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Peak(s):  Flatirons
Date Posted:  04/26/2019
Date Climbed:   04/18/2019
Author:  pbakwin
 Spring Flatirons Classics   

Spring Flatirons Classics

This Boulder-area link-up has been on my mind for a while: Spring Flatirons Classics. People know there are 53 “Classic” routes in Gerry Roach’s book “Flatirons Classics”. But, 20 of those are closed Feb 1 - July 31 (roughly “Spring”) for raptors. That means if you’re going to climb all 53 Classics, you have to go in late summer, which is too hot, or sometime in the fall, when the days are getting short. It occurred to me that just doing the 33 routes that are open year-round would make a lot of sense: you can go in the spring when the days are long, the weather is cool, there’s water everywhere, and there’s NO poison ivy! Plus it seemed to me that I just might be able to pull that off in a day. It all worked!

I’d been planning to do this on Friday, but the weather report for Thurs started to look better: partly cloudy and low 60s vs. sunny and 70s. In fact when found ICE on the windshield of my car at 4AM I almost went back to bed. There was some light rain overnight, or a heavy dew, & the ground was quite wet, but fortunately the rocks were dry from the start. Temps never got above 55 degrees at NCAR – excellent scrambling weather. I did get spooked mid-morning on the 5th Flatiron when thick clouds rolled in and it started to look and feel like rain, but I felt exactly 1 rain drop.

My “rules” are, I think, consistent with what others have done: You can climb up or down, and you only have to climb any piece of rock once, even if it’s on more than one route. I downclimbed Baker’s Way, Freeway, the Hammerhead, Stairway, 5th South Side, and the SE Ridge on Central Shanahan.

Green Mountain Pinnacle - photo by Justin Simoni (4/25/2019)

While I’ve been an endurance specialist for decades, I’m not super fit for climbing, so I tried to make it as easy as possible on myself, and also as safe as I could within the parameters of my objective. That included rapping some things that I could have downclimbed off quicker, such as Morning After and Green Mountain Pinnacle. I also top-rope self-belayed a few things: The Slot, South Face of Central Shanahan Crag, and the first couple moves on the Maiden. Having the rope is more time consuming but also more relaxing. Plus a bit safer, especially late in the day. It turns out a 30m rope works for everything EXCEPT that SF route on CSC, which is about 140’, and of course the two 100’ raps off the Maiden. I carried an 8mm x 30m rope all day, and stashed a 6-7mm x 150’ cord at the top of the SF CSC route. On CSC, I downclimbed the SE Ridge from the top (after coming off the top of the Slab), rapped the SF (a Nano-8 works well on the single strand rap of the tiny rope – just make sure the rope doesn’t go over any sharp edges!), then climbed back up with a self-belay, and continued down the SE Ridge. I carried the 150’ cord along for the rest of the day & used it to double with my 30m for the raps on the Maiden. That pack felt heavy slogging up the Fatiron!

The Maiden was in the back of my mind all day. For me that’s one of the harder (& scarier) Classics, and I’d be hitting it as #31 of 33, so I knew I’d be very tired. At the last minute before leaving my house I tossed in a pair of rock climbing shoes, and carried them all day just for this one climb (otherwise used La Sportiva TX3s). It turned out to be totally worth carrying the extra 1lb. My strategy was as follows: I scrambled over the W Ridge to the Crow’s Nest. Below the looming overhang is an old pin, which I backed up with a piece, and used for a top-rope of the first couple moves. I tied one end of my 30m to my harness, looped the rope through the pro, and used my progress capture device on the other strand. This protects the first moves well, but gets awkward when you have to downclimb a few feet to get to the tree. But, fortunately those moves are easy. At the tree I pulled the rope (which I still needed for the rap off the top) and soloed the rest – which is really very easy but insanely exposed.

The Maiden

I really wanted to get off the Maiden before dark, and fortunately I was able to do that without any hurry. Unfortunately, I *still* had to do the Regency and Tomato Rock, which didn’t fit logically into my itinerary earlier in the day & are close enough to the Mesa Trail to pick up on the way back. Thrashing around in the dark woods after the Regency looking for the Royal Arch Trail was a NOT a highlight!

I got back to my car at Chautauqua just before 10PM. Long day – 17h38m ! There are many people who can do this faster. But first you have to really learn the routes and the bushwhacks between them. Which is the fun part!

Just a few splits:

04:21 Chautauqua

07:34 cross Bluebell Creek on the Royal Arch Trail

11:42 Skunk Creek (after Stairway)

13:22 Bear Creek Trail

15:24 top of the Slab

19:20 off both Maiden raps

21:59 Chautauqua

So many great adventures in our back yard!

Spring Flatirons Classics (in the order I did them):

1) Amphitheater, T-0 WF

2) Amphitheater, 1st Pinnacle EF

3) Amphitheater, West Bench, The Slot

4) Amphitheater, 2nd Pinnacle SF

5) The Spy

6) 1st Flatiron, Baker’s Way (DC)

7) 1st Flatiron, Direct East Face

8) 1st Flatiron, N Arete

9) Sunset Flatironette

10) 2nd Flatiron, Freeway (DC)

11) 2nd Flatiron, Dodge Block

12) Morning After

13) Hammerhead (DC)

14) 4th Flatiron East Face (first 2 pieces, 3rd piece after Challenger & GMP)

15) Challenger

16) Green Mtn Pinnacle

17) 5th Flatiron, EF North

18) 5th Flatiron, EF South (DC)

19) Hillbilly Rock

20) Stairway to Heaven (DC)

21) Front Porch

22) Dinosaur Rock, EF

23) Fi

24) Fo

25) Seal Rock, EF South Side

26) The Slab, Diagonal

27) Central Shanahan Crag, SE Ridge (DC)

28) Central Shanahan Crag, SF

29) Tiny Tower, EF

30) Fatiron, EF

31) Maiden, NF

32) Regency

33) Tomato Rock

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2

Comments or Questions
Loco cool.
4/27/2019 9:12pm
Peter, this is awesome. I appreciate backyard sufferfests like this! Any idea on your mileage / elevation for the day?

4/27/2019 9:26pm
I expect itâs about 30 miles. Last year Buzz & I attempted this but only got as far as Tiny Tower before dark. Buzz had a gps watch that put it at 26 mi. Must be a good bit of vert! The great thing about this is that pretty much every part of my body hurt afterwards...

Flatirons 50k
4/27/2019 9:30pm
I bet! Nice work. Sounds like hauling that extra gear ended up being clutch for tricky dusk climbing. Cheers!

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