Type: Trad, 4 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 3,776 total · 19/month
Shared By: Tony B on Apr 26, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


Locate the Fifth Flatiron, and then on its lower right-hand side, find a 3' wide chimney with a few resident trees, called The North Chimney.

To the right of The North Chimney, the face reaches a low point on the northern-most margin of the East Face. From this low point, climb up the entire Flatiron to the ridge up top. The rock is good and solid but has more lichen than the popular routes on the First-Third Flatirons. This route gets, and deserves, a star in Rossiter's book.

I will describe the route as we did it with a 70m rope, with a few notes from my observations of another party with a 60m. Generally speaking, if you want more gear or an escape due to not finding a belay stance or not wanting to simul-climb a bit, escape south (climber's left) to one of the many places inside The North Chimney where a belay is available.

P1: Start up and go 60m to a belay at some flakes (cams for gear) or 72M (6' of simul climbing with a 70m rope) to a good "butt bucket" and good cams in flakes. There is a 2-inch X 3-inch "pocket" of a crack about 30 or 40 feet up that looks like it offers a good hold or good gear. FORGET IT! It holds a nest of wasps, and upon my rude intrusion, I was reminded of why we leave wasps alone. The climb goes easily well right of this feature and the bugs need not be disturbed/provoked.

P2: From either belay, continue up the right edge past a shelf with a little tree and again to the rope's end if you can. There is a good stance and some flakes to place cams/tricams in. This is another 60-70m pitch from the upper belay previously described. If you start from the lower belay of P1, you will not reach this on a 60m rope without simul-climbing. It is best to just use a 70m.

P3: Continue upward from the belay and reach the ridge, starting to move left. There is reasonable gear up on the ridge, including some slinging of pockets and holes, as well as a few cracks. Use the 70m rope to reach a stopper crack and good stance on the ridge, or do a little simul-climbing (about 20') to reach a great "butt-bucket" and good cracks on a notch on the ridge.

P4: Climb the beautiful ridge to the summit and rap 70' to the ground from the good eye-bolt.


Ha!!! The Flatirons book gives this an S. As you know, in the flats, the default is 'S', which means this route is really VS. There is pro to be had here and there but not much. Take a set of tricams and some cams, 1.5" - 3.5".
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
  5.6 R
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
  5.6 R
Did this route a while back (perhaps with Carol Ledwith), but I recall 6 pitches with a 50m rope. Might be a ropestretcher. Apr 30, 2002
Tony is right that the placements are sparse.

The rock is pretty solid, and though licheny in spots it felt fairly secure for the most part. The climbing overall is much easier than the 5.5/5.6 rating. There are two places where this level of difficulty is encountered, one was a 30ft bulge nearing the start of the left-leaning arete (not the top arete). I was glad to have a rope there since the hanholds had somehow disolved to nothing....

Can't tell you what pitch it is since we simulclimbed the whole thing.

A great route all in all.

WT Jun 14, 2002
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
This is an excellent route! We started with one lloonngg (120m?) pitch by simulclimbing and belayed at the shelf with the small tree (I think this is the same tree referred to on pitch 2 of Tony's description). There is a good anchor here from #3 Friend sized pieces. The tree at this belay is only about 3' tall (fir tree) and is at the very right (north) edge of the face. It drops off steeply right (north) of this belay.

The 30' above the tree I thought the crux of the route, it's steeper than the face on the rest of the climb. Above this it becomes quite easy. The upper part of the route has some really spectacular views.

You need to be comfortable running it out 50' or more on this route, however as Warren mentioned most of it is easier than 5.6. It is possible to find bomber belays, even with only a 50m rope, I think. Oct 1, 2002
Guy H.
Fort Collins CO
  5.6 R
Guy H.   Fort Collins CO
  5.6 R
This is a good option when the East Face North Side route is still covered with snow. The cruxes are easier than the Direct Route on the First, so I think Roach is right when he called this 5.5.

Expect to do some simul-climbing to find the best belay options, a 70m might help. There are 50-60ft runouts on the easy stuff and 10-20ft runouts near the cruxes. Nov 21, 2005
Richard Radcliffe
Louisville, CO
  5.6 R
Richard Radcliffe   Louisville, CO
  5.6 R
Excellent climb, especially the last 100 feet or so as you're hand-traversing up the arete. I'd say it's easily in my top 5 Flatirons rambles.

As of 10/5/07, no wasps in the little pocket on P1 that TB mentioned. It's a great handhold and made for a cool little cam placement, although I don't know if it would hold a big fall (or even a small one). The fact that I can remember this one tiny little feature on a 900 foot climb tells you something about the nature of the rock on it!

We did it in 5 pitches with a 60 m rope and no simul-climbing. The first two pitches were 58 1/2 m exactly (the other 1 1/2 m were needed to tie in), but we were able to get decent belay anchors at the top of P1 and P2, although they weren't terribly comfortable. Each of the next three pitches were about 50-55 m, but with several options for solid and comfy belay spots.

I agree with George's comment: you could probably do it with a 50 m rope, but you'd probably have a few fairly short pitches unless you simul-climb some of it.

As to the rating, there is no section that is as sustained as P1 of the Direct Route on the First (or as protected!), but I'd argue that there are a few short sections of 5.6 on this climb that are as hard as anything on the Direct Route. Oct 6, 2007
Mikelsons Mikelsons
Boulder, CO
  5.6 R
Mikelsons Mikelsons   Boulder, CO
  5.6 R
I climbed this one yesterday, and it's a really fun Flatirons adventure. The approach is a little confusing once you leave the Royal Arch Trail, but it's short. At the base of the climb, I was slightly worried that I wasn't on the Fifth. The start doesn't have a clearing, only a narrow path along the edge of the rock.

Using a 60m, we did the climb in four long pitches and one short one at the top. The first pitch had abundant lichen and some friable rock. There is little pro. That said, the climbing is interesting. The runout and the unclean rock make the mostly 5.5 climbing feel a little harder. We belayed on a foot wide ledge below a big, hollow sounding, downward pointing flake. The second pitch is even more funout, and the lichen decreases. Our second belay was very close to the right edge below a small, solid, right-facing flake. The third pitch has the most sustained 5.6 section that ends with great relief at a big horn above a right facing flake. Our third belay was comfortable at a ledge with a 5 foot step up at the back. The forth pitch transitioned from the face to the top of the ridge and ended at a perfect notch on the ridge-top with a big dead tree. Our last pitch to the summit was short.

The exposure on the ridge-top is thrilling. The pro on the ridge is sparse and needs to be multidirectional. A fall down the East face may be more likely, but a fall off the back would be more serious. The safety of the second is dependent on this. There were a couple of horns I slung and a nut I placed that were down a little on the Ease side, and my second who climbed above them on the ridge was able to lift them off and out with almost no effort. If he had fallen off the back, they would have been completely ineffective. Of course, a fall in either direction is made unlikely by the mild difficulty of the climbing. The ridge-top felt like 5.2.

We did the hike down the South side in fading twilight. The trail is steep and requires a little down-climbing in sections. This Flatiron is a climb less traveled, and for those who care, this can make all the difference. Aug 23, 2009