Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly
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So you've already done all of the long Flatiron Ridge classics? Maybe not...
The position and views alone are classic- looking down on the Matron from hundreds of feet above it, and with to the North of Sobo and Diamond Head (in Eldo) and to the South of Shirt Tail Peak. To the SE is the Eldorado springs pool and the South Boulder Creek. To the Northeast is a great view of Shadow Canyon and all of it's crags, including the Maiden, Jamcrack Spire, the Devil's Thumb, etc.... The exposed arete is pretty incredible. The few times I have been on this summit, the ever-present white glider has soared just overhead- so close I could hear the whistle of air and the vibrations off of the spindly wings.
As for the climbing itself, this really is an awesome route, but it is not for the typical Flatiron scrambler. This route follows a "Super Direct" SE ridge of the "Lost and Found" Flatiron. Think of it as a climb like Stairway to Heaven, Angels Way or Satan's Slab, of equal quality as some of these and approaching that length, but with three cruxy bulges thrown in for good measure, each one of them 5.9-5.10, and each runout above a ledge or the ground. The climbing is very good and the rock mostly clean and solid. It is climbable despite snow, because it faces south and gets strong sun from sunrise until mid-afternoon, even in winter.
Please be conservative with climbing this. The assigned grade is an estimation and the 2 people that have followed me on it, both 5.10 climbers who I have seen flash 5.10's, have fallen while following the first 5.10 crux.
A lead fall from the first 3 "bellies" (crux bulges) would almost certainly be injurious, but would probably not completely mangle you... since the ledges 4-8 meters down would stop your fall before hitting a terminal velocity. But please consider that you are a few pitches up, and 1 hour from the trailhead and over rough territory. Wear your helmet.
Locate this climb by finding your way to the Lost And Found flatiron. Find the low point in the wall, as described for this crag, with a large evergreen shading it, and a huge "step stone" planted firmly against the gray base, as if Mother Nature wanted to avoid starting you off on the steep headwall. This route's beginning is covered in large gray flakes of Lichen that are easily avoided or brushed away from the massive starting buckets.
The pitch descriptions here are ~ in length and not exact.
P1 (80', 5.8, PG-13): Climb the huge 5.8 buckets to above the shade of the tree, then the rock becomes quite clean. Continue up and right on easy moves for perhaps 80 feet to a huge grassy ledge with a few trees, just below the crux of the route. Belay at a large tree.
P2 (100', 5.10b, S/VS): Step just right of the belay on the tree and climb up the bulging headwall facing S/SE headwall above the grassy slope on shallowing pockets and slopers without gear for several meters. On the second lead of this in 2006, I found gear to the right of the start of the crux in a brief diagonal "slash" where I placed a 2" and a 3" cam side by side before working back up and left to the side-pull and undercling. These would probably hold a fall if they went tight before you hit the ledge, so your belayer should be ready to take in rope and try to keep you off of the ledge. Start up and left into the crux sequence, grabbing a few flakes for sidepulls. The climbing reaches a maximum of difficulty as you reach up to the overhang, just before the slab, pulling onto a very narrow rail with several sloping pockets (and one good one) above. This could be avoided by a groove slightly further North (5.10a, R/X) or around the corner to the north (5.easy?) or by the ramps well to the South of the tree. Continue for the remainder of 130 feet up an easy slab to another large ledge with another tree below a second headwall and belay there.
P3 (120', 5.10a, S): Climb up the pockets in the headwall, placing a few large cams in for protection and pull up onto the slab. A #3.8 HB quadcam fit perfectly in the first pocket 8 feet up. Climb up and hard left through a series of other pockets and flakes on a steep wall to a left-hand side-pull wrestle up (crux) onto the low angle rock from this. Climb moderate for a bit, then through another bulge, if I recall correctly (5.9-, S). Again, on this pitch, both bulges can probably be avoided to the South with minimal runouts, but these would be strong deviations from the Ridge's direct line. Continue up Easy slab for a long pitch to an obvious belay ledge.
P4 (200', 5.easy): Go up another somewhat vertical wall and up a slab for 200' to a belay at a good tree on a small ledge.
P5 (140', 4th class) Continue up past a deceptive false summit and up the sharpening ridge-line. This pitch is mostly easy 4th class and is an easy scramble or Simul-climb.
P6 (80', 5.easy) Head for the summit with good pro where the climbing is most deceptive. A good summit seat is available for a "strong stance" below, or one could rig a cord or webbing on large rocks. This could probably be linked to P5 with a 70m rope, but we did not attempt to do so.
