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Routes in First Flatiron

Atalanta T 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a
Baker's Way T 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a
Butterfly T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R
Direct Route T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R
Dumais Direct T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
East Face Gully T 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a
East Face North Side/1st Flatiron T 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a R
Fandango T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
Fandango Variation T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
First in Flight T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
Hubris T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R
Kamikaze Overhangs T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Massugu T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13
North Arete T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
Red Slab Variation T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
Southwest Face T 5.2 3 8 II 8 D 2c
Way of the Ancients T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a R
Yellow Brick Road T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Zig Zag T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
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Type: Trad, 10 pitches, Grade II
FA: Pat Ament and Larry Dalke, c. 1960
Page Views: 110,187 total · 509/month
Shared By: Michael Komarnitsky on Dec 31, 2000
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


This route climbs the entire 1000+ feet of the First Flatiron, and is pure joy the whole way up. The pitches are based upon using a 50m rope. It's 7 for a 60m rope.

P1: Start at the base of the Flatiron, just across and left of the bridge. Follow a water gully up, passing two eye bolts on the left side, to belay on a ledge by the tree if you have a 60meter rope. Otherwise, you'll have to belay at a small shelf about 1/2 way there.

P2: Continue straight up, belaying at another nice ledge a rope length up.

P3: Scramble up easier terrain to a belay. (Yes it's vague. Just go a rope length, and find a good ledge).

P4: Scamble again straight up and a little left. Belay on a ledge that could hold 20 people, on top of the headwall.

P5: Head left and up, towards a slot at the left end of the roof.

P6: Follow up the slot and start on the ridge traverse.

P7-10: It's 2-4 pitches from here to the actual summit block.


Standard rack recommended, but it can be done with some stoppers, hexes, a couple of tri-cams. Bring extra shoulder slings.


First of all, the bolts on the first pitch are on the right side of the gully and are spaced way apart (not the left side). I know there are numerous variations to this route but there is one particular good one above the headwall. From the ledge, climb to belay ~10 feet under the roof (whereever good gear can be had). From here climb right under the roof ~30ft to a small notch to swing on top of the roof. Then, enjoy fun climbing strait up on good gear to the skyline. Jan 1, 2001
A great climb! Even though not very difficult with the exposure near the top I would have liked to see a bolt or two at least for belays since good pro placements were scarce. Overall, a classic long route with excellent views. Thanks Carl May 27, 2001
The first pitch is probably the scariest, so if you're looking for a slightly easier way for soloing, go left and up from the base about 50 feet, and there's a nice, comfortable gully that will let you bypass the first pitch and a half before joining up with the route. Nov 12, 2001
Ten stars. Dec 19, 2001
Great moonlight climb!! Mar 19, 2002
Kevin Currigan
Kevin Currigan   Lakewood
This is a cool rock. Rossiter's says there are two bolts at the top of the second pitch as described above. Don't look for the second bolt there is only one, but it is a monster. I think the route has plenty of bolts. P1 has a tree, P2 has the monster bolt that you can back up if you want and above that there is bomber pro the rest of the way. Apr 2, 2002
Casey Bernal
Wheat Ridge, CO
Casey Bernal   Wheat Ridge, CO
Every time I climb this route I notice that the easiest climbing is on the exposed slabby faces, not the obvious gulleys. The rock is more weathered and has more features for hand/foot holds and for pro. The variation I mention in the first AC comment is to the right of the final gully before the ridge. There is an ancient fixed pin once you pass the roof. It looks more difficult than it really is because of a large jug above the roof to pull over on. Then you can wander up a face with countless holds and good pro. May 1, 2002
All of these comments are from a non-Coloradian perspective. For everyone to who this is old news, please forgive me.

I was volunteered/conned into leading the first pitch of this route after driving 14 hours from Chicago and drinking my bodyweight in Guiness Draught. Welcome to Colorado!

Although the climbing isn't hard, the first two bolts are spaced a decent ways apart, and their really isn't anywhere else to place good pro. I'm a coward, so I kinda got off route (making the rest of the day more interesting) and wandered over to a big flake that looked relatively inviting about fifteen feet to the left of the first bolt (...meanwhile, my friends and another party were obviously having a helluva good time watching me sweat). Actually this started an adventure; we didn't see another bolt all day (even though the guidebook (which we left on the ground) said we would). We finished just as it started to rain. We rap'ed off a yellow sling around a block at the top, which held, to some surprise, and descended a makeshift path in the snow which followed the northern edge of the rock.

My point being, if you're... 1)used to climbing in the Midwest, where commitment is rarely an issue; 2)short on sleep and otherwise unprepared; 3)a coward like me who don't really like the idea of taking a whipper or climbing unprotected ...don't let the 5.6 rating fool you. It's sustained, exposed, and with shitty pro for the most part. The weather can turn on you fast (like it did to us), it gets cold once the sun goes over the peak, and the descent takes about an hour so plan accordingly. The guidebook says to leave big pro in your car, but I could have used some larger cams (which I left in my car). Start early.

I lead at about 5.9 and I'm (as I've overstated by this point) a coward. This route is a lot of fun and a great introduction to climbing in Colorado, but as I've said, the 5.6 rating doesn't mean that it's "easy". May 22, 2002
Dear Coward, it seems you almost got the point...

If you had stayed on route, life would have been a lot easier. I you had climbed as two teams, life would have been a lot easier too, if you had carried your book on a ten pitch route... Now that's an idea...

As far as the exposure and run outs go, the Flatirons are especially notorious for that. There a lots of bolted not so exposed climbs in other parts of Boulder, but I'd say that the Regular on the First is standard fare for the Flatiron's, in fact, it is one of the routes that protects best probably.

Some folks even think that it has two bolts too many... See comment above.

This is Trad climbing in a mountain setting.

Indeed Welcome to Colorado...

I would not discourage others from doing this route it is classic. If you can stomach the first pitch's run out and don't get off route life gets a lot easier afterwards...

WT May 23, 2002
Casey Bernal
Wheat Ridge, CO
Casey Bernal   Wheat Ridge, CO
About the comments on runouts and route finding:

Any person who is planning to do ANY of the slabby Flatiron routes can expect the following: runouts of 20+ feet, discontinuous cracks that only allow tricky pro in a few places, and a vast expanse of rock which one can climb anywhere. MOST IMPORTANTLY, GOOD BELAYS ARE HARD TO FIND. The only good side is you are on your feet the whole time so you can always rest and the friction is great. If you feel threatened by runouts, tricky pro, and route finding on easy slabs, DO NOT ATTEMPT THESE ROUTES.

This is a long climb and in case of a thumderstorm you cannot easily retreat after the first pitch. The best way off is over the top, 7 pitches later.

I have seen many beginner leaders attempt these routes and become overwhelmed and frightened high on the face. I don't mean to put blame anyone, because this is where I cut my teeth on trad climbing back in the day. Make sure you know good belay setups that are not conventional (i.e. 2 bolts or a perfect crack). Some belay practices I have witnessed have made me quite concerned. Just know your shit.

I don't mean to scare people off this route or others like it, I am just saying to make sure you can do this with confidence. You must have experience to feel comfortable on this type of route. You must have the ability to deal with tricky pro and even trickier belay setups. You can climb anywhere on these slabby faces so be able to find your own way up the route.

Don't be discouraged. Just know your shit and enjoy this Boulder Classic.

Casey Bernal May 23, 2002
The pro on the first two pitches is runout but excellent friction climbing. Pro can be found under the flared flakes and in the water grooves with tri-cams through out the climb. Leave the hexes home and take a set of nuts, tri-cams and small to mid cams.

The first pitch, full 60m, has two bolts, a .75 cam about 40' above second bolt and #3 cam under flake at traverse just below tree.

The second pitch has small cam 15' up and left from tree and then runout,easy climbing for 60'. Small cam under flake on climbers right, then another 40' to bolt. Clip bolt and move right around flake, up 30' and sling top of flake with cordellete.

The third pitch runsout for 20' up and right. Cam under flake and then romp up some of the best and easy to protect 5.4 around.

