Type: Trad, 3 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 2,456 total · 11/month
Shared By: Guy H. on Jul 30, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

27 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


This is one of the better east face routes that I have done in the Flatirons. I gave this route a "s" rating even though none of the guide books give it this rating. The two cruxs on the climb have 20-30 foot runouts on them, but the rock is clean and the holds are small but plentiful. Begin about 50feet from the southern edge of the rock.

P1: Angle up to the left passing a small tree. Pass the bulge near the left edge of the rock. This is the crux (5.5), the slab climbing is wonderful here, but your last piece is 20-30 feet below you. This should add to the experience.

P2: We angled up to the right along a crack system and belayed above an offwidth crack.

P3: Head straight up the runout slab and head to the left edge of the rock when you get to the next bulge that traverses the rock. Pass the bulge near the southern edge of the rock near a 18 inch pot hole. (5.4) Follow a crack system on the prow to the summit.

Descent: Sling a thread with a ~9 foot sling and rap 60 feet to the west.


Gear to 2 inches, webbing for the rap.
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I climbed this route again today and it is beautiful. It is not totally obvious where to start the route, and we did it differently today. A low start is harder but no worse than the crux. This is only about 50' from the Fern Canyon trail, only 20' above the low point of the rock. A flake sticks out here, it looks like an ear. You can climb up onto the face using this ear, then traverse left and then straight up lichenous rock, bypassing a steep bulge using pockets to the left (very little pro on this pitch).

An easier start is about 100' higher near a big pine tree. A sloping ledge leads west (very easy) to the arete right below the (first) crux. I think this is the start Guy speaks of.

I always wondered what a "Pellaea" is. Turns out is a genus of fern. Appropriate for Fern Canyon. Aug 30, 2001
I did this climb last week, and I have to agree with the (S) rating comment. I am used to Flatiron run outs but the combination exposure/run out on the first crux is pretty awesome.

Perhaps if I had brought a small TCU I could have protected on the flake to the right of the crux.

This being said, Pellea is an awesome climb, it is clear why it made the top ten ranking on Roach's book. Oct 1, 2001
Guy H.
Fort Collins CO
Guy H.   Fort Collins CO
It is possible to start this climb about 75 feet north of the low point. Angle up to the left and join the regular route above the small tree. This pitch is about 5.4, but also a little runout. With a 200' rope, the climb can be done in two pitches. We did this pitch by accident. After rapping off of the Fiddlehead, we thought we climbing Onoclea. Jan 22, 2002
Really good, third the (s) rating. Maybe, it was just my head today, but the whole thing seemed a bit more runout/serious than a normal Flatiron. Super climbing with a great position (not protection). We did three pitches- two long (180') and one shorter (maybe 75'). Guess what, no traffic other than us...... Oct 13, 2002
What a great climb! DO IT! The POSITION is fantastic. Looking down Fern Canyon, and at the back of the slab - when you are 200 ft. up, it feels like you are on top of the 3rd Flatiron. We did it later in the afternoon, and the sun on the rocks below us was makeing me say holy S*#$ is this cool! I thought the crux was runout, so I agree with the "s" rating. It is much more of a serious outing than then 3rd (climbing-wise), so be comfortable at 5.5 or 5.4 slab climbing if leading, but it is all there. Watch for lichen, as this isn't as well traveled as the more popular climbs. My partner knocked down a large (3 ft. by 2 ft.) flake towards the start of the climb (scary) but otherwize, the rock was very solid. Go down a bit and north from the summit to find the slings. There were 5 slings or so with 3 rap rings when we did this on 9/14/03. From the bottom of the rap, we went directly west and then south and met up with the trail. Sep 17, 2003
There is a tiny Alien placement just to the left of the crux on the first pitch that does provide a bit of protection. This felt like standard Flatiron runnout to me, nothing more, nothing less. Beautiful rock, a great route. We climbed Fiddlehead and Onoclea first, and finishing on Pelaea was a great finish. Oct 17, 2004
Mark Griffin
Boulder, CO
Mark Griffin   Boulder, CO
Climbed this today, 8-9-06; friggin' sweeeet. The slings ontop are getting old and weathered, definitely bring some webbing to back this up. I didn't and was slightly sketched out.

We started ~100 feet from the Fern Canyon trail at a break in the poison ivy. Didn't think it was too runout, standard Flatirons slab. Second and third pitches are better protected than the first.
Third pitch is super fun. Aug 9, 2006
Charles Danforth
L'ville, CO
Charles Danforth   L'ville, CO
Great little climb. The approach is pretty casual, the climb is short and sweet, and the views are fantastic. It's a nice, remote, change from the usual Flatiron fare. The first crux (steep friction chute on P1) is pretty intense for a 5.5, so be sure you're comfy on dime edges 30' above your last pro before attempting. The last pitch is pure fun!

