Type: Sport
FA: Randy Leavitt, 1981
Page Views: 6,796 total · 32/month
Shared By: Peter Beal on Dec 1, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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(Climb the funky yellow corners on the right side of Upper Security Risk.) This route is amazing. Since it was retrobolted in 1994, it's a rare opportunity to climb a route that must have been damn scary to lead on trad gear. In fact even with bolts, the climbing is insecure and technical enough to get a little concerned, especially near the top as the pump kicks in and you have to step up onto a technical slab. Definitely harder than many of the newer 12a routes in the canyon, it has the quality of climbs such as The Ticket or Jolt Cola. Definitely a must-do route.


10 QDs plus anchor.


I agree with Peter on this one. Great route, tough throughout, solid for the grade. Also having never seen Peter Beal write so many sentences about a route, it must be a good one! (Just kidding, Peter.) Dec 4, 2001
Peter Beal
Boulder Colorado
Peter Beal   Boulder Colorado
I think most 5.11 sport climbers would have a pretty hard time with this one. Does anyone know how Randy Leavitt did this one? I'm guessing it wasn't ground up. Dec 4, 2001
I don't know how this route was worked originally, but I would say that it probably would not be climbed often if still a trad route. My understanding was the FA gave permission for the retrobolting. This must have been one hell of a lead on gear.... Dec 4, 2001
Randy Leavitt never gave Mark Rolofson permission to retrobolt this route. Dec 4, 2001
Peter Beal
Boulder Colorado
Peter Beal   Boulder Colorado
The reason I asked how it was done is to find out if it was originally worked on TR, pro placed on TR, etc. There is a world of difference between true ground-up climbing and headpointing, and plenty of so-called trad routes relied on these tactics without explicitly mentioning their use. In some ways, I agree that the route should have been left unbolted, but I doubt anyone would ever do it these days. In part, this is because it isn't hard enough to attract the attention of most climbers who would want to take the risk. It would become a museum piece instead, looked at but rarely climbed. Again that could be a good thing, but I have to say I prefer the hypocrisy of leading a once-scary route on bolts and admiring the skill of the FA to hassling over a TR setup for a single 12a pitch with a 30 minute uphill approach. Most people, myself included, wouldn't bother. Dec 5, 2001
Originally done ground-up.

The problem with keeping a route like this in the original style is the FA party had a hammer and placed heads and a marginal pin or 2. So even though a very dangerous lead for the FA, the gear was adequate, but the climb only gets more dangerous for subsequent ascents over time as the fixed gear erodes.

A similar example is the style of the FA of Stratosphere and Air Voyage in the Black where Coyne and/or Leavitt placed marginal fixed gear (poor quarter inch bolts, heads, etc.) with a hammer for the FA gear (and on rappel by the way). This is a style of FA that provides adequate pro for the FA team and really just sandbags future ascentionists.

Hot Flyer is a classic sport climb, and although I hate to see trad routes retrobolted, it seems to work in this instance. Dec 5, 2001
I appreciate the value of a true hard trad climb and hate to see these all retro bolted. I agree that marginal fixed gear (such as questionable pins and copperheads) makes for a daring lead for the FA but is really silly and irresponsible for future climbers as this type of lead does not use solely clean gear. As such, adding bolts does not seem unreasonable. If the FA had placed all gear on lead, without pins, then I would think differently. I know people are against seeing bolts added to old trad routes, but I hate nothing more than trying to lead a route that relies on pins, that were new and good 20 years ago, but are now crap. Fixed gear is fixed gear whether it is bolts or pitons. Dec 5, 2001
I have no problem with retrobolting if the 1st ascentionist gave his permission, although the bolt at the crux seems poorly positioned, but I heard a slightly different story. I heard that Randy wasn't asked, but that when told it had been bolted he didn't want to make an issue of it. It's true that if it hadn't been retrobolted it wouldn't get as many ascents, but so what? The people who would do the route, and there are those people around, would have a different experience than just ticking another .12a, they would probably feel the quality more intensely. Why should those who value that quality be deprived? If you want to toprope it, it can be accessed via PLAN B, so that's not an absurd idea. I know somebody who doesn't know any better will trot out that old line about how you don't have to clip the bolts...at the very least my experience has been that it's like seeing a movie and somebody who's seen it already is describing the plot out loud behind me. The annoyance factor spoils the show. Having a running monologue in your ear about the bolts and 'whether to clip it' and 'can you skip it' just isn't conducive to focusing on the climbing. There are a large number of routes around here that would have been excellent with a few bolts but are quite forgettable at their over-bolted, lower standard.

