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Routes in Fifth Flatiron

Cat Scratches T 5.2 3 8 II 8 D 2c
East Face South Side or Left T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
East Face, North Side T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c R
Northeast Face T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R
Pinball T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Type: Trad, 700 ft, 5 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 2,327 total, 12/month
Shared By: Warren Teissier on Jun 23, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


This obscure route is nestled in between two classic routes. It aims for the obvious cat scratch chimneys that make the Fifth so distinctive.

Start the climb somewhere below the chimneys. This point is some 20 yards past a chockstone that blocks easy access from the North. It may be easier to approach this route as if for East Face South route and walk down Northward following the base of the rock.

The official start follows a fairly well defined rib for some 300+ feet to the base of the scratches. This is supposed to be 5.0-5.2. We must have gone off route cause we wound in 5.4 territory and promptly roped up. Belays are hard to come by so judge your opportunities wisely....

The base of the cracks is a broken area that runs in an upward diagonal from South to North.

There are four distinct chimney/gullies. Rossiter says the furthest right is the least objectionable. All of them have a healthy crop of fern growing in them. Due to the relative low angle the chimneys are more like gullies. This almost looks like a canyoneering experience. The second from right to left sported some rather large areas of bird droppings....

As a cleaner option, you can follow the East face just right of the rightmost chimney. This eventually leads you to the arete and the summit. Belaying from a small tree right and above the base of the right chimney, we reached the summit with a 60m rope in one pitch having to simulclimb only 30 feet.

Descent: rap down to the north or do the secret downclimb (see other descriptions).


Standard rack, large pieces might come in handy in the chimney/gullies.
Tim Meehan
Boulder, CO
  5.4 PG13
Tim Meehan   Boulder, CO
  5.4 PG13
Approached by hiking to the Royal Arch. At the Arch, turned west and headed straight uphill on access trail to massive boulder at base of the Fifth Flatiron. A tunnel north through the boulder got me down to the bottom of Cat Scratches.

Climbed (roped solo free climbing) on the face just north of the northernmost scratch. Technical grade felt 5.2 to 5.3. Most of the route was PG-13, pretty good pro for a Flatiron. Very little of the pro was textbook, though, with lots of creative placements. Finding multiple co-located belay anchors wasn't easy. Used most of my wired nuts and black through brown tricams, in shallow and narrow water grooves on the face. Used small cams (BD 0.3, 0.4) under small flakes and larger cams (BD 1, 2, 2x3, WC 4) for larger flakes and water grooves. Slung a few rock features.

Note that the last 40 feet of the ultra-clean summit block offers little protection. Some might give this last pitch an R rating, but the ridge line to the summit is solid and sharp, so at least there are good handholds to offset the runout. The summit is great, with a solid I-bolt to rap off, and a bunch of old fixed gear (piton, 1/4 inch bolt and Leeper hanger) to ponder. There is a clean free-hanging rappel off the north side of the summit, where both ends of my 70 m rope easily touched the ground.

Bushwhacked north and east downhill between the Fifth and Fourth, and eventually intercepted the Royal Arch trail. A little research suggests that hiking down south of the Fifth is a cleaner option. All told, about 2 hours hiking and 6 hours climbing (four pitches climbed twice). An old man going at the speed of silence. Nov 28, 2016