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Peter Spindloe follows the big traverse on the sec...
To approach this climb, ascent to toward the NE Bench, as per the start of the Standard Route of the Third Flatiron, but then continue up the North Side on a tril until you reach a slot where the corner is turned to reach the West side. Just below this slot there are 2 left facing dihedrals. The left most is has worse rock, but the one on the right contains a sizable bush. The route starts here.
P1 Belay from the ground for the leader to ascend one of the two dihedrals (pick your slog) which both seem to be about 5.6. Either one contains bird-shit-o-plenty and some loose rock. Ho-hum at best, gross at worst. Belay above3 the top of the dihedrals.
P2 Look left at a series of face holds and cracks, this mostly traversing pitch rises at first, then drops, all while moving left. You will pass a few pins and an old bolt. The pitch is about 5.8. THe fixed pro is dubious at best, but there are opportunities to back up the pro. Run left as far as possible, and belay at a reasonable stance with poor pro. The rocks ar eblocky and look loose in the area there. There is birdy doo on the first half of this pitch as well.
P3 is a nice pitch with only a minor bird-poop problem. The moves are unusual and redeaming of the climb, which otherwise would be a bomb climb. Climb up and left to the right facing corner below the big roof and place some good gear after a committing 5.9 move on a questionable hold. Jam and push through the 4' roof to a jug out past the lip and match on it. SWING the body out and pass the roof (very unusual roof and crux sequence). Then pull up into a crack to gain the good slab above. You are in the notch that is cut though the East Slab's North Side now (visible in attached Photo). Belay in the short dihedral system on bomber nuts and TCUs.
P4 finish on the slab to the top and rap off as for any other route.
P1 and 2 are disgusting and loose. Direct North Face or Jackson's Ledges will lead you to the base of P3 with less disease potential.
The route might be a 2* route if it were not bombed constantly by the droves of cliff swallows inhabiting the rooves above.
The bird poop pitches
A light rack one set of stoppers and one set of cams. Include a good number of 2' slings, as the route and protection wander.
P1 is a bit loose and runout, but only 5.6. P2 bolts and pins are rotton and old, but only 5.8. P3 has a frightening 5.9 move (R), but the 5.10 crux is very safe.
Crux pro is a few cams between 1" and 2" (1.5" is best)
Luke starting the first pitch on Northwest Passage...
Peter Spindloe just past the crux of Northwest Pas...
Peter Spindloe follows the roof on the third pitch...
Kenny P. heel hooking towards solid ground.
By Peter Spindloe
From: North Vancouver, BC
Aug 5, 2002
To avoid the poor first and second pitches, you could also rap through the notch which is easily reached from the Standard East Face by traversing right when you get to the big horizontal crack forty feet below the summit, and lead or top-rope the roof crack.
By Ernie Port
From: Boulder, Colorado
Sep 12, 2003
...I met Tom Hornbein on the summit of Estes Cone today and he told me, amongst other interesting stories, that he was first to put up the Northwest Passage on the 3rd, in 1949, along with Dick Sherman and Tom Riley. He also has the FA of Friday's Folly way back in 1950.In case your interested, Mr. Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld are the first Americans to summit Mt. Everest via the west ridge in 1963. They continued over the mountain and descended the south side becoming the first to traverse the entire mountain.
By Chris O'Connor
From: boulder, co
Feb 25, 2007
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
A favorite of mine! I used Rossiter's guide, there is a 4th class ramp that can be used to get directly under the roof. Then a 5.8 finger crack leads to the crumbly broken belay below the roof. The roof pitch is what makes this route amazing! The crux moves protect perfectly with a #0.5 Camalot. Really, perfect #0.5 and with all the air below you, it's okay to whip all day long. After the roof, one slab pitch takes you to the summit of the Third.