Man on the Moon is the most popular of the fantastic climbs tucked up into Mount Elden's Solitude Canyon. The quality pitch is really just the first one, but the rest are worth doing for the prolonged views and practice with multipitch. Even the approach to this climb is rewarding, as the path advances among the rugged ponderosa forest on Elden's secluded slopes. As you start up into the canyon you will see the stunning gold and black walls of Lower Solitude to your right. This wall is home to many fun challenges in the 5.11 to 5.13 range. You will also pass the squat pillars of Middle Solitude, which have a few bolted routes.
Keep your eyes on the prize! The proud wall of Higher Solitude arches above you. Follow the trail a bit further uphill and you're there. You will see the obvious black and white bands that streak down an arching roof. This wall has some thrilling options for those looking to send 5.12 routes. Man on the Moon starts about 100 feet downhill from the streaked section on a bulge feature in the shade of a tall conifer. This climb will take you straight up the face, then along an arcing traverse over the rest of the climbs, and finally to a fun corner on top of the cliff.
Pitch 1 (5.10a): The first pitch is 100 feet of sustained jugs and mantles that is sure to deal smiles. You will see anchors straight ahead after pulling up onto the slab. All told, this pitch is 11 bolts plus bolted anchors.
Pitch 2 (5.5): The spacewalk! From here, follow the line of six bolts up and across the fun slab to a bushy ledge with bolted anchors.
Pitch 3: This is the ledge traverse, which simply involves walking across a comfortable ledge for about 80 feet. If you choose to rope up for this pitch, you can clip one bolt about 15 feet out from the belay, then place natural protection if you have it. But the walk is really pretty modest. The second and third pitches can also be linked.
Pitch 4 (5.8): This pitch starts from the Lunar Ledge and continues up the moonwalk dihedral with a "dark side" and "bright side." Be sure to top this out and explore on top. Look for the wavy lava rocks and walk a few minutes west through the boulders for a great view of the San Francisco Peaks.
To descend, lower off the final pitch, then rappel from the anchors on Lunar Ledge. A 70-meter rope may just reach the ground, but with a 60-meter rope you will have to lower to the anchors at the top of Whiplash (5.11), about 40 feet down and slightly to the right. Reset rappel here and continue the rest of your re-entry to terra firma.
To approach the climb from the cul-de-sac (see driving directions), work your way along the trails to the west until you hit the well-defined and marked Arizona Trail, then continue to follow this to the northwest. Cross the pipeline right-of-way and keep heading toward the mountain on the web of trails. Soon the trails will bottleneck into Solitude Canyon and start to get steeper. They are not marked, so just take a general beeline up and into the canyon and you will find it.