This is the best route at the crag, but it could have been better.** Dec 6, 2001
My understanding of this situation is thus: Randy was asked if some bolts could be added to the climb to make it safer and was agreeable in the matter. When later hearing just how many bolts were added, he was/is somewhat dismayed.

Perhaps with a few less bolts, it would still have a degree of commitment but still be safe, as opposed to yet another mindless clip-up of which there are plenty around. Aug 2, 2002
Removing the bolts from this line is a terrible disservice to the climbing community. Hot Flyer was certainly a bold ascent by Randy, and re-equiping the line was a good contribution by Mark. The bolts are well placed.

The self righteous should be constructive, not destructive. Focus your energy on putting up new bold lines. You can write them up and then everyone will still know how hard core you are. Sep 12, 2002
I just want to clarify that I do not favor bolting existing trad routes. I might even bust out the crowbar if I saw bolts on Arm's Bizarre. However, I agree with AC that the circumstances with Hot Flyer are different, and these bolts are not so disturbing. If Randy were to pull the bolts, I would be bummed, but that would be his right, and no one else's. I understand the debate and the fear of setting a precedant by not condoning this. However, pulling the bolts on this route is disservice to the entire climbing community. Peace. Sep 12, 2002
Arms Bizarre has a bolt on it. Sep 13, 2002
After thinking about this overnight, I came to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter that much to me (personally), because I've already done it many times, and this is just another case of climber against climber over relatively trivial issues.

If Randy returned Hot Flyer to its pre-bolted state, I'd have a new objective to try. Although I doubt I'd ever have the mind to do it on lead, Steve's suggestion to top-rope the route is fair enough and something I could accept.

If someone else removes the bolts, I question their authority. If the person is not the first ascentionist, then they have no right to remove bolts unless they represent the greater interests of the climbing community. To often, self-righteous individuals disregard the interests of their community and destroy something valuable that many enjoyed. Bolt wars, the ice flows, ... etc. These acts are selfish and ego driven.

If the Boulder climbing community supported the pre-bolt Hot Flyer, I'd be OK with returning it to its original state; however, it is my opinion that this is not the case with Hot Flyer, and only a very few outspoken individuals are making this an issue and will do a disservice to the community by removing the bolts. Sep 13, 2002
It took big kahunas to do this route on gear!!!! Holy crap. It's a tenous sport lead with very few clean falls!

Don't climb at this crag in the sun if its hotter than 50 degress.... Jun 9, 2003
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
So when you say that only the FA-ist can remove bolts, you give permission for anyone else to place them, in effect... you see, if I go place them, they get to stay until the FA party returns under your rule. So when Fred Becky dies, can someone rebolt everything he ever did? Some day Chouinard, Robbins, Ament, Erikson, etc... they will all be gone. Under this system of 'only the FA party can remove a bolt', you have to start with only the FA party can place one, or eventually anything can be bolted and never stripped.

Sometimes it is not about ideals, or even right and wrong, sometimes it is about gauging the probable end result. In this case, 'only the FA party can remove' is not acceptable. Aug 21, 2003
I agree that the bolt protecting the crux at the lip of the roof is not in the best place. The bolt is placed such that the carabiner on the rope end of a short quickdraw rests against the lip of the roof. There's pretty big whipper potential here, especially once you commit to the insecure moves on the slab, and big falls could cross load the biner, open the gate, etc... if you use a short draw. Use a long (more than 6 inch) quickdraw here.

This route's kind of a sandbag at 11+, compared to similarly graded routes in the Canyon. Sep 19, 2003
Chris Archer
Chris Archer  
Outstanding climbing in any condition. Oct 28, 2003
Paul Hunnicutt
Boulder, CO
Paul Hunnicutt   Boulder, CO
Best to traverse in from the right to avoid the choss below the first bolt. However I always go through the choss for some reason? Maybe I should climb in Glenwood.