Rest of climb protects good, and the climbing is awesome. May 29, 2002
I brought a stopwatch the other day and did the First the other day in 54 minutes, car-to-car from the Gregory canyon trailhead. I would imagine the best time is somewhere in the 30-40 minute range. So what is the fastest time anyone has climbed the First Flatiron via this route, car-to-car? Jun 10, 2002
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I believe the car to car record is 35:58 by trail/rock runner Buzz Burrell. I think Bill Wright has a web page on these records, but I could not find the URL. It is more fun to take a more relaxed pace, IMHO. Jun 10, 2002
Yes, I have a page that lists some speed records. I'm hesitant to post it since it is so horribly out of date and lame, but I will anyway. Maybe it will motivate me to clean it up and update it. Also, send any speed records that you know of my way and I'll include them. I have actually done a lot of work on this, but haven't posted it yet as I wasn't done.

The site is:…

NOTE: This are just the fastest times KNOWN BY ME. I don't claim them as pure records, or I shouldn't. Any record that I own on this list is most likely because it is the ONLY time I know about. I'm interested in this stuff and find it fun, but many, many climbers are much faster than I am. I list these records to motivate others to set "real" records on the route.

The trail running records here are particularly ridiculous. Please ignore them. Jun 11, 2002
Note that about 10-15 feet right of the single eye-bolt at the second belay is an old rusty (and hidden from sight) fixed pin. You could probably tie this off with your shoe laces if the semi-truck hanging eye bolt does not inspire enough confidence. Jun 12, 2002
Last September, I did this route car-to-car from the Chataqua parking lot in 58 minutes. I almost had a heart attack and had to use oxygen, but this may be the best time for old fat guys over fifty. Jun 12, 2002
Sorry, Ehrett. Buzz Burrell and Bill Briggs are both over 50, and both have recently gone under 40 minutes for this route (though that is Gregory to Gregory, which is probably about 5-7 minutes faster for the roundtrip). They aren't fat, but neither are you! Jun 12, 2002
This morning, I did the Direct Route Chautauqua-to-Chautauqua (actually, trash-can-to-trash-can as suggested on Bill's web page) in 40:50. This is faster than the time reported on sportiva.comvia/viaspeed.html, but who knows what the real "record" is... I'm not a very good trail runner, so I'm sure there are plenty of people who could crush this time. Someday I'll have to try it from Gregory Canyon.

Buzz Burrell's 35:58 time is known to be via the South Ridge, correct?

It seems that there are several "competing" speed climbing pages for the Boulder area:…

...but, Bill's page is by far the most extensive. For those of us who care about such things, it would be cool to see this info consolidated. Jun 12, 2002
Yesterday, while reading the comments for the Direct Route on the First Flatiron on, I met Joshua Swartz. He's on an extended climbing trip while taking time off from employment. He mentioned that he climbed the Direct Route on the First from Chautauqua Park to Chautauqua Park in 40:50. I figured you could go 5-7 minutes faster from Gregory Canyon based on the fact that it takes me about five minutes to run there from Chautauqua. Granted you wouldn't run to Gregory on your way to the First, but it seems quite a bit closer and a little higher. Considering the record for this route is 35:58 (up the East Gully route - maybe 15-30 seconds faster than the Direct Route) by Buzz Burrell, Josh was game to try for the record.

I agreed to forego my trail run to meet him up there and do a First Flatiron Time Trial. I met him there at 5:30 p.m. and by then I had recognized his name. He is the current holder of the California 14er record at something like 5 or 6 days for the 15 peaks. This includes soloing up and down a short 5.9 section to gain the true summit of Thunderbolt Peak. Apparently that is easy for him since he recently soloed Epinephrine (18 pitches, 5.9, in Red Rock Canyons, Nevada) in 1h15m. It took Trashy and I 5h20m to do this route, and we thought we were flying.

I led us to the base of the climb in 10:30 and just about blew a gasket doing this. Josh was still well within himself and surged up the rock. I tried to keep up but my legs and lungs were screaming. Still, I climbed the face faster than ever before in 15:30. Josh climbed it in around 14 minutes even. We met a couple of climbers on the summit, and they graciously let us downclimb past them while they waited to rappel. I was cautious on the steep 5.2 descent and took three minutes. Josh did it in two minutes, and I was now 2.5 minutes behind, but we were now on Josh's specialty: insane downhill running. I usually don't push too hard on the downhills for fear of twisting my chronically weak ankles, but today I pushed things hard. Hard, at least, for me. I came down in 13 minutes while Josh came down in 10:30! Josh finished with the third fastest known time (Bill Briggs did 36:13 for the Direct East Face and actually holds the record for that exact route) of 37:02. I guess the roundtrip is only four minutes faster from Chautauqua. I finished with a PR of 41:59.

Josh is a nice guy and plans to stick around the area for a few more days. He wants to solo the Petit Grepon and will probably set a record on that. At least I don't know of any fast roundtrip time for that route. He'll undoubtedly try for the record on the First again as well. I wish him luck.


-------------PS Josh has since tried again and did it in 36:39. Jun 17, 2002
I've noticed people mentioning types of gear needed for this route, so I thought I would put in my two cents. The second time I did this route, I MEANT to bring tri-cams, cams, and stoppers. Needless to say when I opened my pack and found that I had left stoppers at home I kind of freaked. Needless to say they were not necessary. I was able to do the entire thing with three tri-cams (pink, red(?), and black) and the medium range cams (#.5-#3) and a bunch of QDs. It was kind of nice having a "rack" that light.

Once you get through the first two pitches, I only put in pro as a precaution and to help the second follow the route I took. After the first pitch, the next hardest move is heading left around the large roof feature. It is somewhat exposed and probably the steepest part of the route, but I thought I saw a cam placement or two under the roof. A great non-stenuous multi-pitch route for anyone who has some experience outside and is looking for something kind of novel. Sep 4, 2002
Could someone tell me how long this route would take for a first timer. I can climb a 5.9 consistently and have done a few longer routes that are about 400 vertical. If someone would let me know about how long or in the range, that would be great. MB Feb 4, 2003
Greatest solo of all in the area, period. Feb 12, 2003
Nate, although I agree that the top can and is done unroped by many, I wanted to throw in a couple of disclaimers:

The North Arete is rated 5.4 not 5.2. Granted, it is not all 5.4 but I can think of at least three sections of friction/face 5.4. All of which would have disastrous consequences if you slip...

Also, it is a lot easier to solo the arete once you have climbed it a couple of times before. For my money, it would be a bit balsy to solo it the first time you climb this rock, particularly if you are unsure about the route and are not used to this length of climb and the exposure associated with it. Perhaps simulclimbing the upper section would be a better/safer choice the first time.

AC, first time I climbed this, we were roped and belayed all the way. It took us about 4 hours to get to the top. It really depends on your belay set-up, belay change over efficiency, route finding and head for handling the exposure if you are not used to it...

Cheers, WT Mar 5, 2003
We went for a nice stroll up this today, but when we were rapping off the top, we heard that a woman soloing below us fell out of the chimney/slot (last pitch below the ridge) and tumbled head over heels. Apparently, she's OK (?). Anybody got any news? Never saw a rescue crew, and people said she was alright, but just wanted to check... Apr 26, 2003
Just did this climb on Saturday (5/3/03) and thoroughly enjoyed it. To give some perspective, I've led 5.7, 5.8, and one 5.9, mostly crack and bolted face climbs. I struggled a little on the first pitch but made it through. If you stick to the bolted line, the crux is about 10-15 feet above the 2nd bolt. BTW, you can stretch a 50 m to the tree ledge barely. The only other runout we encountered was at the beginning of the third pitch. It's 20-25 feet to the first pro. After that, pitches 3, 4, and 5 are fun, easy, and easily protected. Pitch 6 is pretty fun as well, but it is a little weird. It's the "slot" just below the ridge line. The way we did pitch 6, it had face and offwidth climbing in the same pitch -- pretty interesting. Along the entire route, we found places for larger cams, but you could probably get by without them. The ridge is great, lots of exposure and a few face moves to a great summit and a fun rappel. Highly recommended. May 5, 2003
I am told that we must have a rope that's a bit longer than a 50m to have reached the tree belay on the first pitch. Use a 60m to be safe. May 6, 2003
Jeremy Franz
Berthoud, CO
Jeremy Franz   Berthoud, CO
Another pro comment: some extra slings are nice to thread some natural features and sling some flakes. If you're climbing on a nice day, be prepared for some crowded belays, and make sure you're comfortable rigging an anchor from a couple of marginal placements. I got to lead the 6th 'slot' pitch. I must have had tunnel vision, because it felt more like 5.7 than 5.5 to me with an awkward stem to the flake on the left. There's some nice small cam placements in the crack under the roof on your right to protect these moves though (0.3 - 0.4 Camalot). A fall in this section would leave you pretty banged up.

