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suggestions for first time flatiron solo


Original Post
JD Borgeson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 1,164

So I've been wanting to solo one of the flatirons for years, and I'll be in CO next week so I figure this would be a nice time to do it, right? I'm comfortable soloing the single pitch 5.5's and 5.6's on the sandstone here in AR. Any suggestions on good, clean, fun, and long solos in the flatirons that are open right now around that grade? also, if anyone wants to do it with me that would be fun. Any advice helps!

Jim Fox · · Westminster, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 50

East Face on the 3rd is the classic solo but is closed until Aug 1st due to raptor nesting

JD Borgeson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 1,164

what about the east face direct of the first? or the route called 'Fandango?'

Jim Fox · · Westminster, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 50
JD Borgeson wrote:what about the east face direct of the first? or the route called 'Fandango?'
The east face of the 1st is a long, fun route.
Haven't climbed Fandango
Paul-B · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 115

Fandango is fantastic. However, I'd say the majority of it is a fair bit different from most other flatiron climbing. I love soloing it.

My vote, however, is seal rock. Last pitch is quite interesting. Rock is much quieter than the first, there's a fair chance you wont see anyone else. Plus you get to rap Sea of Joy, a two pitch rap, 5.13a. Pretty cool to rap it in my opinion. Make sure to bring something to anchor into the middle rap anchor.

Guy H. · · Fort Collins CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 7,792
JD Borgeson wrote:what about the east face direct of the first? or the route called 'Fandango?'
The east face (5.6) of the 1st is one of the best. The first 2 pitches are sustained at 5.5-5.6. It would be easy to get off route into harder rock the first time if you weren't careful. I would hesitate to recommend this one to someone for their first flatiron solo.

The left side of the 5th flatiron is pretty fun. It is a long hike up there and views are nice.
Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 877

Bakers way on the First was my first. Rarely anybody on it. Joins the ridge to the summit. Hit me up. I'll join you depending on time of day and temps.

Erik Hopkins · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 0

This happened yesterday... Be carful mates. Plenty of partners around here willing to share a rope

A climber was critically injured after falling at least 50 feet Tuesday evening from near the top of the First Flatiron at Boulder's Chautauqua Park, officials said.

The man has not been identified, though Boulder County sheriff's Sgt. Randy Wilber said he was 30 years old, lives out-of-state and had been "free climbing," without the use of any safety equipment, at the time of the accident.

According to Wilber, the man broke one of his legs and suffered a head laceration. A witness reported the fall, and when rescuers arrived shortly after 6 p.m., the man was "conscious and breathing, but disoriented," Wilber added.

He was taken by medical helicopter to a hospital in Denver, and officials expect him to survive.

Wednesday morning, sheriff's officials said the climber was hospitalized in critical condition.

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JD Borgeson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 1,164

yeah I saw that, but apparently the guy wasn't a rock climber and fell on the climb down.

Sean Brady · · Boulder, Colorado · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 125

I'd try to hook up with someone else soloing it for your first time to show you the "route" (it wanders).

JD Borgeson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 1,164

thanks, yeah I know these long routes can wander quite a bit. Ideally I would just rope up with someone, but I had a lot of trouble finding somebody last time I was there so I just thought I would go the solo route this time and not have to worry about it.

Justin Compton · · Lafayette, CO · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 785

Freeway on the 2nd is probably the best introduction to free soloing in the Flat Irons, it begins right off of the trail and finishes onto the trail with no down climbing involved.

Rick Vermeil · · Erie, CO · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 178

My recommendation is to start by heading to the base of the 2nd Flatiron and climb Freeway 5.0 which is long and a lot of fun. Most people do it in approach or trail running shoes and it takes 20-30 minutes. There is a cool jump which is what most people would call the crux, but besides that is not hard and pretty easy to navigate. Just stay on the right leaning rib the whole way. You walk off the top of the 2nd and are then right in between the 2nd and 1st Flatiron. You can decide what 1st Flatiron solo would suit you at that point. Atalanta 5.3 is pretty decent and starts almost right where you will step off of Freeway but is not that long. The Direct Route 5.6 R is definitely slab climbing for the first few pitches but then eases to scrambling for most of the route. Some people think "the slot" pitch that brings you up to the N. Arete is intimidating, but I don't think its bad at all compared to the start of the route. The 1st Flatiron requires a rappel off the back from eyebolts unless you want to downclimb 5th class. I have yet to find the downclimb but it apparently isn't bad if you know where to go and you might be able to follow someone down it. A 60m rope is needed to rappel off the back. Have fun and be safe!

