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Rainbow Slabs

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Rainbow Slabs Rock Climbing 

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Location: 44.02081, -71.25632 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Jeffrey.LeCours, Robert Hall, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: David Aguasca! on May 8, 2008  with updates from Robert Hall and 1 more
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BETA PHOTO: Rainbow Slabs with Key Climbs Marked, as Viewed fr...


Spring 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 There 

GETTING 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.

Climbing Season

For the WM: Kancamagus (Eastern) area.

Weather station 6.8 miles from here

42 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',16],['2 Stars',14],['1 Star',8],['Bomb',4]

Classic Climbing Routes in Rainbow Slabs

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Rainbow Slabs:
Tsunami   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 225'   4. The Perfect Wave Slab
Perfect Wave   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   4. The Perfect Wave Slab
Super Slab   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R     Trad, 2 pitches, 350'   4. The Perfect Wave Slab
Take A Giant Step 5.8+PG / 5.7-5.6 PG-R   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   4. The Perfect Wave Slab
Bubbles   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   4. The Perfect Wave Slab
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Rainbow Slabs

Featured Route For Rainbow Slabs
Rock Climbing Photo: Tana Cathcart . Tana had only climbed a couple of ...

Dead Easy 5.1 2 6 II 7 MD 2a  New Hampshire : WM: Kancamagus (Eastern) : ... : 3. The Mid Section
Four Stars !? No joke. I've climbed it 10 or 20 times now (From "launch Ledge", soloing to the trees to set up solo-top-ropes) and it continues to impress with the quality and timelessness. If P2 of this climb isn't the best "first Trad Lead" in the state (if not the Northeast), then I don't know what climb could be. According to Webster's guidebook, this is one of six (6 !) First Ascents made by Paul Ross and Tana Cathcart on Aug 7th 1973, the first expl...[more]   Browse More Classics in New Hampshire

Photos of Rainbow Slabs Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: April 2016 Map of Approaches to Rainbow
BETA PHOTO: April 2016 Map of Approaches to Rainbow
Rock Climbing Photo: Stream, just above the crossing, just before the l...
BETA PHOTO: Stream, just above the crossing, just before the l...
Rock Climbing Photo: The "New" wooden bridge is no longer enc...
BETA PHOTO: The "New" wooden bridge is no longer enc...
Rock Climbing Photo: [Access photo#1] Junc. of logging road, ski trail ...
BETA PHOTO: [Access photo#1] Junc. of logging road, ski trail ...
Rock Climbing Photo: A possible river crossing spot (not the crossing d...
BETA PHOTO: A possible river crossing spot (not the crossing d...
Rock Climbing Photo: [Access photo#2] Bike IN on the new road! 10-15min...
BETA PHOTO: [Access photo#2] Bike IN on the new road! 10-15min...
Rock Climbing Photo: [Access photo#4] Slab through the trees, near wher...
BETA PHOTO: [Access photo#4] Slab through the trees, near wher...
Rock Climbing Photo: Making a road for the loggers (No work was being d...
Making a road for the loggers (No work was being d...
Rock Climbing Photo: This is the river crossing described in both Webst...
BETA PHOTO: This is the river crossing described in both Webst...
Rock Climbing Photo: view from waterfall area (at the far right end of ...
BETA PHOTO: view from waterfall area (at the far right end of ...

Comments on Rainbow Slabs Add Comment
Show which comments
By Russ Keane
Jul 3, 2014
Holy moley, this is IMPOSSIBLE to find. We walked all over the place, in circles, all day, and never found it. How can that be? It was frustrating.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jul 4, 2014
Did you start at Albany covered Bridge or cross the river ??
By Russ Keane
Jul 15, 2014
The river was too high to cross, so we parked at the Albany Bridge. I have the new Handren guide, and felt pretty comfortable that I followed all the directions: Find the intersection with the logging road, walk up a stream, etc). It was just so hard to see anything through the trees. We were very very close, I am sure. In fact we ended up finding one portion of the long crag up there, but I am not sure where it was.

Truly an elusive cliff.
By Robert Hall
From: North Conway, NH
Oct 1, 2014
The description above works, although the logging road has now been pushed through to where the path leaves the ski trail, but the km/mi sign is still there as of late Sept 2014 and the path to the cliff is still intact.

With the new road, consider biking in. Even with a climbing pack, my old knees and less-than-optimal-conditioning for biking it was 15 minutes in from Albany Bridge, and 9 minutes out, to the cairn at the start of the path. (i.e. the photo of 2 climbers by the new cairn.)
By Travis Dustin
From: Hollis, NH
Sep 8, 2015
Went out there this past weekend and found the hike in to be not that difficult. We found it with no issues. The river was low and we crossed at the sandy beach and went right into the woods and got to the bridge on the ski trail.

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