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Zig Zag T 


YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a [details]
FA: unknown
Page Views: 37,074
Submitted By: Ben Mottinger on Jan 1, 2001  with updates from Joel Larner

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (147)
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BETA PHOTO: 0 Far Right, 2. 1 Direct E Face, 6R. 1a Butterfly,...

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  • Description 

    Start about 1/3 of the way up the east face to the left of the huge left-facing dihedral that arcs up the face. To get there, continue up the trail past the bridge at the base of the First Flatiron. About 60 yards up the trail, there is a faint trail running straight up, marked by a small cairn 10 yards above the trail. Scramble up this trail about 200 hundred feet. Look for a junction (there are several) that you can get over the rock to your right, so that you are traveling at the base of the first. Move around a large boulder (stemming off the face) and stop at a comfortable rest place just above it. That's the beginning (whew). See the picture.

    P1: travel right, then up the massive flake and around the roof. A 60m rope can not quite make the tree above and left after turning the roof - it's about 10 yards short. Plan accordingly.

    P2-4: follow the big dihedral system up and right. Head up a huge flake you can actually climb under. From here, it takes usually two pitches to reach the summit block. Take care, for the ridge traverse is exposed at times.

    Rappel 100 feet off of two eye bolts, or down climb via the south. Note: A 50m rope may be used for the rappel, but definitely not recommended. The rope didn't touch the ground until the rappeller was nearly at the end of the rope when we did it with 50m.


    Standard rack with extra shoulder slings.

    Additional help finding the start 

    Per Joel Larner: an easy way to find the start of this climb is to continue up the trail after the bridge until the start of the switchbacks. Instead of turning left on the switchback, turn right down the obvious gully along the Flatiron face. The start of the climb is about 50 feet down the gully, it can't be missed.

    Photos of Fandango Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Almost there!!
    Almost there!!
    Rock Climbing Photo: Aesthetic start to Fandango.
    BETA PHOTO: Aesthetic start to Fandango.
    Rock Climbing Photo: First belay tree up and left (full 70m).
    First belay tree up and left (full 70m).
    Rock Climbing Photo: Where the dihedral changes angle.
    Where the dihedral changes angle.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Pin.
    Rock Climbing Photo: A bit of crack.
    A bit of crack.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Party on Fandango as viewed from E Face Direct.
    Party on Fandango as viewed from E Face Direct.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the massive Fandango dihedral from th...
    Looking down the massive Fandango dihedral from th...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up the awesome dihedral on Fandango that l...
    Looking up the awesome dihedral on Fandango that l...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Bob making his way up the fantastic Quartz Crystal...
    Bob making his way up the fantastic Quartz Crystal...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Sean on the ridge.
    Sean on the ridge.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Torrey on pitch 2.
    Torrey on pitch 2.
    Rock Climbing Photo: My dad on the first pitch.
    My dad on the first pitch.
    Rock Climbing Photo: More Fandango fun.
    More Fandango fun.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Patty, a tad bit runout.
    Patty, a tad bit runout.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Patty coming up to the third belay.
    Patty coming up to the third belay.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Great morning alone on the wall.
    Great morning alone on the wall.
    Rock Climbing Photo: "Ok, where does it start??"
    "Ok, where does it start??"
    Rock Climbing Photo: Enjoying a gorgeous December afternoon.
    Enjoying a gorgeous December afternoon.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Francis on Fandango's 1st pitch.
    Francis on Fandango's 1st pitch.

    Comments on Fandango Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 9, 2017
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 17, 2001

    If you have only a 50m rope, instead of rapping straight west from the summit eye bolt, rappel southwest to another eye bolt on a ramp about 60 feet down. This is on the downclimb route (SW side). From the second eyebolt it is another 60 foot rap (approx) to the ground. Rappelling is recommended unless you known where the downclimb goes, it is easy to get on harder terrain if you don't know where to go.
    By Errett Allen
    Jun 20, 2002

    A good alternate solo from the Direct route (or extra, after doing the Direct). Most of the time I start this route where a switchback from the trail directly abuts the Flatiron. This eliminates most of P1, but you still get to do most of the best climbing. The "Alternate" way to go -- a separate listing in this website, seems more fun than the regular way.
    By William McGehee
    From: Choctaw, OK
    Apr 14, 2003

