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North Face

5.6 R, Trad, 5 pitches, Grade II,  Avg: 3.4 from 169 votes
FA: Mark Taggart and Roy Peak, 1944
Colorado > Boulder > Flatirons > South > Maiden
Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


Be warned: This is one of the weirdest routes you will ever do....

From the low point of the Maiden, hike up along the base of the south face. Drop your packs below the obvious Crows Nest below the West Overhang, and pick your way through the huge boulders to the top (west end) of the crag.

Climb the initial west-facing wall to a belay at the top about 40 feet up. There is little or no protection on this lead, and the difficulty is around 5.4. At this point, the summit of the Maiden will be due east, and actually right about the same height that you are at. From here, downclimb the slab to the Crow's Nest. This is essentially a typical Flatiron slab with sometimes minimal protection. The leader will be on toprope, but the second may appreciate some pro. From the first belay, the angles look very strange, and it is difficult to tell how steep things are. Belay from the bolt at the Crow's Nest.

The next two pitches are tricky. I downclimbed the North Face a little bit and worked east. Once I was below the obvious tree, I climbed through bulging wall which is the crux. This was all done with basically no pro, but try to protect your second on the downclimb and traverse. Belay on the ledge near or at the tree. From here, climb up past the tree and a short corner to another ledge, and follow the wildly exposed ramp east and down until an obvious weakness allows you to hop up to a belay niche. Rope drag can be amazing on this pitch. From here, hop up onto the east face, and head for the surprisingly large summit area.

Rap to the Crow's Nest (!!!) and then down the south face to your packs....


Bring a standard rack of nuts and cams. Long runners helpful.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Mark casting off the summit.  Created from two images stitched together.
[Hide Photo] Mark casting off the summit. Created from two images stitched together.
The rappel to the crows nest. Climber: K. Decker.  Looking Northeast towards boulder at the direct west face of The Maiden.
[Hide Photo] The rappel to the crows nest. Climber: K. Decker. Looking Northeast towards boulder at the direct west face of The Maiden.
BJ at the beginning of the rappel!
[Hide Photo] BJ at the beginning of the rappel!
North Face pitches.
[Hide Photo] North Face pitches.
How I learned to love the fog?<br>
30 Aug 09 from the top of the West Ridge.
[Hide Photo] How I learned to love the fog? 30 Aug 09 from the top of the West Ridge.
We rapped down to the ground with two 60 meter ropes. Views were beautiful!
[Hide Photo] We rapped down to the ground with two 60 meter ropes. Views were beautiful!
Newer "Non-hubar" photo!
[Hide Photo] Newer "Non-hubar" photo!
The perfect way to cap off the climb.
[Hide Photo] The perfect way to cap off the climb.
[Hide Photo] untitled
Mike Belcher airs it out on the Maiden rappel!
[Hide Photo] Mike Belcher airs it out on the Maiden rappel!
The initial face of the West ridge.
[Hide Photo] The initial face of the West ridge.
Perfect Feb. day.
[Hide Photo] Perfect Feb. day.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

George Bell
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Great route with some tricky route finding. I am unsure whether this description is of the standard route or Walton Traverse. When I did this route recently, I traversed down from the tree (that ends the first pitch past the crows nest). This was wild and exposed (and off route), probably a little harder than the standard route (which traverses up, then down from the tree).

The famous rap can be done with a single 60m rope, although just barely. The rap would be quite scary in high winds (even with plenty of rope). Jun 7, 2001
Mike Sofranko
[Hide Comment] I tried to describe the standard route. The Walton Traverse that George speaks of is a variation to the pitch after the tree. It climbs the face somewhere above the down slanting ramp I described. So, including the Bell Traverse, that's 3 different ways to do this pitch. Follow your nose... Jun 8, 2001
[Hide Comment] George Bell and I did the North Face last week and actually found the Walton traverse... (glad George didn't take us through the Bell variation).

