The Flatirons are synonymous with Boulder and the history of rock climbing in North America. It would be hard to find another location in the country where such an extensive variety, from scrambling to hard "Head Point" routes exist so close to a major metro area. They form the backdrop to Boulder and are the centerpiece of Boulder's Open Space system.
There are three main areas:
Flatirons North This area includes classic rocks such as the First and Third Flatirons, and the Amphitheatre in Gregory Canyon. Climbs here range from short newer-age sport climbs to long trad routes, including some of the longer trad routes in the area, the whole face of the 3rd Flatiron, which is about 1300 feet and the Direct East Face of the 1st which is about 1400 feet. Hard conglomerate Fountain Formation sandstone is the medium for your rock craft.
Flatirons Central There are many rocks to explore in this area. The "Central" zone spans Bear Canyon to the Ironing Boards (just South of the 3rd Flatiron). Slabmongers can have many field days exploring the numerous smaller Flatirons, and there's a good amount of trad and even sport among these rocks. Have fun in this scenic setting.
Flatirons South This section of the Flatirons holds some of the best climbing in the Flatirons, but it seems to be less crowded. Great rocks such as the Maiden, Matron, Devil's Thumb, East Ridge, Nebel Horn, Seal Rock, and The Goose offer slabs for beginner trad leaders and also more challenging trad lines. Excellent sport routes also can be found, some several pitches in length. The longest climb in the area is here. There is plenty to explore here.
Access: Various of the Flatirons are closed for falcon nesting from Feb. 1 up to July 31 and for bat nesting Apr. 1 to Aug. 31. Historically, some of these have included The Matron, Towers of the Moon, Jam Crack Spire, Devil's Thumb, Nebel Horn, Jaws, The Fin, Sphinx, Medusa, Fern Canyon, The Goose, The Goose Eggs, Bear Creek Spire, Harmon Cave (bats), East Face of The Hand (bats), East Face of The Finger Flatiron (bats), East Face of Der Zerkle (bats), Dreadnaught, Achean Pronoucement, Skunk Canyon Ridge 2 & west, Sacred Cliffs, East & West Ironing Boards, The Third Flatiron, Queen Anne's Head, occasionally Gregory Amphitheatre, and possibly others.
Please check with city of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks at 303-441-3440 before heading up there. Also, 303.441.4060 ext 420 & x 416 can provide information.
Look west of Boulder, if you can't see them you shouldn't go climbing...although, it can be amazingly beautiful with liquid or solid precipitation falling. Seriously, there are numerous trails and parking lots depending on which crag you are visiting, so please refer to these descriptions.
A word of warning though; the first time climbing in the Flatirons can be a confusing experience, with lots of trails, crags and rocks that look very similar so allow plenty of time for exploring and pick a major feature to climb.
Map of Boulder most of the green stuff down & left of the arrow is Flatirons.
If it is your first time climbing in the Flatirons try to remember to take a guidebook and a map, or better yet, go with a local. Also, a headlamp can come in handy as well on the journey home, but that's a story for another day!
Rock Climbing the Flatirons by Richard Rossiter is probably the best source of information. Gerry Roach's Flatirons guide, Richard Rossiter's older Boulder Climbs North, and even Stewart Green's Colorado guidebooks can provide alternative sources for information. Allegedly, there is a new guidebook in the works.
Flatirons Climbing Council is a non-profit, climber organization dedicated to the limited expansion of new fixed hardware and replacement of decaying fixed hardware in addition to other climbing related issues for the Flatirons. It is a partnership between the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, Colorado Mountain Club and the Action Committee for Eldorado created to preserve climbing access in the Flatirons, conserve climbing resources and the environment, and to work cooperatively with the land manager, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), to resolve climbing issues.
Note, from the 1980s to the early 2000s, there was moratorium on new fixed hardware in the Flatirons. With great efforts, there is a new, application-based, limited new fixed hardware process in place. Please check with the Flatirons Climbing Council.
