| It's ok to pick Schmoe's Nose
July 16, 2013
Crew: Otina & Steve K.
It'd been along time since I'd done anything new in the Flatirons, so I was stoked when Steve and Otina both were interested in Schmoe's Nose. The formation sits high on the slopes of Green Mountain and is likely one of the least visited rocks in the Flatirons. I'd been wanting to do it for years, but the scruffy bushwhack approach, and an intimidation of overhanging "boogers" kept me at bay. We met in the early evening and quickly cruised up through Wood's Quarry. Soon after arriving on the Royal Arch trail, we dove into the brush toward Tangen Tunnel. The gully was packed with ferns and poison ivy and it only seemed to get worse the higher we went. I'd done the tunnel route twice before in snow, and was surprised at how thick the summer foliage was. Battering through the brush was seemingly endless, but we soon arrived at a small notch on the rock. With daylight burning, we flew up the 2 pitches and soon were hanging out below the small overhang that give Schmoe his distinctive nose. I tiptoed up the slick lichen-covered rocks, pulled myself into the nostril and immediately became stuck as my small pack wedged into the hole. After a few choice words, I slipped off my pack and wormed onto a nice ledge above. Having wasted my anchor pieces in the "boogers" below, I made for the summit and set up a belay in a small notch immediately below the top. Otina and Steve both breezed through the crux and we soon sat on the summit in the fading light. A sense of solitude permeated the air, and I felt more removed from society than I had in quite awhile. Schmoe simply must not have as many visitors as his neighbors! The summit anchor consisted of a questionable block resting on the summit knife-edge, but gravity helped us out and we soon all were packing gear on the ground. The descent in the dark went relatively well and as soon as we caught the trail coming off the Fifth we flew. Stopping only for a nice break at Wood's Quarry, the car came quickly and we parted ways. It was such a nice reminder that even though I've climbed all over the Flatirons, there are still pockets of adventure out there!
**Big thanks to Otina for taking some awesome photos!
Approach: See the map above. The shortest approach is to leave the Royal Arch trail and follow the Tangen Tunnel route to the base of the rock . That said, it may not be the most logical choice as it carries notoriety for being one of the absolute worst bushwhacks in the Boulder area due to copious amounts of thorny brush and poison ivy. The "best" approach might be to hike to Royal Arch and then follow the climber's trail up the south side of the Fifth Flatiron, and then to batter over to Schmoe's Nose. Instead of bushwhacking up the side of Schmoe to get to the climbing, it's best to get on the rock as soon as possible and lead a longer (approx. 150') pitch to belay at a small tree right where the face becomes more clean and distinct. The distinctive nostril overhang will be very obvious above you.
P1 - 5.4 - Work up the right side of the formation following the path of least resistance. Resist the temptation to traverse left too soon, and continue climbing up the edge until you are level with the bottom of the nose. Traverse horizontally across the easy but smooth slab to reach the nose, and move up 10 feet to belay in a small crack in a seemingly detached flake. 150'
P2 - 5.6S - Clip an old piton and make a few thin/licheny moves until you are staring up into the nostril. Place a large cam, grab a booger, and levitate up and through a small nostril (pack will get stuck!) into a comfortable alcove. Step high and climb the thin, runout face above to reach a nice notch immediately below the summit. 180'
P3 - 5.0 - Climb the exposed knife edge to a slung boulder sitting on the summit. 30'
Descent: Either rappel 60' west from the summit boulder, or if it looks to sketchy for you, down-climb to the notch and rappel 60' north from a slung constriction in the notch. Hike around and up the north side of the outcropping immediately to the west of Schmoe's Nose, and work down rocky gullies (don't get cliffed out) between Schmoe and the Fist aka Hippo's Head. This is tricky in the dark! Aim for the obvious Fifth Flatiron below, and find/follow the obvious climber's trail down the south side of the Fifth all the way to Royal Arch. Take the Royal Arch trail out.
Gear: This could easily be done with a single set of cams from 0.4-4 and a set of nuts.
Thoughts: This is a fun and unique route to a seldom-trodden summit and is totally worth the time to do it. Unfortunately, the lack of traffic also causes a healthy crop of lichen and some fragile hand/foot holds, so a bit of care is necessary. As with most Flatiron romps, the protection is sparse on the slabby bits, but the crux is well protected with larger cams (#3-4). I had read several comments about the integrity of the "boogers" in the overhang, but I found them to be very solid and would guess that the chance of them dumping out to be very low. The summit rappel anchor is the most questionable part of the whole outing and although it held just fine for us, I could imagine it coming off with you under the right (or would it be wrong?) conditions. Gerry Roach describes another rappel anchor in the notch below the summit that may be worth exploring.
Many more photos can be found here...
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - Hunter S. Thompson