Type: Trad, 1200 ft, 8 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 39,057 total · 194/month
Shared By: George Bell on Oct 8, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: 2018 Raptor Closure Lifted Details
Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


This hidden gem is one of the best Flatiron climbs. Solid rock and a soaring arete that is quite consistent at the grade, make for a great scramble. This climb is long, and if done roped is probably at least 8 pitches. It is quite similar in difficulty to the standard E Face route on the Third Flatiron and makes for a great solo outing. Unlike the 3rd Flatiron, however, there is no fixed gear. NOTE: This climb falls within the Falcon closure and is usually closed from Feb 1 to July 31.

Perhaps the worst part of the climb is getting to it, as it involves significant bushwhacking (see rock for details). The base of this ridge does not reach the Skunk Canyon stream, and the toe drops steeply into the woods. It is about 100 yards west of the major rib that forms Satan's Slab, be careful you do not go past it or you may find yourself on the more difficult Mohling Arete. Move around the steep toe of the arete to the right and walk up east of the ridge for 50' or so, until you spot a diagonal crack leading back to the crest. If this crack seems a bit tricky, you can also get up on the ridge a little higher. Follow the crest upwards for many pitches.

Just east of you is the much larger ridge of Satan's Slab. At one point, look right for a good view of one of the only 5.14s in the Flatirons, "Beware the Future". This climb is just left of a prominent right facing, right leaning corner (Doric Dihedral). There is a good view of both these climbs.

About half way up, don't miss the perfect layback crack. If this crack was 10 or 20 degrees steeper it would be ultra-classic, but here it is just another crack on a low angle slab, you don't even need to use it!

Eventually you will reach a sharp summit with a sheer drop-off at a 100' gap in the ridge. You will have to climb back down to exit down the east slab. You can stay low and bypass this summit, but the view from the top is worth checking out.

You can stop here and go down, but the final summit soars above the gap in the ridge. Scramble east of it until you find an easy place to get on the east face. Wander up to the final summit (which is, you may notice, higher than the top of Satan's Slab). There is yet another summit beyond on the same ridge, but this is in fact another rock (The Fist or Hippo Head), and continuing is harder than 5.2.

Getting down off the final summit is a bit tricky, you can go straight east down the slab, or go east just a bit and cut north under the summit to find a tricky downclimb of a chute with a giant flake leaning up near it.

Many descents are possible: (1) go down the gully just east of Angel's Way (watch for Poison Ivy). (2) aim for the lower right corner of the Fist, then go up (south) under the east face of the Fist, cross a saddle to find the Fifth Flatiron. Then take the "trail" that descends immediately south of the Fifth Flatiron to the Royal Arch Trail (this option involves the least bushwhacking, but you have to go up 200 feet or so). (3) Go left of the Fist and continue to the summit of Green Mountain and go down one of the trails.


Standard Flatiron rack (very light rack).


Michael Komarnitsky
Seattle, WA
Michael Komarnitsky   Seattle, WA  
Holy Cow! This is an incredible climb.... I feel bad putting 3 stars on Mohling [Arete] right next to it now that I compare it to this. Oct 18, 2002
dave klein  
beware of poison oak and poison ivy in skunk canyon. i scambled up Angel's Way a few days ago and am now riddled in poison oak - it can be a bit tricky to spot with the leaves coming off - but it is definately all over the place. last year i got it in skunk canyon as well(slow learner i guess).

indeed a great route - hang your rear off the right side of the ridge and walk your hands up the ridge as long as you dare. i'm not sure if that keeps it to the grade - and may look improbable at times - but it's all there and it gives you quite the lat workout. remarkably remote considering it's location - enjoy! Oct 27, 2003
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Dave, I agree the approach to Angels Way is a thrash and there is tons of poison ivy on this approach, but I didn't think there was poison oak in Boulder Open Space. Does anybody know for sure? Poison Oak isn't listed as a hazard in the Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks web site (Poison Ivy definitely is). Anyway sorry to hear about your rash, but I suspect it is from poison ivy.... Oct 27, 2003
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I found a web site which says poison oak only grows below 1500 feet in elevation, if this is accurate it is unlikely to be found anywhere in Colorado. We sure have our share of poison ivy, though! Oct 28, 2003
Chip Phillips
Broomfield, CO
Chip Phillips   Broomfield, CO
we certainly have our share of poison sumac too ... that lovely minature tree/bush that turns a beautiful flaming red in the fall and seems to be in/near every freakin' roadside creek/streambed, drainage ditch, culvert and wash. as a result, I have had more than one memorable run-in with it. Oct 28, 2003
Chip, I don't think we have poison sumac here either. We have a couple of different kinds of sumac, but neither are poisonous. Poison sumac grows in lower boggy areas in the eastern part of the country. Oct 28, 2003
My favorite Flatiron solo. If you're comfortable at this level, don't miss it.