Climb past the tree at the first belay ove left a few feet and up a hard looking vertical section that looks harder than it is (great hand holds). After about ten feet, you will find two manky rivets... From there traverse left and slightly up to a piton (George backed it up with a Stopper). From here the second belay ledge is about 20 feet to the left. The traverse is pretty thin and very exposed with your last pro at the backed up piton... Good foot holds, but scant on handholds. From the belay join the normal route up the East Face. Do not fall... Jun 25, 2001
[Hide Comment] The first two pitches leading to the crow's nest feel like you're leading backwards. The next pitch has a (I felt) stiff 5.6 overhanging crux before the tree. If you've got a #4 Camalot, it works great here. We stopped short on the 4th pitch (before the second 5.4? crux with a fixed pin) and left the 5th pitch to run to the top. Took us 3hrs from start to summit. Don't climb this in the wind or you'll hate life on the final pitches and rappel. It's pretty exposed, weird, and balancy the whole way. Climb it; its fun! Feb 11, 2002
[Hide Comment] Can this route be rapped with a single 60m rope?The guide claims a 115 foot rap and a 120 foot rap, but I've found the guide to be inaccurate about this sort of thing. Jun 15, 2002
George Bell
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Yes, AC, the rap from the top to the Crow's Nest can be done with one 60m rope. I have done this a number of times now, there is only about 10' rope left when you hit the eye bolt. This would be quite frightening in high winds as your ropes would be whipping into space. Measure your brand new rope if you are worried, as it would be a really bad time to find out you your new 60m is really a 50m.

This climb has a lot of traversing, and for this reason is not a good one to take beginners on, unless they are belayed from both ends. Jun 24, 2002
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Bob Lewis & myself took off work yesterday and finally bagged the Maiden under ideal weather conditions. As mentioned in Rossiter's guide, the approach is a solid Grade II, so bring plenty of fluids. We started early, yet its still a long, hot hike up to the start. On the approach, up near the far west end start of the climb, passage was obscured by a large block of rock. More than a scramble, we looked for a way around it, and ended up crawling on our bellies thru a cave to the left, which we determined was the only way around and up to the start.

The climb itself is unlike any other I've done. Unusual 2nd pitch down climb. The real climbing starts in the middle of the 3rd pitch, and although the moves are only 5.6 as mentioned, the first real move up over the bulge puts you in an exposed, somewhat over hanging position. With no pro in at this point, and a good 30' below and to the east of your belayer, a fall from here would create a monstrous pendulum, and probably broken bones. But the holds are there, and the exposure is short and sweet.

The 4th pitch is wildly exciting! Good exposure. I clipped to 2 pitons along this traverse that, as I recall, were all the pro I used. Lots of little holds along the way,but protection is minimal. Great big belay stations after each pitch. The final pitch is like the 3rd FI. Easy, slabby to huge summit, with a small pond & padpoles.

The Rappel is spectacular! We used 60m rope and it was plenty long.

Note: The rappel anchors are drilled hangers, not eyebolts, one above the other with a chain that is attached to the top hanger but not the bottom one. We strung our rope thru the bottom o-ring and the top D-ring for safety rather than just one or the other. However, this turned out to be a big mistake. As the rope drag over the lip at the start of the rappel, and the proximity of these rings to each other prevented us from pulling the rope down after we had both descended. I recommend using webbing thru the rings to eliminate this problem. I had to solo climb up the knife edge (easy climbing) from the crows nest with both ends of the rope tied to me, to below the base of the 1st pitch belay to get an angle so that I could pull the rope down. Big hassle. But everything worked out. Good experience! Jun 26, 2002
[Hide Comment] Ernie, isn't this a classy climb? just reading your account made me want to go do it again...

Question on the rappel, last time I did the Maiden (2 months ago tops) and all the previous times the rappel was set on slings that were threaded behind a rock with a variety of rap rings on them. Where the hangers you are talking about new?

Does anyone know if the route has been upgraded with new rappel anchors?

