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Fifth Flatiron
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Cat Scratches T 
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East Face, North Side 

YDS: 5.3 French: 3+ Ewbanks: 10 UIAA: III ZA: 9 British: VD 3a R

   
Type:  Trad, 7 pitches, Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
FA: unknown
Page Views: 3,435
Submitted By: Andrew Gram on Apr 12, 2002

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Matt belaying on the very cool ridge (belay @POUND...
Climbing areas reopened after flood MORE INFO >>>

Description 

This is a long and beautiful moderate route you won't have to wait in line for. Take the first approach along the edge of the Tangen Tower to the base. The route begins in a wide crack about 20 feet left of a huge tree filled gash. The route can be done as 6 long pitches, though I did it in 7 because of paranoia after running out of rope just short of a tree on pitch 3.

Climb up the crack for 30 feet, and then move left on to the face left of the crack. 4 long pitches climbing mostly left of the wide crack reach the ridge. The crux is a fun crack on the second pitch.

After gaining the ridge, two long pitches traverse left along the crest to the top. These pitches are easy 5th class, but are incredibly exposed and absolutely gorgeous. Your second should be solid because the traversing pitches are hard to protect, and a huge swing is possible.

This is a great route - totally solid rock, very little lichen, and good sustained climbing for about 850 feet.


Protection 

The gear is pretty sparse. A set of stoppers and some cams is plenty. I placed everything from a black Alien to a #4 Friend, but rarely more than 3 pieces on a pitch.



Photos of East Face, North Side Slideshow Add Photo
Awesome ridge.
Awesome ridge.
First pitch of ridge.
First pitch of ridge.
Belay at the end of P3 (w 60m). Typically Flatirons - this is the first solid one.
Belay at the end of P3 (w 60m). Typically Flatiron...
Carter 8ing it up.  This is where we started after a bushwhack and short gully descent to good, flat, base area.
Carter 8ing it up. This is where we started after...
Matt about to leave 1st belay station.  2nd belay was solid tree.  The section just below the fern gully has some awesomely fun moves and rock features.
Matt about to leave 1st belay station. 2nd belay ...
The start.
BETA PHOTO: The start.
Comments on East Face, North Side Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 20, 2013
By XOG
Apr 18, 2002

I'd agree about the protection, especially some of the belays are very poor. We ran out a 50 meter rope on the 3rd and 4th pitches and were nowhere near a decent belay both times. After the 4th pitch, just before crossing up and right to the summit ridge, the belay was just a couple of marginal tri-cams stuffed into the same pocket. Add to this the fact that it was sometimes necessary to climb 40' from these belays before placing the first piece of protection off the belay, and really this route is more serious than a lot of the other "S" rated Flatiron climbs in my opinion. To be consistent with other ratings in Gerry Roach's flatiron rating system, I'd give this F5 - S, instead of F4. Although the climbing was easier, it felt as serious to me as Satan's Slab, which Roach says is "not for the casual flatiron scrambler".

By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 18, 2002
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Cool - I thought "F4" felt like a sandbag. I would probably rate this 5.4 if I had not seen a guidebook rating. Glad I didn't solo it as I had originally considered.

My belays were all pretty good, but I used every inch of a 60 meter rope and did a tiny bit of simulclimbing to reach the tree at the end of the crack. I had at least one very good piece at each belay(and a firm stance), so maybe a 60 meter rope should be considered mandatory to keepthis from being vs.

By Joe Collins
Jun 20, 2002

For those of us who hate to carry a rope when climbing east faces in the Flatirons, there is a way of descending the Fifth without rapping from the summit. On the north ridge, just before the last stretch to the summit, there is a notch in the ridge with a large block wedged in it. Squirm through the hole under the block (pretty tight for me- I'm 6' 150lbs). Carefully downclimb the mossy slab to the lip where you need to pull a slightly sketchy reverse-mantle (pretty reachy for me- again I'm 6' tall) to lower yourself to a ledge 10 feet off the ground. It didn't feel any sketchier to me than downclimbing the south face of the First and its certainly less exposed. However, you may want to upclimb this descent sometime before committing to climbing the Fifth without a rope.

By Mark Oveson
From: Louisville, Colorado
Jan 14, 2003

After climbing this route this morning, I can confirm that it is considerably more difficult than the F4 (5.0-5.2) rating given in the Roach guidebook. This is not, in my opinion, the easiest route on this rock. That honor goes to the East Face, South Side route, which is also cleaner and more enjoyable (if not quite as long). I have soloed the South Side route more than once, and would probably not solo this North Side route. A better rating would be F5 (5.4).

Of course, it's always possible that I just didn't find the easy way up...but I've climbed it twice now and it felt pretty thin both times.

