Peak(s):  Second Flatiron - 7,140 feet
Date Posted:  06/05/2012
Modified:  02/20/2014
Date Climbed:   06/04/2012
Author:  Brian C

 Second Flatiron - Free for All (and Swanson's Arete)  

This is taken from the full report on my site. All the photos can be found HERE at Brian in the Wild.

Lumpe Tower via Swanson's Arete (Direct 5.7R)
Second Flatiron via Free For All (5.6)

June 3-4, 2012


Jen decided she was ready for her second climb in the famous Eldorado Canyon so we set our sights on the classic Swanson's Arete. Rated 5.5, Swanson's is one of the best moderates in the canyon and was named for Jon Swanson after he perished descending Mt. Sir Donald in 1968. The route ascends a small arete up the towering Redgarden Wall and offers a relatively easy way to scale its heights. The approach follows the well-worn climber's trail from the main parking lot, across the river and up the steep slopes below Redgarden's imposing walls. Being a Sunday, we were not surprised to see the hoards of climbers in Eldo and were dumbfounded that nobody was at the base of our route. To access Swanson's, you must first get to the Red Ledge and the usual way is to climb the West Chimney. As we geared up, we watched several chipmunks eating the contents of a pack that somebody had left carelessly on the ground. It was a comical (for us) reminder that we needed to hang our gear in one of the nearby trees. The chimney proved very fun, and easy sections were interrupted by spots of tricky climbing. The final bit to the top of P1 were full on chimneying and I enjoyed the lead. Jen breezed the pitch and we scrambled along the ridge to the base of the Swanson's. I ran P2 out longer than the guide suggested and loved the steep and clean climbing. The belay was at a decent ledge on the left side of the arete at a small tree. P3 led straight up the arete on the steep, runout face. I later found that I had accidentally led Swanson's Direct rated 5.7R with the true route lying just right of the true arete. P4 continued up to a small roof that was passed by a rightward traverse and up a small book to a comfy belay at a dead tree just below an even larger overhang. The final pitch was very short and led up broken cracks to the right of the roof. The summit of Lumpe Tower came abruptly and it was fun to watch climbers ascending the final steep arete of the Yellow Spur. Our stay was cut short by impending storms and we made for the notch to the south. We rapped to the Red Ledge, traipsed back to the top of the West Chimney, gawked at the folks climbing up into the impending rain, and then rapped to the ground. Eldo is an amazing place!

P1: Chimney up passing numerous bulges. Be cautious to not fall as there are many ledges to hit. 5.6 120'
P1.5: Move belay across the Red Ledge to small tree at the base of the arete (and highpoint of the ledge). 3rd class ≈100'
P2: Follow steep broken cracks up the arete. Belay at small tree/ledge just left of the arete proper. 5.4 ≈120'
P3: Swanson's Direct. Continue up the unprotected arete on small holds and clean rock. Move right at small roof the continue up into open book. Pass a bulge and belay at dead tree below the large overhang. 5.7R ≈150'
P4: Move right off the final overhang and follow broken cracks to summit. 5.5 ≈60'

Descent: Rappel from tree or downclimb into the notch to the north. Make 2 rappels followed by short, easy downclimb to the Red Ledge (rapps are ≈100 so watch the ends of the rope carefully). Scramble back to the West Chimney and make 2 rappels back to the ground.

Beautiful clean climbing on delicate runout holds.

Watching for the ends of the rope rappelling the Dirty Deeds route.


Still on summer mode, we decided to head back to the Flatirons and climb the Second Flatiron. Free for All is the easiest way to ascend directly from the toe of the rock to the highest point of the Second aka the Pullman Car and I'd always wanted to climb it. It was quickly apparent that leaving the trailhead at noon was a terrible mistake as the temps pushed toward the 90s. Having soloed both Freeway and Dodge Block, I knew roughly were to go and made short work of the first pitches. My feet felt like they were burning in my shoes in the heat and I coiled the rope on them as I belayed to provide a little cover. Traversing toward the Pullman Car required dodging some small patches of poison ivy on the rock. Finally at the base of the crux, I got excited about the climb. The Pullman Car loomed above and the pitch worked delicately up toward it on small holds. On the next pitch I made a mistake, and ended up leading us up a much harder and exposed rib of rock than I had to trying to gain the east face. Some clouds mercifully gave us some cover from the scorching sun and we breezed up the final arete to the summit. I had a new appreciation for the Second Flatiron and admired it's statelier siblings to the north and south.

P0: This can be pitched or soloed. From the base of the Second, climb straight up the face to gain the Freeway arete. Leave the ridge and aim for the Pullman Car. About 300' from the Freeway arete, look for a weakness in the gully to the left and traverse across to a small small ledge below the large overhang of the Pullman Car. 5.2 ≈700'
P1: Veer into a narrow slot that leads up to the overhang above. Climb a narrow/thin face above and traverse left on exposed jugs. Belay at left corner of the overhang to avoid rope drag. 5.6 ≈100'
P2: Climb up the edge of the face to where the gully is easily accessible. Standard route goes into the gully. Ignore the real route and get ready for some thin traversing. Stick to the rock and make an ascending traverse on the barely-existing ramp about 15' above the gully below. Set up a hanging belay right at the end of the "ramp" and below a small overhang that looks easier than everything else before. Protect your second! 5.4 ≈100'
P3: Pull the overhang while being very cautious not to fall on your belayer. Move straight up toward the east face and belay at a small ledge. 5.7 ≈70'
P4: Shoot straight to the top up the fun arete. 4th class ≈120'

Descent: Either make a single rappel or downclimb the exposed and tricky west face route.

Note: The typical route climbs the gully after the crux and does not stay on the rock. Our variation was an accident that proved very fun but is does have constant groundfall potential for both the leader and the second. Also, if you decide to do our variation, be confident you can pull a short 5.7 move because you will factor 2 your anchor and land on your belayer if you blow it. On the easier stretches, this is more runout than your usual Flatiron jaunt.

Hot day on the Flatirons.

Why did I think this was the route?

Jen making the final ascent of this 1,000' climb to the Pullman Car. The broken South Block is behind.


 Comments or Questions

Who turned the heat on?
06/06/2012 04:12
In that photo of Chautauqua, I can see the flatirons sizzling. Did you stop to cook an egg?

Fun climbs for sure!

I Man

Class 5???
06/20/2012 13:38
Nobody wants to see these Trip Reports

Nice work. Thanks for the tip on this route. Looks like a fun one.

Enjoy the Cascades man, it will suck not having you around for so long!!!!

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