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Fourth Flatiron
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East Face/4th Flatiron 

YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c R

Type:  Trad, 10 pitches, 1000'
Original:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c R [details]
FA: unknown
Page Views: 5,195
Submitted By: Joe Collins on Jun 20, 2002

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The "Hanging Garden". Just some of the s...

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  • Description 

    The Fourth is probably the longest of the major Flatirons, extending nearly to the summit of Green Mountain. The formation, however, is actually broken into three smaller subflatirons, separated by gullies which are hidden from the normal view from town. The northernmost extension of the 2nd sub-Flatiron is actually Green Mountain Pinnacle. The route really isn't much fun, requires bushwhacking in the gullies between the subflatirons, and culminates in the most anti-climatic summit of the 5 major Flatirons. I give it one star only because it takes you to the top of the 4th Flatiron.

    Approach via the Royal Arch trail. Take the trail 100 yards past Sentinel pass. The 1st sub-Flatiron at this point nearly touches the trail and can be identified by a cave 150 feet up.

    Climb up to the cave (actually an arch) and exit on the left up to a ridge. Climb the ridge until it is possible to drop into the gully between the 1st and 2nd sub-Flatirons. Bushwhack up this gully to an obvious crack splitting the face of the 2nd sub-Flatiron. Climb the crack/gully (and face on either side) to the "hanging garden" near the top of the formation. Hike through the woods in the "garden" to the gully separating the 2nd and 3rd sub-Flatirons. Bushwhack down this gully to a crack splitting the face of the 3rd sub-Flatiron. Climb this straight up to the summit area.

    For a very detailed route description, see Roach's guide to easy Flatiron routes (possibly out-of-print?). The Falcon guide description is very similar to the one above.

    Descend to the north of the Fourth Flatiron eventually connecting with the Green Mtn Pinnacle approach. The gully on the south of the 4th (which I descended) is not recommended.


    As with most east face Flatiron routes, it didn't look like you could get much pro...or good belay anchors for that matter. Probably best to solo this because the leader pretty much is anyway.

    Photos of East Face/4th Flatiron Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Funky groove right below the summit.
    Funky groove right below the summit.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Third piece of the 4th.
    Third piece of the 4th.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Water gully. Interesting moves but easier when dry...
    Water gully. Interesting moves but easier when dry...
    Rock Climbing Photo: The top of the 3rd section.  It looks improbable t...
    The top of the 3rd section. It looks improbable t...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Early morning traffic jam on the second piece of t...
    Early morning traffic jam on the second piece of t...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Crawling out of the cave on the 2nd pitch of the 4...
    Crawling out of the cave on the 2nd pitch of the 4...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing the first piece of the Fourth Flatiron.  ...
    Climbing the first piece of the Fourth Flatiron. ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Warren solving the descent from the top by jumping...
    Warren solving the descent from the top by jumping...
    Rock Climbing Photo: From the trail at the base.
    BETA PHOTO: From the trail at the base.
    Rock Climbing Photo: The second piece of the 4th, from the first piece.
    BETA PHOTO: The second piece of the 4th, from the first piece.
    Rock Climbing Photo: On the first piece of the Fourth Flatiron, Royal A...
    On the first piece of the Fourth Flatiron, Royal A...

    Comments on East Face/4th Flatiron Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 24, 2017
    By Leo Paik
    From: Westminster, Colorado
    Jun 22, 2002

    I'd agree about the recommendation bit, anticlimactic summit, and grunge factor. I'd have to disagree about the soloing bit. There certainly were anchors for belays and light protection opportunities for the leader. Did this some years back for curiosity and it is probably tied for the least interesting of the East faces of the 1st-5th Flatiron with the 2nd. Not a destination climb but a completion climb.
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 1, 2002

    Actually, it's possible to do this climb without any gully bushwhacking. Climb the first piece all the way to the top (of this piece), then cross the upper end of the first gully and climb near the north edge of the east face of the second piece to the hanging garden (joining the route described above). Do not bushwhack down the next gully, but just cross it and get on the east face of the last piece, traverse left a bit and head up. Alternatively instead of doing this last piece you can move north behind Green Mtn Pinnacle and climb Challenger instead (a bit better climb, IMHO). Although anti-climactic, the true summit of the Fourth is the highest of the 4 Flatirons.

    Agreed, do not descend south of the Fourth Flatiron.
    By shad O'Neel
    Jul 23, 2002

    i remember having a grand time on this, there was a great wide crack/ groove part that got my heart going. But a couple days later i broke out in huge boils of poison ivy.......
    By Ernie Port
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Aug 11, 2002

    We climbed the top section of this today after putting up the 5th and made the mistake of bushwacking over. I found the climb to be unappealing and offers sparse pro. The groove described above is 5-7" wide 4-6" deep (like a rain gutter on your house)and offers few placements. Walking up through this looked to be a drag. We climbed the face to the left, finding a few flakes and cracks, and ended up pulling up over a few bulges using nubbins with horrendous runout. Higher up, not much better. In my opinion, this climb is a one timer, never to be repeated, at least by this poster. I recommend not bushwacking from the 5th because of the density of poison ivy and density of obstructons. If you decide to make up your own mind on climbing the 4th after the 5th, make sure your legs are covered. I fear the poison ivy is incubating on my skin at this very moment!
    By Bill Wright
    Aug 12, 2002


    Sorry you had an unpleasant time on this rock. It isn't as nice as other Flatirons, but I still enjoy it. Yes, protection is sparse. I usually solo it, but I know this isn't an option for many climbers. It doesn't seem much more dangerous to solo than to lead this baby because of the runouts.