Just curious, WT Jun 26, 2002
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Warren, the only anchors within eyeshot are those I described earlier. I saw nothing else. They looked new, but weren't set properly or to my liking anyway. I prefer eyebolt hardware similiar to what's down below on the southside belay rather than hangers and chain. Strangely, the chain was only attached to the top hanger via a D-ring. The hanger closer to the lip had an O-ring. How strange is that. Adds to the weirdness of the climb. Cheers! Ernie Jun 26, 2002
[Hide Comment] The original way to rappel from the top is via slings (probably 10+, impossible to miss). Last time there (6-12?) there were drilled anchors above the hidden ledge skiers right of the old sling horn. They are most likely due to someone working the overhang (.12+?) as they are better placed for it. Previous to the anchors being there, I saw about 7 placements (one looked like three nuts and a pin) on the underside of the overhang. Maybe they'll pull the pins when they finish the route. The rope drag is much lower versus the old slings unless you tread the top D-ring of the right hand anchor (why would you do this? it puts all the load on one anchor-not good. Did someone steel the chain already? -pun intended). The chain hangs perferctly level with the ring, equalizing the load between the two anchors. Thread the last link and the ring. While standing on the ledge below the anchors, I moved my knot to be below the lip. The rope pulled super easy in _12 knt wind from the ground. Why don' t they just use the gear like the first Flatiron anchors? I would think the traffic level is high enough now to justify someone getting off their arse to make it consistent. Good luck to however first frees that overhang - Rappelling it is scarry enough for me! Jun 30, 2002
[Hide Comment] Ignore Ernie Port's comments, they are misleading.

...Ernie, please post a confirmation that these anchors are good AFTER you get the chance to use them properly. Jul 1, 2002
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] I received an email from Bob Cando explaining the new rappel anchors on the Maiden and now fully understand the proper threading. I did not thread them properly, hence the load was not properly equalized and had rope drag. Not seeing an o-ring at the end of the chain threw me...Ernie

Here are some important points Bob makes and a URL for further analysis:

"These anchors are very well placed and nicely set.

If you run the rope thru the ring and the last link of chain, your ropehangs perfectly on both anchors. This is how I rappelled off and I believe is how the anchors were intended to be used. You would need to generate more than 40 kN (9000 #) to fail those anchors when they are equalized.

This is called a traditional anchor. It is very strong and safe and used commonly in Europe, and more often in the US. It is not used in the US very often, because it is the most expensive (although safest) system to use and US climbers are too cheap (sorry -this is my opinion). Fixe sells theseanchors premade with a fixed length of chain. Check their web site."

From the Fixe website:

The anchor design is commonly used in Europe and has unfortunately not yet caught on in the US. When placed in good rock, the anchor simultaneously loads both anchor bolt placements. The design locates the anchor bolts in a vertical orientation. This eliminates the "Shock Load" possibility if one anchor bolt were to fail. This design is far superior to anchors that locate the anchor bolts across a horizontal plane. Jul 1, 2002
[Hide Comment] Praise to the F.A. hardmen on this one.....what a climb. Scared silly making the exposed crux moves (leave the #4 behind, a #3 is more bomber and sooner to go in) I was trying to imagine what it must have been like in 1944....not realizing that they pendulumed through. Brilliant climb, amazing exposure and good practice downclimbing. I'd say it's a bad idea to try this climb if you are leading comfortably at the 5.6-5.7 takes a bit of nerve to pull the crux and a fall could be brutal. Double ropes are slick on this climb- making what little protection you can find seem a bit more reasonable. Jun 9, 2003
[Hide Comment] Was up there today and baled due to having only 4 pieces total...I do have a Q about the crux move. We checked it out, and my partner said the move was starting at the pin (seems to be ~ 20 ft UP from the above described belay directly BELOW the tree. It is a nice piton, seems solid, and would provide some pro on a move here. But it appears to be a bit of a difficult bulge to get over. I could see the blocky roof below and wondered if that was the real live start. Has anyone tried climbing right at the piton, then traversing on an okay-looking ledge? Jul 20, 2003
Brad Schildt
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] We just did this on Saturday, and got lost following the beta here. The pitch starting at the Crow's Nest and ending at the tree is actually well protected. After downclimbing the ramp, you will see a piton referenced by Clare. Indeed, it is 20 feet right of the bulging corner that people try to protect with a # 3 or 4 Camalot. A few feet left of the piton, it is possible to step up above the ramp by grabbing a couple of flakes. Continue up and left to the continuation of the bulging corner. A .4 MicroCamalot fits in a pocket here and protects the move over the bulge. Once over the bulge, you can protect your second by clipping a piton 4 feet above the bulge, or just traverse to the tree. Nov 19, 2003
George Bell
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] DId this again this morning, and Mark Oveson showed me a trick that makes the pitch after the crow's nest much less scary to lead. From the crow's nest, walk EAST 30' and clip your rope to a piton with a long sling. This is rather conterintuitive as this is not along the route, and you can't see the piton from the crow's nest. This ring piton is ancient looking but is probably good, you can also back it up I think. Climb back down to the crow's nest, then go west for a bit and down the north face as per usual. When you get to the crux section, the piton you clipped is 30' above you and off to the right a little, but it gives you a pretty good toprope for this section. If you go this way you cannot clip the piton mentioned in the previous comment as it would give bad rope drag, and doesn't help anyway.

