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The Flatiron 

Hueco: V4 Font: 6B

Type:  Boulder, Chipped, 10'
Original:  Hueco: V4 Font: 6B [details]
FA: John Gill
Page Views: 6,141
Submitted By: Jay Knower on Jan 1, 2003

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Carol Black on the Little Flatiron 1974.


The first rock an out of breath climber encounters upon reaching the East Rampart is the Flatiron, a perfect little boulder reminiscent of its much larger counterparts in Colorado. Two parallel cracks spill down from the top, and the difficulty of the problem lies in attaining these cracks. Easier variations exist on both sides. One hard variation uses only the right crack. Climb this problem on a busy summer weekend, and be prepared to feel like an animal in a zoo.

I hesitate to list this as a "chipped route" despite the rumors that Gill deliberately broke a loose flake out of the upper pocket in the right crack. Gill was bad ass, and it seems unclear why he would chip an already large hold on the easier upper part of the problem. Does anyone know if the rumor is true?


Crash pad, chalkbag, and/or climbing shoes

Photos of The Flatiron Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: She sent a couple goes later.
She sent a couple goes later.
Rock Climbing Photo: Katie gives some scale to the problem.
Katie gives some scale to the problem.
Rock Climbing Photo:
Rock Climbing Photo: The Monster formation
BETA PHOTO: The Monster formation
Rock Climbing Photo: Tom and Brandon from Spring 2017
Tom and Brandon from Spring 2017
Rock Climbing Photo: Using my best spider impersonation to top out on a...
Using my best spider impersonation to top out on a...
Rock Climbing Photo: Nice evening at the Little Flatiron
Nice evening at the Little Flatiron
Rock Climbing Photo: Nic getting in a quick send.
Nic getting in a quick send.
Rock Climbing Photo: Super fun, Little Flatiron, October 09.
Super fun, Little Flatiron, October 09.
Rock Climbing Photo: Satermo on the Little Flatiron, October 09.
Satermo on the Little Flatiron, October 09.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Flatiron.
The Flatiron.
Rock Climbing Photo: steve s. and his addidas
steve s. and his addidas
Rock Climbing Photo: Here's a KILLER sequence of Photos of the route. T...
Here's a KILLER sequence of Photos of the route. T...
Rock Climbing Photo: This is a 1981 photo of Curt Shannon on the "...
This is a 1981 photo of Curt Shannon on the "...

Comments on The Flatiron Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 10, 2016
By Terry Kieck
Jan 31, 2003

Mega-Classic boulder problem of Devil's lake.The following is a link to a picture of John Gill on it in 1958-59. An awe inspiring
By Joe Block
Jan 31, 2003

Thw well-researched "Stone Crusade," by John Sherman, says: "...the most famous Gill problem is the Flatiron, the route he chipped and lived to forget..."
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 1, 2003

I know John Gill. Like how people like John Sherman get down on others. Sherman is an idiot.
By Terry Kieck
Feb 1, 2003

Gill is quoted in the book about enlarging a hold on the flatiron. It was not a fabrication of Sherman's. Sherman is very anti-chipping, etc (and if you have read anything he has authored it is obvious) but I don't feel he included it to disrespect Gill in anyway. In the quote Gill speaks of his regret, how it never occured again and why. It may have been included in the book as a fact of history and to show Gill's (the father of modern bouldering) stance on chipping holds to educate climbers of today. I bouldered with Sherman at the lake and had beers at the good old Dale (RIP) - he is definately a character and a very talented writer but not an idiot (IMHO).
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 4, 2003

Out-of-line comment, perhaps. Still, I'm sick and tired of climbers and their attitudes (in general). I'm against chipping as well, but I'm really tired of the constant mud-slinging or belittling of one's activity. You know, trad is better than sport, this person did this or didn't do that, it wasn't a "valid" redpoint. Who cares? Only morons actually care about this stuff. Just shut up and climb, I say. So, I'll remove my remark about Sherman, promptly.
By Jay Knower
From: Campton, NH
Feb 5, 2003

I included info about the chipped hold in the description of the Flatiron simply to add to the historical record of that boulder problem. There was no "mud slinging" going on. The fact: Gill chipped the hold, and he admitted to it. There has been no ethical, moral, or other judgements based on this fact. Whether or not you agree with Sherman seems a very peripheral issue.
By Chad Berger
Feb 6, 2003

