Type: Trad, 5 pitches, Grade II
FA: unknown
Page Views: 40,167 total · 180/month
Shared By: Ben Mottinger on Dec 31, 2000 with improvements by Joel Larner
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

171 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick
Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


Start about 1/4 of the way up the east face - to the left of the huge left-facing dihedral that arcs up the face. To get there, continue up the trail past the bridge at the base of the First Flatiron.  The trail will move away from the rock, pass a few isolated rocks, and then after several hundreds yards, return to the main flatiron right at a point where a split-rail fence ends.  Instead of turning left on the switchbacking trail, turn right down the obvious gully along the Flatiron face. The start of the climb is about 50 feet down the gully, it can't be missed - it's the big face that leads up to the huge dihedral.

P1: travel right, then up the massive flake and around the roof. A 60m rope can not quite make the tree above and left after turning the roof - it's about 10 yards short. Plan accordingly.

P2-5: follow the big dihedral system up and right. Head up a huge flake you can actually climb under. From here, it takes usually two pitches to reach the summit block. Take care, for the ridge traverse is exposed at times.

Rappel 100 feet off of two eye bolts, or down climb via the south. Note: A 50m rope may be used for the rappel, but definitely not recommended. The rope didn't touch the ground until the rappeller was nearly at the end of the rope when we did it with 50m.


Standard rack with extra shoulder slings.
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
If you have only a 50m rope, instead of rapping straight west from the summit eye bolt, rappel southwest to another eye bolt on a ramp about 60 feet down. This is on the downclimb route (SW side). From the second eyebolt it is another 60 foot rap (approx) to the ground. Rappelling is recommended unless you known where the downclimb goes, it is easy to get on harder terrain if you don't know where to go. Jul 17, 2001
A good alternate solo from the Direct route (or extra, after doing the Direct). Most of the time I start this route where a switchback from the trail directly abuts the Flatiron. This eliminates most of P1, but you still get to do most of the best climbing. The "Alternate" way to go -- a separate listing in this website, seems more fun than the regular way. Jun 20, 2002
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
Ok, I think I was a goose in a blizzard up there yesterday (4-13-03)... I got to the first rap station about 130' up, no problem. Done it twice before. Climbed up past the broken wall just above and then entered a slick as snake shit gully, very polished, accepting only a pink tri-cam and a wedgie just after the wall. traversed right to plave a #2 cam under a big flake before going up to the evergreen further up to the right (breathing HUGE sigh of relief as the last pro was 40' down and sketchy and after a hold crumbled in my hands...). Realized I had only brought one rope like a gumby, started late in the evening, and couldn't rap down to the bottom. Had to top it off. I headed north and up 50 m w/o placing a piece, ending up at a fixed rappel station made of green webbing. I ended up topping it off, thanks to a guy named Chris (from Denver) who showed me the route, but does anyone know where I got off route? That water polished gully didn't really seem like a 5.5... Again, I was stupid and had to pay for it accordingly... Any info would be great. Thanks!WM Apr 14, 2003
William, the route follows the line marked on the photograph. I do not recall any slick gullies.

It seems you went too far left before reaching the Evergreen. From the small tree belay at the top of pitch one I remember heading straight up for the large evergreen.

From there you should follow the overhanging dihedral to the left until you can climb it at any of the many weaknesses (about 40ft from the tree?) and head up for the huge dihedral above you.

I recall the route being fairly well protected for flatiron standards.

Once you reach the arete you can then follow it to the top...

Better luck next time

WT Apr 14, 2003
Mike Epke
Denver, CO
Mike Epke   Denver, CO
Climbed this route a few days back for the first time and loved it. Not as sweet a line as Direct East Face, but some fun moves with exciting exposure do to runouts. As always though, a sweet climb on the First is hard to beat. Not sure if we started at the actual start of the route or further down the face then ended up cathcing the right line at the first little tree by the roof. May 3, 2003
James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
James Garnett   Bellingham, WA
I love the fact that although this route can be a little runout, it will neverthless take an amazing variety of pro. That #3.5 Tricam you got for christmas will go in somewhere, as well as the big hexes and maybe even a #5 BD Camalot if you're crazy enough to carry it up. That being said, there's an enormous amount of fixed gear (solid (?) old pitons, etc.) up there to use for backups, and you could do the whole thing with nuts and a few midsized hexes.