JD Borgeson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 1,164
Rick Vermeil wrote:My recommendation is to start by heading to the base of the 2nd Flatiron and climb Freeway 5.0 which is long and a lot of fun. Most people do it in approach or trail running shoes and it takes 20-30 minutes. There is a cool jump which is what most people would call the crux, but besides that is not hard and pretty easy to navigate. Just stay on the right leaning rib the whole way. You walk off the top of the 2nd and are then right in between the 2nd and 1st Flatiron. You can decide what 1st Flatiron solo would suit you at that point. Atalanta 5.3 is pretty decent and starts almost right where you will step off of Freeway but is that long. The Direct Route 5.6R is definitely slab climbing for the first few pitches but then eases to scrambling for most of the route. Some people think "the slot" pitch that brings you up to the N. Arete is intimidating, but I don't think its bad at all compared to the start of the route. The 1st Flatiron requires a rappel off the back from eyebolts unless you want to downclimb 5th class. I have yet to find the downclimb but it apparently isn't bad if you know where to go and you might be able to follow someone down it. A 60m rope is needed to rappel off the back. Have fun and be safe!
Thanks! this is looking like my best option so far. much appreciated!
Mike Wysuph · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 5

JD, what they said above. Freeway is a great introduction to Flatirons free soloing.

Freeway isn't so bad because it feels a bit protected, but be prepared for extreme exposure. Especially if you're used to single pitch free solos in AR. The Flatirons are really big and you can get A LOT of air around you in a hurry. Like the moment you step onto the Standard East Face route of the Third.....

TheBirdman Friedman · · Eldorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 65
Erik Hopkins wrote:This happened yesterday... Be carful mates. Plenty of partners around here willing to share a rope A climber was critically injured after falling at least 50 feet Tuesday evening from near the top of the First Flatiron at Boulder's Chautauqua Park, officials said. The man has not been identified, though Boulder County sheriff's Sgt. Randy Wilber said he was 30 years old, lives out-of-state and had been "free climbing," without the use of any safety equipment, at the time of the accident. According to Wilber, the man broke one of his legs and suffered a head laceration. A witness reported the fall, and when rescuers arrived shortly after 6 p.m., the man was "conscious and breathing, but disoriented," Wilber added. He was taken by medical helicopter to a hospital in Denver, and officials expect him to survive. Wednesday morning, sheriff's officials said the climber was hospitalized in critical condition. Advertisement
I was soloing the 1st yesterday and came upon the 40 or so rescuers on the trail on the way down. Apparently, there were a few chuckleheads (I saw one of his buddies at the bottom of the down climb) who appeared to be very stoned after soloing the first. This "friend" was in beat up tennis shoes and was psyched to have soloed the first claiming he had, "never climbed before and that "his buddy just slipped off one of the grips". It's just mind boggling to me how little respect people have for being 1,000 feet off the deck with no rope. I climb 5.12 sport, 5.10 trad, alpine climb, have been climbing for 10+ years, and have soloed the first flatiron probably 100 times, most of the time very quickly as training and it is still engaging every time. I never feel like it's just "walking". It is definitely a climb and if you don't respect it, well, gravity never takes a day off.

I would recommend, unless you feel comfortable soloing 5.10 slab, roping up the first time or at the very least going with someone who knows the route. The flatirons are typically very wide "seas of rock" and getting off route is very easy resulting in being in way over your head, especially if you plan to down climb. All that said, if you are competent, experienced, and have good knowledge of the route, it is literally my favorite climbing experience of all time. Where else can you do 1,000 feet of climbing, 10 minutes from my office or home, in roughly an hour? Have fun and be safe soloing but please be adequately prepared.