The rappel into the notch is great, but rope drag is a real problem. We rigged low from the anchor and rapped a meandering dihedral directly north into the notch. The outcome was the closest I've ever come to having a stuck rope. In the future, I would probably lay the rope over the smooth bulge to the west and rap that way. Nov 25, 2006
Rick Blair
  5.5 R
Rick Blair   Denver
  5.5 R
I can tell from the descriptions some others took a slightly different route, I stayed mainly towards the southern edge. Normally I take R ratings on the East face Flatiron routes with a grain of salt, this one deserves it. The lead running up to the first crux and the entirety of the second crux on the 3rd pitch is friction and 2-3 mm edges for holds, all with no pro.

The first pitch crux actually has good pro for the final big move, for me, leading the 3rd pitch was the hardest part. Before heading up the crux and toward the "pothole/hueco", I put in pro at the large ledge to protect the potential plummet off the side, that scenario would only occur after first decking on the ledge. A little bit of choss and lichen here and there adds to the fun. Maybe it was the day but this climb got my attention, definitely the spiciest 5.5 I have ever done.

Beautiful area, great summit and great rappel, interesting options for the hike/scramble down. Nov 9, 2009
Brian C.
Longmont, CO
Brian C.   Longmont, CO
So I win the stupid award and started climbing P1 way to far up aiming for a smooth gully above. Ended up slightly more challenging than the standard crux (lichen) but took gear a little better. Ended up above and way to the right of the standard P1. Sad thing is I'd climbed this before.... Aug 10, 2014
Andres Fernandez
Boulder, Colorado
  5.5 R
Andres Fernandez   Boulder, Colorado
  5.5 R
We climbed this today in 3 pitches.

There are a lot of lines as mentioned.

1st pitch: there's a slanty tree probably at 50 feet up. I presume most parties start around there. 20 feet above that I started the lead where it seemed to have some good starting hand holds. Instead of doing the crux to the left of the small two pronged tree, I had gotten a little higher up and then traversed over about 10 feet with very small hand and footholds to easier ground right next to the two pronged tree and then went up. The belay was setup about 30 feet above the tree and to climber's right. Rope drag can be a problem.

2nd pitch: easiest of all the pitches and longest. Started from the last good belay area 20-30 feet above and north of the two pronged tree. Easiest pitch to lay protection. Followed the gash, and then that led to more horn/flake sections to the horizontal gash right before the 'second 5.4 crux'. This area is big with plenty of space to sit down and find some anchors.

3rd pitch: short and I led from the left where the 18 inch hueco is. I only laid one piece of protection around the tree half-way up and another 30 feet and I was at the top. Didn't seem like there were really any other opportunities for laying.

Rappel should only need one 60 meter rope, and it seems like only 40-50 feet down at most. We rapped from the existing slings and oblong, iron rap ring.

I could definitely agree this route is runout. Severe if you're not experienced at 5.4-5.6. Yes, there are very few places to lay protection on the 1st and 3rd pitches. Can be spicy, but it seems the rock is good and grippy for a slab. Nov 9, 2014
Climbed with Andrew on 2014/11/09.

I can think to add the gps waypoints for the belay sites we used in with a more formal description. Also, my photos of the trip may be found at: flickr.com/photos/19047247@N04/sets/72157648829839907/

The climb is two full pitches (on a 60m rope) then a 1/3 pitch followed by a short belay across the top of the rock. It offers a great view of the area in Fern Canyon and also east between Boulder and Eldorado Springs. It's not clear how much the splendid view contributed to the recommendation in Gerry Roach's Boulder Flatirons climbing guidebook.

From the Cragmoore (N39.96867 W105.26328 at 5,756', 2355 Cragmoor Rd in Boulder) or LeHigh (N39.96729 W105.25866 at 5,750', 1915 LeHigh St in Boulder) trailheads, proceed to the climber's trail in Fern Canyon at N39.96527 W105.28897 at 6,942'. We started on the north choice of two good options at N39.96568 W105.28819 at 7,085'. We found relatively roomy ledges for belay stations at: 1st pitch at N39.96563 W105.28950 at 7,173'; 2nd pitch at N39.96563 W105.28986 at 7,345'; 3rd pitch at N39.96567 W105.29003 at 7,383'. In all cases we followed below (east and north of the south ridge of Pellea. The rappel station was at N39.96579 W105.29000 at 7,385'. It's probably about 50' to the base of the rappel at N39.96581 W105.29009 at 7,343'. From the base of the rappel, you could attempt to scramble/rappel further to the south or instead chose to follow west along the rock wall and scramble down and then down to the trail (we chose the latter). The gain may be closer to 400 than 300'; my gps was a little limited at the bases of the climb and the rappel. Nov 27, 2014