    Ok, I think I was a goose in a blizzard up there yesterday (4-13-03)... I got to the first rap station about 130' up, no problem. Done it twice before. Climbed up past the broken wall just above and then entered a slick as snake shit gully, very polished, accepting only a pink tri-cam and a wedgie just after the wall. traversed right to plave a #2 cam under a big flake before going up to the evergreen further up to the right (breathing HUGE sigh of relief as the last pro was 40' down and sketchy and after a hold crumbled in my hands...). Realized I had only brought one rope like a gumby, started late in the evening, and couldn't rap down to the bottom. Had to top it off. I headed north and up 50 m w/o placing a piece, ending up at a fixed rappel station made of green webbing. I ended up topping it off, thanks to a guy named Chris (from Denver) who showed me the route, but does anyone know where I got off route? That water polished gully didn't really seem like a 5.5... Again, I was stupid and had to pay for it accordingly... Any info would be great. Thanks!WM
    By Warren Teissier
    Apr 14, 2003

    William, the route follows the line marked on the photograph. I do not recall any slick gullies.

    It seems you went too far left before reaching the Evergreen. From the small tree belay at the top of pitch one I remember heading straight up for the large evergreen.

    From there you should follow the overhanging dihedral to the left until you can climb it at any of the many weaknesses (about 40ft from the tree?) and head up for the huge dihedral above you.

    I recall the route being fairly well protected for flatiron standards.

    Once you reach the arete you can then follow it to the top...

    Better luck next time

    By Mike Epke
    From: Denver, CO
    May 3, 2003

    Climbed this route a few days back for the first time and loved it. Not as sweet a line as Direct East Face, but some fun moves with exciting exposure do to runouts. As always though, a sweet climb on the First is hard to beat. Not sure if we started at the actual start of the route or further down the face then ended up cathcing the right line at the first little tree by the roof.
    By James Garnett
    From: Bellingham, WA
    Jul 12, 2003

    I love the fact that although this route can be a little runout, it will neverthless take an amazing variety of pro. That #3.5 Tricam you got for christmas will go in somewhere, as well as the big hexes and maybe even a #5 BD Camalot if you're crazy enough to carry it up. That being said, there's an enormous amount of fixed gear (solid (?) old pitons, etc.) up there to use for backups, and you could do the whole thing with nuts and a few midsized hexes.

    Yet-another-alternate-start that I like to use begins right beside the start of Zig Zag. There's a funny little move to get up on the face, but it's easy. A friend started calling the route with this start "Bakerdango" since Baker's Way is so close, and the name has stuck (well, for me, anyway).
    By Bryan Gartland
    From: Helena, MT
    Jan 15, 2004

    Does anyone know the story behind the bolt on Fandango about 20 feet after it intersects Baker's? It looks much too new to be 15 or more years old judging by the modern hanger, bolt size, and general condition. It's not unsightly since it's completely hidden behind the large flake you climb under and whoever placed it took the time to paint it brown. My best guess is that it was drilled for a rescue in the not too distant past, but it's right next to large blocks and cracks that could make as big an anchor as anyone could want. Odd.

    That aside, Fandango is an excellent line, and one of the most easily protected (bolt included!) of any eastside route on the main Flatirons.
    By Jennifer Hazen
    Sep 20, 2004

    The most direct approach has you detouring off the trail after the bridge, but you don't have to descend that far and climb back up to grab your stashed gear on the way home.

    On the descent, follow the trail down to the last switchback on the 1st Flatiron side before you cross over the 2nd Flatiron. You can drop down off the trail along the base here and are only a few yards from where you started Fandango.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Mar 19, 2005

    Although I have only climbing once on twice on the Flatirons I am beginning to get the sensation that this is one of the most scenic routes on the left side of this particularly slabby rock. The approach to the climb is fairly simple involving the following of a faint trail that is often mistaken as a slight animal path. The beginning of the climb is incredibly easy and could possibly be climbed without the use of hands. If you stop twenty feet or so before the small overhang, you shall receive a partial view of Boulder and a great opportunity to eat an early lunch. The next two pitches proceed on typically dry [sandstone], that of which the Flatirons are famous for. The next three pitches are crimpy but reveal the escence of leading traditional slabs. There seemed to have been perfect places to sit down after the fourth or fifth pitch. These were possibly created by erosion but are shaped like a cushy bean bag. The next pitch is scary for beginning trad leaders but eas out into a crack that welcomes the entrance of a rope of any size and is almost perfectly straight. The next pitch or so is on very mild rock. That of which may be as comfortable as fifty degrees. The rappel of le summit is particularly memorable especially in the months of July. This is one of the only places where you will see completley green and white rock. The green is from decomposing and unforgiving lichen and the distinct white stains were provided by the courtesy of our flying, squawking friends. This route is enjoyable for a beginning leader or maybe an early-summer solo.
    By James Garnett
    From: Bellingham, WA
    Mar 27, 2005

