Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly
Avg: 2.6 from 5 votes
|Type:||Trad, 750 ft, 6 pitches|
|FA:||Tony Bubb & Chris Parks, Nov 6 '04|
|Page Views:||1,495 total · 9/month|
|Shared By:||Tony B on Nov 5, 2004|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac|
DescriptionSo you've already done all of the long Flatiron Ridge classics? Maybe not...
The position and views alone are classic- looking down on the Matron from hundreds of feet above it, and with to the North of Sobo and Diamond Head (in Eldo) and to the South of Shirt Tail Peak. To the SE is the Eldorado springs pool and the South Boulder Creek. To the Northeast is a great view of Shadow Canyon and all of it's crags, including the Maiden, Jamcrack Spire, the Devil's Thumb, etc.... The exposed arete is pretty incredible. The few times I have been on this summit, the ever-present white glider has soared just overhead- so close I could hear the whistle of air and the vibrations off of the spindly wings.
As for the climbing itself, this really is an awesome route, but it is not for the typical Flatiron scrambler. This route follows a "Super Direct" SE ridge of the "Lost and Found" Flatiron. Think of it as a climb like Stairway to Heaven, Angels Way or Satan's Slab, of equal quality as some of these and approaching that length, but with three cruxy bulges thrown in for good measure, each one of them 5.9-5.10, and each runout above a ledge or the ground. The climbing is very good and the rock mostly clean and solid. It is climbable despite snow, because it faces south and gets strong sun from sunrise until mid-afternoon, even in winter.
Please be conservative with climbing this. The assigned grade is an estimation and the 2 people that have followed me on it, both 5.10 climbers who I have seen flash 5.10's, have fallen while following the first 5.10 crux.
A lead fall from the first 3 "bellies" (crux bulges) would almost certainly be injurious, but would probably not completely mangle you... since the ledges 4-8 meters down would stop your fall before hitting a terminal velocity. But please consider that you are a few pitches up, and 1 hour from the trailhead and over rough territory. Wear your helmet.
Locate this climb by finding your way to the Lost And Found flatiron. Find the low point in the wall, as described for this crag, with a large evergreen shading it, and a huge "step stone" planted firmly against the gray base, as if Mother Nature wanted to avoid starting you off on the steep headwall. This route's beginning is covered in large gray flakes of Lichen that are easily avoided or brushed away from the massive starting buckets.
The pitch descriptions here are ~ in length and not exact.
P1 (80', 5.8, PG-13): Climb the huge 5.8 buckets to above the shade of the tree, then the rock becomes quite clean. Continue up and right on easy moves for perhaps 80 feet to a huge grassy ledge with a few trees, just below the crux of the route. Belay at a large tree.
P2 (100', 5.10b, S/VS): Step just right of the belay on the tree and climb up the bulging headwall facing S/SE headwall above the grassy slope on shallowing pockets and slopers without gear for several meters. On the second lead of this in 2006, I found gear to the right of the start of the crux in a brief diagonal "slash" where I placed a 2" and a 3" cam side by side before working back up and left to the side-pull and undercling. These would probably hold a fall if they went tight before you hit the ledge, so your belayer should be ready to take in rope and try to keep you off of the ledge. Start up and left into the crux sequence, grabbing a few flakes for sidepulls. The climbing reaches a maximum of difficulty as you reach up to the overhang, just before the slab, pulling onto a very narrow rail with several sloping pockets (and one good one) above. This could be avoided by a groove slightly further North (5.10a, R/X) or around the corner to the north (5.easy?) or by the ramps well to the South of the tree. Continue for the remainder of 130 feet up an easy slab to another large ledge with another tree below a second headwall and belay there.
P3 (120', 5.10a, S): Climb up the pockets in the headwall, placing a few large cams in for protection and pull up onto the slab. A #3.8 HB quadcam fit perfectly in the first pocket 8 feet up. Climb up and hard left through a series of other pockets and flakes on a steep wall to a left-hand side-pull wrestle up (crux) onto the low angle rock from this. Climb moderate for a bit, then through another bulge, if I recall correctly (5.9-, S). Again, on this pitch, both bulges can probably be avoided to the South with minimal runouts, but these would be strong deviations from the Ridge's direct line. Continue up Easy slab for a long pitch to an obvious belay ledge.
P4 (200', 5.easy): Go up another somewhat vertical wall and up a slab for 200' to a belay at a good tree on a small ledge.
P5 (140', 4th class) Continue up past a deceptive false summit and up the sharpening ridge-line. This pitch is mostly easy 4th class and is an easy scramble or Simul-climb.
P6 (80', 5.easy) Head for the summit with good pro where the climbing is most deceptive. A good summit seat is available for a "strong stance" below, or one could rig a cord or webbing on large rocks. This could probably be linked to P5 with a 70m rope, but we did not attempt to do so.
To descend from the summit, head a few meters West onto a good ledge, then scramble down and North to a notch (5.5?) and then tunnel under a large rock (not a tight squeeze) to the ground. To get back to the base, walk the rock's South Face line to reach the bottom, then go back north to the start. Check out the other routes on the South Side.
ProtectionA standard light rack. Some larger cams or big tricams for in pockets might reduce the pucker factor somewhat, but the FA of this route was climbed without such. This is a good Flatiron, but the hardest parts are the most runout and have ledge-fall potential. It appears that each runout crux can be avoided by sneaking way North to the slab out 5-10 meters right, making the climb much easier although the FA took the SE ridge pretty directly.
In a subsequent ascent with friends, Bill found some ways around the cruxes that one could go up, lower off a tree or anchor, then TR the crux if so desired. Of course- not the same as doing the route on lead, but certainly safer if you tend to pucker up on 5.10s.