Trad, Mixed, Alpine, 400 ft, 3 pitches, Grade III,
Avg: 3 from 3
FA: Josh Wharton, Scott Decapio, and Will Ferrell
> CO Ice & Mixed
> RMNP - Mixed/Ice
> Bear Lake Trail…
> Emerald Lake /…
> Flattop Mountain - S side
This might be the steepest trad M-route in the Park. You can spy the crux third pitch from the Dragon's Tail couloir by the red hummocks perched high above in a roof.
Despite the video of this route in the comments area below, the first ascent was down ground up with no prior inspection, or pre-placed gear, so rest assured that the route is totally reasonable for an onsight attempt.
Begin with the obscure summer rock route Dragon Slayer. A good topo of this route can be found in Gillett's most recent guide to the RMNP high peaks. youtube.com/watch?v=xBrghO5…
P1: Climb the tips (well tools really) to (cold) hands splitter for 100', and belay off a chockstone and #3 Camalot on a sloping ledge. M6-7.
P2: Climb the steep, wide flake for 50', and then traverse straight right across a chossy ledge for 30' to a fixed pin and stopper (Dragon Slayer keeps heading upward at the start of this traverse.) The traverse is easy, but spicy, look for an okay #3 Camalot hidden down and right for the final pull onto the sloping ledge. A fixed pin and stopper mark the belay. M6-7.
P3: "It's gonna get weird." Cool climbing up the steep corners above, with suprisingly decent rock and pro. The crux is pulling through the flared roof above the "Dragon's Nest," which is followed by some nice hummock climbing up easier terrain. This is a long pitch (180'), which could be broken up if needed. M7.
At this point, you will join the "South Ridge 5.7" route at approximately the fourth yellow dot in the overview photo of the south side of Flattop. Real Dragon's might continue via this route to the summit, but we walked left along the ledge and did a one rope rap down to walking terrain. (You must traverse far to skiers' right, and then back left across a ledge system if you want to get back to the base of the route.)
The route starts with an obvious splitter on the steep left wall of the Dragon's tail couloir. Located about 200' beyond the big boulder at the base of the couloir.
A set of cams and stoppers with doubles from thin fingers to a #3 camalot. One #4 Camalot.