    AC/ don't think that you were on Fandango.....Second, the approach is not a "faint trail": rather, it's well maintained and VERY clear. If you were on granite and approaching from the east side ona faint trail, then you weren't on the first flatiron. Finally, even with a 50m rope, the 6th pitch is on the North Arete---VERY far from "crimpy."Although I'm not a free-soloist, even I drop the rope and simul-free-climb after reaching the arete.
    By Brett Bauer
    Apr 29, 2005
    rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

    Just a quick comment regarding "runouts" and "Protects Well"I climbed this and was 100% on route. The only places I found to "protect well" were the easiest sections... I say easiest meaning 5.0 to 5.5 and I understand the climb is only 5.5 but when you run out a solid 20+ feet and are confronted with 15 ft more of pure slab it feels more difficult knowing you have a 60+ potential fall should the very odd chance you fall!! so I personally would not call this climb a "protects well" climb. Some areas protect well but a lot of gear placements are in hollow sounding flakes... these I just skip and run it out 20-30 feet to solid pro!!! route finding is easy ...just over the small roof of pitch 2 a very solid bolt provides a good anchor! a small tree below the large dihedral is an option for pitch 3 belay but could go a little higher directly above the tree! from here you are 1.5 pitches to the ridge... The Dihedral "protects well" but is very easy... from the ridge with a 60 m rope 1.5 rope lengths to the rappel anchors... and be it known for those taking newbies that this rappel goes free half way down! you could move up higher than the bolt at P2 Belay to bring P3 up into the bottom of the Dihedral...and climb the dihedral in one solid pitch ... this is what i will be doing next time!!!! take it for what it worth!!!
    By nick moeckel
    Jun 27, 2005

    It seems like everyone has a different way of doing this climb. I took the variation that heads up the face to the huge tree, and from there went 20 feet right and then straight up over a fun bulge to rejoin the standard line. The romp up to the tree and the next two pitches up to the ridge were wonderful. I thought the whole route protected quite well by Flatirons standards- there was maybe one place where I thought more pro would be nice.
    By Chris Zeller
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 23, 2005

    A route like this one is so big and wide with so many possibilities that I'm not sure there really IS a "right way" to climb it. The route we did however followed a large dihedral from the top of P3 that ended in a 10' cliff that faced into the mountain. At this point you had to reverse yourself completely and downclimb a bit with your back facing the general direction of the wall. Odd.

    Also, although the climbing along the ridge is easier than the route I choose to remain roped up here. There are sections that are at least as hard as the route. Unfortunately this generates significant rope drag as you go up and over the various [pinnacles].
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 24, 2005

    It is very easy to find the start of this route and it doesn't involve any off-trail travel. I do not recommend leaving the trail in the vicinity of the [Direct Route] and heading straight up hill. Instead, stay on the trail which heads south away from the First Flatiron. After much wandering and switchbacks, the trail comes back to the First Flatiron. The *first time* you get within 10 feet of the First Flatiron, bear right off the trail and rope up, or begin soloing. This is the start of the route.

    You can also begin 5-100 feet farther down from this point, I'm not sure where the official start of the route is. In any event following the trail is definitely the easist way to get to the start of this route.
    By Gary Schmidt
    From: Boulder, CO
    Nov 19, 2005

    If you do use the "big" tree (actually there is another pretty good tree just to the right of it) with the tons of slings on it, you may also wish to consider instead climbing about 10 ft past the tree where there is an abundance of opportunities for a much more comfortable anchor spot. Certianly makes things more comfortable, especially if your climbing party is more than two persons. Of course this involves using a bit of pro. From there we angled n.w. and then up over the lip and headed again more n.w. towards where the huge didhedral turns for the final pitch towards the ridge. There is a piton here (1987 according to Roach) which can be backed up in a good crack. Belay here and then make the run for the summit ridge. The first time i did this climb i went all the way to the dihedral pretty much due north as shown on the beta photo here. (Rossiter's guide book shows where we turned over the lip). It works but is probably harder than 5.5 and still comes with the standard run-out fare for the flatirons.
    By Eran Shileikis
    From: Dysfunctional, CO
    Jun 24, 2006

    After epic-ing gumby-style on this route at this time last year, I decided it was time for revenge. We got ridiculously off-route last year. In fact, it sounds like *Chris Zeller* took the same exact 'detour' as I did last year. We got caught in a rainstorm and I ended up rapping off of the *HUGE* tree on the far upper south side of the 1st. I would strongly urge newbies to avoid this and other Flatirons routes if you are looking for good 'beginner' climbs. Anyhow, I'm 95% sure I was on-route this time. Here's my revenge, beta-style.