This is a spectacular route and worth doing many times. Beginners should be belayed from both ends otherwise a nasty fall is possible even following this. This route has much more exposure than the usual Flatiron east face, I imagine some beginners might find it pretty freaky. Apr 2, 2004
[Hide Comment] RE: Pitch after the Crow's Nest. I believe this used to be referred to as the "Pendulum Pitch." In the 70s we always clipped the pin George mentions to get the top-rope (there used to be two there, if memory serves). I thought earlier ascents (i.e., 40's) used the pin(s) as an actual pendulum point. If both leader and follower use the pin, it is necessary to untie and pull the rope through, and to pick up your sling and biners on the way down. Apr 2, 2004
[Hide Comment] I'm slightly embarrassed to tell this story, but I'm going to anyway...A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I and two others, we'll call them Jack and his friend Jill (the names have been changed to protect the innocent..) had the brilliant idea to climb this on the night of july 4th, camp out on top, and watch the fireworks display. I think we had some idea that we'd get up to the top mid-afternoon, top-rope the 5.11+ overhang, kick back and have a few beers, watch the fireworks, ha ha ha.The gear: rack, 2 ropes, 2 gallons of water, an ice chest filled with things to eat, sleeping bags and pads. Also, Jill had never climbed before.We knew it would take awhile so we got an early start, and it was a very hot day, at least 100 degrees. It was so hot I at least was somewhat exhausted just getting to the base of the climb with all that shit.We set up a top-rope going up to the slot (Jack soloed to that point to do this) and started hauling gear. Since Jill couldn't follow the run-out climbing along the traverse to get to that point, and also couldn't top-rope the direct 5.10+ face, we also hauled her, which was very strenuous and difficult.I think it must have been late-afternoon by the time we were all established at the notch. I was totally exhausted.All I remember of the traversing from the notch (Walton traverse, etc.) was: It took a long time to get Jill across being belayed from both sides; I somehow wound up leading the Walton traverse while carrying the full ice-chest in one hand. I do not recommend this. Anyway, by the time we got to the end of the traversing and were on the low-angle east face, it was 1 a.m. (I was vaguely aware of fireworks going off at some point), everyone was unhappy and very very tired. We were almost out of water.Finally, when we did summit (must have been 2 or so), the top was completely infested with mosquitoes, and of course we had no protection from them and got eaten alive.The next day was just as hot, and, with no water by this point, we did the rap off, and hiked out. When we got to the river, we all jumped in, which was by far the best point of the trip. The final blow was realizing a day or two later that someone (probably me) had managed to leave a sling with several pieces of gear at one of the belays.