If you're comfortable simul-climbing for maybe 15-20 ft, you can make the belay ledge at the top of the first pitch with a 50m rope. May 8, 2003
I climbed this route for the first time this weekend, and the lesson I learned from my trip is: don't go right. My partner and I thought that if we headed straight up from the Direct Route rather than beginning to traverse left after the big ledge that we could bail off the back sooner if bad weather came in. And while we were at it, we even veered off to the right a bit. Well, at first, it didn't seem so bad, the climbing was even a little bit more technical for a little while, but it was not to last. I hit a dead end and had to set up a belay with just a couple tricams under a flared flake. There wasn't really any good places to rap off the back (so much for our brilliant plan), so we had to downclimb and do some very unfun traverses to get back on course. We ended up going the entire way to the summit rap anchors anyway, and would have saved a lot of heartache and time if we had just stayed on course. So, the moral of the story: don't go right. Jun 18, 2003
Englewood, CO
ROC   Englewood, CO
Did this one today as a birthday present to myself. Can't think of a better way to spend the day. Honestly, I was a bit intimidated by all of the above comments on the climb. So I was very cautious and prepared for the worst. This climb was awesome. I'd say the rating is accurate with some of the other easier stuff I've been on. This is by far my longest climb to date. Great views of Boulder and the surrounding area. Great exposure on easy climbing. The run-out made up for the lack of really technical moves. I had to remind myself to stop and place gear every so often. Great climb!!!! I could definately do without all of the annoying flies on the summmit ridge. We were both literally covered in them. So watch out. Jul 2, 2003
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
What a wonderful route. Did this one for the first time yesterday. Very easy climbing, not so easy on route finding... My experience with this rock is to just keep going up until you get to the HUGE shelf area leading to the ridge. Anyone leading this for the first time: wired nuts can be great on the TINY bolt remnants sticking out the wall. Make a loop in the end of your wired by sliding the nut down a hare, then cinch it back up after sliding the bolt piece through the loop. My friend Adilet didn't know about that little "trick," so that pitch was a little run out (go figure). Enjoy all! It's a classic (and dont forget to sign the register).~The Redneck Jul 16, 2003
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
Sorry guys. Not a blunt... Note the wrapper in hand. Found it at the first belay station still in wrapper. Thought I'd be a ham once or twice for my friend who was leaving shortly thereafter. Question: Anyone catch the First RIGHT after a good, hard rain with an 8x10 camera with polarizer lens? The water chutes show up silver on a grey background. It would make Ansel Adams giddy. I'd be interested to see if anyone knows of photographs of this phenomenon. Saw it during the hailstorm Thursday (then climbed the beast). I wanted to get a B&W print of that photo should it exist. Anyone knows of such a shot, let me know please. I'd appreciate it! Aug 2, 2003
Fantastic Climb !!! 3 stars the whole way.Other than the first pitch, the route is pretty easily protected. Aug 2, 2003
Kevin Currigan
Kevin Currigan   Lakewood
Just in case you wanted another description:

This is a huge rock. The runouts on the lower face are very long. Once you reach the ridge there is another 300' or so of undulating ridge to reach the final summit block. So, get ready for a long climb. Once on the face you can go almost anywhere you want but this is how we did it yesterday-six hours car-to-car with one person doing all the leading.

P1 180' to the small tree diagonally up and left from the top of the stairs. There is a large eye bolt about thirty feet up and another about 100' from the bottom. Some protection with larger cams is available up and left of the upper eye bolt-but not much. Runout 5.6 slab

P2 ~150' almost straight up to an eye bolt beneath a bulge. Aim just left of the second set of overhanging blocks with green lichen streaks. Runout 5.6 slab

P3 ~175' go over the bulge and again head straight up into the featured slab/bulge area. Pick a belay from numerous good ledges and huge pockets. Runout 5.6

P4 ~160' head up and stay left so as to stay directly on top of the huge slab/bulge area. Resist the temptation to go right into the gully. The climbing is ok but it produces mucho rope drag and takes one on a round about way to the top of the bulge which is where you want to be. You will know when you have arrived because the top of this bulge is huge. I think it would hold even more people than Myke indicates.5.4 with pro and rope drag possible everywhere.

P5 190' to the bottom of the roof area as described above. A comfy chair type belay at the apex of this roof can be had with bomber nuts. The hardest moves on this pitch are probably only 4th class, but they are exposed.

P6 ~160'to the ridge. From the comfy belay one can go right or left with the same level of difficulty. Going left and crossing the gully to gain the slab/bulges will save you a false summit. After the gully, stay on top of the bulges but right of the trees until obtaining a nice ledge just short of the ridge. We belayed here and the second scrambled to a belay at false summit 30' south/left. Runout 5.6.

P7 ~150' Continue south traversing down then up to another false summit; then down again and then up to belay on yet another false summit. If you place any pro low in the traverses, it will make taking in your rope a real drag. Scrambling with a couple of 5.6 sections.

P8 From this belay it is down and then up to the last false summit (whew!) -about 100'. From there, I suppose you could take your rope down 10' over 50' and scramble up right to the true summit with the two huge eye bolts. I wasn't sure what the rope would do going that way so we unroped on this last false summit and scrambled the last section. 5.0

The traverse of the ridge is easy for the most part but most of it is also very exposed. Have fun and don't forget to sign the register!! Aug 11, 2003
James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
James Garnett   Bellingham, WA
The first two pitches of this climb are pure joy; pitches 3-5 are okay but nothing to write home about, and then the ridge pitches are a PITA (what with the crowds and the traffic jams along the ridge from so many routes meeting up there). Starting at the base at 7:15am on a Tuesday morning (today, 8/12), we still had to deal with crowded belays, and almost got beaned by carabiners raining down from above.

Even if it weren't for the crowds, I'd still only give the full Direct Route a 1-star rating. After pitch two it's just slogging along and rope drag---but take that with a grain of salt, as I led all 8 pitches today. As a solo route, it's probably triply-stellar, though; leave the rope at home!

The "difficult" moves are all in the first 60' of the first pitch. This one would be rated 5.4 in Eldo! Aug 12, 2003
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
BTW, anyone finds a Metolius nut tool near the bottom of this guy (in the weeds, whatever), it's mine. My oh-so-dextrous partner dropped it from the top of the second pitch ("ROCK!!!") so that I could enjoy the sight of it bouncing down the route. Yay! I'd appreciate it if I could have it back as it is the second nut tool that my buddies have chucked and I don't fancy purchasing a new one so soon. Thanks everyone! Aug 13, 2003
I'm planning my next visit to CO and have been hearing the song of the Flatirons for sometime now. Last summer, as I was passing through, I was surprised at how hot it was and it seemed like we would just cook on the slabs so we ended up climbing in Eldo instead (big fun!). I know it's hard to pinpoint, but what would you (anybody) call the 'season' for this climb? I'm assuming weekdays are less crowded? Any wildlife closures or other special conditions to consider? Thanks!~f Nov 25, 2003
James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
James Garnett   Bellingham, WA
Okay, I redid this route recently in the winter, and liked it a lot more. Loose powder that had drifted as high as the first eyebolt and showers of ice crackling down from the second belay made the trip memorable, but with nobody else on the route it was much more enjoyable. I would say that this is not a single route, though: more like 20 parallel routes. It's possible to go a little bit to the right on the second pitch and wander into some truly exhilarating (and unprotectable) territory! Mar 5, 2004
Had my "right of passage" by leading the first pitch...what a rush!! My friend and I did the Direct Route on the First and the Third in a day (with a rope). These were my two first real trad leads. Although a little runout, I was able to set up good belays without too much trouble. Apr 2, 2004
I finally climbed this last Friday. The climbing, position, and views are all fantastic. I did seven long roped pitches including some simul climbing. It never got tedious. I belayed off to the right at the top of pitch three because I saw a nice ledge (with a tree - see the beta photo) and wasn't too worried about keeping on route. Pitch 4 went up the arete leading up and left to the big ledge. This was easy and licheny, but lots of fun and it had great position.

