| The Brother's Traverse
This is not a report of a 14er or even a remote summit. There will be more photos than words and I can't guarantee my writing to be free from mistakes. This is a report about adventure.
The Regency via El Camino Royal (5.0)
Royal Arch via East Face (4th Class)
Fifth Flatiron via East Face North Side (5.4)
The Fist aka Hippo's Head via East Face (5.5)
East Green Mountain from the Fist
Green Mountain from East Green and upper Greenman's
Heading out with the intent of tromping the seldom visited path always has a certain amount of pleasure in it. Wait, isn't this a report about Green Mountain? At first glance, the Flatirons are far from remote. Located immediatley above Boulder, the trails and formations face a barrage from both hikers and climbers on a daily basis. These visitors flock up into the hills seeking to experience nature without ever leaving the comfort of defined trails or other like-minded individuals. Little do any of them know how close they really are to complete solitude. Taking only a few moments to wander off these highway trails, anybody can find themselves in an opposite world. Dense brush (filled with poison ivy and sticker bushes), faint animal trails and a labyrinth of rock formations can turn even the most hardy Flatiron-souls in circles. Lions and bears wander the hills, and kill sites are not uncommon to stumble upon. After exploring these slopes for years and searching for their remote secrets, I am still surprised when I wander into someplace new.
I had talked to my friend Shawn (lodgecamp) about piecing together a full mountaineering ascent of Green Mountain and thought it was a perfect idea. His knowledge of the Flatirons is simply astonishing and we made a quick list of options to reach the summit. The plan was to scramble the Regency, tromp over Royal Arch, climb up the Fifth Flatiron, pick our way up Schmoe's Nose, wander over East Green Mountain up to Green itself and finally descend down Green-Bear to complete the loop. With close to 1,800 feet of rock to cover, the plan was ambitious. The consolation was that the hardest climbing was 5.7 with most being closer to 5.0. This would hopefully allow us to cover ground quickly. Noah (winter8000) also decided to come along and we were set to have a great day climbing. Pulling into the NCAR lot, we quickly motored onto the Mesa Trail. Knowing the way well, Shawn led us up the tricky path to the base of the Regency.
Approaching the Regency
Reaching the rock, we tiptoed over the snow at the base and shoed-up. Laughing and enjoying the beautiful weather, we moved smoothly up the rock.
Noah getting harcore on the Regency
Summit of the Regency
Before long we all crammed onto the small summit-block of the Regency. A single fellow shouted over at us from Royal Arch and I was sure he was shocked to see humans "over there". We took in the unique view and marveled at the expanse of rock around us. The rest of our plan was clearly visible above.
Regency summit view. Royal Arch, Fifth, Hourglass, Fist, Schmoe's
With a long way to go, we quickly moved on. I lead the way down the backside of the formation through the strange tunneling descent.
Downclimb off the summit block
Once down we jumped over small patches of snow until we hit the bottom of Royal Arch. Still happy to be on easy rock we flew to the summit of the arch.
Noah heading up Royal Arch with the Regency behind
After having some hikers snap photos of us, we down-climbed and hiked though the arch to quickly reach the lowest point of the Fifth Flatiron near Lower Tangen Tower.
Lower Tangen Tower from the base of the Fifth
Having climbed the other two formations, I was glad to be on a route I had not climbed. The East Face South Side was notorious for being sandbagged by Roach in his famous guide to the Flatirons. He gives it a 5.0-5.2 rating, but I had heard from several sources (and Shawn) that it was closer to 5.4 S. From below, we were worried that the opening pitch would be obscured by snow and indeed discovered a deep bank against the face. Post-holing to the rock I balanced on the face while putting on my climbing shoes. Noah threw me the rope and I lead up around the snow to the belay.
Starting up P1 of the Fifth
The second pitch was a short intermediate belay and the third was a rope stretcher. The memorable moment on P3 was when Noah called up to me "7 feet!!". I looked up the smooth slab to a tree and called back,
"Can I make it to the tree?"
"How far is it?" drifted back.
I pulled onto the tree and could barely pull enough slack to tie a clove hitch. Whew!
Looking down P1-3
Me happy on the Fifth
The fourth and fifth pitches went smoothly. Below the summit ridge we bundled up against the growing cold/wind and then soloed the final pitch to the top.
Shaun high on the Fifth
Happy to be back on a classic Flatiron summit, we took in the views. Somebody had placed a small Buddha on the top and we enjoyed sharing the views with him. What a home to have!
Shawn on the Fifth
Ready to keep climbing, we looked up at the rocks above. After a brief discussion, we decided to skip Schmoe's Nose and instead climb the slightly higher Fist. After rappeling down, we made a short brush-whack over to the base of the Fist. Happy to be on easy rock again, we soloed the first two pitches to the base of the final crack to the summit.
Typical Flatiron "trail"
Start of the Fist
Trailing ropes was a reminder of a past climb with Noah...
The last pitch was a very unique hand crack that lead onto a strange summit-block. This was one of the best Flatiron summits I had experienced and we enjoyed knowing we had linked together so much climbing to reach this point.
Shawn hanging out before P3
Lead on Noah
Summit of the Fist
Without time to spare and a long way to go, we made the short down-climb and awkward rappel to reach terra firma.
Thankfully Shawn knew the way well, and we made quick time over this seldom-visited terrain to reach East Green Mountain.
Weirdest arch above Boulder?
Forced off the slopes due to snow, we joined the upper Greenman's trail to the top of Green Mountain.
Hard-earned summit of Green Mtn
The summit was a well earned destination and we knew we had truly earned this ascent. With daylight fading, our stay was brief and as we headed down Green-Bear we chatted about other mountains and many adventures to be had. The snow that had started to fall served as a reminder that this was still winter in Colorado. We decided to call our route the Brother's Traverse and it seemed a fitting name. This was a great adventure and a wonderful reminder of the endless possibilities that are available to those willing to think outside the box, work with good friends, and experience things in a new light.
More photos can be found on my site. Brian in the Wild
Lead the way brother
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):