Apr 9, 2004
[Hide Comment] IMO the greatest difficulty for a newer leader is in the approach pitch face (.4S) as the rest has better holds and takes pro reasonably well but you should bring your larger cams. If you are to believe the route photo in Rossiter than there are 4 variations of the second pitch out on the north face. I have found 3. One (standard) is in between the two in the photo, the higher (Walton's) is above the upper traverse in the photo and arrives at the top of the block. The 3rd climbs up to Walton's before rounding the base of the block and going up the sandier buckets (where the larger cams would be handy and the crux of this variation). There can be bad rope drag on all but the highest traverse and you need to protect your second well. I have used the Shadow Canyon approach until behind the ridge, climbing over the ridge to arrive right at the start of the west face approach slab for my ascents. Has anyone compared the two approaches (over the ridge vs. srambling up from the eastern base)? - JP Jun 12, 2004
[Hide Comment] I don't recommend using the piton(s) near the Crow's Nest for the first pitch out to the North Face. This would possibly be logical if it was still done as a pendulum but if your second is inexperienced, you might think twice about having to untie and unthread the rope as well as the retieval after the main rappel and split this into two pitches instead. In a more popular area the pin would surely have been removed. The descent traverse from the Nest is relatively easy with the crux being just one move from a large stance area (a*). From here: Bust the 'crux' move up to the ledge with the tree. The next pitch is the famous one for continuity, exposure, and downclimbing at 5.5 . Move your belay up to the next spot past the tree (b*). DOWNclimb out and left for several moves to the stance (c*) below you at the base of a dihedral on the right of a block/bulge. Climb up and left around the outside of the bulging block through a grittier hollow and into a big belay (d*). Sling for rope drag and protect your second. One of the variations is to not descend from (b*) but to step up and traverse high to (d*). This is Walton's. The other is to climb up the dihedral from (c*) to connect with Walton's where it meets (d*) at the top of the block/bulge without going left around the outside corner. The route can be viewed from the neighbouring Fatiron. Jun 12, 2004
[Hide Comment] Additional comment: It's best to just bring two ropes. I find this rappel more exciting than say, Devil's Tower or Grand Teton by far. Plus the second rap from Crow's Nest to the ground is there, too. Better to just come prepared. Jun 12, 2004
[Hide Comment] Back in the mid-eighties, my partner, Mark Johler, and I did a scary and much harder variation to this line, and I was wondering if anyone else has done this.
Our line went straight up, bearing only slightly to the right, from the tree.
What I am describing is not the line that follows the strata heading more right than up, but it goes just about straight up from the tree, if I recall, for about 160' to the east ridge.
So, in about 160' it goes right only about 15'
As we had never seen anything documented on our climb, we called it Thanatos 5.10 X.
I was unable to get any pro in for the entire pitch, with the exception of a possible piece just above the tree.
My partner, who regularly climbed 5.10 at the time, fell about three times seconding the pitch. I didn't fall, because it just wasn't an option.
This was one of the scariest pitches I have ever done, and I just wanted to know if anyone else has done this line? Nov 10, 2006
Phil Lauffen
Innsbruck, AT
[Hide Comment] Incredible. The pitch after you belay at the tree is phenomenal. I was euphoric while leading it, managed to get a tricam, and a cam in along with the two or three pins I clipped along the way. Stay a minute and appreciate the EXPOSURE below. Not for the faint of heart, as a fall on the pitch after The Crow's Nest has the potential for some broken bones if you screw up. The rap can be done with a 60M rope, and in the wind. After watching the ends of our rope flail wildly about for a few minutes, we saw it brush the ledge below, and went for it. Euphoric, again. As we had left our packs on the NORTH side of The Maiden we downclimbed to a large boulder that's actually along the route and set up a rap with slings (rain coming in). We didn't realize the standard second rap dropped you down on the SOUTH side of The Maiden. 60M rope reached with about ten feet to spare on each side. Oct 4, 2008
John Korfmacher
Fort Collins, CO
[Hide Comment] This is one of the strangest climbs I've ever done...after 2.5 pitches, you are lower than you are at the start. But it's a very fun climb and the place has an almost spooky feel to it. It's a long approach, there's nobody around, and because of the circuitous nature of the route, every climb has kind of a first-ascent gestalt.

Gerry Roach's description in the Flatirons guidebook is useful and quite humorous as well. Jan 21, 2009
Coal Creek Canyon, CO
  5.6 R
[Hide Comment] A very odd route...more down climbing and traversing than 'real' climbing. Quite fun though, and the rappel from the summit makes it all worthwhile. The move(s) up the overhanging bulge/crack to the tree was the crux of it...very exposed for the leader and kinda scary!
We did the rap with one 60m and there was plenty of 'extra' rope laying on the rock at the Crow's Nest. However, on the rap to the ground (to the South from the Crow's Nest) the knots were about 4 feet off the ground- this was fine as with stretch and standing on a rock you could touch down.
One last thing- the eye bolt (the one you rap from at the Crow's Nest) is getting a little wiggly...probably time to be replaced! Aug 30, 2009
Doug Hemken
Madison, WI
[Hide Comment] I think we did the Walton Traverse (see the first couple of comments, above).