I found all of the belays rather simple to set up, though they did not coincide with the description here after pitch 1 or maybe 2. Sure there are some long runouts (esp. pitch 1), but you always know you have a good belay coming.If you are cool with the first pitch (I wasn't really, but my belayer talked me through it), it's a piece of cake after that. Bring long runners. On a 30' runout, I'll take the extra few feet of exposure in order to have less rope drag.

If you are as slow as I am, make sure you bring the most important piece of pro: sunblock. May 10, 2004
My favorite Boulder area route for amount of rock underfoot, overall challenge, view, great top-out.Some people don't like the Flatirons AT ALL finding them too slabby, exposed, or commiting. Some think they are the best climbing in the universe with views of Longs and Indian Peaks to match. Season: Any temperate day of the year with crowds when the Third is closed (i.e. April-July) and July-Sept having a very hot approach. The climb I take people on to introduce them to Fountain Sandstone climbing. I'm surprised at those who say it is well protected. On P3, the longest, you go 60 feet with no pro! Easier terrain but seriously under-protected. Right before you get to the bolt there is a slick section. Some days with the right temperature, humidity, etc., it is delicate indeed! There used to be a pin here. It should be replaced. A fall here can happen and would be serious. Hundreds pass by here making permanent pro logical. Rating: 5.6 because the first pitch is sloping friction holds but not the most difficult pitch for most. Grade I; 2-6 hours. (II is all daylight hours. Grade III is alpine start to sunset. IV's have a bivouac en route.) After you climb it once, you'll know where to cut your time. Route: I like the old finish to link up with the North Arete under the first step unless there's a party waiting there. This is towards the notch with the tree behind it in the above pic traditionally reached in 6 pitches but much of it usually simulclimbed. Most of this is Class 4 or you're off-route. There are a gully to the right and one to the left on the first few pitches. I recommend neither variation. Rack: A weekend climber is usually safe with four cams, a couple hexes and micros, 8 biners and anchor sling. With one rope you can often combine with another party to do both rappels as one. Bring water and calories instead of a full rack. The walk down from the rap brings you close to the start, but it is rare for people to leave anything there on a climb of this length. - Jay P.

I need to CORRECT the above route description. The route I described to the arete does not go to the notch with the big tree behind it but rather straight up to the big overhang, in this photo. Jun 12, 2004
James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
James Garnett   Bellingham, WA
This is a call to all experienced trad climbers: please comment upon why this is such a great route. Why is it a 3-star climb?! Because, honestly, I still believe that this just BARELY merits 2 stars, and even then, only in winter. I get the feeling that the only people who really lke this one are beginning trad leaders who've done just a few climbs, and those no longer than a few pitches. I grant you all that the first pitch is nice, and the second can be fun if you veer away from the obvious crack---but from then on it's better just to simulclimb to make the summit and get back to the ground, imo! So two good pitches and six crappy ones makes a 3-star climb? No, I don't think so.It truly does not deserve it. As far as 5.6s go---including Flatirons 5.6s---there are so many better climbs to do that I would put this one at the absolute last (or near to it) of a new leader's tick list. Washington Irving and Wind Ridge are fine 5.6s; First Flatiron Direct is definitely not. Jun 26, 2004
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
James, sounds to me like you do not appreciate long routes. Some of us feel we're just getting warmed up after topping out on Wind Ridge or Wash Irving. I'll grant you the First Flatiron does not have a lot of 5.6 climbing on it, so if you want 5.6 challenge the upper part of the route is going to disappoint. However the simulclimbing you find so tedious I'd say is pretty cool - the rock is solid, the views are great. Let me ask you this: is there ANY section of climbing so easy you can simulclimb it that you would consider three stars? If not you are not someone who enjoys long routes just because they get you so far off the ground. No problem, stick to those climbs you enjoy. I'll agree with you that this climb does not merit its extreme popularity - most of the routes on the First are of similar quality. Jun 26, 2004
Joe Collins  
Combining climbing, setting, exposure, and the summit, this may be the best 5.6 I've ever done. You mentioned that there are better 5.6 routes in the Flatirons, James, yet you go on to reel off Eldo routes. Yeah, Wind Ridge is a great climb, but Washington Irving?? C'mon, it ends at a set of chains! And if you are that concerned about crowds, don't climb it on a weekend. I climb this route every couple of weeks or so, and its rare that I see another party during the week. Jun 28, 2004
James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
James Garnett   Bellingham, WA
Joe, yeah, I realized that I was reeling off Eldo routes, but I was a bit stumped when I posted for moderates that felt good for their grade. I suspect, and Leo Paik has suggested to me, that I'm in the minority on this one. That's fair. I think that George has hit the nail on the head, as it were, for a lot of my feelings: extreme popularity. In the summertime, it seems like there are as many people on the Direct Route as there are on the lawn at Chatauqua, many of them with little experience. Crossed lines, frightening anchor/belay practices, trash, chalk marks everywhere, and dozens of people yelling back and forth (some frantically)---these things don't make for an enjoyable experience. Indeed, although I implied that I disliked the north ridge simulclimb, I only feel that it doesn't merit 5.6; as far as the movement goes, I feel a sense of relief at the ridge, because from that point on it's a fast simul to escape at least part of the crowds. I suppose that one point I wanted to make is that if I wanted to do a long moderate climb, I wouldn't think of this one first, and never at all if there were any more than two of us.It seems to be a real gamble, too, as to whether it will be crowded or not. Sometimes I've been there on a weekend and only seen one other rope team, and other times I've been there early on a weekday and thought that half the climbing community was up there with me.

Two stars is "great route, you'd do it again"---and this one does warrant that, in winter. One star is "you're glad you did it, and enjoyed it, but probably wouldn't do it again, given the choice"---also appropriate, given summertime conditions. If we can change the grade of a route depending upon conditions, why not its rating? I still hesitate to call this one a 3-star climb based solely upon its length and position: there are other long climbs with great views in the flatirons that don't get 3 stars. How about anything on the Slab, if you go all the way to the summit? Loooong routes, easy and fast climbing, cool views, but 2 stars for the most part---and, what's more, nicely sustained in many cases.

So basically, I'm saying "your mileage may vary." Don't expect to hop on this route and expect it to be the best thing ever. (And yeah, I know, I'm still in the minority on that.) Jun 28, 2004
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
It does seem like when the 3rd Flatiron is closed, the crowds just go over to this route. At any given time Feb 1 to Aug 1 there are probably as many parties on this route as there are on all routes in the rest of the Flatirons! Jun 28, 2004
Greg Hand
Golden, CO
Greg Hand   Golden, CO
But if a soloist falls in the woods and no one is there to hear the screams, is it still a valid solo? Jul 8, 2004
I still love this route.. 8 pitches to the summit bolts as described below with a 60m rope.

There is a new tiny (1/4"?) bolt on the first pitch!!! I didn't believe it when a friend told me, but there it was, about 20' straight up from the second eye bolt! It's totally unnecessary and should NOT have been added, IMHO. The first time I lead this pitch was the only time I was grateful for the second bolt, and even then I would have seen the third bolt as unnecessary. Can anyone explain when and why this modification occured?

On P2, it's fun to stay straight up (instead of veering left) and tackle the small blocky roof. Pass the bolt and sling the big flake above for a belay (cordelette or a couple of 48" or longer runners).

After P3 (best pitch!) sling the horn on the lower right side of the roof and tie it off for a belay.

After P4 (short crummy pitch) get a comfy seat on lunch ledge, give your second a hip belay and watch their eyes bug out when they top the pitch.

For variation, take the old finish described above (right of the standard finish) to the larger notch on the north ridge (instead of climbing up the gully with the tree in it). Three pitches from here to the summit: one to the base of the crysal pitch, one to the base of the false summit, and one more to the bolts. Beware of extreme rope drag if placing pro on the north ridge! Tackle the 6'ish roofy finish to the summit block just left of the easy finish and bolts.