    Gear: 60m rope & a Standard Rack (one set of cams & nuts). On average, I don't think I placed more than 4 pieces of gear per pitch (not including the anchors). Do not be fooled. This route *is* easy, but the majority of it is run-out. Pitches averaged ~175ft.

    P1: Begin directly underneath the large roof of that also forms the bottom of a LF dihedral/corner approximately 150ft. above the ground. This roof is the first one you see to the left of the *Direct East Face* route. There is a good crack for a belay just left of this roof.

    P2: Head straight up (following the left-facing dihedral/corner) and then veer right over a small bulge. There are 3 different slab choices here. *Baker's Way* takes the upperdeck/right most obvious ledge above the plane of the large LF roof/dihedral that looms above you. *Fandango* takes the middle road through a slab w/ a bolt on it. The lower road takes you onto the slab the large trees are on. Belay just after the bulge at a crack or continue up to the bolt that *Bryan Gartland* mentioned.

    P3: From the bolt, follow the LF dihedral or aim for a very small (~5 in.) tree, or the small roofs up and left of the small tree. The LARGE trees to your left are not on route, but use them if you desire.

    P4: From the small tree, pick a line to your left and pull a roof/bulge. This is probably the crux, and pro is not the greatest, but it is available. After the small roof, aim for the left side of the HUGE LF Dihedral the veers up and left. Set a belay where you can. If you look hard enough, you will find the piton that *Gary Schmidt* (1987 Roach??) mentions.

    P5: Once at the left side of this LF corner, follow it to the ridge!

    P6: Scramble left/south across the ridge to the summit!
    By Alan Chudnow
    Oct 6, 2006

    Chris, Jim, and I started at Baker's Way and then intersected Fandago Route. Route has excellent views of Front-Range. The Ridge Traverse was excellent fun and enjoyed excellent views from Indian Peaks aournd to downtown Denver. It was a nice change not to bushwack to route or from route.
    By mark loseth
    From: tucson, AZ
    May 7, 2008

    We basically followed a big, left-facing dihedral all the way until the route meets up with the north ridge. I stuck close to the huge flake to increase my chances of finding pro, and found enough to keep me happy.
    By Scott Edlin
    From: boulder, co
    May 20, 2008

    Really fun route, good variety of moves, and a great warmup off the sofa. We approached via the main trail as George Bell suggested and scrambled about 50 feet down until we could take a straight line up to the left edge of the LF dihedral (see pic). By Aaron Shileikis' description, I combined P3-P4 in a 60m rope stretcher from the bolt and barely reached a large dish below the piton. To do this you need short tails, a straight-ish line and extended runners on any pro.
    By farkas.time
    From: Albuquerque, NM
    Jul 19, 2011
    rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13

    Great climb.

    We did this in 3 long pitches with a 70m rope and some simul-climbing. Rope drag wasn't too bad until the ridge traverse. "Is this drag, or Christine?" A bit scary. I don't recommend simuling the ridge with a long rope, or maybe at all, but I'm a newbie.

    First half-pitch is scary. Extremely run-out and not very featured at all. I'm inclined to call this slab 5.6. All other run-outs are 5.5 or less.
    By Dwight Jugornot
    From: Arvada, Co.
    Apr 10, 2013

    I give Fandango 4 stars, BUT... then I'm takin' back 2 stars on account of the endless ridge traverse. Be aware your second will have to effectively "lead" much of this pitch and a half. Exposure is not horrible, but it is worth staying roped. At some points, your second must climb down into slack for about 15 feet. The moves there are maybe 5.3-ish? with lots of exposure below.

    The sandwiches, however, were peerless.
    By Eben Daggett
    From: Boulder, CO
    May 29, 2013
    rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

    Did this route today with a friend from out of town. Fantastic route! By far my favorite Flatiron route to date. True, a little run out in spots, though sometimes the climbing is so smooth you forget to place gear. We simul-climbed a good 70 or 80 feet past the first rope length on the first pitch. If you want to knock this out quick, it is very doable to simul-climb to the "big tree" with a million slings, set an anchor, and belay up your second. From here, it is one rope stretching pitch to the arete (with a 70m, 2 short pitches with a 60m), and two more to the summit. Keep in mind that rope drag and communication could be an issue on the simul-climb. All in all, this route has everything you could want in a Flatirons classic. Great day! It is also fun to shout, "FANDANGO!!!" at the beginning of each pitch....
    By Ubermensch
    Aug 4, 2013

