Peak(s):  Willy B - 7,460 feet
Date Posted:  07/21/2013
Modified:  02/20/2014
Date Climbed:   07/20/2013
Author:  Brian C
 Another evening in the Flatirons  

Willy B via Swing Time (5.7S)

July 20, 2013

Crew: Sam & Brian K.

I'd always wanted to climb Willy B but had been intimidated by the crux pitch. I'd heard various reports of stiff climbing, large run-outs and troublesome route-finding and didn't want to get in over my head. Almost on a whim, I decided to give it a go and was thankful that both Brian and Sam were interested as well. We met late in the afternoon and quickly moved up to Sentinel Pass. Unfortunately, the clouds didn't provide us with any shade and I was drenched simply getting to the pass. Having climbed several of the nearby formations, I knew exactly where to go uphill and we soon were roping up at the base of Willy B. The first pitch was easy, but large crops of lichen and loose flakes dotted the face. A nice chimney put me on a comfy ledge and I eyed the 5.8 route that went directly up while belaying Brian and Sam up. I contemplated trying the 5.8 route for quite some time but decided to stick with the plan to climb Swing Time as it'd been in my mind for years. The next pitch followed the dihedral and I think I chose poorly where to traverse left as it felt much harder than the listed 5.4. Stepping down onto the exposed south face ramp was exciting and a nice belay was easy to build right at its start. A light rain started as I finished the pitch, but thankfully it stopped as quickly as it started. Once again, Brian and Sam flew up the route and I soon was starting up the final crux pitch. The ramp was listed as 4th class but felt much harder due to the lack of gear and polished nature of the rock. I was glad to locate the crux moves without much trouble but was stopped by the funky gear I was faced with. I spent a long time fiddling in several bad placements with the hope that if I slipped one of them might hold. Finally, I stepped upward onto tiny crystals and was happy to reach a nice hold above to haul myself onto the upper face. The final bit was easy and run-out, and before long we all stood on the small summit. I was very happy to be on the summit as I had never really imagined myself being able to make it up there. The surrounding formations basked in the evening sun and this was one of the better Flatiron summits I'd had the luck of standing on. Time to go came and the descent was uneventful. We spent a few minutes trying to locate the start of Two-Move Rock but gave up as the twilight gained on us. Another good time in the Flatirons, and has me contemplating going after all of the summits that I have not done...

The Approach

Willy B

The crux


Approach: Hike the Royal Arch trail all the way to the top of Sentinel Pass. At the pass, leave the trail and work more-or-less uphill while attempting to find
the climber's trail that leads up toward Green Mountain Pinnacle. Stay on the north side of both the Hammerhead and the Last Flatironette, but to the south of the Thing. As you see the Thing come into view, Willy B will become visible above but try to stay to the south of some large boulders below it. Hike up to Willy B and as the east face begins to rise sharply, locate the last easy place to gain access onto the face.

Route: **Most of the pitches are run-out, but no worse than any other Flatiron. I give this a "serious" rating due to extreme fall potential at the crux.
P1 - 5.2 - Find wherever looks like the easiest access point onto the east face and traverse out onto it from the south side of the formation. Once established on the east face, follow the path of least resistance upward. Pass a ledge with a tree mid-way and continue up through a steeper, yet easy, chimney that deposits you on a nice platform below a large left-facing dihedral. 170'.
P2 - 5.4 - Leave the comfy belay spot and work up the large left-facing dihedral. About halfway up, look for the easiest place to leave the corner and make a thin ascending traverse up and left. The traverse felt closer to 5.6 than 5.4 but is rather short. Arrive at the south face and step down and onto a small ramp that angles upward. At the start of the ramp there is a good crack to build a belay in. 80'
P3 - 5.7S - Work carefully up the "4th class" ramp on sloping holds and zero gear. Keep a sharp eye out for a weakness in the wall that will present itself 20 feet up, slightly past a large dead tree coming up from below. Place several bad pieces wherever you can get them before committing to the moves. Due to the questionable gear, it is likely that a fall would be onto the anchor and have you hanging off the south face so be careful. A few thin moves leads to a "thank god hold" and out onto the east face proper. Traverse horizontally to a nice crack, place a large cam to protect your second (it's called Swing Time for a reason), and blast up the run-out face to the summit. Be cautious of the loose flakes and lichen on the last bit. 180'

Descent: From the summit chains, rappel west and aim for the south side of the rock fin that protrudes out. You will barely make the ground with a 60M.

Gear: This could easily be done with a single set of cams from 0.4-4 and a set of nuts. The crux moves are hard to protect and it is essentially a no-fall zone. Consider bringing offsets as I was able to get in a small offset cam that looked iffy but was far better than anything else. Might have held.

Thoughts: This route is not nearly as bad as I had expected and is a very enjoyable climb to a unique summit. The top is much flatter than the usual Flatiron summit and provides stunning views of the surrounding formations. Be cautious of the crux pitch as a fall could be very, very bad and I would recommend bringing a few offset cams to protect the moves. In contrary to other reports, we did not find any pitons on the south face ramp and I believe that it is due to the fact that we left the ramp at the proper place. It seems that many parties continue too far up the ramp, find the piton, and end up on much harder terrain. As long as the leader is solid on 5.7 and confident in route-finding, this is a worthwhile outing.

"Will he be waiting for me? He will be, won't he? Oh, how I hope he will." - Dolly Parton

More photos can be found here...

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