Climbed on Sunday 5-8-05 and saw one other party and one soloist. The high wind made for a real mountaineering feel on the ridge.

-s May 9, 2005
Michael J Yarros
Colorado Springs, CO
Michael J Yarros   Colorado Springs, CO
This a great route. My first time climbing on the Flat Iron's. Route finding at times was a bit challenging. We used all cam's. Mostly smaller aliens but also used upto #4 (WC). There was no wind, just sun. A stellar day. We also went right instead of left on the big roof. Very do-able, also saw a "very" old piton in the roof. This made the traverse on the top longer though. Also we could have repelled off with one 60 meter rope. (we thought it took 2 to get off the top). May 29, 2005
Lloyd Garrick
Arvada, CO
Lloyd Garrick   Arvada, CO
Did this 5/31/05. It was my first "real" tech rock climb after taking the "Intro Rock Intensive" course from Colorado Mountain School. It is rated 5.6, but I thought the climbing was rather easy, save for just a couple funky spots. It is a workout - 6 full pitches to the ridge, then scrambling across to the South tip for rap down - the most fun part. The views from the rock are totally awesome and the experience of being on such a huge rock - only other climbers can appreciate it. I rate this most highly for all beginners and intermediate climbers, but it is said to be a "World Classic" so that even the most experienced can enjoy it. Trip report and pictures:… Jun 26, 2005
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
DO NOT attempt to descend in one rappel using one 50m rope! I have done it many times with a 60m, and estimating from the amount of rope remaining it is 25m+. The problem is the lower half of this rap is free hanging so if your rope is a tad short or the ends aren't prefectly even, you could be in big trouble.

Much safer is simply to do a 40 ft rap from the top anchor, aiming for the big ledge off to the south. There is another eye bolt there for another short rap to the ground. Jun 27, 2005
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
Someone has removed the "bail anchor" midway up summit ridge. If you are hoping for that anchor, you will be sorely disappointed. I had to use it out of necessity two days ago and ended up rappelling off a large block, requiring another party to throw our rope for us. IMHO, this anchor should not be removed as it cannot be seen from any vantage point off the rock. Only climbers can really see this set of slings. Please do not remove it. I'm going back up there in a few days with 1 inch tubular to replace it. Please do not 'booty' my anchor.~Wm Jul 13, 2005
I've never heard of a resident bail anchor partway along the arete. Over the last 35 years, I've removed temporary anchors (e.g., sling threads) one or twice, likely placed as storm bails. My vote is to keep it that way. Jul 13, 2005
Hey, why not a "third-of-the-way-up-the-arete" bail sling too?

And while we are at it, why not a bail station every other pitch of the regular route? In fact, we should ask the Flatiron's hardware group to conduct a survey of all possible bailing off points and fit them with slings. That way we will not be "disappointed" if we decide to bail at any point in the climb.

The point I am trying to make is: We shouldn't have permanent bail set-ups. By definition, bailing off is an event that takes place out of necessity and that stops you from completing the route. If you embark on a multipitch route you should be prepared to bail your own *ss off the rock if you need to.

If you embark on a multipitch route counting on a bail sling half way up, then it is not a bail sling, it is a convenience anchor...

Not sure that sling will remain in place...

My $.02s

WT Jul 14, 2005
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Yeah, let's get rid of the anchors on top too so everyone has to do the downclimb! I must admit I have mixed feelings about the anchor mentioned. From a practical standpoint it seems there will often be a sling there, no matter how often it is removed. It seems rather pointless for you all to keep removing and adding it, but if that's what you like to do, have fun! I have seen the anchor in question many times, and each time it is a different color. At least Neptune's is coming out of this with some benefit.

More important than the presence of this anchor is for people to know where this escape lies. If you try rapping the whole face in a storm, you are going to lose a lot of gear, but this way you escape with one short rap. It is right where the Standard Route and Baker's Way reach the N Ridge. Jul 14, 2005
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
Ernie Port   Boulder, Colorado
We bailed off at this point last month (boulder on arete at end of Baker's Way) on the evening of the summer solstice, when a massive lightning storm descended upon us. I used 6' of 1" tubular webbing and an oval mallon for our "convenience anchor" to rap in the rain. I considered soloing up there the next evening to retrieve it...but'll probably be gone by the time I get there! Jul 14, 2005
Chris Zeller
Boulder, CO
Chris Zeller   Boulder, CO
I noticed a cable belay anchor at the top of Baker's Way where the upper gully reaches the ridge. It looks like you could rap with a 60m rope from here west to the ground (I didn't try it). This might be a safe way to escape the [Direct Route] as the [Direct Route] crosses this gully and the climbing there is much easier than on the route. Aug 23, 2005
My partner and I did this climb yesterday (9/14/05) and it was beautiful! We got down just before the rain hit. However, we lost a yellow Alien on the last pitch before gaining the ridge. Obviously, we would like it back, so if you find it, and feel like being cool about it, we'll pay $20. Email:

Thanks,Bobby Sep 15, 2005
Who put in a new bolt on the first pitch? It's a crappy buttonhead with an old Leeper hanger. I believe it is between the two eye bolts [Eds. actually above the 2nd eyebolt]. Who does s**t like this?? I don't believe it will be there long.... Oct 25, 2005
Stefan Griebel
Boulder, Colorado
  5.6 R
Stefan Griebel   Boulder, Colorado
  5.6 R
Hey Bo-

You're not the first to notice this new bolt. There was a thread on here about it a few months ago, but I don't see it anywhere now. In summary, there were 4 or 5 other people who noticed this and posted. I was one of them. At first I thought maybe I had overlooked it the first 50 or so times I climbed the 1st Flatiron, but after everyone else noticed as well, I'm convinced that it was placed recently, and whoever placed it tried to disguise it as being old by using a buttonhead and Leeper. Oct 25, 2005
Me and my bro Davey Van Noord had a blast today. Kevin Currigan's beta (see above) was all we had (no book) and it was spot-on, thanks. 1st pitch is runout but the friction is good and you could hang our mother-in-law from the eye-bolts. The moves are 5.6 (? Eldo 5.5) and all there. A 60meter will get you to the tree (first belay) and off the summit rap anchors. Chilly, wind on the summit ridge was enough to inspire extra pro placement. Good climb. Nov 12, 2005
Jim Matt
Indianapolis, IN
Jim Matt   Indianapolis, IN
Yeah, I saw this new bolt too in August. It really is a piece of shite, not too far above the second bolt, if memory serves (maybe 20' above?) just over a bulge. You cannot see it from the start of the route...I wouldn't want to fall on it. Someone needs to chop it, and soon. Nov 28, 2005
Golden, CO
Monty   Golden, CO  
Great Route, did an onsight moonlight climb on this last night. We didn't solo it, but we did simul climb the entire climb in 2 pitches. 1 rap to the west takes you to a nice trail to the base. Three stars. Apr 14, 2006
Jo Holloway  
This route has different flavors of climbing in each pitch, courtesy of the many facies of the Fountain Formation (sandstone, conglomerate, siltstone). It's a pleasant half-day diversion. Apr 17, 2006
Well, I think I set a new time record on this one today with me buddy Evan, we did car to top to a bigmontana at Arby's in 3 hours. ha ha. This was a great climb, we made it into 5 60 meter pitches with an average of 2 pieces of gear per pitch, though there was more available. We went off route just after the huge ledge (to avoid entanglement with other groups), but by going right instead of left we hooked up with the ridge more quickly and didn't get caught in line. Apr 22, 2006
One of the best 5.6 routes that I have ever done. Excellent rock! Sep 12, 2006
Jeff Mekolites
  5.6 R
Jeff Mekolites   ATL GA
  5.6 R
We caught a sweet weather window while in Boulder (first week in Feb 2007), and managed to have the entire First Flatiron to ourselves...except for the one soloist we saw at the end of the day. We climbed the route in 7 long pitches with a 70m rope, building belays as we found spots. Feb 11, 2007
Carl Dixon
Carl Dixon   Boulder
This route was my first ever multi-pitch climb. It was great--five stars. We traded leads the whole way. Cool rock features, great views.