To descend from the summit, head a few meters West onto a good ledge, then scramble down and North to a notch (5.5?) and then tunnel under a large rock (not a tight squeeze) to the ground. To get back to the base, walk the rock's South Face line to reach the bottom, then go back north to the start. Check out the other routes on the South Side.
A standard light rack. Some larger cams or big tricams for in pockets might reduce the pucker factor somewhat, but the FA of this route was climbed without such. This is a good Flatiron, but the hardest parts are the most runout and have ledge-fall potential. It appears that each runout crux can be avoided by sneaking way North to the slab out 5-10 meters right, making the climb much easier although the FA took the SE ridge pretty directly.
In a subsequent ascent with friends, Bill found some ways around the cruxes that one could go up, lower off a tree or anchor, then TR the crux if so desired. Of course- not the same as doing the route on lead, but certainly safer if you tend to pucker up on 5.10s.
|Photos of Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly Slideshow
BETA PHOTO: The obvious arete in the center of this photo, run...
Getting pumped? Tony Bubb overgripping on the cru...
Tony Bubb finishing the balancy end to the crux of...
Tony Bubb getting out of the overhang pockets and ...
The Lost And Found Flatiron appears as the jagged ...
Ryan on the arete (we did the crux bypasses).
Another arete photo.
|Comments on Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly
|By Tonm Smith|
Jan 12, 2005
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a
Climbed this route last sunday. Crux pitch is ultra-contrived. 1 pitch route and some scrambling.
|By Tony B|
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jan 12, 2005
Glad to hear it has supposedly had a repeat. I have two questions, Tonm.
1) What is contrived about following an arete for 700 feet? If I bolted it, then would it be "a line"?
2) How did you pass all three cruxes in a single pitch? They span 250' of rock? Or did you not do the arete? I don't know many people that would have called any of the three bulges a scramble. A boulder problem sure, but that's a pretty hard "scramble."
These are rhetorical questions, of course, as it is obvious that you climbed off to the left around a corner to some ledges and avoid the arete, which is by the way, the route, and the cruxes....
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 19, 2006
Followed this route with Tony. Tonm is correct to point out you can string the first pitches together, but I would caution that the most direct ascent of the arete indeed has stiff 5.10 cruxes in my judgment. An X rating for leaderfall potential seems apt. Crux moves shown in photos are not easy to on-sight, depending on your climbing / lead ability, of course, due to the myriad of pocket options above the overhang - most of which are slopers. Tony does mention there are plenty of opportunities to stray off the direct route, decreasing the difficulty and danger. I also noticed this to be the case. After the cruxes, the climbing is very much easier but still pretty fun with nice views, IMO.
|By Tony B|
From: Around Boulder, CO
Oct 19, 2006
I am a little conflicted over grading the climb, actually. It will feel easier if you know the moves and the holds. Though the moves are not really hard, I think it is reasonably difficult to on-sight so I am leaving the 'overall' grade at 5.10 and letting others sub-divide.
My best advice is that if you anyone is going to lead it, they better on-sight it. There will be no second try if you fall on the first try- helicopter ride maybe, but redpoint? No. Two 5.10 climbers have followed the route and both fell from the 2nd pitch crux more than once before making the moves. Falling from there on lead will get you far closer to god than making it to the top of this lonely flatiron.
Regarding the post that referred to this as a "1-pitch route", While the first 5.10 crux (5.10, X) is 120' up, the 1st (5.8) and 3rd cruxes (5.10a, X) are 250' apart and that still doesn't account for getting to a belay above the last one. While a leader can run any two of them together, nobody can run them *all* into a single pitch unless you simul-climb.
|By Bill Wright|
Nov 15, 2006
I did this route with my friend Lou Lorber in October 2006. This is a nice rock if you seek solitude. The approach from the Matron to the base of this rock is nasty, but thankfully short. The descent is the quite a bushwhack as well.
The climbing is fun, though. The first pitch is runout and you need to be careful on the 5.8 opening moves and the first twenty feet, as it is quite steep and covered in lichen, though the holds are pretty good.
I avoided the very serious crux bulge on the 2nd pitch and went up the obvious ramp on the left. I'd rate this section 5.7 R. The climbing is fun and just serious enough to make it interesting.
On the second bulge, I avoided the hard climbing again. I went left around it and the climbing was probably about 5.6. The rest of the ridge, besides one steep section that is probably 5.8, is a fun Flatiron scramble with nice views. The climbing is very runout, as is most Flatiron scrambles, but the difficult is very easy here. We unroped for the last two hundred feet and just soloed to the top.
This is a reasonable "adventure" climb if you've done all the other routes in the other and want to do some exploring.