Yet-another-alternate-start that I like to use begins right beside the start of Zig Zag. There's a funny little move to get up on the face, but it's easy. A friend started calling the route with this start "Bakerdango" since Baker's Way is so close, and the name has stuck (well, for me, anyway). Jul 12, 2003
Bryan Gartland
Helena, MT
Bryan Gartland   Helena, MT
Does anyone know the story behind the bolt on Fandango about 20 feet after it intersects Baker's? It looks much too new to be 15 or more years old judging by the modern hanger, bolt size, and general condition. It's not unsightly since it's completely hidden behind the large flake you climb under and whoever placed it took the time to paint it brown. My best guess is that it was drilled for a rescue in the not too distant past, but it's right next to large blocks and cracks that could make as big an anchor as anyone could want. Odd.

That aside, Fandango is an excellent line, and one of the most easily protected (bolt included!) of any eastside route on the main Flatirons. Jan 15, 2004
The most direct approach has you detouring off the trail after the bridge, but you don't have to descend that far and climb back up to grab your stashed gear on the way home.

On the descent, follow the trail down to the last switchback on the 1st Flatiron side before you cross over the 2nd Flatiron. You can drop down off the trail along the base here and are only a few yards from where you started Fandango. Sep 20, 2004
Although I have only climbing once on twice on the Flatirons I am beginning to get the sensation that this is one of the most scenic routes on the left side of this particularly slabby rock. The approach to the climb is fairly simple involving the following of a faint trail that is often mistaken as a slight animal path. The beginning of the climb is incredibly easy and could possibly be climbed without the use of hands. If you stop twenty feet or so before the small overhang, you shall receive a partial view of Boulder and a great opportunity to eat an early lunch. The next two pitches proceed on typically dry [sandstone], that of which the Flatirons are famous for. The next three pitches are crimpy but reveal the escence of leading traditional slabs. There seemed to have been perfect places to sit down after the fourth or fifth pitch. These were possibly created by erosion but are shaped like a cushy bean bag. The next pitch is scary for beginning trad leaders but eas out into a crack that welcomes the entrance of a rope of any size and is almost perfectly straight. The next pitch or so is on very mild rock. That of which may be as comfortable as fifty degrees. The rappel of le summit is particularly memorable especially in the months of July. This is one of the only places where you will see completley green and white rock. The green is from decomposing and unforgiving lichen and the distinct white stains were provided by the courtesy of our flying, squawking friends. This route is enjoyable for a beginning leader or maybe an early-summer solo. Mar 19, 2005
James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
James Garnett   Bellingham, WA
AC/ don't think that you were on Fandango.....Second, the approach is not a "faint trail": rather, it's well maintained and VERY clear. If you were on granite and approaching from the east side ona faint trail, then you weren't on the first flatiron. Finally, even with a 50m rope, the 6th pitch is on the North Arete---VERY far from "crimpy."Although I'm not a free-soloist, even I drop the rope and simul-free-climb after reaching the arete. Mar 27, 2005
Brett Bauer
Brett Bauer  
Just a quick comment regarding "runouts" and "Protects Well"I climbed this and was 100% on route. The only places I found to "protect well" were the easiest sections... I say easiest meaning 5.0 to 5.5 and I understand the climb is only 5.5 but when you run out a solid 20+ feet and are confronted with 15 ft more of pure slab it feels more difficult knowing you have a 60+ potential fall should the very odd chance you fall!! so I personally would not call this climb a "protects well" climb. Some areas protect well but a lot of gear placements are in hollow sounding flakes... these I just skip and run it out 20-30 feet to solid pro!!! route finding is easy ...just over the small roof of pitch 2 a very solid bolt provides a good anchor! a small tree below the large dihedral is an option for pitch 3 belay but could go a little higher directly above the tree! from here you are 1.5 pitches to the ridge... The Dihedral "protects well" but is very easy... from the ridge with a 60 m rope 1.5 rope lengths to the rappel anchors... and be it known for those taking newbies that this rappel goes free half way down! you could move up higher than the bolt at P2 Belay to bring P3 up into the bottom of the Dihedral...and climb the dihedral in one solid pitch ... this is what i will be doing next time!!!! take it for what it worth!!! Apr 29, 2005
nick moeckel  
It seems like everyone has a different way of doing this climb. I took the variation that heads up the face to the huge tree, and from there went 20 feet right and then straight up over a fun bulge to rejoin the standard line. The romp up to the tree and the next two pitches up to the ridge were wonderful. I thought the whole route protected quite well by Flatirons standards- there was maybe one place where I thought more pro would be nice. Jun 27, 2005
Chris Zeller
Boulder, CO
Chris Zeller   Boulder, CO
A route like this one is so big and wide with so many possibilities that I'm not sure there really IS a "right way" to climb it. The route we did however followed a large dihedral from the top of P3 that ended in a 10' cliff that faced into the mountain. At this point you had to reverse yourself completely and downclimb a bit with your back facing the general direction of the wall. Odd.

