Solar Flare climbs the left side of the Sunspot via obvious cracks and difficult sections of face climbing. Many of the anchors are bolted which allows for easy retreat. Expect engaging movement and hard technical granite climbing that is mostly well protected. Spectacular position on the left side of the Hulk!!
P1 - 5.10c - 175 feet
Start up the crack system just to the right of the P1 corner on the Polish route. This is also the start for Airstream. Climb up forty feet and instead of going right at the bush (for Airstream, Sunspot) continue straight up passing a thin crux. Continue up double cracks until they fade out and you can make a belay at an alcove on the left. There may or may not be fixed nuts here. You can back them up with finger sized gear.
P2 - 5.10b R - 100 feet
Follow the crack system for a few moves off the belay before you must face climb up and right. Enjoy a stimulating section of unprotected 5.10- which takes you 20 feet across to an obvious slanting crack. Follow this crack as it trends back to the left. Belay at a stance about 10 feet below a single bolt. Belay takes .75" to 2.5" gear. It is possible to link this pitch with the next if you have managed your rope drag.
P3 - 5.11b - 75 feet
Climb past two fixed nuts and a tricky move to get established below the bolt. Blast up the thin layback with sufficient gear and creative balancy climbing. Eventually the crack pinches out and you need to step left out of the corner. There is an obvious rock scar on the left that provides a nice foot hold. A few thin moves lead to a belay at great stance with two bolts.
P4 - 5.11b/c - 90 feet
Face climb straight up past three bolts and a few fragile holds (5.11). The rest of the pitch takes gear as you layback up the obvious corner, 5.11-, until you can build a gear belay. This belay should be just below the bolts on the next pitch. Belay takes nuts and finger sized gear. Yet again it is possible to link this pitch with the next one, but most will want to break it up due to the cruxy nature of pitch five.
P5 - 5.12b - 60 feet
The difficulty cranks up a notch on this fully bolted pitch. Take 6 draws and a shoulder lenght sling. No other gear needed. Thin holds past the first two bolts lead to a hard balance move above the third bolt. Keep your wits about you since the climbing stays hard all the way until the belay. It is possible to sling a horn to protect the final mantel. Belay at a good stance with two bolts.
P6 - 5.10d 90 feet
Bring the full rack and switch back into trad mode. Follow discontinuous cracks on the pillar to the left of the main corner. Expect lots of thin gear and tricky climbing. You are aiming for a two bolt belay, above a flake. This anchor is not setup as a rap station, but is a nice stance.
Above this point you only need quickdraws, a couple RP's and a finger sized cam.
P7 - 5.12c 60 feet -
From the belay traverse straight right and then up with hard moves right off the bat. This is another pitch protected by entirely by bolts. Expect hard laybacking with some trickery when the holds blank out. Belay at two bolts on the arete. Take 6-7 Quickdraws. Stunning location!
P8 - 5.12d 100 feet -
Climb the beautiful arete on the left side of the Sunspot. A few bolts of very hard climbing get you established at the bottom of the Sunspot. Surmount the overhang and move left onto the arete. Work up using holds on both sides of the arete until you reach an exposed two bolt belay at the top of the Sunspot. ~13 bolts on this pitch, no gear needed.
P9 - 5.12a/b 100 feet
Face climb up past spaced bolts until you can place a finger size cam in a flake out left. Power up the overhang until you get to a good stance above a piton. It is possible to place a few RPs/Offsets between bolts above this point. Fight up the corner past a few more bolts until you reach a good ledge with a two bolt belay. ~10 bolts on this pitch + RP's and a finger sized piece.
At this point you can climb right, from the belay, to join up with Sunspot Dihedral. You can take SD to the ridge or the summit.
You can rappel from P9 with a 70m rope. Tie knots since some of the rappels are close! Not all of the anchors are used (skip P6). From the P5 anchor (on Solar Flare) you rappel to the left to the P2 anchor on Blowhard/Polish route. This rappel is 40m but you can easily downclimb the bottom 10 feet to the Blowhard anchor. Watch the ends of your rope if you have a 70m rope. It is also possible to rappel to P3 on Solar Flare and then rappel sideways and climb back up to the P2 Anchor on Blowhard.
From the P2 anchor on Blowhard/Polish route you can rappel with a 70m rope into the gully.
Rapping straight down from the bolted anchor at the end of P3 requires two ropes and is not recommended.
This climb is between the Polish route and Sunspot Dihedral. The upper pitches of this route climb the exposed arete on the left side of the Sunspot. Start as per Airstream but go straight up.
1 each Purple, Green C3. Doubles .3 to .75 camalot 1 each 1,2,3 Camalot. At least 13 draws/alpine draws. Strong climbers will find the #3 camalot optional.
By Vlad S
Jul 27, 2015
rating: 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
This amazing route can be best done with double rack to #1 Camalot, triples in red C3 and 0.5 sizes and no stoppers with moderate gear conservation. Pitches 2 and 3 link very nicely into a 50 m 11b pitch skipping a poor belay stance and stopping at a good stance with 2 bolts. Just need to runner the easy 2nd half of pitch 2 well. I leave most of the rack in the gear anchor after pitch 4 and just bring the pieces between red C3 and 0.5 (6 pieces is enough) for pitch 6, then leave those at the top of pitch 6. They can be easily picked up on the way down even though neither anchor is used on the way down.
It's not a good idea to bring gear for the last pitch. The cam placement is right next to a bolt and totally redundant. If you choose to place stoppers, you will likely hang on them as well, since they only fit right at the crux (you'll probably also have to stand on a bolt to place them). So, better just to go for it - it's well-protected!
After doing this route multiple times over the last 3 years, I feel like pitch 5 is trickier to climb consistently and more nerve-wrecking compared to pitch 7. Maybe some tiny flakes broke on 5, and it feels a lot harder now. So, p5 is closer to 12c now, while p7 can be dumbed down to a 12b with good beta. Of course, the 12d arete is by far the biggest challenge on the route. Hard, insecure, and very pumpy!
RAP BETA: from the anchor on the polish route (last rap), it's actually much better to rap straight down and NOT into the gully on climber's left. There's too many chossy blocks there, and the rope gets stuck often. You also end up far from your shoes. Much better to rap straight down to an anchor on Blowhard (in a big corner) - it's 30 m. Then rap again straight down for 38 m. If using a 70 m rope, you can aim into the chimney just left of the start to Blowhard, and downclimb the remaining 3m of 5.6 back down. That puts you right next to your shoes, and the rope isn't likely to get stuck.
By P Chapman
Jul 29, 2015
I recommend 4 x green alien for the .10d pitch. This also helps with the first pitch. Saving a yellow metolius on the first pitch protects the slab moves above the ledge where Solar Flare and Sun Spot diverge. Classic. Croft is the Man.
Sep 3, 2015
My rack consisted of doubles from .3 to .75, single #1, single #2(not totally necessary), 2 each green C3 and purple C3 and a small set of offset nuts with 13 alpine draws. We also rapped with one 70m rope, it does involve down climbing about 10 feet of really mellow ledgy terrain to get to the last rap anchor.