Sumac - My understanding is that the word Poison Sumac is something of a misnomer. Both the eatern kind (Rhus Typhina) and ours (Rhus Glabra) have berries that can be prepared for consumption yet both kinds can cause irritations. Jun 12, 2004
Don't do what I did and mistake Mohling Arete for Angels Way. Mohling is easier to spot from the gulch bottom, Angel's doesn't reach as far down and is immediately after Satan's Slab. Once I realized my error I had difficulty downclimbing some 5.6-5.7 off a side of Mohling. Jun 12, 2004
Kevin Craig
Kevin Craig  
A bit more beta on finding the rock... where the way is blocked by the meeting of Satan's Slab and the Achean Pronouncment at the creek bottom, bushwhack around left and up staying fairly close to the stream - this looks very brushy and improbable, but it goes. Don't confuse the gully behind Satan's Slab with the continuation of Skunk Canyon which is the left "branch." The gully between Satan's Slab and Angel's Way (R2 and R3) is quite narrow compared to that between Angel's Way and the Mohling Arete (R3 and R4); if you're in open forest, you've gone too far. The beginning of Angel's Way doesn't appear to be much of a ridge, but the climbing looks quite easy compared to Mohling Arete. There is a LOT of poison ivy around the start area. If you stretch out a 60m rope and pitch the whole thing, Angel's Way is 5 pitches + 50' to the top of the main ridge (excluding the "true" summit block). This will result in the 2nd belay being 1/2 way across a pocketed face with little pro - there's good pro at the ridge crest however (pretty much where you need to go up to the ridge to continue on good holds anyway (big crack/groove). All other belays are very straight-forward. The layback dihedral is indeed very cool, but could be a few degrees steeper (picky, picky!). To descend, we went up around the top of Satan's Slab and bushwhacked down some use/game trails all the way to the boulderfield that's just above the Mesa Trail below the 5th Flatiron - this worked pretty well and had very little poison ivy. The forest in this area is in very poor condition (very overgrown and unhealthy-looking). Sep 20, 2004
We just went and soloed this one again today (all seven of us), early in the morning. I never tire of this climb. It is clean and fun and looong. Just a scramble though, so you hard core crankers might not love it as much.

For those of you who like scrambles in the flatirons this one is a must. The "pain" of the approach keeps the crowds away and it is a small price to pay for the quality of climb and position.

This ridge is "off limits" during the Bird Closures so get it while the getting is good.

WT Sep 29, 2004
Sublime. In the same category as E. Face of the 3rd & E. Face/N. Ridge of the First, but more clandestine. Oct 10, 2004
What's up with closure warnings on this site? This and all of the other formations in Skunk canyon are closed. Is it too much of a hassle to keep the site updated with what's closed and what isn't? Not that I'm complaining in the least but I just think that would be some very helpful beta. May 6, 2005
RomoFo Fo
RomoFo Fo  
The poison ivy is not bad at all on the approach. The climbing is fantastic and the rock is very solid. Sep 24, 2005
Bill Snyder
Bill Snyder   Denver
Climbed this solo on 9/15. From the approach when I exited the main Mesa trail into Skunk Canyon to the descent when I arrived at the Royal Arch, I did not see or hear another person. Wonderful route, beautiful, remote. Not hard to find if you follow the descriptions in the above comments. Sep 17, 2007
Mike McMahon
Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT
Mike McMahon   Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT
Amazing! Possibly the best Flatiron I've done, and it seems to go forever! I started at the immediate base of the formation and the first 100 feet or so are simply spectacular as the exposure rapidly increases to a shear drop of 40 feet or so directly off of the arete. Even the approach felt like an adventure! Sep 27, 2007
John M Brooks
Niwot, CO
John M Brooks   Niwot, CO
Kevin's beta on approach was key - follow the stream left around blk, vs. don't try to go rt up & over base of Satan's Slab. Here's how to have a 12hr roped climbing adventure : 7:45a start from NCAR, 9:15a rdy to climb P1, finish 5 1/2 pitches to base of final summit blk by 2:30p, 2 short P7-8 up to summit via who knows what route high on east face, not much room or pro on summit by 4:10p, downclimb P9 protected and traverse east & north, then short P10 over to rappel tree by 4:53p. Rapped 30' east and rdy for descent by 5:15p. We decided to hike up NE route past Hippo head over to 5th Flatiron descent route. This led to Royal Arch, and long circuitous route north then finally south back the Mesa Trail. Reach NCAR at 7:45p benighted of course. Would recommend descent via Satan's Slab - Angel's Way gully. Route was great rock, great views, and kept 5.2 rating - maybe our route included tougher moves of our own making. Nov 4, 2007
A long time favorite, I always thought it was a little surreal, but the description of it being 100 years west of Satan's Slab sure drives the concept home! Hang a left at the 3rd star past midnight and keep going? Nov 4, 2007
Rick Blair
Rick Blair   Denver
I did not rate this, because I am quite sure I was off route quite often. On the hike-in look for the green, metal stake with the white band for the trail to Skunk Canyon off the main trail. It is on a switchback below the wood fence which is on the next switchback above. It looks like the wood fence is there to discourage hikers from going that way due to erosion. Stay in the gully all the way to the Ridge of Angel's Way. If you find yourself climbing or scrambling, you are off course!