Also, although the climbing along the ridge is easier than the route I choose to remain roped up here. There are sections that are at least as hard as the route. Unfortunately this generates significant rope drag as you go up and over the various [pinnacles]. Aug 23, 2005
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
It is very easy to find the start of this route and it doesn't involve any off-trail travel. I do not recommend leaving the trail in the vicinity of the [Direct Route] and heading straight up hill. Instead, stay on the trail which heads south away from the First Flatiron. After much wandering and switchbacks, the trail comes back to the First Flatiron. The *first time* you get within 10 feet of the First Flatiron, bear right off the trail and rope up, or begin soloing. This is the start of the route.

You can also begin 5-100 feet farther down from this point, I'm not sure where the official start of the route is. In any event following the trail is definitely the easist way to get to the start of this route. Aug 24, 2005
Gary Schmidt
Boulder, CO
Gary Schmidt   Boulder, CO
If you do use the "big" tree (actually there is another pretty good tree just to the right of it) with the tons of slings on it, you may also wish to consider instead climbing about 10 ft past the tree where there is an abundance of opportunities for a much more comfortable anchor spot. Certianly makes things more comfortable, especially if your climbing party is more than two persons. Of course this involves using a bit of pro. From there we angled n.w. and then up over the lip and headed again more n.w. towards where the huge didhedral turns for the final pitch towards the ridge. There is a piton here (1987 according to Roach) which can be backed up in a good crack. Belay here and then make the run for the summit ridge. The first time i did this climb i went all the way to the dihedral pretty much due north as shown on the beta photo here. (Rossiter's guide book shows where we turned over the lip). It works but is probably harder than 5.5 and still comes with the standard run-out fare for the flatirons. Nov 19, 2005
Eran Viimeinen
Eran Viimeinen   Colorado
After epic-ing gumby-style on this route at this time last year, I decided it was time for revenge. We got ridiculously off-route last year. In fact, it sounds like *Chris Zeller* took the same exact 'detour' as I did last year. We got caught in a rainstorm and I ended up rapping off of the *HUGE* tree on the far upper south side of the 1st. I would strongly urge newbies to avoid this and other Flatirons routes if you are looking for good 'beginner' climbs. Anyhow, I'm 95% sure I was on-route this time. Here's my revenge, beta-style.

Gear: 60m rope & a Standard Rack (one set of cams & nuts). On average, I don't think I placed more than 4 pieces of gear per pitch (not including the anchors). Do not be fooled. This route *is* easy, but the majority of it is run-out. Pitches averaged ~175ft.