Excellent route. Glad it is bolted. Doesn't let up until the chains. Nov 9, 2008
I just recently stumbled onto this thread about Hot Flyer. I am glad everyone has enjoyed the route, and that brings me happiness.

Before the first ascent, I rapped from the top to see if there was actually a line there. Dan Hare was kind enough to show me this crag, and I had already been to the top. On rappel, I could see there was enough protection, except for the roof. While hanging on the rope, I decided to place the fixed copperheads below the roof. My background was that bolts were to be avoided, so the copperheads seemed justified. I did not try the climb or rehearse it on top rope. My rappel was merely to establish that there was a line there worth risking my ass for. I came back with a double rope belay (and two belayers). I believe Harrison Decker and Dan Hare were with me. I led the route, probably without falls (because I don't remember any). I thought it was scary but reasonable. On a subsequent trip, Harrison made the second lead, and I photographed him. I recall, he did fall once above the roof (heads held) but got it clean on his second go.

There are a lot of well thought out comments from the folks who post here. I know several of you and have tremendous respect for you (Bob and Chris).

That era was a time in Boulder when a lot of talented climbers were putting up routes that had been previously overlooked in the Golden Years of Boulder climbing development. Skip Guerin was the most talented and boldest of the lot. Alec Sharp, Jeff Achey, Harrison Decker, and Bob Horan were also very motivated and talented. Of course, there were Jim Collins and Roger Briggs, who were still active. Anyway, I was proud of Hot Flyer, even though my rappel inspection and copperheads were not perfect style. The comment one of you guys made about fixed copperheads being good for the FA and not for later parties is true, unless the copperheads are beat into the shape of a stopper and wedged into place. That was not the case here. The heads were not that good, even for me.

Maybe a year or two later, a top Brit climber, Andy Parkin, tried Hot Flyer. I was told he fell above the heads and almost decked when the heads blew (that might be a 60 foot fall). So he almost died.

Years later, Mark Rolofson called me and asked if he could retrobolt Hot Flyer. I remembered Andy Parkin. Who would rap back in to replace the fixed heads? Should a bolt go there instead? In this case, Hot Flyer was a perfect candidate for retrobolting. In fact, I thought it would be selfish of me to say no to Mark.

Rolofson was opening the fantastic route for everyone to enjoy. I tell people if they want the thrill, do Limits Of Power, which is safer than Hot Flyer ever was.

The lesson I learned is that every scary route doesn't have to stay that way. On the other hand, I would not want to see all scary, classic routes bolted (like Jules Verne). I think it shows a reasonable compromise by the FA team to let some of them be bolted. Bottom line is that many more people have enjoyed this awesome route.

I hope to return soon to climb this route again, but clipping the bolts (jeez, like the 30 year anniversary or something). I haven't done Hot Flyer since that FA. I assume Rolofson did a good job on the bolts, because he is probably good at that craft. Thanks, Mark and thanks to all of you who commented on this route.