Getting to the Crow's Nest was straightforward.

From there, we went down on the N side and traversed. Found a great hand traverse at or just above the level of the tree/block we were aiming for, about 5.7. Good pro high both before and after the traverse.

From the tree, we went up over the block. Found an old bolt while heading up and left, then a Z-piton that can easily be backed up with clean gear. From there, went a little left and up, 5.6-5.7 - I thought it was better to take the run-out myself than force the long down-ramp runout on my seconds. Got in one decent nut en route, and finally set up a semi-hanging belay 30-40 feet above the standard stance. Jun 8, 2010
Rodger Raubach
Loveland, CO
  5.6 R
[Hide Comment] This is not a climb to find your single rope is too short for the rappel to the Crow's Nest. Take 2-60 meter ropes for a safe and memorable climb. I've done this several times, but never found the climbing to be particularly enjoyable, and simply took others wanting to experience "The Rappel of a Lifetime." Jul 21, 2010
Rodger Raubach
Loveland, CO
  5.6 R
[Hide Comment] I was looking back through my climbing notes from BITD; in the Spring of 1967, I led a Conga Line of wannabe climbers up the Maiden, and the Walton Traverse for the CMC-RMRG Rock School "Graduation Climb." I had to sit there atop the Maiden and shepherd 26 students down the rappels, and then be the last man down. It took most of a day. Each student climber was belayed on the raps.

Ever since that experience I've never wanted to go back again! Mar 19, 2011
Carl Dixon
[Hide Comment] I led this in three pitches with double ropes. 1 and 2 can be combined, getting you all the way to the eyebolt at the Crow's Nest. P3 goes down the ramp and over the great airy bulge. #3 cam protects this fine--no need for the #4. Belay at the tree. Our last pitch went up and slightly left from the tree passing to manky pitons and bolts before intersecting the ridge. 5.7R. I didn't place any pro on the last 20' before the ridge and the first 20' on the ridge, and with double ropes there wasn't much drag. Jul 19, 2011
  5.6 PG13
[Hide Comment] The approach was a pain in the ass using Roach and MP directions. The problem is, from the South Mesa TH, OSMP has several trails marked as "Shadow Canyon", and if you take the first ones you see from the Mesa Trail, you will end up at the Matron scratching your head. From the SM TH, hike a little over 2 miles, passing several turnoffs, until you reach the Mesa/Shadow Canyon junction THAT ALSO HAS a water trough 20ft to the east.