P1: Begin directly underneath the large roof of that also forms the bottom of a LF dihedral/corner approximately 150ft. above the ground. This roof is the first one you see to the left of the *Direct East Face* route. There is a good crack for a belay just left of this roof.

P2: Head straight up (following the left-facing dihedral/corner) and then veer right over a small bulge. There are 3 different slab choices here. *Baker's Way* takes the upperdeck/right most obvious ledge above the plane of the large LF roof/dihedral that looms above you. *Fandango* takes the middle road through a slab w/ a bolt on it. The lower road takes you onto the slab the large trees are on. Belay just after the bulge at a crack or continue up to the bolt that *Bryan Gartland* mentioned.

P3: From the bolt, follow the LF dihedral or aim for a very small (~5 in.) tree, or the small roofs up and left of the small tree. The LARGE trees to your left are not on route, but use them if you desire.

P4: From the small tree, pick a line to your left and pull a roof/bulge. This is probably the crux, and pro is not the greatest, but it is available. After the small roof, aim for the left side of the HUGE LF Dihedral the veers up and left. Set a belay where you can. If you look hard enough, you will find the piton that *Gary Schmidt* (1987 Roach??) mentions.

P5: Once at the left side of this LF corner, follow it to the ridge!

P6: Scramble left/south across the ridge to the summit! Jun 24, 2006
Chris, Jim, and I started at Baker's Way and then intersected Fandago Route. Route has excellent views of Front-Range. The Ridge Traverse was excellent fun and enjoyed excellent views from Indian Peaks aournd to downtown Denver. It was a nice change not to bushwack to route or from route. Oct 6, 2006
mark loseth
tucson, AZ
mark loseth   tucson, AZ
We basically followed a big, left-facing dihedral all the way until the route meets up with the north ridge. I stuck close to the huge flake to increase my chances of finding pro, and found enough to keep me happy. May 7, 2008
Scott Edlin
boulder, co
Scott Edlin   boulder, co
Really fun route, good variety of moves, and a great warmup off the sofa. We approached via the main trail as George Bell suggested and scrambled about 50 feet down until we could take a straight line up to the left edge of the LF dihedral (see pic). By Aaron Shileikis' description, I combined P3-P4 in a 60m rope stretcher from the bolt and barely reached a large dish below the piton. To do this you need short tails, a straight-ish line and extended runners on any pro. May 20, 2008
Albuquerque, NM
  5.5 PG13
farkas.time   Albuquerque, NM
  5.5 PG13
Great climb.

We did this in 3 long pitches with a 70m rope and some simul-climbing. Rope drag wasn't too bad until the ridge traverse. "Is this drag, or Christine?" A bit scary. I don't recommend simuling the ridge with a long rope, or maybe at all, but I'm a newbie.

First half-pitch is scary. Extremely run-out and not very featured at all. I'm inclined to call this slab 5.6. All other run-outs are 5.5 or less. Jul 19, 2011
Dwight Jugornot
Arvada, Co.
Dwight Jugornot   Arvada, Co.
I give Fandango 4 stars, BUT... then I'm takin' back 2 stars on account of the endless ridge traverse. Be aware your second will have to effectively "lead" much of this pitch and a half. Exposure is not horrible, but it is worth staying roped. At some points, your second must climb down into slack for about 15 feet. The moves there are maybe 5.3-ish? with lots of exposure below.