- Randy Leavitt Jan 8, 2009
Great line on a spectacular crag! With all the recent comments and photos from guys like Randy and Bob Horan, this website is in danger of becoming respectable. Jan 9, 2009
Adam Brink
on the road
Adam Brink   on the road
Does anyone know about the route Limits of Power that Randy mentioned? Thanks! Jan 9, 2009
Dean Cool
Boulder, CO
Dean Cool   Boulder, CO
This is a great route and well worth getting on. I agree the climb is solid for the grade. The chains seem to be very rusty at the top and may be ready for a change. Nov 9, 2009
  5.12a PG13
  5.12a PG13
Wow, 22 comments and only 3 of them relate to the beta of the route...you have to admit, that kinda sucks. My two cents, if you don't like the bolts...don't use them!!! Now let's get to the nitty gritty. This is a fun route, but if you are just breaking into 12s, it may get into your head as there aren't many "clean" falls. Climb this in the shade and at cool temps to help the redpoint attempt. The going is pretty easy through the first few bolts. A temperature-dependent crux awaits halfway up, and the last roof my deceive some. Stay cool, calm, and collected, and this climb holds excellent onsight potential with decent rest opportunities. Oct 12, 2014
Mark Rolofson
Boulder, CO
Mark Rolofson   Boulder, CO
Thank you, Randy, for your historical account of Hot Flyer & complimentary remarks of my retrobolting the climb. There are a few things I would like to clarify. I was belaying Andy Parkin in 1982 when he took the 50-60 foot fall. He fell once at the roof on two fixed copperheads & they held. On his next try, he downclimbed rather than fall & grabbed the heads. His outward pull unseated them. Had the heads pulled in a fall from the roof, he would have possibly decked. As he fell, poor RPs & a #1 Friend zippered. A good nut he placed (above where the 5th bolt is now) caught him. There was a fixed pin a few inches lower. He landed out from the wall, left & slightly above the ledge where you now clip the high 1st bolt. He was unharmed, but that ended the day. A day that began by Andy onsighting Enemy Of The People (.12b).
As for retrobolting the route. It was actually Randy Leavitt, who first suggested it to me around Thanksgiving 1993. Henry Lester & I climbed with Randy on our visit to the Virgin River Gorge. Thank you Randy. I retrobolted it in July 1994. I climb the route about twice a year. It is one of best 5.12a sport routes in the canyon.
As for the 9th bolt at the roof, the rope biner on the quickdraw hangs below the lip. I do use a medium length quickdraw. It's a clean fall, & the rope doesn't touch the rock. There are two ways to go at the lip. Straight up (a bit harder & less obvious) or left over to The Juice & then back right. I have only fallen once going this indirect way. It was very exciting. Apr 21, 2015
Brett S.
Brett S.   Colorado
Pretty sustained climbing to a little rooflet boulder problem. This route, along with its neighbor, Plan B, made this little crag one of my favorite sport climbing areas in the Front Range. Can't wait to get on the rest of the .12s at this wall! Dec 1, 2015
Boulder, CO
michalm   Boulder, CO
Very nice route with unusually fun, technical and steep climbing. The rock is mostly really good and hosts interesting features uncharacteristic of Boulder Canyon. This could be a 12a, but The Ticket is definitely harder. If Plan B is 12b, then this is no harder than 11d.

I appreciate climbing bold routes ground up on gear. However, along with Archangel, I am glad that this route is bolted. There are very few natural gear placements, and not many of them are very good. This would easily be R/X rated without freshly placed heads. In contrast, there are many routes in the canyon that would be far more enjoyable and still reasonably protected without many of the existing bolts. May 22, 2017
Boulder, CO
pfwein   Boulder, CO
Beta alert warning. I'm wondering about Rolo's comment about going straight up versus left at upper crux (and also considering his topo in his sport climbing guide, which shows two lines: left 11d, straight up 12a). I made several moves left at the next-to-last bolt; unsure if this is going to Juice. Seems like the obvious way is to make at least two moves left at the bolt, although I did one more (to a good, squarish edge to sorta mantel with my left hand) than my partner. Is Rolo's left line what I did, or is he describing a more substantial traverse or at a different location? Or is there a straight up way that avoids the moves left at the next-to-last bolt entirely? Apr 30, 2018
Mark Rolofson
Boulder, CO
Mark Rolofson   Boulder, CO
Yes, if you traverse left, you go all the way until you are standing on the jug at the lip of the roof on The Juice. From here, the two routes (Juice & Hot Flyer) climb the same 5.10+ moves up & right to a rest stance of the slab, where they separate again. I have only fallen off once on this variation. I was starting the 5.10+ moves coming back right. It's a clean air fall, but what a swing!

Going straight up on Hot Flyer, at the 9th (next to last) bolt, is pretty straight up. Your left hand reaches a big diagonal hold a few feet above the roof & at the base of the slab. This is the same hold used to start of the traverse left. Then go straight up until it is possible to stand on the diagonal hold & find the good rest stance where the two variations merge. The holds used going straight up may not be obvious at first & the pump clock is ticking. Straight up is many less moves & better protected. Feb 1, 2019