It took me a couple pitches to get used to running WAY out on very little pro, and marginal pro a best. Belay anchors broke all the textbook rules. Once you get a feel for it though, it was fun just charging up on lead. The top belayer works harder pulling up rope then the second does climbing.

I'll definitely be back on this route. May 30, 2007
Jim Matt
Indianapolis, IN
Jim Matt   Indianapolis, IN
I climbed this again on June 1, '07, and the crappy 3rd bolt on the first pitch was no longer there. You can set a pretty good cam in 20-30' above the second bolt before you traverse over to the flake and up to the tree. I love this climb...very relaxing! Also, it is possible to sew up the slot pitch (right below the summit ridge) with a set of nuts. I think I set about 5 nuts and a grey Alien on that pitch. Not because the climbing was hard, but just because I could.... Jun 6, 2007
Kevin Currigan
Kevin Currigan   Lakewood
Thanks to whoever removed the manky bolt and repaired the rock. You can't even tell where it was. Jul 12, 2007
Gregory Schrodt
Lyons, CO
Gregory Schrodt   Lyons, CO
Led this yesterday am with my friend Mary. We could see 1 party on Fandango and one party 1/2 way through the second pich of the direct. We gave plenty of time and had a very leisurely day without any traffic until the traverse ridge began. There were a party of 3, and two parties of 2, all waiting and doing little 50ft. pitches setting belays and building anchors to keep advancing.... Luckily, Mary agreed that we should just cruise past everyone solo and go get a crisp refreshing beverage.... So, with the rope on backpack we soloed past everyone, did a quick rap off and were in the car before any of those other parties even reached the summit.... Moral of this story, just save yourself the time and energy rope handling and solo this pig!!! It's a lusciously classic line, damn Boulder looks sweet from the top. Sep 9, 2007
Debbie Vischer
  5.6 R
Debbie Vischer   Loveland
  5.6 R
Climbed this yesterday - was my second outdoor climb! It was awesome. I would recommend it for any beginner/less experienced climber. An easy 5.6, just LONG! Most areas had big holds, although some of the rock face got slippery in areas. Conditions were perfect. The rap off the back was fun. I think the hiking was the hardest part!! Looking forward to doing it again. Sep 19, 2007
Allan Cheateaux
Fort Collins, CO
  5.6 R
Allan Cheateaux   Fort Collins, CO
  5.6 R
I found it to be rough to place pro, but very hard to fall. When we climb the direct, we run belays for the first 2 pitches then simulclimb the rest.

Highly recommend it for the 4th of July, on a clear one, you can see all of the Front Range. Nov 27, 2007
Cliff M
Davis, CA
Cliff M   Davis, CA
Any beta for the downclimb? I just heard it was pretty easy, and a little bit south of the summit rappel bolts. Any other beta? Thanks. Jun 16, 2008
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
The downclimb begins on the west-facing cliff directly under the rappel bolts. Follow some big jugs north, straight down and then back south to a 10 foot wide ledge (which you will also pass on the rappel). This starts out vertical and appears unlikely from above to be only 4th class. The route then follows a diagonal ramp leading south. Look below to the south and you will see an eye bolt on the next ledge down, scramble down to this eye bolt (only 50' below the summit, this is the intermediate rap point for people with a 50m rope). Continue diagonalling down the face under the bolt. The bottom 50 feet are near a large pine tree which leans toward the face. You can even chimney between the rock and tree for a short section 20 feet off the ground. You end up a good 200 feet south and around the corner from the single-rope rappel landing.

Warning: it is tricky to to down-solo this route onsight, better to follow someone else. Jun 16, 2008
ChrisG George
ChrisG George   Westminster
Congratulations Stephen G on your 100th ascent of the First Flatiron! Jun 5, 2009
Coal Creek Canyon, CO
  5.6 R
DamageVic   Coal Creek Canyon, CO
  5.6 R
Got/getting back into climbing after a 10 year hiatus...My wife & I went up this route yesterday & had a great time. A little scary in places due to the runouts (1st pitch in particular), but a great time overall! Found a few 'creative' gear placements by using green & black Aliens, and (grimace) #1 & #2 Lowe Balls (I think they're called 'Ball Nuts' now). Not big enough to catch much of a fall, but they're better than nothing! Jun 29, 2009
Kingston, NY
  5.6 R
tdavidock   Kingston, NY
  5.6 R
Climbed this on July 6th...thought we were the first on at 7:00am, but there was another party who must have got on at first light. It was a great climb- just got to trust your feet and be prepared to run a lot of it out. Protection wasn't as bad as it sounds (once you get to pitch number 4), but definitely don't do this is you can't climb without having pro every 10 feet or so. The views were amazing. It is a great climb to get experience with multi-pitch climbing. Would definitely do it again. Jul 8, 2009
Rich F.
Colorado Springs, CO
  5.5 PG13
Rich F.   Colorado Springs, CO
  5.5 PG13
Fun, easy, long, climb. Although it has an "R" rating, and protection is sparse in places, did not feel too exposed. The two eyebolts on the 1st pitch were well placed, the face is fairly low angle, and the friction is fantastic with rock shoes. Jul 18, 2009
West Jordan
Rockwood   West Jordan
This route was fun. We headed up the same time as a group of 5 with a hired guide who was leading them all up at the same time. The rock is just slabby enough you can climb almost anywhere so we were able to pass them up by climbing just off the edges of the route. Just before the ridge the guide told us we could go up to the right and easily be ahead of them. We made a belay by a tree under a ridge offering some shade but ended up having to pull over two very small roofs to get back on the main route (maybe 5.7- moves) but they were in my opinion the best parts of the climb. Lots of runout but never scary and great views the whole time. I made my first attempt to lead from the last false summit to the true summit...really short and only needed to place one cam before pulling up to the top. Bring your camera to take pictures coming down the rappel. Sep 9, 2009
Peter Swank
Edinburgh, UK
  5.6 R
Peter Swank   Edinburgh, UK
  5.6 R
Climbed it again for the second time after six years since the first. Classic climb. Got the the ridge in four pitches by using the full 70m. Yes, it is R for most of the route, but easy slab on great rock.

I printed the picture of the route from "Climbing Colorado" and used that as a guide. So many ways to get up this one, which is great as we had to pass some people on the way up. May 8, 2010
Bill Olszewski
Colorado Springs, CO
Bill Olszewski   Colorado Springs, CO
Stellar route!!! What great fun and great views of Boulder and Long's Peak. Be sure you're comfortable on runouts if you're going to lead this one. Most pitches would only take 3 or 4 pieces in 180 to 190' (I think the pro was better on the upper pitches, but by then we felt no need to place more than 3 pieces on a pitch). May 20, 2010
Paul Donald Andrews
Nederland, Co.
Paul Donald Andrews   Nederland, Co.
Climbed this route with my son on Friday, June 4. Forecast was for hot weather, so we initially planned a dawn start. But with a teenage son, not terribly motivated, we decided to wait for the afternoon shade. 2:45 P.M., we started up, the sun just out of sight, depending on the angle of the face. I was a little concerned about the time, considering this is one of the longest climbs in the Flatirons, and my first Flatiron climb. So, we set a goal of a pitch per 30 minutes. First two pitches went well. Exciting with the runouts, but secure. I called up to a party of 3 ahead of me to see if they were on The Direct. They had no idea, even though one of them had done the route before. Missed the bolt on the second pitch (or was it the third) but found an antique, vertical piton that was driven so deep in a shallow corner I couldn't get a 'biner on it. Threaded it with a sling and felt it was pretty bomber for a piece that has probably been there since the sixties. Above that, where the face gets slightly steeper and the climbing a little easier, I am informed a little too late that I am out of rope. So, we simulclimb about 50 feet to make it to the route junction nob, the big comfortable ledge. We catch the party above us here, so we take a snack break. Roach's guide of easy Flatiron climbs recommends a variation to pass a party on the North Ridge crux. So, we go for it. Turned out to be one of the best pitches on the route. On the ridge, I find the famous crystal. Just a tennis ball sized hold on a nice, exposed block, but kinda cool, nonetheless. My son didn't notice it. A pitch later, we are on the summit, well ahead of schedule. Total elapsed time, about 4 hours. Total pitches, 7, although one was a 240 foot simulclimb continuation. We have one 60 meter rope, and it's supposed to be a 100 foot rappel, and it didn't look like we could make it. So we rap to the ledge 30 feet below and from there rap to the ground off of a single eye bolt at the south end of that ledge. I know, a little risky, but the eyebolt looked totally solid. Kind of Euro style. We met the guys we passed at the base, and they told us their 60 meter rope just made it to the ground from the very top. All in all, a total blast, a great cruise. I can't wait to do more Flatirons, especially Roach's all-time top ten classics, for starters. Jun 10, 2010
Rodger Raubach
  5.6 R
Rodger Raubach  
  5.6 R
There are so many small variations possible that a distinct route is hard to describe. No matter where you climb, the rock is excellent and the climbing is fun but runout. An outstanding position above Boulder. Jul 21, 2010
Robbie Flick
Baltimore, MD
  5.5 R
Robbie Flick   Baltimore, MD
  5.5 R
Wow...what a fun route! First Flatiron climb ever and couldn't have been more happy with the climbing.

