Top of pitch one
A few weeks ago, Amanda and I decided to climb the Flatirons. The Third was closed due to raptors, and she’d recently climbed the First, which left the Second. As we read the route descriptions, we realized why we’d previously chosen the First or Third Flatirons. The description of the Second Flatiron as “the large, irregular mass situated between the First and Third Flatirons” proved less than inspiring.
We decided to try the Southeast Ridge route, rated 5.6 in Rossiter’s Boulder Climbs North (1988). Ok, so my guidebook is 20 years old, but Layton Kor climbed this route in 1959 and the only thing that’s changed is the approach: instead of following a shallow draw, a trail now leads almost to the base.
Top of pitch three
Looking up from the base, I wasn’t sure how to surmount the “tier of roofs”. Luckily I got the first pitch, so that was Amanda’s problem. Though the description said 5.6, the topo had 5.7 for the roof, which seems innocuous until you realize that Whistle Stop and The Flakes in Eldorado Canyon, now both rated 5.9-, were once each rated 5.7.
From the end of pitch one, Amanda threaded her way through flakes, overlaps, and corners to the base of the roof. The length of time she spent trying to figure out how to surmount the roof, and the care to which she went trying to place gear, did not bode well. Sure enough, when my turn came, I struggled. We decided that it was the hardest 5.7 we’d done—a lot harder than many 5.8s we’d climbed.
We enjoyed our ramble up the remaining easy, but very unprotected, climb in warm Colorado sunshine and only a little loose rock. This route will not be in my Fun Climbs Colorado, second edition, not only due to the one-hour approach hike and difficult descent.
Please leave a comment if you’ve climbed this route and have any beta (like, were we totally off route? Or totally out of shape!) Click the red number right of the title to comment.