am a bit stingy with stars - good route, awesome winter climb, well worth doing. It goes pretty quickly so consider doing one of the other harder routes to the left, then walk over and tick this for a full day of climbing. Good mix of crack skills required. Jan 24, 2014
I lined 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and 6 and 7 with a 70m, (dihedral variation). Sport finish is lame but necessary. Dec 3, 2014
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, ME
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, ME
My friend Jerry Handren calls the 6th pitch of Rainbow buttress "a burly pitch" in his otherwise excellent RR guidebook...I can't overstate how understated that statement is. A more appropriate three-word description would be "I nearly barfed." Spoiler alert: the crux that everyone talks about, the thin moves above small gear about 25 feet above the belay, did not feel like the crux to us. Although I followed the pitch, the small wires and cam that protect the delicate and balancey face moves looked utterly bomber and the "runout" was barely more than a body length. It's basically a three-move wonder to excellent holds and a good rest (where you will find great gear). It's barely PG13. The real crux is the bullfighting for the next 60 feet or so, before things ease off in the chimney. Brace yourself!

I've done two long .10a routes on Back Velvet and the crux pitch on RB was harder than any of those pitches. I'm not necessarily suggesting that the rating for RB (5.8+) is wrong, but that the route (and especially p.6) is just SO MUCH WORK. The day after we did Sour Mash, we went out and did Dream of Wild Turkeys; the day after RB we slept until 8:30, got up to eat breakfast, then slept again until after lunch. And yes, the last bolted pitch is indeed crispy and hollow: be very careful! Bad place to break an ankle. Like someone said, it's a 5.8 pitch that you climb as if it were 5.10.

In terms of stars, I waffled back and forth, finally settling on three, just because of the overall adventure of the thing. While actually doing it you may find yourself bereft of stars; and in the moments after topping out you may find four stars in your pocket out of the sheer joy of surviving it. Glad my partner dragged me up it? Yes. Do it again? Probably not.

By the way, on the way in we used the middle approach as described in Jerry's book, reversing the Painted Bowl descent by going up the slick slab that intersects the wash and following easy ground to the IBM boulder, and then up and slightly left to the climb. It's very clean and straightforward and we found no 4th class terrain at all. We were joined in our approach up the canyon by two climbers headed for Levitation 29, and they chose the traditional (and farthest) approach up the wash to the two big ponderosa pines and then back right on the ramp. We got to the base of RB about 15 minutes before they got to the base of L29. Car-to-base took 2.5 hours, and we were going at a moderate pace. May 2, 2016
Now my favorite 5.8 in Red Rock! Call it 5.8 hard though. Linked 1,2 and 4,5 with a 70. So much varied climbing worthy of so many stars. May 6, 2018