5p with a 60m. P1 to the top of the ridge is short and easy enough that it can reasonably be free soloed. P3 I clipped the "pendulum piton" that is located 10ft above The Crow's Nest and about 30ft to the east, on the north face. Not that it should really be trusted, but it takes the head out. I believe we took the low route to the tree, one reachy step around the bulge that was well protected with a #2 TCU. P4 up over the tree, two old bolts, one with a homemade looking hanger and an old SMC, then went down about 15ft and traversed to the base of the chimney, then up to a hollow on some huecos. This section was heady. Bolts on The Crow's Nest are in good shape. The chain has superficial rust. 60m made it easily to the CN - no need for two ropes. Sep 11, 2011
Rich Kelly
[Hide Comment] Another alternative to P4: after clipping the Z pin, traverse a little left, and then go pretty much straight up to the East face passing at least one old pin for a little protection. I would say it was 5.6-5.7 R. You land up about 30-40' above the alcove the regular p4 ends at. Apr 2, 2012
Gary Schmidt
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] This route seems to have many possible subtle variations, and part of the adventure (at least for me) was not knowing precisely where to go and what might lie around the bend. Definitely a bit scary in places, particularly pulling the crux (again not really knowing what was above the slightly overhanging section with a nice ledge below you ready to break your ankles if you blow it. IMHO, you should not be on this route (leader or follower) unless you are pretty comfortable soloing around 5.4 to 5.5. Either that or you have to be a bit nervy.
Also after having done the climb, I really recommend Gerry Roach's recent guidebook (most recent edition) called Flatirons Classics for the clearest description of the route. Even then, have fun second guessing yourself.
And finally just asking...I noticed Rossiter's book says to take the north gully as the south one is more plugged up with boulders and requires more route finding. Roach's book says take the south side which we did. It was fine though a bit rough in places but seemed like pretty standard fare for the more obscure Flatiron stuff. (At one point near the end had to crawl on our bellies with our packs off through a tunnel). Any thoughts on the north side in case I want to repeat the approach someday?
I was also surprised how many times i wish I had brought some smaller gear as usually on the Flatirons I can get away with a few larger cams and tricams. A few smaller nuts or cams sure would have been handy a few times. Sep 20, 2012
Dave Clark 5.10
Golden, CO
  5.6 R
[Hide Comment] Did this classic route in 1972, and it scared the crap out of me, which was appropriate considering my equipment and novice ability at the time. Climbed it for the second time yesterday, and it is still spectacular even with all the scrambling, downclimbing, and traversing. The approach is relatively clear if you pay attention, but here's some additional beta:
a) 2.3 miles on Mesa Trail from south trailhead; pass main Shadow Canyon fork (stay right on Mesa Trail).
b) When due east of the Maiden, the Mesa trail descends about a hundred yards to lesser Shadow Canyon Trail at small stream crossing with the rock-lined "water trough" on the right.
c) Go left (SW) up this Shadow Canyon Trail. Easier to pass the cairn at the first access to the talus slope and continue up SC trail another few hundred feet to an old mining rock hump and old road bed with a trail heading right (NW) back to talus slope.
d) Where this road bed crosses the talus slope, a cairn shows where to turn left uphill.
e) Follow climber's trail on north side of talus under south face of the Maiden.
f) At the large obstacle near the top, turn left and squeeze on your belly through a small cave tunnel, then easy walk to top. Nov 7, 2012
Eric Klammer
Boulder, CO
  5.6 R
[Hide Comment] Brilliant climb. Solid rock, exciting exposure, and somewhat decent pro make this a great outing. Having climbed the route twice now, I can say that both the climbing and the rappel are much better by moonlight! If you have the chance to get out on a bright night, do it! The rappel is unreal.... May 27, 2013
Highlands Ranch, CO
  5.6 R
[Hide Comment] This climb was so much fun.

Some notes: first, we were dumb and didn't bring an extra layer. Sure it was 68F and we were sweaty from the hike and basking in sun on the south face, but we quickly climbed into the wind on the west ridge and then had to belay on the shady north face in a pretty persistent wind on pitches 3 and 4. Oops! Chilly.

Second: while the route is run out for most of the climbing, we found that all of the run outs were on easy terrain. Before and at the cruxes on pitches 3 and 4, we found pretty good gear. I had a small cam and a small stopper significantly before the tree on pitch three and then found a #1 C4 that fit in a pocket before the bulge, and then mid-bulge there was a perfect #3 or #4 placement. For pitch 4, I believe we did the wide-crack 5.7 variation: that had good gear, too, and a fixed pin.

Some of the comments made it seem that the pitch 3 bulge is essentially unprotected, but I did not find that to be the case at all.

We rappelled in pretty high winds: our 60m rope was being blown completely out of view to the south as it hung from the summit, but it was no big deal: mildly unnerving is all. We waited for a lull, saw the rope just touch the Crow's Nest, and went. It was fine. Oct 8, 2014
Todd the Tangler
Golden, CO
[Hide Comment] Yup, did this route with teece above earlier this month, and I say you should only do it in high winds! Made the rap that much more exhilarating! Oct 22, 2014
[Hide Comment] Did this last week for the first time.

It took us 2 hours to do the approach, and 1h10m to hike out. This was at a good pace. Going in we got a bit confused on where to break off from Shadow Canyon trail. (All trails are on Google Maps btw). Ignore all comments regarding mining roads/etc. The large flat rocky area, which had 3 cairns that were probably 3-4 feet high, that's where you want to be, look for the trail north of there.

We did the climb with a single 70m. I guess that made the rappel a bit more "boring" then some people have experienced using two ropes or not using a prussik when they rappel.