The sandwiches, however, were peerless. Apr 10, 2013
Eben Daggett
Boulder, CO
Eben Daggett   Boulder, CO
Did this route today with a friend from out of town. Fantastic route! By far my favorite Flatiron route to date. True, a little run out in spots, though sometimes the climbing is so smooth you forget to place gear. We simul-climbed a good 70 or 80 feet past the first rope length on the first pitch. If you want to knock this out quick, it is very doable to simul-climb to the "big tree" with a million slings, set an anchor, and belay up your second. From here, it is one rope stretching pitch to the arete (with a 70m, 2 short pitches with a 60m), and two more to the summit. Keep in mind that rope drag and communication could be an issue on the simul-climb. All in all, this route has everything you could want in a Flatirons classic. Great day! It is also fun to shout, "FANDANGO!!!" at the beginning of each pitch.... May 29, 2013
Ubermensch Mensch
Boulder, CO
Ubermensch Mensch   Boulder, CO
I climbed a Fandango variation today with my daughter. We climbed the left dihedral above the big tree with all of the slings all of the way to the summit ridge. I believe it met up with Zig Zag and followed it to the ridge. It turned out to be more epic than I would have liked, including a stuck rope as I turned the corner of the upper "S-shaped" dihedral, just past the funky rock tube that connects the roof to the main slab. Learned my lesson to either create a directional or belay before the corner (best choice if you are chicken on slabs and don't want to go out left onto Zig Zag). The route was really run out in places, although the soloists don't seem to mind. One helped me get the rope unstuck the first time - big thanks. It got stuck again, so I had to downclimb 25' to the corner (ugh). Aug 4, 2013
Cornelius Jefferson  
  5.5 R
I like this route a lot. It's almost as good as the Direct East Face...a close second. There are several variations possible including heading left into Zig Zag. Bust a left below the big tree and up the narrowing face until you can downclimb into the next corner over. There are also at least a couple different ways to surmount the roof band that guards access to the upper pitches of Fandango, all of which involve exciting moves on big jugs. The rock quality is excellent just about everywhere on this section of the First, and it's well-featured with quite a few cracks...an anomaly for an East face in the Flatirons. There's even a few hand and fist jams to be found. Killer. Oct 10, 2013
Brian C.
Longmont, CO
Brian C.   Longmont, CO
There seems to be a lot of variation for the start. Some folks are starting lower to add more climbing and others are getting suckered into starting in spots that has harder climbing. For those who are interested in finding the "right spot", stay on the standard trail and continue up passing where the start of the East Face Direct is. Right after the trail passes the interesting chopped-step section start paying attention. Fandango starts at the spot where the trail first comes within spitting distance of the rock. It does not look as obvious since there is a short, south-facing wall that blocks your view from the easy slabs. From here, you will be able to reach a belay above the Baker's Way ramp with a full 60m pitch.

If you continue up the trail, the next place it touches the rock is the start for either Baker's Way or ZigZag. I know that there is no defined starting place, but what I described hopefully will help those trying to find the start explained in the guidebook. Apr 2, 2014
Long Ranger
Boulder, CO
Long Ranger   Boulder, CO
Awesome route for the slabmonger! We decided to cut up a social trail, before hitting the talus pile of the main trail and right after the turnoff for East Face Direct, partly because RMR had a operation going on and were holding up traffic near the talus. Our first pitch on a 70m didn't quite make it to Baker's Way from where we started the first belay, which makes me believe we started a little too low. Next time, I'd just take the actual trail, and head off it, exactly as Brian describes. That would make the first pitch end at Baker's Way, and you can causally solo up to the third pitch, saving a ton of time.

Back to the first pitch: the slab sort of starts below that point, but there's nothing you'll be missing, and the natural line really follows just slightly to the left of the really, really big crack you should be able to see above - lots of step-like puddles in that line, which you cannot see from above. Perhaps take Baker's Way, and recon what I'm talking about from above. The entire slab though is chill.

It wasn't mentioned, but after you parallel Baker's Way for just a little bit, the route will have a honest to goodness bolt (not a piton/pin), where we set up the third belay station. You can probably see that as well from Bake'rs Way, but I know I've followed on up that gully by accident when scrambling Baker's Way before, saw the bolt, and realized I couldn't possibly be in the right place.

