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Flattop Mountain - S side
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Steep Is Flat 


Type:  Trad, Mixed, Alpine, 4 pitches, 500', Grade III
Original: M5-6 Steep Snow [details]
FA: JD Merritt and Erik Rieger, 2013
New Route: Yes
Season: December-April
Page Views: 1,280
Submitted By: erik rieger on Mar 8, 2013

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Pitch 3, looking up the corner system.


This route climbs four pitches up the chimney system on the steep upper wall of Flattop's southeast face. It makes for a good mid-late winter climb, especially in windy or cold weather due to its generally sheltered and sunny aspect.

To reach the climbing, gain about 1,400' of vert from Emerald Lake via easy snow and some moderate rock to reach the upper southeast couloir. After surmounting a large chockstone, the couloir continues up and right whereas this line breaks left onto the steep wall below another car-sized chockstone.

Pitch 1: Climb past the chockstone on the left, then trend up through broken terrain interspersed with harder moves toward the arete. Surmount the arete with great exposure, using face holds to pull onto an angled ledge (35m, M5).

Pitch 2: Climb straight up from the belay toward a large corner system swinging into a smattering of frozen turf and ice. Pull over a large chockstone and continue up a snowy chimney (30m, M4).

Pitch 3: Continue straight up the right-facing corner and chimney system, pulling two short but steep cruxes with good gear (30m, M5/6).

Pitch 4: Continue up the chimney and over a loose bulge and climb an easy slope to the summit (30m, M4).

Overall, a good mixture of easy vertical and some technical climbing. Expect a half to full day round trip, some loose rock, large snow mushrooms, and of course there can be considerable avalanche hazard.

Descend the Flattop Trail to Bear Lake.


Choose your own adventure to reach the narrow couloir below the center of the headwall on the southeast face.


Standard winter rack.

Photos of Steep Is Flat Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Steep Is Flat, with approach marked by the dashes ...
BETA PHOTO: Steep Is Flat, with approach marked by the dashes ...
Rock Climbing Photo: You're aiming for this steep wall up and left.
You're aiming for this steep wall up and left.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pretty awesome couloir climbing on the approach.
Pretty awesome couloir climbing on the approach.
Rock Climbing Photo: Here is our line in purple.  A direct-start variat...
BETA PHOTO: Here is our line in purple. A direct-start variat...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 1.
Pitch 1.
Rock Climbing Photo: The approach couloir.
The approach couloir.

Comments on Steep Is Flat Add Comment
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By Mikearno
Mar 13, 2013

Did this route last year with different variations.... Great winter mountain route.... Almost better that the old route....
By erik rieger
From: Ridgway, CO
Mar 14, 2013

Once the first pitch is done, you're tunneled into a large chimney/corner system, and you'd have to try really hard to break from the line. So I'm a bit confused how you could climb the same route "differently." The climbing is steeper and more serious than the old route.

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