Run your rope out as much as possible, there is plenty of pro and you will usually find a good belay spot. One exception, I recommend establishing a belay station right below or right above the lay-back crack, they are nice belay spots and you do not want to break up this part of the climb.

We trail blazed a tree crack to the summit, it is a little licheny and has a loose rock that needs to be cleared, but tons of fun and leads to a perfect belay station. This route will eventually take you to the edge of the arete and some incredible exposure (350ft?). The peak is amazing (exposure/view).

DO NOT HIKE UP TO THE 5th FLATIRON, YOU ARE NOT SAVING TIME OR TROUBLE. I and another party behind us learned the hard way. Take the ridge between Stairway and Satan's Slab. Nov 5, 2007
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Difficulty depends on the precise line taken, but regardless, it's the best scramble in Skunk Canyon. (****) On par in quality with the considerably more difficult Satan's Slab.
That said, I don't understand the crowds on Stairway To Heaven. Nov 18, 2007
Aaron Pence
Boulder, CO
Aaron Pence   Boulder, CO
Did this for the first time on Saturday. Beautiful line on great rock! The directions offered above were really helpful. Rossiter's description in the Flatirons guide isn't great for the first time back up in Skunk Canyon. So thanks to all for the trail/recon beta. One piece of advice...never take the descent past the Fifth Flatiron if there's snow in the gully! I almost impaled myself on downed trees multiple times. Dec 15, 2008
Cornelius Jefferson
  Easy 5th
Cornelius Jefferson  
  Easy 5th
Soloed this several times over the years, it's one of my favorite Flatiron routes...it's really beautiful and wild back there. Never seen or heard another soul. If you want to get away from it all, here you go.

(An excellent alternative to climbing the arete typically followed on the first and second pitches is to break left and climb the weakness up the middle of the candy-striped slab all the way to the left side of the roof that caps this face. There's gear if you're roped up, and it's a beautiful and dramatic chunk of stone. You can see this variation in John Brooks' 'looking up P1-2' beta photo.) Jan 12, 2010
Phil Lauffen
Innsbruck, AT
Phil Lauffen   Innsbruck, AT  
Pulled some bail gear off this today. If you want it back, pm me. Dec 9, 2010
Ben Cassedy
Denver, CO
  Easy 5th
Ben Cassedy   Denver, CO
  Easy 5th
Awesome climb. Thought I'd add a couple notes:

I was inadvertently drawn like a moth to a flame to the layback crack, splitting the 'candy cane' face mentioned as a variation in one of the comments above. The layback crack was easy 5th class, but getting up and over the roof would have been significantly harder than anything on Angel's Way proper. So I ended up backing off, which made for an interesting downclimb. Stick to the arete (climber's right of the layback crack) to keep the difficulty at easy 5th class.

As for the approach, I ended up finding it by orienting myself at Satan's Slab, then heading up a faint trail directly from there (only maybe 100 yds total). It was fairly easy and obvious. Went towards Achean formation on the way down, which was more of a direct trail but very overgrown. The gully between Ridges 2 and 3 was loose but overall reasonable. I've done the descent from the Fifth Flatiron, and I remember that being much more of a pain in the ass.

Another note on the approach: generally stick to the drainage in Skunk Canyon. You'll know you're on the right track when you see one of the newer raptor closure signs with a map, then another older raptor closure sign next to a blank, wood board.

So far I haven't noticed any rashes from poison ivy, but I'll post up tomorrow if my situation changes. The brush is definitely thick back in there. Saw 3 bears across the gully right as I started the climb. Had never seen any in the wild before. I couldn't help but wonder whether bears can climb rock in addition to trees.... Sep 3, 2011
P. W.
P. W.  
I hadn't been up Skunk Canyon since before the Sept. 2013 floods, and it looks GREAT! The flood has scoured the bottom of the canyon and removed most of the thick vegetation and loose rocks. The approach hike is now very straightforward and easy. There is definitely poison ivy but none that I couldn't step over or around. Aug 10, 2015
Drew Megura  
I just did this route for the first time this morning. The approach certainly earned its reputation, but I enjoy bushwhacking and found it kinda fun. As for the climb, while the quality of the scrambling itself wasn't as good as other Flatiron routes, the views along the way and just being in Skunk Canyon (which is usually empty) make this route worth trying. That being said, some of the more exposed sections of the ridgeline and the friendly layback crack were very fun! Nov 15, 2015
Bruce Lacroix
Las Vegas, NV
  Easy 5th
Bruce Lacroix   Las Vegas, NV
  Easy 5th
A fun route. The descent takes a star away from the overall rating, IMO. There are three descent variations in the description. I got on a good trail at first, it petered out, and I ended up bushwhacking anyway. Surprised such a well-trodden route doesn't have a better descent.
Jul 8, 2016
Long Ranger
Boulder, CO
Long Ranger   Boulder, CO
Soooo good. A handhold whenever one is needed.

The layback is a must do - you can finally escape it at climber's left - there's no big roof you need to pull through. May 30, 2018
Boulder, CO
T G   Boulder, CO
The base of the route is located at roughly 39.97796, -105.29095 Sep 20, 2018