So, many, many route descriptions include "standard rack" verbiage. What is a standard rack? Good question. Here's my thoughts: Probably a set of wires, a set of cams from smallest Alien/TCU to a #4 Friend or #4 Camalot, a couple larger hexes, and probably a dozen 24" slings with biners to match. Certainly, there are those who will travel lighter or heavier, but this gets you up most routes...with a bit of skill, courage, and coolheadedness. LP
Flora & Fauna
Note, there are a few things that live in the area that may warrant some attention. On the smaller side, there is plenty of poison ivy in places for the sensitive. Also, there are mountain lions & black bear that are known to wander these parts. Watch your kids, if you're climbing with little ones.
According to Boulder Mountain Parks website, 90% of the trails are okay for dogs. In general, dogs in the Flatirons should be on leashes. There is a special program where on dogs may be in voice and sight control, which requires a fee ($15 for residents, $18.75 for non-residents, $5 for additional tags) and watching a video. There are fines associated with violations of the rules.
Near its crest, Nebel Horn Ridge rises as a series of stunning buttresses, like colorful sharks fins. Just below the apex, a clean, sharp buttress leans out from the ridge and is characterized by a beautiful green and red south face. Rainbow Bridge follows the arete above and left of the south face, bridging over the colorful face to the blue sky. Work past four bolts on the face via horizontal cracks, pebbles, and edges. It is one of the most picturesque climbs in Boulder.Belay at a flat ro...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
Gerry Roach's guidebook to the area, Flatiron Classics is now back in print from the CMC press, the newer version includes more photos than the hard to find original from the late '80s. This book is geared towards scrambling and slabmongering--the grades top out at 5.8, thus it is not comprehensive as a Flatirons guidebook.
Anyone lose a pair of Mammut shoes off the 1st around 10/25? Rapped off and was hiking around the side when I saw one laying next to the little overlook. Found the other a few feet from it. Looked kinda like someone was doing a scramble down the side of the Flatiron and lost them??
Found rope on second single bolt rappel station on backside of First Flatiron on the optional downclimb. If it is yours, please describe the rope and give me your information, so I can return it.
By Monomaniac Administrator From: Morrison, CO May 14, 2009
Seasonal Closures for the Flatirons are as follows:
The following crags are closed 1 February to 31 July: First Pinnacle (Gregory Canyon Amphitheatre) Second Pinnacle (Gregory Canyon Amphitheatre) Third Pinnacle (Gregory Canyon) Third Flatiron Queen Anne's Head WC Fields Pinnacle The Ghetto East Ironing Board West Ironing Board The Fin Green Thumb Jaws
The following crags are closed 1 February to 31 July: Ridge Two Ridge Three Ridge Four Achean Prnouncement Argonaut Dreadnought North Ridge Bear Creek Spire
All East Face routes on the following formations are closed 1 April to 1 October (routes on the North, South & West Faces remain open): The Hand Mallory Flatironette Shark's Fin Finger Flatiron
The following routes on Der Zerkle are closed from 1 April to 1 September: Sunnyside One East Face Left East Face Right
The following crags are closed 1 February to 31 July: The Goose Goose Eggs East Ridge Mars Block Nebel Horn Ridge (including Onoclea & Pellaea) Tower of the Moon Jamcrack Spire The Pyramid Incognito Crag Devil's Thumb Shadow Fax Isolation Rock Sunset Wall Devil's Wing (W. Face) The Matron Lost & Found The Sibling Toddler Rock
Please click on the above link to submit comments on the proposed climb; and to have a vote in the process, come to the FHRC public meeting on April 28, 2010, at 6:30 p.m. at Movement Climbing + Fitness, Boulder, CO.
Please click on the above link to submit comments on the proposed climb. The deadline closes June 15; this is the only route submitted this cycle. There will be a public meeting held June 23, Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m. at The Spot gym, Boulder.
Three applications were received for the autumn 2010 cycle of the Flatirons Fixed Hardware Review Committee. One is for a new route on the Hand, another is to add a bolt to an existing climb on Frankenstein's Castle, and the third is for a new climb on the Maiden.
The Fixed Hardware Review Committee of the Flatirons Climbing Council will hold its public meeting Wednesday, October 20, at 6 p.m. at The Spot gym, Boulder, Colorado, to discuss and vote on applications for the autumn 2010 cycle. Anyone interested is invited to come participate and cast votes for the three proposals, which can be found here: flatironsclimbingcouncil.wordpress.com/category/route-applic>>>
Hi Danielle- As the Third can be seen from almost anywhere in Boulder, I think poaching it would be a very bad idea. Also, the more we can work with the land managers and not against them the better off the whole climbing community will be.