Also, if either of the clowns who decided it would be cool to eat a bunch of marijuana edibles and try climbing for the first time by soloing the first are reading this, you owe the Boulder County Park Rangers, Rocky Mountain Rescue, and everyone else involved in that rescue a massive donation. They had to backboard the guy, belay him down the entire trail from the base of the down climb, including the 20 or so switchbacks, back to the ranger station. I have no idea how long it took but it was a serious operation that your selfish ignorance caused. A donation doesn't undo the stupid act, but it at least shows some level of remorse and understanding of your mistake. Sorry if my rant sounds harsh, I just have a hard time believing people can be so cavalier with their lives because the climbing is supposedly "easy".
trice Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 0

"I would recommend, unless you feel comfortable soloing 5.10 slab, roping up the first time or at the very least going with someone who knows the route."

Come on. Nobody needs to be comfortable soloing 5.10 slab to climb the first. I can hardly climb 5.10 slab with a rope. The first pitch is the hardest and it is extremely obvious where it goes with the description on MP and just by looking. the next few pitches are over easy rock and generally I find it hard to encounter anything more than 5.6.

Route finding is not the easiest, but is pretty easy especially considering that the first is covered in people this time of the year. I did it solo my first time and it felt pretty relaxed, and I am not a good climber.

flynn · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2002 · Points: 25

"The 1st Flatiron requires a rappel off the back from eyebolts unless you want to downclimb 5th class. I have yet to find the downclimb but it apparently isn't bad if you know where to go..."

Here's some info on that downclimb. It's really steep, but is about 5.1 or so. If it's harder, you're in the wrong spot. Climb back up a move or two, look more carefully, and then continue.

Start straight down from the rappel bolts. The holds are absolutely enormous, and the exposure is, ah, stimulating. After about 30 feet, you'll come to a huge ledge. Follow it around to climber's right onto the south face.

From here on, you're generally headed east, while the route diagonals toward the ground. You're kinda connecting ramps and jugs. It can be a little awkward in spots, but is never worse than that. Just keep your eyes open.

I'm kinda short, and have always found the crux to be stepping off the wall onto the ground at the bottom.

It's fun doing this just for the joy of not having to carry a rope on a solo. And downclimbing is a very useful skill, anyway.

Have fun, be careful, and if it doesn't feel good, there will be another day.

TheBirdman Friedman · · Eldorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 65
trice wrote:"I would recommend, unless you feel comfortable soloing 5.10 slab, roping up the first time or at the very least going with someone who knows the route." Come on. Nobody needs to be comfortable soloing 5.10 slab to climb the first. I can hardly climb 5.10 slab with a rope. The first pitch is the hardest and it is extremely obvious where it goes with the description on MP and just by looking. the next few pitches are over easy rock and generally I find it hard to encounter anything more than 5.6. Route finding is not the easiest, but is pretty easy especially considering that the first is covered in people this time of the year. I did it solo my first time and it felt pretty relaxed, and I am not a good climber.
Try getting lost on the downclimb and tell me you don't need to be comfortable on 5.10. The downclimb is not obvious. The first 15 feet of the downclimb take you down a steep, slightly overhanging face. As someone who went up there not knowing where the downclimb was the first time, this did not appear to be the path of least resistance. As a result, I downclimbed off the south instead of the west face and quickly found myself on a licheny slab devoid of holds. I never said you need to be able to solo 5.10 to climb the first, but that's assuming you know where to go. I said if you're going up there, onsight, the route wanders and the downclimb is not obvious. The chances of going the wrong way are high and you could very easily end up on 5.10 terrain, especially on the downclimb.
trice Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 0

but isn't that the beauty of MP. The description of the down climb has been posted here over and over again. I am sure that was scary as hell to downclimb, but if you ever get into a scenario on the flatirons above 5.6 the best solution is likely to re-trace your path and look for another way. If OP is actually on MP getting advice on how to climb it, he is going to have enough beta to make it through IMO

trice Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 0

but isn't that the beauty of MP. The description of the down climb has been posted here over and over again. I am sure that was scary as hell to downclimb, but if you ever get into a scenario on the flatirons above 5.6 the best solution is likely to re-trace your path and look for another way. If OP is actually on MP getting advice on how to climb it, he is going to have enough beta to make it through IMO

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Colorado
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