Type: Trad, 5 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 18,622 total · 85/month
Shared By: Matt White 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


A great route for beginners. Beware of serious rope drag on pitches 3,4 and 5.

This scenic, exposed route gets three stars as a free solo.

Approach the North Arete by climbing East Face North Side (see Warren Teissier's description of that route), or by hiking around the back of the First Flatiron to the notch just uphill from the end of the East Face North Side route.

P1 (45m): Rope up in the notch. Climb up a steep 20 feet, then pull around onto the east face. Climb up the face to a flat area at the base of a long, low overhang.

P2 (50m): Climb straight up to the lip of the overhang, then move left until you can pull up onto the face above the overhang. Run it out on beautiful, highly featured rock to one of several belay spots on the crest. (5.4)

P3 (40m): Climb along the arete, down into a notch, then up a hard-to-protect 50 degree slab. Belay on top of the slab.

P4 (50m): Climb down into another notch and behold the "quartz crystal pitch". Climb a groove (small wired stoppers or tiny cams), then move right on face holds to the top of the tower. As you yard on the flat-topped quartz crystal, think of all the famous Boulder climbers who have yarded on same. Set a belay as far up on the ridge as your rope will reach. (5.4)

P5 (40-50m): Climb up arete to walking terrain. Navigate loose rock and boulders, scramble down into a final notch, then up the right side of the summit tower. Belay from gigantic eyebolts on the summit.

Descent: With a single 50m rope, rap from eyebolts to a big ledge 20 feet from summit. Rap or scramble south down ledge to another large eyebolt. Rappel down the south face. With a 60m or two 50m ropes, make one mostly free-hanging rappel from summit eyebolts to ground.


Standard Flatirons rack.
Another great way to approach this route is to climb the Spy, which is a narrow fin of rock just to the north of the 1st. This rock/route is described elsewhere on the site. Dec 4, 2001
Matt White
Matt White  
Let's not forget Mike Sofranko. He loved the Flatirons, Boulder Canyon, and Eldo as much as any of us. Please be careful out there. Feb 27, 2002
Mike Epke
Denver, CO
Mike Epke   Denver, CO
Just lead this route for the first time after following earlier this year. A great beginner climb, not the easiest route to protect, but more than ample. What great views of everything around - Chatauqua, Flagstaff, Boulder, and Indian Peaks. Can definitely see why this is a Boulder classic. Jul 14, 2002
Kevin Craig  
I always thought the "hard to protect 50 degree slab" was the "Crystal Pitch" and the next (called the crystal pitch here) was the "False Summit Pitch." Any Flatiron old-timers or devotee's care to clear this up? Thanks. Apr 29, 2003
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Kevin, you're right the above route description may be a little out of order.

It's hard to write a pitch by pitch description for this route, but there are basically 3 hard places on the North Arete as I see it. The first is an overhang which is the crux of the route. In the main photo of the First Flatiron under the rock, the Direct Route is shown going left around this overhang (called by Roach the "gully-flake combo", Rossiter shows this as the standard way to do the Direct route).

The second hard place is the quartz knob pitch, which rises above the notch where the dihedral of Fandango reaches the North Arete. You will know you are on this pitch when you spot the quartz knob, although I climbed it many times before seeing it, you do not actually *have* to grab it.

The third hard place rises above the notch where Zig-Zag joins the North Arete. It is an exposed slab that you can either do a rising traverse along or climb straight up, Roach calls this the "Final Headwall", it is what Kevin refers to as the "False Summit Pitch" as it ends atop the false summit. There is also the final hard place climbing the actual summit itself, but this is a lot easier than it looks when you are coming up on it. Apr 30, 2003
Kevin Craig  
Thanks George! I know it's a fiddly detail, but as you know I'm a bit of a climbing history buff, and the pitch names of "classic" climbs are a key part of that history. Like you, I climbed the Crystal Pitch several times before I saw *the* crystal, and I haven't seen it again since. Your route description matches my experience. Apr 30, 2003
mark felber
Wheat Ridge, CO
mark felber   Wheat Ridge, CO
Linking the 1st Flatironette, the Spy, and this route makes for an excellent afternoon/short day outing. Jun 2, 2015
Alexey Dynkin
Boulder, CO
Alexey Dynkin   Boulder, CO
A word of caution: the other day, we tried to approach the N. Arete following Roach's suggestion of the Ampitheater/Saddle Rock trails. I would highly discourage using this approach. There are a myriad of use trails at approximately the location Roach describes as where to leave the established trail, and, what's worse, you can't see the 1st Flatiron at all from this vantage point, so you're left to guess which line to take to hit the ridge at the correct point to start the route. We ended up doing quite a bit of bushwhacking, talus-hopping, and up-and-down until we finally reached the edge of the Flatiron at some unspecified location, at which point we no longer cared where we were and just wanted to get on the rock. Turned out we were in fact 3 pitches below the normal start of the upper N. Arete, which actually turned out to contain some pretty decent (albeit a bit dirty and lichen-covered) sections of climbing along the lower part of the arete. Long story short: even if you want to just climb the upper part of the N. Ridge, it's still WAY easier to head directly to the low point of the 1st, as if approaching the Direct East Face or the east face right, and then scramble up the woods alongside the rock. Aug 17, 2015