The Fixed Hardware Review Committee of the Flatirons Climbing Council will hold its public meeting Wednesday, July 6, at 7 p.m. at The Spot Gym, Boulder, Colorado, to discuss and vote on applications for the June 2011 cycle. Anyone interested is invited to come participate and cast votes for the three proposals, which can be found here: flatironsclimbingcouncil.wordpress.com/category/route-applic>>>. You can also leave comments on the proposed applications at the above link.
Five applications have been submitted to the Fixed Hardware Review Committee (FHRC) of the Flatirons Climbing Council (FCC) for the September 2011 voting cycle:
•Two applications for new climbs, a 5.11 on the Slab and a 5.10 on Dinosaur Rock •Two applications to add new, lower first bolts to the existing climbs Touch Monkey, a 5.11b on Der Zerkle, Dinosaur Mountain and to Short Attention Span, a 5.11d on Overhang Rock, Bear Canyon. •One application to add an anchor to the existing climb Big Bob Cranks on Dinosaur Rock.
The vote and public meeting for this cycle will be held Tuesday, December 6 at 6:30 p.m. at The Spot gym, Boulder, Colorado. Anyone interested in voting on and discussing these applications is encouraged to attend.
Four applications have been submitted for the January 2012 cycle of the Flatirons Climbing Council's Fixed Hardware Review Committee. (The new deadline applications are January 1, April 1, and August 1). Two are for new climbs, one is to replace an existing (but chopped climb), and one is to replace a chopped bolt on an existing climb.
This (south) side of Seal Rock is pending opening to new-route activity as part of the 2012 Memorandum of Understanding between OSMP and the Flatirons Climbing Council. Other formations to be added include the Goose, Sacred Cliffs, and Fiddlehead. Stay tuned to flatironsclimbing.com for more information.
There is an application for a new climb on the south side of the Maiden, our only application for the August 2012 cycle of the Fixed Hardware Review Committee of the Flatirons Climbing Council. Details can be found at the link below; the public meeting and vote will be held Wednesday, September 5 at 6:30 p.m. at The Spot gym (thespotgym.com), Boulder, Colorado. The deadline for the next cycle is January 1, 2013, though applications should be submitted in advance if possible.
Please note that the application for the Hueco Wall, south face of the Maiden, has been updated to include a possible third pitch, which would have been brought up at the public meeting in any case. You can still view and comment on the application at flatironsclimbingcouncil.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/august-201>>>
The public vote and meeting is September 5, 6:30 p.m. at The Spot gym in Boulder, Colorado.
There is an application for a new climb on the south face of Seal Rock, the first application for the autumn 2012 cycle of the Fixed Hardware Review Committee of the Flatirons Climbing Council (www.flatironsclimbing.com). Details can be found at the link below; the public meeting and vote will be held some time early next year, details to be announced. This cycle closes January 1, 2013, though applications should be submitted well in advance.
A second application has been submitted for the Autumn 2012 cycle of the Flatirons Climbing Council's Fixed Hardware Review Committee, this one for the west face of Overhang Rock. Please visit flatironsclimbingcouncil.wordpress.com/category/route-applic>>> to view the application in full, as well as comment on it. The public meeting and vote will be held 6:30 p.m. Wednesday January 16 at The Spot gym, Boulder, Colorado.
There is an application for a second proposed new climb on the south face of Seal Rock, the final application for the autumn 2012 cycle of the Fixed Hardware Review Committee of the Flatirons Climbing Council (www.flatironsclimbing.com), which closes January 1, 2013. Details can be found at the link below. The public meeting and vote will be held 6:30 p.m. Wednesday January 16 at The Spot gym, Boulder, Colorado.
There are a handful of new-route applications for the Autumn 2014 cycle of the Flatirons Climbing Committee's Fixed Hardware Review Committee, for the Matron, the Goose, Pebble Beach, and Dinosaur Rock. We will be holding a public meeting and vote on these climbs on Wednesday, September 3, 6:30 p.m. at The Spot gym in Boulder. Please visit flatironsclimbingcouncil.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/august-201>>> to review and leave comments on the applications.