    I climbed a Fandango variation today with my daughter. We climbed the left dihedral above the big tree with all of the slings all of the way to the summit ridge. I believe it met up with Zig Zag and followed it to the ridge. It turned out to be more epic than I would have liked, including a stuck rope as I turned the corner of the upper "S-shaped" dihedral, just past the funky rock tube that connects the roof to the main slab. Learned my lesson to either create a directional or belay before the corner (best choice if you are chicken on slabs and don't want to go out left onto Zig Zag). The route was really run out in places, although the soloists don't seem to mind. One helped me get the rope unstuck the first time - big thanks. It got stuck again, so I had to downclimb 25' to the corner (ugh).
    By Cornelius Jefferson
    Oct 10, 2013
    rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a R

    I like this route a lot. It's almost as good as the Direct East Face...a close second. There are several variations possible including heading left into Zig Zag. Bust a left below the big tree and up the narrowing face until you can downclimb into the next corner over. There are also at least a couple different ways to surmount the roof band that guards access to the upper pitches of Fandango, all of which involve exciting moves on big jugs. The rock quality is excellent just about everywhere on this section of the First, and it's well-featured with quite a few anomaly for an East face in the Flatirons. There's even a few hand and fist jams to be found. Killer.
    By Brian C.
    From: Longmont, CO
    Apr 2, 2014
    rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

    There seems to be a lot of variation for the start. Some folks are starting lower to add more climbing and others are getting suckered into starting in spots that has harder climbing. For those who are interested in finding the "right spot", stay on the standard trail and continue up passing where the start of the East Face Direct is. Right after the trail passes the interesting chopped-step section start paying attention. Fandango starts at the spot where the trail first comes within spitting distance of the rock. It does not look as obvious since there is a short, south-facing wall that blocks your view from the easy slabs. From here, you will be able to reach a belay above the Baker's Way ramp with a full 60m pitch.

    If you continue up the trail, the next place it touches the rock is the start for either Baker's Way or ZigZag. I know that there is no defined starting place, but what I described hopefully will help those trying to find the start explained in the guidebook.
    By Long Ranger
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Apr 26, 2015

    Awesome route for the slabmonger! We decided to cut up a social trail, before hitting the talus pile of the main trail and right after the turnoff for East Face Direct, partly because RMR had a operation going on and were holding up traffic near the talus. Our first pitch on a 70m didn't quite make it to Baker's Way from where we started the first belay, which makes me believe we started a little too low. Next time, I'd just take the actual trail, and head off it, exactly as Brian describes. That would make the first pitch end at Baker's Way, and you can causally solo up to the third pitch, saving a ton of time.

    Back to the first pitch: the slab sort of starts below that point, but there's nothing you'll be missing, and the natural line really follows just slightly to the left of the really, really big crack you should be able to see above - lots of step-like puddles in that line, which you cannot see from above. Perhaps take Baker's Way, and recon what I'm talking about from above. The entire slab though is chill.

    It wasn't mentioned, but after you parallel Baker's Way for just a little bit, the route will have a honest to goodness bolt (not a piton/pin), where we set up the third belay station. You can probably see that as well from Bake'rs Way, but I know I've followed on up that gully by accident when scrambling Baker's Way before, saw the bolt, and realized I couldn't possibly be in the right place.

    4th pitch (best pitch, IMHO) was done underneath a pin, and made it easily to the N. Arete, where we just solo'd to the rap station at the summit.
    By Dan Evans
    From: Phoenix, AZ
    May 26, 2016
    rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a R

    Climbing isn't difficult and features decent crimps when the route turns slabby. The crux was pulling the small roof after the big tree just under the large roof before reaching the dihedral on P4. This part felt harder than 5.5, maybe a move of 5.6/5.7, but then again I was probably off route and added rope drag didn't help. The run outs are pretty real (~50-60 ft between adequate pro) at times like every climb in the Flatirons, so not a great lead for the beginning trad leader.
    By James Rein
    Jun 8, 2016

    This is a great route with plenty of pro options if you want them. You can choose your own path, as every direction has options. I used a 70m and went to the first tree out left (tree had gear), saved time. On the second pitch, I found another small tree that I was able to use with a great belay stance. Don't worry about the runouts. Never placed more than 5 pieces, fist to finger most useful, couple hexes. Also, once I reached the ridge I was able to set a belay on the first high point and then make it to the anchors (minimal gear).
    By tkessel
    From: Windsor,CO
    Jul 9, 2017
    rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

    Fun romp up The First, got a little off route on 1st pitch but found the correct route quickly.

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