Submitted by Jason Hardrath,
Rainbow Mountain, located in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (aka RRCNCA or just "Red Rocks") just 15 miles west of Las Vegas, is the one of the most striking and colorful of the peaks at Red Rocks. It's photogenic nature derives from the large bands of red sandstone that cap the upper portions of the peak. Although it may be one of the most brilliant peaks at Red Rocks, it's summit is not climbed all that often with most visitors preferring to climb the various technical rock routes. The summit offers outstanding views of nearby Mount Wilson and Bridge Mountain as well as the canyons in between.
From Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead, the easiest way to the summit is a bit less than 10 miles round trip involving some YDS class 3-4, it follows the trail, then the wash, then breaks right up slabs that eventually take you to the false summit ridge. continue along the false summit ridge, passing over Peak 7,211’. From here drop down to the saddle 800' below downclimbing some YDS class 3-4. From here, the route is easier on the north side allowing you to gain the ridge with some more class 3 scrambling. As of 2020, there was a summit register on top of the true Rainbow Mountain Summit.
Beyond the standard route is where Rainbow Mountain gets interesting, as it is yet another adventure climbers dream.
There are many routes that allow you to make it to the summit by climbing beyond the top of the route to the Rainbow Mtn. summit, the most popular of these is “Solar Slab” 5.6yds which is 1500’ of 5.3 to 5.6 climbing and then more scrambling to the summit. Descend any route.
There are also descent route descriptions that indicate the gullies east of Solar Slab and perhaps the the descent of “painted bowl” could be re-purposed into very fast round trip routes on this aesthetically pleasing peak.
In any case, this FKT is the intrepid run+climbers dream.
(If you don’t want to pay the $7 to enter the RRCNCA Loop, you can park on the highway and use the 1.1 miles to Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead as your warm up)
Solar Slab images from Travis Soares.
Here is some fun, palm-sweat-inducing, storytelling of when I "hard scrambled" up Solar Slab (via Solar Slab Gully) to get the FKT on this mountain, but ended up on one of the harder-than-5.6 variations due to needing to bypass a nervous, beginner trad-climbing team...
again, trigger warning, it is a sweaty-palm inducing story of being 1500’ above ground, without a rope...
(run time: 9 min, 34:57- 43:53)
As I say in the video, this FKT is intentionally left open to taking "Any Route", such as Chris Gorney's amazing effort on "Rainbow Direct" that got him the FKT, because I knew my vendetta with Solar Slab was a personal one.
Hope you enjoy!
Should we get another tab for Solar Slab here? In my opinion its a classic enough climb to earn its own route tab yeah? Just a suggestion!
IMO, I think that would be reasonable, I agree SS is a five star, mega-classic rock line in the conservation area. My 2020 effort to the summit followed Solar Slab up past its final anchors to the summit.
Are you proposing a car-to-car just to the top anchors and back down? or one like mine that continues on to the summit and back down?
I personally like the aesthetics and flow of how you did it Jason to the summit of Rainbow. So I'm in favor of car to car and tag the summit.