Gill's such a powerhouse that he probably modified lots of holds just by grabbing them.Whether or not the route hase a modified hold doesn't detract from the fact that the route is absolutely incredible. I'll be damned if I can do that problem yet!!! I can't believe how many times i've stopped there and tried it.
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 10, 2003

And he's still going at 65!
By rich bechler
Mar 30, 2004

Try it with out bouldering matts or half in the bag or both
By Steve Sangdahl
From: eldo sprngs,co
Mar 25, 2005

this is a stellar boulder problem by john gill,he admits to chipping it ,but so what,its still killer,also consider the year he was doing it.the right hand variation is a bit harder( v ? rating)we use to get pretty jacked here and do it in our tennies.
By Anonymous Coward
May 4, 2005

Flew in from New England to see my parents and decided to take a day and do some bouldering at Devils Lake. In particular to attempt "The Flat Iron". I had been to Devils Lake before when I was young but I wasn't a climber back then so I hardly noticed the properties of quartzite. I knew I was in for something special when I my hiking boots lacked to find friction on some of the stones going up the staircase to the problem. When I finally reached the problem out of breath (yeah, and I thought I was in shape) I instantly wished I had brought a pad or a spotter. Conditions were perfect. 40-45 degrees and low humdity. Not a soul in sight ( weekday ). I felt physically in the best shape to date. After two hours I was happy about the fact that I hadn't seen anyone. I managed to make it to the first vertical crack hold a grand total of 3 times but was unable no matter what I tried to get my foot on the killer foothold ( I got close once ). I humbly put my hiking boots back on with very sore fingers and went in search of easier problems. What a great problem, I look forward to coming back and giving it another try. I never did see another boulderer that day.
By JJ Schlick
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Nov 10, 2010

I remember this being one of the first "true" boulder problems I ever did... Way before pads- I had a blanket or mud:)
By Tradiban
Apr 5, 2013
rating: V4 6B

I finally got around to this one. Classic for the historical context. Also, rumor is the chipping was to clean a sharp part of the hold not to create a hold where none existed.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Apr 5, 2013
rating: V4 6B

True nick, that is exactly what gill told Ian.
By Skyler F.
From: La Crosse, WI
Jul 15, 2013

Tonight was a special night indeed. A solo bouldering trip out to the Lake ended with a send of possibly my longest standing boulder project, the Flatiron (V4). This thing has been spitting me off for so long and I can't keep count of how many time I've tried it. But tonight was the end of a long, and at times, frustrating process. I made the last revisions to my beta and finally reached the upper hold in the right crack that marks the end of the crux. I knew from that point I could finish it and there was no way I'd be letting go. Even though tonight I reached my ultimate goal of climbing the Flatiron, I think back and see my growth as climber from when I first tried the route some 4 years ago to now. Sometimes I get caught up in the whole mess of projecting, but looking back, it is truly rewarding to have gone through the process and I am grateful for each day I get to climb, send or not.
By Leo Hski
Apr 16, 2014

I met John Gill about 1985-ish at a climbing film festival in the UK- Buxton? Anyway over beers with John and Ken Wilson I had the temerity to ask about the rumored chipping. John, class act, was very straightforward about it- he remembered trying to clean a loose flake in the crack which busted out. So chipped, yes, deliberate, kinda, kinda not.

Chipped or not it's still a classic problem put up by a legend.
By Terry Kieck
Nov 11, 2015

I was up on the east bluff yesterday afternoon and noticed the landing for the flat iron is now asphalt. The rock on the left side of the landing zone is gone. I was only an issue for the left side variations. The CCC trail has been getting some maintenance this fall and this area was part of it. Any way, the Classic has been altered.

Maybe they will fill in some holes in the LZ's for some talus problems!
By Joel Allen
From: La Crosse, WI
Nov 12, 2015

That little "boulder" that was on the left was practically nothing. The classic is not changed at all.
By Landon Schoenmann
From: Oshkosh
May 5, 2016

The Flatiron can be climbed in many different ways. Part of what makes it amazing. It is so much fun and is better every time you get on it!!
By Terry Kieck
May 6, 2016

It is true the climbing movement of the problem has not changed but the aesthetics of the classic has. As I look through the classic photos of the problem, its the way I remember the first time I did it some 20 years ago. No pad, flat dirt landing and a small rock just outside the LZ - the way Gill first did it. The chance for people to repeat that piece of history is forever altered. my 2 cents
By Joel Allen
From: La Crosse, WI
May 10, 2016

True Terry! Although i'm going to use a pad with or without the boulder because I'm a wimp :)

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