With a 70m rope, we did it in 8 pitches, however we had a couple short pitches because, as is noted, good belays can be few and far between, and as we were unfamiliar with the route, we didn't push our luck.

As for gear, leave the hexes at home. I used #1s - #4s pretty heavily for belays; however, the climbing was all about small, tricky gear and creative natural pro. Little tricams and C3s helped. Would've liked some more double length slings with me - on some pitches the protection you can get from horns, trees, and thread throughs is better and more abundant than regular pro.

Either way, it's very runout for the first several pitches, but the climbing is very easy. It never really felt like 5.6 except for maybe a move or two, however even with easy climbing, the space between placements and the quality of those placements keeps things committing and interesting for an 'easier' route. I lead up to 5.7, and never found the climbing strenuous, but it was definitely the most run out climb I've ever done.

As for the bolts and belays...we never used bolts for our belays and relied on gear the entire way. While pro can be tricky on the climbs, there seems to be enough good protection to build a bomber anchor every so often, you just need to keep your eyes open for it.

All in all, a really wonderful experience. Great rock, long easy climb, fantastic people (it was crowded but everyone was very courteous and helpful), can't wait to get on it again! Sep 14, 2010
Jason Antin
Golden, CO
  5.6 R
Jason Antin   Golden, CO
  5.6 R
Just gave this a Car-2-Car I have some work to do! So much fun.

Down Climb Beta>>>>

George's info was spot on:
"The downclimb begins on the west-facing cliff directly under the rappel bolts. Follow some big jugs north, straight down and then back south to a 10 foot wide ledge (which you will also pass on the rappel). This starts out vertical and appears unlikely from above to be only 4th class. The route then follows a diagonal ramp leading south. Look below to the south and you will see an eye bolt on the next ledge down, scramble down to this eye bolt (only 50' below the summit, this is the intermediate rap point for people with a 50m rope). Continue diagonalling down the face under the bolt. The bottom 50 feet are near a large pine tree which leans toward the face. You can even chimney between the rock and tree for a short section 20 feet off the ground. You end up a good 200 feet south and around the corner from the single-rope rappel landing.

Warning: it is tricky to to down-solo this route onsight, better to follow someone else."

FYI: The tree mentioned above is now dead; however, there are good holds available to get you to the ground! Apr 27, 2011
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
Marty, FWIW, with a 50m rope, you can quite easily wind up with 10 pitches. I had done it that way multiple times before 60m were commonly used. The route is ~1400' long. Thus, a 20m rope would require more than 10 pitches.

Addendum: for a simul, 2 pitches can make it go quickly. Apr 30, 2011
Rodger Raubach
  5.6 R
Rodger Raubach  
  5.6 R

BITD, i.e. the early 1960s this was considered a major climb! We were all using 7/16" x 150' ropes (Columbian or Goldline!), and it was a 12 pitch climb. We really had to "run it out" to make it to belay ledges and stances. Apr 30, 2011
Robbie Flick
Baltimore, MD
  5.5 R
Robbie Flick   Baltimore, MD
  5.5 R
Found some gear at the first belay on 5/29, happy to return it to its rightful owner. Msg me with details if it is yours. May 31, 2011
Did this route today for my first Flatirons climb (on-sight free solo, sorry I had to claim it, because I am pretty stoked about it)! There was a group ahead of us on the 2nd pitch, so we had to go left around them, and ended with a variation of going right at the large flake at the top instead of left.

I only have about two months of climbing experience, but I thought the climb had stellar holds the entire way up, with the exception being the first two pitches. The best holds were on the slabby sections with some pretty cool stemming in the gullies.

Overall, I think it is a great climb and definitely a great beginner climb or even solo and am definitely gonna have to try to do it faster and to the left of the flake next time! Jul 3, 2011
James Hulett
Boulder, Colorado
  5.6 R
James Hulett   Boulder, Colorado
  5.6 R
Found a rope coiled at the top rap anchors after my first free solo of the route and was happy to rap with it to the ground instead of onsight downclimbing from the backside. I will be happy to return it to its owner if the correct color can be identified. Aug 18, 2011
James Hulett
Boulder, Colorado
  5.6 R
James Hulett   Boulder, Colorado
  5.6 R
Ended up giving the rope back to the owner through connection on Mountain Project. Score. Jun 14, 2012
Christian Mason
Westminster CO
Christian Mason   Westminster CO
There is a large and active wasp next on the first pitch.
About 15 feet off the ground, there is a left-facing flake. If one were to follow the visual path of least resistance, it would lead you directly up to the nest. Possible even sticking a hand behind the flake.

If you pause for a few minutes and look for it from the ground, you should see the wasps flying to and from it.

It's not to difficult to climb to the right of them. I was never closer than 8-10 feet from the nest going this way, and I was able to sneak past before any of its occupants took offense. Aug 25, 2012
Will Stat
  5.6 R
Will Stat  
  5.6 R
This is my longest free solo route to date, and I really enjoyed it. Car to summit took 70 minutes and felt pretty safe. In all honesty, you'd probably get just as messed up if you fell leading the first (crux) pitch with a rope, it would be quite a tumble if you fell before the second bolt. Unlike some other easy Flatirons climbs, the first pitch is legit climbing, not a walk up. That being said, if you have any experience on real slab climbs, it's not hard at all. The second pitch eases to about 5.4, then it's easier cruising to the summit and the climbing switches from slabby face to juggy features. Super fun. The downclimb from the summit isn't bad, it's about 10 feet of somewhat exposed 5.0 jugs on the west side which wraps around to 4th class ramps on the south face with a few real easy 5th class moves thrown in. If you have the ability to solo the route, it shouldn't be a problem. It's not worth carrying a rope to rap IMO. It was a walk in the park compared to some of the JTree descents I've done.

I'm surprised this is listed as grade II. If you pitch out the whole route, it would surely qualify as grade III. I've also done it as a simul-climb above the first pitch which made it more like grade II. Jun 17, 2013
Fort Collins, CO
ForrestMB   Fort Collins, CO
Just got back from doing this route. It was our first time climbing in Colorado and wanted to jump on a fun classic, and it held up to all the talk! We lucked out with the weather, but unfortunately we lost a #1 red BD Camalot just above the first belay tree, no biner attached. After descending, we went back and climbed the first two pitches but no cam... we only knew of one group behind us, and they said they didn't see it. Anyhow, if you happen to pick it up, I would greatly appreciate a message! Beer reward of course. Thanks Jun 19, 2013
mc kaiser
Lander, Wy
mc kaiser   Lander, Wy
How many times have people done this? Give me numbers. Has anyone done this like 50 times? Oct 4, 2013
Mc kaiser - this morning was my 124th. I know Stefan Griebel (who has the car-to-car speed record on it) has tagged it more than 220 times. Oct 25, 2013
Best route on first pitch is to follow the line of the 2 eye bolts, slightly RIGHT of watermark. If stretching out each pitch on a 60m, belays are generally off tricky/marginal small and/or flared gear. First 3 pitches are fun, friction slab with tremendous runouts, the rest are a scramble with great positioning. Slung a lot of pinches. Not a good beginner lead. First pitch a bit heady, not much pro, tricky belays, lots of drag potential, especially on the ridge top. Whole face is a cluster of people. Get there early. May 30, 2014
mc kaiser
Lander, Wy
mc kaiser   Lander, Wy
Anton, that's awesome! Great to hear that it hasn't gotten old even after 100+ ascents! Sep 15, 2014
Hannah12 Miller
Boulder, CO
Hannah12 Miller   Boulder, CO
We dropped/left an Alien cam while climbing the slot up the Direct Route on the First Flatiron above Baker's Way OR from the ridge to the summit. Please return for good karma and a six-pack of your choice. Mar 21, 2015
So, I live in Austria, and this was my first climb in the USA, first time on sandstone, and one of the few times that I´ve placed pro; plus past experience with smearing is modest.