We never used a #4 other then the start of the first pitch, which does nothing really - not worth bringing it in or racking it.

As mentioned, this is a serious climb, with sections that a fall would result in extremely bad things. Combined with the fact you are over an hour from civilization, you should be a very confident 5.8+ leader. The runout traverse poses serious risks to the leader and follower.

The rope drag on the last pitch was insane, and our radios died at that point as well. My partner had to tie in to the middle of the rope, as I could not pull it. That was with keeping rope drag in mind; running it out, and using double-length slings on most pieces. Be cautious of this, and have a plan.

The exposure is real, don't underestimate it - it makes it thrilling for sure, but no place for a beginner leader to find themselves. Sep 14, 2015
Arvada, CO
  5.6 R
[Hide Comment] A word to the wise regarding setting up a top rope on the "pendulum" pitch after the Crow's Nest, which was suggested in the commentary above and also in Roach's guidebook. Since I was climbing with a partner whom I suspected might have trouble with the overhang crux, I decided to use this option and built a top rope anchor by clipping the old pin with my cordalette and backing it up with a green Camalot. Once my partner reached the belay, we pulled the rope, with the intention of recovering the anchor after we finished the route and rapped back down to the Crow's Nest. Unfortunately, another party, probably one of the two ascending the East Ridge ahead of us, spotted my anchor and cleaned it, no doubt assuming it was booty and abandoned by a newbie team that got scared off and somehow didn't notice the fixed rap anchor that was only about 20' away.

In hindsight, I wish I had just led that pitch, as it wasn't really all that hard (and features a really fun overhang). If you do decide to use the top-rope option, I guess you should consider hanging a sign from your anchor to explain that you will be recovering it later. Nov 8, 2015
[Hide Comment] Did this in the '80s. I was pulled off a climb while belaying someone who was climbing second who took a swing. Tore ligaments in my knee. Was at camp in Eldo a couple of days later in my knees brace. I saw a guy with his arm in a sling who had been hurt climbing too. We talked and decided to climb the 5.6 route on The Maiden. We must have been a sight! Apr 29, 2017
[Hide Comment] All the beta you need is here to make this excellent but super odd and heady climb as straightforward as it can be. I just have a few clarifying notes from my experience, as there are some conflicting reports above. My partner and I agree with all the comments above that while the grade is 5.6 (maybe a 5.7 move or two), both climbers should be very solid 5.8 leaders. This is R for a reason. Communication is also very difficult as you are often around a corner and well below/above your partner.

Rack: a #4 is worth it to protect the crux of pitch 3 and tricams (0.25-2 or 2.5) make the runouts a lot less runout.

Approach: it is the THIRD Shadow Canyon trail. On Google Maps/the sign, this is labelled Shadow Canyon North Trail. The trough is obvious. To get to the quarry, look for the first rockfall that reaches the trail (it is no more than a few minutes walk) - the path up is just after that (if in doubt, bushwhack to the obvious quarry). Once in the quarry, make your way to the narrow band of trees (you will ultimately find them on the right edge of the top of the quarry), and the trail becomes obvious. Fair warning: the squeeze to get to the start of the first pitch really is a crawl on your belly squeeze.

Pitch 3: I will disagree with some of the comments above that the third pitch has little or no pro - I actually found it reasonably well-protected if you bring tricams. Look for head-height pockets, and keep rope drag in mind. Also, a #4 makes the crux well-protected.

A note on the physical crux in regards to a comment above - all of the photos seem to show the climber following the right-trending crack up around the side of the bulge. Instead, plug a #4 in the base of the crack from the jugs, and then move up and left (heading straight for the tree), pulling the lip and rocking onto the face using good holds and then follow the obvious line up. Exposed, but also no harder than 5.6 with good pro.

Pitch 4: on the standard variant, the ramp continues longer than expected. Essentially, stay on it as it goes down and then traverse around a very exposed bulge, and you will be presented with the referenced weakness: a right-facing dihedral and no other choice but to go up. Doing so, you will encounter the hollowed-out pocket and arrive at a huge belay ledge. The gear is not great, but there is a small stopper, two pitons and two tricam placements before turning the bulge, and then the gear is fine once in the dihedral. May 24, 2017