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South Face

5.5, Trad, 2 pitches,  Avg: 2.6 from 21 votes
FA: unknown
Colorado > Boulder > Flatirons > South > Shanahan Crag
Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


From the low point of the rock, head west for 300 feet. Look for a 140 foot vertical crack. The picture in Rossiter's guide book shows the route going up the wrong crack. The crack down and right in this picture is the correct one. This one of the best "crack" pitches that I have done in the Flatirons. It has great protection and good handholds.

P1: Follow this crack for 140 feet.

P2: Join the Southeast ridge route. Passing the last large roof right near the left edge will add some excitement. It is 5.6-8, depending on hieght, with great exposure. It is a little runout unless you reach above the roof to place a #3 Camalot.

Descent: scramble to the north, and rap with one rope down the gully to the west.


Rack to 2.5"

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Orrie pulling the crux (photo by Jason Hill)
[Hide Photo] Orrie pulling the crux (photo by Jason Hill)
Will approaching the "crux" crack
[Hide Photo] Will approaching the "crux" crack
Jeff playing around unroped off the huecos at the base of the route.
[Hide Photo] Jeff playing around unroped off the huecos at the base of the route.
THIS IS THE WRONG CRACK!!!If you see this, keep walking uphill until you're on a talus slope, without trees near the base of the rock.
[Hide Photo] THIS IS THE WRONG CRACK!!!If you see this, keep walking uphill until you're on a talus slope, without trees near the base of the rock.
Beta shot of the start of the climb.  Steeper and more exciting than it looks!
[Hide Photo] Beta shot of the start of the climb. Steeper and more exciting than it looks!

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Michael Walker
Loveland, CO
[Hide Comment] I'll second that, Guy, one of the best easy crack climbs in the Flatirons. We also decided the route in Rossiter's guide missed the mark, the crack we chose began with parallel cracks down to the right from the one in the photo. This one had fantastic pro, multiple cruxes and was just off vertical making the climbing sustained right up until you topped out on the ridge crest. I totally dug the finger crux that is obvious from the ground. You rarely get a 5.4 with such quality climbing right through to the end.

Once you scramble off the summit to the North, it was possible to continue uphill (west) and find a gap to get back to the talus slope without rapping. Sep 2, 2002
Michael Walker
Loveland, CO
[Hide Comment] And a little more beta on the approach, which is a little more "wild" than it would appear from Rossiter's guidebook. We approached from the South Shanahan trail and returned down the North Shanahan trail. Both took just over an hour (a little more on the up, of coarse) and seemed no different in length or difficulty. Remember the old saying: "Uphills both ways"?

From the intersection with the Mesa trail (when ascending the SST), turn right (north) and walk 100 yards to the broad meadow. The Mountian Parks service has done a wonderful job of keeping the forest safe and in its natural state by cutting and spacing the undergrowth on this ridge, and you can follow any number of tire tread scars that lace the hillside, working your way west up into the Shanahan Draw. A beautiful boulder marks the way on the hillside to the right (which I do not know the name of but has a number of high class routes on its south face). Eventually, the tire tracks end and the animal paths converge to form a faint path a hundred yards above the dry creek.

You will pass a small Flatironette and then the South Shanahan Crag will rise out of the hillside on the right. Follow the edge of the South Face until the forest opens into a pleasant talus field. Belay on the perfect tablerock near the base of the climb.

As we were preparing to leave, two hawks rode the thermals over the ridge into the ampitheatre of the headwaters of the Shanahan Crag, and we had the pleasure of watching them hunt in the talus field around us. It's a pretty cool spot. Sep 3, 2002
James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
[Hide Comment] Great southern exposure on this wall, and it's sheltered from most directions. So there's little wind, and it's warm---great winter climb. The only trouble is that the sun sets just west of the Sphinx about two hours before it sets in downtown Boulder, so start early. The "draw" mentioned in Rossiter is a few hundred feet north of the south branch of the Shanahan Trail, and the crag is 0.4 mile due west, but the climber's/game trails are buried under a thick carpet of pine needles. Just keep heading up and west. Jan 19, 2003
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Curious from the comments on this climb from the site, we checked it out. Good quality, yes. However, I'm not sure how this is such a great CRACK climb. Seemed more face than crack climbing to me. Also, quite a stiffie for 5.4. Mar 13, 2003
Michael Walker
Loveland, CO
[Hide Comment] Ha! Right, Leo - if the definition of "crack climb" is one you take from climbing in Indian Creek (i.e. stuff hands and/or body in crack and wedge, wedge, wedge), then this isn't a crack climb at all! I don't think I even used a finger jam on this thing. To clarify, this is a rare climb in the Flatirons that actually follows a discernable, continuos crack; AND one that takes good pro. For the Flatirons a rare thing indeed. Mar 13, 2003
James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
[Hide Comment] Yup, definitely trickier than the average 5.4. The crux move is harder than anything on Fandango, which I remember as being a 5.5. The trick seems to be to keep following the main crack, even though it looks harder from the bottom; traversing to the right around the crux is tempting, but you'd have to be fairly tall to pull it off. A couple of smaller Aliens (blue and green, I think?) went into solid placements just before the crux. As for the overall quality of the crack, it's pretty small alright, more like a line of breadcumbs you follow to the top than anything that offers a lot of holds. Mar 15, 2003
Gary Schmidt
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] A great route. Agree that the crux crack at the top it stiffer than 5.4, but goes well. A fun route with interesting moves. Apr 21, 2003
[Hide Comment] I can imagine how popular this would be if it had only half the approach. A favorite for years, it still does not have a beaten path to it. The 'long' approach however will deter many. The pics have really helped identify it as there are inconsistencies in Rossiter and Roach. I climbed one to the left that went at about 5.8 . The description does not quite match that for Identify Theft. It starts approximate to this standard route but takes a more direct line and has an intermittent crack. Does anyone have more info? Jun 12, 2004
[Hide Comment] I rate the crux at 5.5 as compared to other Flatiron south faces such as The Winky Woo. It is also more sustained than other Flatiron 5.4s which is probably a good thing though you need to bring quite a bit of pro for this one pitch to cover it well (thin stuff, in particular). Jun 12, 2004
[Hide Comment] Did this climb today. We scrambled to the top and anticipated a tree (after a short downclimb to the north) with some slings to use for backing up a rap. Unfortunately, we never found them. We did however, find the notch that lead us to a horrible, loose, talus slope on the south side. In the future, I think I'd just rap (double-length) off P1. There are a bunch of slings there!

I'm not sure I'd call this a spectacular crack climb, or crack climb at all. It's more like a face climb where you follow a crack. Lastly, it WAS fun, especially for the Flatirons. And yup, I agree with the 5.5 rating (crux move). May 11, 2006
Jo Holloway
[Hide Comment] The ambience here is great. The long walk in keeps the crowds down. The lichens are in fantastic shape (I hope they stay that way!). We were entertaining a pair of ravens all afternoon who returned the favor with some fine aerobatics.

You can treat this as a crack climb or a face climb, although the path of least resistance is most certainly treating the South Face as a face climb. It's a little balancy for the grade, but not horrifically so. Takes great pro the whole way through. Bring a 70m rope for the rappel. Nov 6, 2006
[Hide Comment] One of my favorite free-solo routes. So perfect: no crowds, exhilarating exposure, and great holds. Dec 1, 2013
[Hide Comment] I'd say it is more like 5.5. Nov 29, 2014