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TR: First Flatiron - Direct East Face route

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
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TR: First Flatiron - Direct East Face route

Postby jeffro » Sun May 20, 2007 8:13 pm

Aubrey, Jen and I set out from the Gregory Canyon trailhead at 6:00 am Saturday morning. The parking lot was just about full at that hour. Boulder is an interesting place. It was about 55 degrees or so under clear skies and the approach hike was pleasant. A high of about 78 was forecast though, along with afternoon thunderstorms. We wanted to be first on the Direct East Face route, so we carried our heavy loads (full rack, pair of ropes, etc.) quickly up the trail to the base of First Flatiron.

Aubrey and Jen tied in and ready to go...
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This was Aubrey and Jen’s first multi pitch climb and Aubrey’s first outdoor class 5 climb. Why not start with one of the grandest in the country. Eight to ten pitches are required to scale all 1000 feet of the huge sandstone face. We accomplished the first goal of being first to start, but just barely as another group of 3 hiked up just as we were roping up. They opted to hike up higher and climb a different route.

Looking up at the first 3 pitches of our climb...
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Here's Jeff working across a ledge on the first pitch...
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As the three of us sat together at the first belay, (we had just done what is arguably the hardest move on the route at 5.6), I mentioned that we could rap down from here, if anyone didn’t like the committing nature of 8 or 9 more pitches of the same. After another pitch or two however, the best option for retreat would become up and over the top. Jen answered………“Aubrey wants to go on”.

Aubrey puttin' on the moves...
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For the first four pitches, we enjoyed efficient climbing as I would lead and then bring the two of them up together as simultaneous seconds on the twin ropes. On top of pitch four sits a huge ledge that could hold about 20 to 30 people (I’ve always called it the “party ledge”). Looking up from here we noticed that several other parties who had hiked up and started higher were now starting to come together at a bit of a bottleneck.

With two attentive belayers, I felt very safe...
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Jen workin' the route...
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We enjoyed a short break on the “party ledge” and then moved deliberately up an easy (5.2ish) pitch to take our place in line. While waiting in line, one group took an alternate route and one soloist and 2 guys simul-climbing (running belay) passed us by. It was educational for Aubrey and Jen to see some of the different modes of belay (or not) used on moderate rock climbs. Aubrey found the concept of solo climbing (no rope) a huge rock like that quite remarkable.

A typical Saturday in May on "The First"...
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The next pitch through a notch and up an exposed face to the arête has been argued by some to be harder than pitch one. I’m pretty sure Aubrey and Jen both stand on that side of the argument. I do believe that it is the most exciting pitch on the route. Aubrey’s thoughts: "In our upward push, I felt a little of it all today: fear, doubt, pain, pleasure, adrenaline, elation, success. Very intense stuff. Life sure is tasty."

Aubrey, Jen and Chautauqua Park...
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Once on top of the arête, 3 more pitches up and down across the rugged and undulating terrain, offering rope management challenges and some technical down climbing, took us to the top of First Flatiron. Our northwesterly views extended from the Indian Peaks to Longs Peak while to the east you could see the curvature of the earth. Dark clouds were forming over the mountains, but would seem to dissipate or split around us as they approached the plains…we must be living right.

Jeff enjoying a rewarding summit...
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After summit cheer, some photos and some brief thoughts and words about TalusMonkey, we were all anxious to get out of our climbing shoes and ride the skinny rope down to terra firma. This 90 foot abseil with feet on the rock for about half of it and free hanging for the other half, was to be Aubrey and Jen’s first rappel. As he started into the rap Aubrey said “OK, this might be the most thrilling part”. As they had during the whole climb, both Aubrey and Jen performed admirably on the rappel.

Aubrey on rappel...
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Jen on rappel...
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Jeff on rappel...
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This was a big day with the time spent on the rock adding up to 7 hours. During the hike out, we heard the first rumbling of distant thunder…yes indeed…living right! Aubrey’s reflections: "It might be considered an easy class 5 climb, but after 9 pitches -- and a healthy hike to and fro -- I am feeling the effects of many tired muscle groups ... and my brain is even exhausted. I have a new-found respect for class 5 climbing."

Jen was later asked to sum up her feelings about the day, but all she could muster was “I’m quite tired”…or something to that effect.

I must say that it was a genuine pleasure to climb with both Aubrey and Jen. They are truly good people. I would have no reservation in tying into the same rope with them and no reservation whatsoever in recommending them as climbing partners to anyone. One of the best moderate, multi-pitch climbs on the planet, awesome climbing partners…oh yeah…livin’ right!!!

Jeff
Climb what you love and love what you climb!!

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Postby Cruiser » Sun May 20, 2007 8:26 pm

Great Pics Jeff! Way to get it done Boulder style.
Where ever you are... There you are.

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Postby jeffro » Sun May 20, 2007 8:38 pm

Thanks Cruiser...

Just to clarify, some of the pics were taken by me, some by Aubrey and some by Jen.

I should have given appropriate credit in the trip report.

Jeff
Climb what you love and love what you climb!!

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Postby roozers42 » Sun May 20, 2007 9:10 pm

SWEET! Nice job, guys! I agree that the pitch that goes through the notch, over that lip and up the face was the hardest mentally and physically for me.

Very nice TR, I enjoyed it a lot!

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Postby Aubrey » Sun May 20, 2007 9:52 pm

Jeff, awesome report, and thanks for showing us the ropes! :lol: Pun intended.

god, what an interesting day. And what an experience.

There were moments when I was feeling quite a bit of fear, among other thoughts. But I trusted the gear, and more importantly, you, with my life. Thanks again for taking us up. Jen and I appreciate it immeasurably, and we hope to go out again with you. Anyone would be so lucky.

I tell ya, it struck me, as I was in one precarious position, with my left hand pushing up on an overhanging rock, my left foot pushing south, my right foot pushing northwest, and my right hand sweating on the rock in front of my face, that I was quite happy. Fear was there for sure, but it dripped away with my sweat, and then I proceeded on.

Further up the rock, micro panics tried to set in. I mentally batted them away like gnats and focused on the task at hand, and it was an awesome feeling. That said, I was dealing with some real fear there. Unroped, I probably would've been shittin' bricks, but I felt a-ok on Jeff's belay.

Just a couple few years ago I had a serious fear of heights. After a transcendent experience on Longs ... and this climb ... I've come a long way, I suppose.

Thanks again, Jeff.

Aubrey

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Postby doumall » Sun May 20, 2007 9:55 pm

Cool, thanks for posting. Looks fun!

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Postby smason505 » Sun May 20, 2007 11:53 pm

Nice report and pictures. This is one of the routes I want to climb before I leave Boulder at the end of the summer for NYC.

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