Sunday, June 16, 2013

Riding The Rainbow

The Original Route on the Rainbow Wall is unequivocally one of the best routes I've ever climbed.  It has an easy approach and descent, the climbing is clean and enjoyable and most pitches would be an area classic even if they weren't stacked upon each other.  The grade should not turn anyone away.  If you even think you have a chance to climb 12a then you'll be able to figure it out.  The cruxes are short, could be avoided with french-free and interspersed with easier climbing.  This is a route that you want to do, and once you've done it, you'll want to climb it again.

Jared grabbing the finishing jug on the 11d eleventh pitch.  

Approach:  We had seen some reference online that said we could expect a 3-4 hour approach.  Even at a casual pace with several water stops and wrong turns we did the approach in 1:45.  On the way down, in the dark, we did it in just over an hour.  A lot of people seem to bivouac at the base of this route.  There is absolutely no reason to bivouac given the short approach and straightforward climb.  Call in for a late-exit permit and you should be able to do it in a casual-day.

Climb:  In early June, when we climbed, there is sun on the wall until about 1100, which is unfortunate in 100 degree heat.  If the temperatures are warm, I would definitely wait for the shade because the first three pitches go at 12a, 11d and 11b and there is some insecure friction climbing.  We found that it made good sense to combine the following pitches with a 70m rope:  1+2, 5+6, 13+14.  It might be possible to link more pitches, but there would likely be some extra drag and you'd want a bigger rack.

Descent:  This is how we rappelled using a single 70m rope.  From the top of pitch 14, rappel climber's right to the top of pitch 12 (red dihedral).  Knot your rope ends, I even joined them, because you need to pendulum hard to the right and nearly come off your rope ends.  Follow independent stations rappelling down the face left of the red dihedral for three rappels until hitting the major ledge system at the top of pitch seven.  Four or five more single rope rappels will bring you back to your packs.

Rack:  Single rack from #0 C3 to #2 C4 with a small rack of medium stoppers and larger rp's.  A couple extra finger sized pieces might be used on a pitch or two, but not needed per se.  Take about 8 draws, 4 runners and one 70m rope.