By Kreighton Bieger
May 14, 2003

I'll second Mark's comment that this route is harder than the E. face South Side. The rock tends to be lichenous, and thus a bit suspect, protection opportunities are sparse, and the most difficult moves are harder than what I encountered on the South side.

That said, this is a fantastic route can be done by starting at and staying very near to the north margin of the rock. Great exposure and good climbing for the 'moderately serious though outwardly casual Flatiron scrambler'.

By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From: Salt Lake City, UT
May 14, 2003
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Not F4.

By XOG
May 26, 2003

Just climbed this for the 2nd time today, here's a way to do it so that with a 60 meter rope you at least get decent belays. On the 1st pitch run almost to the end of the 60 m , drop into the chimney slot and belay on a really nice level spot down in the chimney. This is also nice and cool on a hot day. There's a nice easy vertical diagonal traverse out of the chimney on huecos, or else just step out on the face just below the belay. The key is making the 2nd pitch short. Just climb 50 or 60 feet and belay on a comfortable flake, the last obvious spot before the next steep section. 3rd pitch is long again, climb up to one of the two prominent trees close to a full rope length out. From there on, 2 or so pitches end the climb. It would also be possible to make the first pitch shorter and the second pitch long, but I think the belay in the chimney is much nicer than moving left and working out a scimpy belay lower down on the first pitch.

Anyway, I think this is one of the best flatiron climbs - much better than E. face S. side, whatever the rating should be!

By Tim Silvers
Jul 6, 2004

Used a 60m rope and did the whole thing in 5 pitches. I don't think we started this pitch in the right place. We started in a very wide gash above a large rock slab(maybe the largest crack on the face?) and the pro was very runout and the lichenous rock made it sketchy. I recommend moving up and left of that slab about 20' and starting in some smaller cracks there. I'd say the way I started it had some 5.6 moves on the first pitch. 2nd pitch got easier and I was back on route for P3. Belay stations were marginal until I reached the North ridge notch at the end of P3. Rarely placed more than 6 pieces (including natural pro) on a pitch. Leaders should be comfortable with 30'+ runout. P4 (1st north ridge pitch) was great fun and beautiful view. Got my only bomber belay station where I could place 3 nice pieces and belay in relative comfort and saw some raptors circling close by. P5 to the summit was total runout for the last 50', as I doubt the 3 small horns I slung would have held in a fall. Airy climbing and easy rap north off huge CMC eyebolt. Finding the right start would have made the first two pitches more enjoyable.

By Mark Oveson
From: Louisville, Colorado
Nov 1, 2005

Rick Accomazzo and I found the ropeless downclimb off the Fifth Flatiron for the first time this morning. I'll elaborate on the earlier comment about how to do this. From the summit, downclimb 80' to a prominent notch in the northeast ridge. Find a hole that is just the right size and lower yourself through to a comfortable stance on a sloping shelf. A backpack will definitely not go through this hole unless it is removed from its wearer. A 200-pound person will go through. Don't ask me how I know this.

The sloping shelf is lichen-covered, but there are a few footholds that inspire confidence. At the far east end of the shelf, near a tiny tree, there are some reasonably good, positive handholds close to the edge. Use these to lower yourself down an overhanging wall to a ledge 10' off the ground. This is the only hard move and it is probably 5.4. Once on this ledge, scramble west to hiking territory.

By Timothy Webmoor
Nov 28, 2005
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

One of the best solos in the Flatirions - continuous, exposed w/a great summit and rap off - don't forget a rope on your back. However, it should be noted that Roach's (F4) 5.0-5.2 rating for the climb belies the difficulty on the ~2nd pitch. (His line seems to move futher to the left (S.) of the crack, whereas the natural tendency is to stay near the crack for its duration up to the sm. tree.) Lookout for the flaky, bad rock on this crux portion. I'd rate the route a fairly continous 5.4 until the ridgeline.

By Tradsplatter
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 4, 2007
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a R

Did this beautiful route yesterday in 5 long pitches (60m rope) and one tiny last pitch to the summit. Fun climbing. More lichen than I'm like'n but not too bad. Crux made me a little nervous on the runout but then, what would Flatirons be without runouts!? I would concur with a 5.5 S rating in several spots. 5.4 seems a bit conservative to me. I got in good gear on pitches 4 and 5. A little thunderstorm threatened our journey in middle of pitch 3, but we lucked out. The ridge was easy and fun. Thanks for the beta on this webpage. It helped my trip go smoothly. I have respect for those who would solo this route...although half the time it seems like solo on lead anyway!

By Kaner
From: Eagle
Jul 15, 2008

What a great climb! And thanks to mp.com and its wonderful users, the beta on this page for pitches, raps, and descent (south side, thanks George!) is spot on. We did it in 5 logical pitches with no simulclimbing. They were all ~60m except for a short final summit bid.

