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From the East Bench of the Third Flatiron, from where the Standard Route
starts, go up and right on the ground to a diminuitive slab, below the main face. There are other ways to break down the pitches, but this is what we did:
P1. Climb 65m up this slab as for the first pitch of College Dropout
, but continue past the belay (5.6) to the base of a hefty crack and flake system. This is done on a 70m rope or with a small bit of simulclimbing. If you don't like that, break this into two pitches by belaying at one of the small trees along the way.
P2. Climb up and left into this bulging crack system, protecting on hand-sized cams. As the crack goes, it gets a little tighter then disappears as you try to gain the slab. Stem and cling up it. A good gear placement is available above, and there are good jams and jugs. This is a footwork oriented crux (5.10a). Pull onto the slab above and run for the summit (5.3). You should belay as far up as you can reach and still have a good belay... well past the "notch" in the side where the Northwest Passage joins the slab.... YMMV.
P3. Head for the top again. If you ran your 70m rope to the end on the last pitch, you'll probably reach it now, maybe with a few moves of simul-climbing. (5.3) Otherwise, belay and lead another pitch.
The original grade of this route was 5.10d, I believe. The most recent Rositer guidebook grades this at 5.10c. If this is a 5.10c, it may be on of the easiest 5.10c's I have ever done. Relative to the Northwest Passage
(5.10a), it is FAR easier.... Anyway, my partner and I debated if this was a 5.10- or a 5.9+. I have listed this as a 5.10a as a compromise in his favor, as the book lists it as harder.
Disclaimer: It WILL be harder than 5.9+ for short people who can't reach the jugs on the slab above the bulge, but a good handjam is there that should keep it no harder than 5.10b.
This is a bit runout on the slab parts, just like any other Flatiron. The crux crack/flake pitch protects quite well with a few cams from 0.75" - 3". You can get a 2-2.5" piece at your feet and hang on to get another 0.75-1.0" or 2" piece over your head for the crux, but that might be pumpy for some people.
BETA PHOTO: Our route was along the red dotted line. The white...
By Kris Holub
From: Boulder, Colorado
Aug 31, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Feels really soft for 10a, especially since it's more or a less a single move. The crux protects very well with a 0.75, and a locker hand jam just over the roof saves the day once the feet disappear. We approached this in a single, rope-stretching 60m pitch by climbing the right-facing dihedral/ramp to a semi-hanging belay right below the crack. This pitch would have been great, but excessive lichen kinda ruins it.