4th pitch (best pitch, IMHO) was done underneath a pin, and made it easily to the N. Arete, where we just solo'd to the rap station at the summit. Apr 26, 2015
Daniel Evans
Phoenix, AZ
  5.5 R
Daniel Evans   Phoenix, AZ
  5.5 R
Climbing isn't difficult and features decent crimps when the route turns slabby. The crux was pulling the small roof after the big tree just under the large roof before reaching the dihedral on P4. This part felt harder than 5.5, maybe a move of 5.6/5.7, but then again I was probably off route and added rope drag didn't help. The run outs are pretty real (~50-60 ft between adequate pro) at times like every climb in the Flatirons, so not a great lead for the beginning trad leader. May 26, 2016
This is a great route with plenty of pro options if you want them. You can choose your own path, as every direction has options. I used a 70m and went to the first tree out left (tree had gear), saved time. On the second pitch, I found another small tree that I was able to use with a great belay stance. Don't worry about the runouts. Never placed more than 5 pieces, fist to finger most useful, couple hexes. Also, once I reached the ridge I was able to set a belay on the first high point and then make it to the anchors (minimal gear). Jun 8, 2016
Tim Kessel
Fort Collins
Tim Kessel   Fort Collins
Fun romp up The First, got a little off route on 1st pitch but found the correct route quickly. Jul 9, 2017
Kelly Lawrence
Boulder, CO
Kelly Lawrence   Boulder, CO
The pin at the belay before the 4th (and best) pitch is loose. It was not loose when I climbed it a month ago (perhaps I didn't check it enough), but it definitely wiggles now and feels much less confidence inspiring. I backed it up with other pieces and still made my belay there above the giant flake, as it's got great little areas for leader and follower to sit in. Jul 7, 2018
L Kap
Boulder, CO
L Kap   Boulder, CO
Fun route! It was tricky finding the start even after reading all the beta here and in my guidebooks. I'm adding some beta photos of some of the landmarks others have mentioned to get to the base of the climb from the main trail without cutting off on a social trail. After passing the bridge at the base of the First, follow the trail until after you go up the rock with footsteps cut into it (see photo). Shortly after that, there will be a log / split-rail fence on your right (photo). Just as that fence ends is where you leave the trail, turning right and heading down the gully at the base of the Flatiron (photo). Someone else already posted a photo of the big roof you start under.

Word to the wise - there is poison ivy at the base of the wall just where you want to belay and in the woods surrounding. There is also a big clump of poison ivy growing on a shelf near the bottom of the first pitch itself, right on the line I took to get to the crack next to the roof. I ended up putting a piece under the roof to direct my rope away from the poison ivy - hell, rope drag is better than what poison ivy does to me. I would be terrified to do this route in winter when the dead stems of the poison ivy are much harder to spot and identify but just as capable of delivering that nasty urushiol oil.

I placed a ton of cams on this route. My 4 and 3s were placed almost every pitch, so they're definitely worth carrying. There are also some good pockets if you're a tri-cam fan. I think I placed maybe one nut and one tiny hex on the whole route.

I probably went off route at times (it's entirely possible I ended up on Zigzag), but here's how I led it. Pitch one up the slab, cracks, and dihedral and belay at the big tree with fixed slings out left. Pitch two I went across Baker's way back to the dihedral on the right, then up (rather than over) the dihedral, swinging back left to another tree with a ton of fixed slings for the belay. Pitch 3 I went back right to the dihedral and stopped after about 35 meters to build a belay in some good cracks in the dihedral system right before the slab drops off into a short downclimb. Pitch 4 I did the little downclimb and resumed going up the dihedral. I think this is where I chose to do a short steep climb through a break in the dihedral rather than go way out left around, and once up on top of the dihedral system I belayed off a small but lively tree and crack in a small overlap in the slab. The final face pitch was a short sweet climb next to a funky deep dihedral that I could have wriggled under. At the top, I belayed from some cracks where the climb joins the North Arete route. We finished the North Arete in two more short pitches. I'm sure I could have linked a couple of pitches along the way if I had known what was coming next. The short pitches had the benefit of being able to communicate with my follower and watch her closely on the downclimbs so that I didn't yank her off. Aug 13, 2018