The 1st was a pretty sketch anchor but a comfortable ledge (I thought route crux was on this pitch). 2nd was a solid tree with at least 2 other solid trunks within 10m. 3rd was comfy on ridge, 4th was in big system just under summit.

Again, the great, previous info on this page will lead to another great Flatiron summit!

By Joe Varela
Nov 11, 2008

The first tree in the crack is growing behind a large hollow flake. Suggest bypassing this tree and finding a different belay anchor. The next tree (up another 20') "might" be better.

By Mark Roth
From: Boulder
Oct 18, 2009

You can reach the tree in two pitches. Top in 3 and 1/2 with a 70.

By talkinrocks
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 21, 2012
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c R

This is a great route. Of the many Flatiron solos, I enjoyed this one a lot. It's up there with Angel's Way and the 3rd in my book. It's got some lichen, but its' pretty straightforward and mostly clean. We found good face holds to the right of the crack on the "crux". The ridge is awesome, super easy, and beautiful climbing. Should be 4 stars, a must do!

By Rob Nevitt
From: Louisville, CO
Jun 13, 2012

Climbed this recently with my partner Dale. This post is not to boast but to inform others as I appreciate getting great beta from this site.

Together Dale and I have climbed hundreds of Flatirons pitches from low 5s to 5.8. I had previously climbed the Fifth south side route 4 times. I climb for the joy of moving over rock, not to scare myself on sketchy runouts. Dale and I almost always say after a climb "I'd climb that again". We both agree that as weekend warriors with families ... we would not climb this route again.

Dale led the first pitch to nearly a full 60 m rope length. I led the 2nd pitch which we had read to be the crux pitch. I am confident I was on route as I climbed through a nice crack which had two old pitons. I told Dale "this is easy and I feel guilty sewing it up". That guilt soon disappeared, however. Climbing directly above the crack it was another 40 - 50 feet with no pro. On top of that the holds were thin. I suspect the climbing was only 5.3 - 5.4, but small hold slab climbing 40 feet above my last piece is NOT why I climb. Coming up as the second Dale searched for possible placements and felt I did not miss anything - there simply was no pro. He said he had even looked left and right for options if I had veered. Nothing.

Our belays were all solid 3 piece anchors. And, the ridge arete is excellent. But, beware the 2nd pitch runout.

By Anton Krupicka
Dec 16, 2012

The first time I did this route a few weeks ago I had been told that there was some "secret" downclimb to get off the rock but didn't have any beta beyond that, so when it came time to get off the rock the most obvious descent to me ended up being a reverse of the spectacular final arete pitch down to a ledge with two big flakes on it. From there, I walked south maybe 20' on the easy terrain to a low-angle and featured chute (that you can crab-walk down) that deposits you another 30-40' lower onto another ledge that you can walk southwest to an awkward reverse-mantle move that puts you on Class 3ish terrain from which you can step onto the ground and take the standard descent trail down the south side of the Flatiron. Seems to me to be a much better downclimb option than the secret "tunnel" option as this one puts you on the south side of the rock with its much cleaner descent to the base of the Flatiron.

This rock ranks right up there with the 1st and 3rd as one of my favorite numbered Flatirons.

By John Tex
From: My camper, CO
Apr 5, 2013

Just did it for the first time today. Agree with the crux at the second pitch, you just have to work your feet as with almost all of the other slabby Flatirons. I found the descent through the hole about 60 feet down the north arete that I had just climbed up. I thought it was an enjoyable little downclimb. However, behind the Flatiron was covered in snow, and it took me an hour of bushwhacking (and much slipping, sliding, and downcimbing wet rock) on absolutely no trail to get back to the Royal Arch trail. I did walk down the north side, and I have just noticed the post above me referring to going down the south side. If there is indeed a crabwalkable descent that can lead you to the south side, I would definitely check it out next time. I have not taken the descent trail that Anton mentions, but it has to be much easier than what I took.
Absolutely fantastic climb. A little thinner than the third but just as fun. You can link up Schmoe's Nose with this and get a great climb out of that as well.

By Page Weil
Jul 20, 2013

To echo other comments here, this is a heady lead or solo. The first two pitches have some spots where the good holds are few and far between. The climb will be runout regardless, but I think the key to avoiding terrain that is too blank is to move farther left into the next small crack. I avoided the crux below the first small tree by going far left to a large flake and liebacking up from there. If you get off route, you had better be prepared to hold your stance for a while until you find a a route back to good holds.

All in all, a fun day of soloing. I took a look at the downclimb notch and decided to rap the summit anyway.