Since the route is well documented and thoroughly commented, my posting is directed towards those who might be in a similar situation to myself.

We chose this route because it is a little below my level on familiar terrain. If you´re comfortable on limestone around 5.8 and some of the other above factors apply to you, then the Direct Route is a great option.

My local hosts graciously allowed me to take the sharp end of the rope for the first pitch. This was the hardest pitch and will really push you to rely on your feet. The next several pitches were one or two grades easier, and the last pitches were even easier.

In summary, it was a great first experience on very compact and rough sandstone. The runouts (especially on the first pitch) are a bit intimidating, but we´re climbers, right?

I wouldn´t recommend the route on day one for a new climber, but it is a fairly straightforward climb. To compensate for any experience gaps such as those listed in the first paragraph consider a) climbing with a local, b) practice placing pro on your home crag - even if it is superfluous to the the existing bolts, and c) watch some videos on smearing technique. Jul 18, 2015
We were dumb. Left a TCU, cam 4, sling, and a 70 m rope on the ledge 50 meters to the north of the peak. If found, please contact 847-254-6900 or 760-696-2876. Oct 9, 2015
R Sather
Yes, this is classic American free climbing!!! Apr 14, 2016
  5.6 R
  5.6 R
Scariest lead to date...more of a free solo than a rope climb. It started raining on us 4th pitch up which was terrifying...smear, slab, and rain, not cool, but, in fact, amazingly epic! Jul 2, 2016
John Hayes 1
  5.6 R
John Hayes 1   Shorewood
  5.6 R
Despite having read most of the comments here and route descriptions from a couple guidebooks, there were two things that we ran into quite unexpectedly. These unexpected aspects pertain to trad climbers, not soloers.

True, the 5.6 R rating is accurate in my opinion. It's an easy climb with long runouts, infrequent trad placement, and exposure. However, there were three of us and one was a child. Some history here: the child is not new to hard, multi-pitch climbs, having ascended Durrance on Devil's Tower 13 months ago just before his 7th birthday without a problem.

Two problems: number of climbers and age/fear factor.

Problem 1: number of climbers....

Solo: about a dozen and a half free-climbing soloers passed us while we were climbing. According to comments here on Mountain Project, a pair of shoes, a chalkbag, and a bunch of confidence make it possible to jog to the base, free-climb the 1000 feet, downclimb the 5.0 ridge, and jog back to the parking lot in less than an hour. From what we witnessed, this is common practice for bold Boulder climbers.

Duet: two trad climbers taking turns on lead can send this route pretty fast. Anchors are mostly straightforward. Slings take care of the majority of them. No need to toss a rope or switch much other than trad gear at the belay station.

Trio: having three climbers caused an unforeseen problem. The slab has so many hangups that throwing the rope back down to the third, after the second had already climbed, was often extremely difficult if not impossible. After losing a good hour or more on both the first and second pitches while trying to get the rope down to the 3rd, we decided to put the 2nd and 3rd climbers on the same belay with 10 feet between them. There are inherent risks to this however, as a fall by one can pull the other off quite forcefully, and in our case, remember, one climber was a lightweight at about 70 lbs, but it worked and saved us hours of time. If we hadn't, we never would have succeeded to the top. The answer to this would be to carry a second, shorter rope so that 2nd and 3rd climbers can climb simultaneously on a double belay, and there would be no need to drop a rope.

So, while a soloist can send this 5.6 in an hour, a trad trio will be on the wall for many hours.

Problem 2: age and/or fear factor...

The general understanding I got from here and guidebooks is that the ridge is pretty much a scramble. Many trad climbers apparently pack up their ropes after reaching the ridge and scramble at least most of the remaining ridge traverse comfortably. Another suggestion I have seen and heard is to simul-climb the ridge, but I'm afraid the fear factor and age factor in our case wouldn't allow either of those two options. Add to that the fact that the main climb took longer than expected, and it got dark while we were on the ridge. We needed anchors, belay stations, and enough trad to support two climbers on one rope on awkward, dark traverses. (Traverses make this method even more risky.) This added a good 4 or 5 pitches and another 2 to 3 hours to the end of the route.

These two unforeseen problems, and the fact that we started late morning (never again!) turned what we thought would be a 4 to 7 hour climb into a 10-hour ordeal, 2 of which were on the ridge in the dark with a shivering child whose circadian clock was telling him to shut down and sleep.

What we did right was to cut no corners. Everyone was kept safe. Stops were made to warm up, eat chocolate, and re-motivate. We even called Colorado rescue to discuss options with them should hypothermia set in, but we chose to progress to the peak slowly and safely, though not without discomfort. We checked the kid for sign, but we got to the top all in good health, and rappelled to the ground with relief and excitement. My 8-year-old lost every last feeling of discomfort in the minute and a half that it took him to rappel from the bolts to the pine needles and proudly proclaimed as he hit the ground, "That was totally awesome!"

4 stars from every one of us: great views, easy climbing but thrilling, adrenaline-pumping, fun climb, not to mention the valuable lessons we learned. Sep 20, 2016
Long Ranger
Boulder, CO
Long Ranger   Boulder, CO
If you think you're going to get benighted by the time you get to the junction knob (end of P4 in this description), you don't have to finish the route by continuing on the N. Arete. Instead, go north towards the ridge, instead of up There's usually a cable/tat to rap. off of, or scramble. That will take 5 pitches off how it's described on this page.

This bailout is descried in Roach's book. Mar 25, 2017
Sarah C  
Found a knife at the base of this route on Sunday 5/28. Contact me with a description, and I'll get it back to you! Jun 7, 2017
Dylan Houser
Boulder, Colorado
Dylan Houser   Boulder, Colorado
Hey folks,
I'm looking to get a Flatiron free-solo friend for the next couple of weeks while the weather is still good! I'm heading out tomorrow morning to run a couple of laps on the second (Freeway) and first (Direct). If you're confident in your climbing/scrambling and would like to get out, give me a shout!

Happy sending,
Dylan Houser
720-526-7214 Oct 17, 2017
Max Manson
Superior, CO
Max Manson   Superior, CO
Fun climb! With an 80m rope and one micro traction, it can be simul-climbed in 2 blocks and one short pitch. Feb 9, 2018
Mike Hensley
Lafayette, CO
  5.6 R
Mike Hensley   Lafayette, CO
  5.6 R
This probably goes without saying, but get an early start if there's snow/ice on the route. We slept in and didn't start leading up until 10:00ish. Saw a ton of softball-size ice kicked down by the parties ahead of us. Mar 3, 2018
Hey all,

I am looking to be out in Boulder sometime in August. I was hoping to find a climbing buddy for a day to hit this route. I am very new to trad with no experience (minus intro to trad classes at RRR), so hopefully looking for someone with some experience and who is willing to teach. I live near the New River Gorge and comfortably climb 5.9-5.10 sport. Please let me know if anyone is interested!


Jamal Jun 11, 2018
Sam Mauldin
Denver, CO
Sam Mauldin   Denver, CO
Took my 12yr old daughter up yesterday for her first multi-pitch. She was unable to remove a #1 red cam near the ridge. It has the letters SM written on it. We also had to leave my cordelette and webbing with a bail-biner near the summit. If you're feeling friendly and find it, please let me know. Thanks. Sep 30, 2018 · Lost & Found

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