    Also sorry that you didn't know the first credo of Flatiron scrambling: NEVER venture between the 4th and 5th Flatirons. I've done this once - which is all anyone does it. It is as you described.

    I've done the 4th at least five times. It is a big climb with some grubby sections, but I love the crack you describe above. This is a cool, unique feature in my mind and fun to climb actually.

    I've linked the 4th with the 5th before and the best way seems to be to climb the 5th first and descend the south side (climber's trail there). Then do the 4th and descend on the north side past Death and Transfiguration (make sure to pause, look up, and say, "Damn, what a cool crack!"), and down to Sentinel Pass.

    As an interesting note, Bill Briggs has climbed all five Flatirons via their East Face routes, Chautauqua Park to Chautauqua Park, in 2h5m! That's smoking! I keep track of junk like this and, as far as I know, the 4th is the only numbered Flatiron that hasn't been climbed in under an hour from Chautauqua Park to Chautauqua Park (though it seems very clear that Bill Briggs could do it).

    By John Korfmacher
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Jan 21, 2009

    Sheryl Costello and I climbed this route a couple of years with some friends from out of town, and planned it as an introduction to Flatiron climbing. As such I don't recommend it; it's a bit of a slog, and although the climbing is easy, the pro is sometimes poor and often non-existent.

    That said...the route does have some virtues. For starters, you won't have to contend with the crowds like you would on other Flatirons. And a visit to the secret "hanging garden" is pretty cool. And hey, when you finish the tenth pitch (it seemed to us like much more!), you'll be considerably more beer-worthy than your pals who did something "easy". Right?
    By neil chelton
    From: Boulder, CO
    Dec 4, 2010

    An interesting variation on the first section is to climb inside the cave/arch, traversing all the way to the back where it is possible to squeeze up through a short chimney (looks impossible at first). This will land you higher up on the east face and an easy scramble straight up will get you back on route.
    By Charles Vernon
    From: Tucson, AZ
    Mar 15, 2011

    I don't really understand all the negative feelings about this climb. Some of the Flatirons are beautiful cruises, and some are wilder adventures. This falls into the latter category, but it also has a variety of cool climbing. Also, definitely do the "extra credit" summit about halfway up. And then do Takin' Care of Business.
    By Brian C.
    From: Longmont, CO
    Jun 14, 2015
    rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c R

    Just did this again after 6 years. This really is a great Flatiron route and is totally worth your time. Nab the extra credit summit to the south of the gash while up there. Spectacular.
    By Eli
    From: Lives in a truck
    Jul 31, 2016

    I like adventures a lot, and I absolutely hated this route. The only redeeming quality I found was the raspberries in some of the gullies.
    Do not descend to the south.

    If you're not local, don't do this route. It is as bad as everyone says.
    By Ben Feinstein
    Jul 24, 2017

    It seems this route gets some pretty strong, opposing opinions with little middle ground. As the Third hasn't opened yet this year, my buddy and I were deciding between the Fourth and Fifth as we'd already climbed the First and Second; I told him we should do the Fourth just so we can get it out of the way, because we had both read it sucked. What we found was actually a pretty sweet route, and neither of us agreed with the amount of maligning it gets. While it isn't as good as the First or the Third, it not quite living up to world class status also doesn't mean it's not worth climbing.

    We found the climb to be an enjoyable, interesting line. We soloed the first two pitches up into the neat cave/arch on the south side, and while some of the rock was quite poor (make sure to test all your holds; everything positive resonates or flexes and potato chip-thin flakes won't do much besides snap off in your hands) up to that point it improved past that, for the most part. The climbing is pretty clean except the very bottom, which is lichen covered and friable; the section atop pitch seven (i.e. the third class in the Hanging Garden); and pitches eight and nine, which have pine needles and cones on the ledges or full on bushwhacking through pine trees, if you get off route like we did. The last pitch is pure joy up the wide crack. You'll find everything from smooth slab to small pockets and huge huecos to foot jammy, double Gaston goodness on this climb, and the rock is the same beautiful Fountain sandstone that everyone knows and loves. Protection and belays were adequate, and the runouts were on easy terrain. The Hanging Garden is an interesting spot that might make for a good date, and perhaps best of all, we encountered zero other people on the route on what was an otherwise gorgeous day. If you want some seclusion from the hordes on the First, Second, or Third, this is a place to find it. We descended over Green Mountain, which was quite a bit farther away than we were expecting. Still, it was an easy descent back to the car and avoided the nastiness in the gullies down the Fourth's sides.

    Overall, a worthwhile route that I would like to do again as nearly every pitch had fun climbing, the setting was superb (it's a Flatiron, what's not to like?), and the sense of adventure and solitude is greater than on any other climb I've done in the Flatirons.

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