August 20, 2006

First Flatiron

Ashley and I had so much fun on the Third Flatiron last weekend, we decided to do the classic route on the First Flatiron this weekend. The standard route on the First is slightly longer (9 pitches compared to 6) and slightly more technical (5.4-5.6 compared to 5.0 to 5.4). In preparation for this climb, I ordered some Metolius Cams from Mountain Gear. Climbing the Third with just a set of nuts was fine, but I felt with the added difficulty and sparser protection opportunities associated with the First, it would be nice to have some active protection. Ended up using them quite a bit too, so it was a good choice. We got an earlier start this time, and didn't have to wait at the start of the climb like last time. The exact route was a little more difficult to follow, and the belay stations weren't bolted as they were on the third. Although the climbing was more technical, it was still quite easy and the rock was superb. The views to be had while climbing the First were arguably better than those to be had while climbing the Third, primarily because you can see around the Front Range and into the Indian Peaks once you gain the castleated summit ridge.
The descent involved a single 100 foot rappel from the top of the First Flatiron down to a semi-popular hiking trail. As it turns out, this is the perfect distance for a 60-meter rope. We even had about 5-10 feet to spare. The hike down was on a nice trail, so we never had to battle the poison ivy. The whole trip took us about 6 hours. On the "Must Do" rating scale, Josh gives this one a "Yes".

August 13, 2006

Third Flatiron

Today Ashley and I climbed up the 3rd Flatiron. For those who don't know, the Flatirons are the rocks that jut up right from Boulder, marking the end of the rocky mountains and the beginning of the wrist-slitting flat lands that extend to the Appalachians. Anyway, there are many of these rocks all jutting into the air at the same angle. The largest one, which happens to be the one that looks most like an iron, is the known as the Third Flatiron. The standard route up it is 6-7 pitches of easy climbing. Most of the pitches have been rated 5.0, the most difficult pitch a 5.4. Despite the technical ease of this climb, the excitement came in the fact that I've never really trad climbed before (trad - short for "traditional climbing", meaning that you won't find bolts drilled into the rock every 10 feet as in Sport Climbing). There were, however, large bolts every 120 feet to be used as belay stations. I brought with me my brand new set of nuts (metal wedges that function as protection by placing them in constricting cracks) to protect the route between the belay stations. The flatirons don't have a whole lot of constricting cracks, so I had a great time searching around for some place to put my nuts. Ashley, who has also never really trad climbed, got to clean my nuts on the way up when she followed me. We were stuck behind some slow groups, so this adventure took the better part of the day. The descent from the top of the 3rd Flatiron involved 2 rappells, followed by some downclimbing through poison ivy that was sketchier than anything we climbed on the way up.