A great way to descend off of this climb is to walk off the back via the Painted Bowl descent (as per Black Orpheus). Also, this descent can easily be done with a single 50m rope.
Single rope descent: Follow the ST instructions for the double rope descent. Once at the raps, rap to the first station, about 40' down. From there rap again, this time swinging over to the climbers left to a large ledge. Pull your line and walk along the ledge to an old anchor (webbing is good as of 5.23.05). From here, rap twice more to the bowl.
While it's a little longer than rapping Solar directly (about 30-40 minutes longer, depending), its a spectacular descent thats well worth the walk. Allow about 2-3hrs to get back to the cars if parked in the loop road.
Update: As of 12/21/04- All rap slings on Solar Slab have been replaced with new ones. Note: I did not replace the slings on the stations on the rappel route, because you can rappel easily to Pitch 2 and then to the top of Pitch 1.
Also, while perhaps lacking a feeling of commitment due to the bolts, this route still should not be taken lightly if you are a 5.6/5.7 leader. It is a long route and requires efficiency.
Finally- for some real fun- climb the route without using any bolts and walk off the back...like they did on the FA!
I'm surprised to find that most of the Solar Slab beta here involves bolts. The first ascent party placed none, so these are all retro bolts. An earlier experience of self-reliance and commitment on a long, albeit easy, route would seem to be long gone now.
Update: As of 10/15/04 the tree rap station on Solar Slab has been removed by an unknown party. Due to this, you must now downclimb about 20' from the top of the 7th pitch to the two chains you passed on the way up. I would replace the tree station, but it just gets stolen (its happened three times already).
I'd also like to note that someone has been busy adding bolts to this climb. There are at least 4 bolts on it that have been added this year. All are unnecessary.
Solar is a great, moderate route. Definitely worth doing, and strangely, it has bolted anchors the whole way up. Some route finding to be had on Pitch 3, and then you step right into the most perfect 5.6 crack in the world. Good times! We climbed this route a couple weeks ago for the second time and handily avoided the devils descent that is the gully. Rap this one. If you top out, use the Black Orpheus descent, you'll thank yourself in the morning.
ps- the first rap is the real bear. if you dont use an overhand, slide the knot down a couple of feet before starting (not too far, tho). The last rap can also eat a triple fishermans alive, but at least you can walk back and give the rope a good whip.
One of the bolts at the second to last anchor is missing a hanger. This is probably because the bolt itself is loose and someone pulled it off so it wouldn't be used. It should be noted that the decent on this route (particularly the second double rope rap) really eats ropes we had ours stuck a couple of times and it turned into a real goat rodeo getting them down.
This is an incredible route with beautiful & continuous climbing that is never too easy, and never too hard! Johnny Vegas is probably the coolest way to approach the terrace because the climbing is then consistently in the same difficulty range for more than a dozen pitches!! The upper gully walkdown totally sucks and I would NOT recommend it. The rappel descent is pretty straightforward though and goes quickly (took us under 2 hours to get back to our packs). I have not tried the painted bowl descents.
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