FKT: Joe Kennedy - Flatirons Linkups (Boulder, CO) - 2023-09-22

Route variation
Roach's Top 10
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
5h 15m 52s

PSYCHED! This one hurt. Final day of funemployment before starting a new job next week & wanted to give a hard effort on my last day of Friday of freedom. Didn’t really think I’d be able to take much time (if any) off of Darren’s 2017 burn, but somehow everything clicked. Great weather, all the free time in the world to scout over the past month or two, luckily not making any mistakes w route finding / beta on the rock, and the body holding up for a hard effort made it all come together WAY better than I ever expected

Woke up real early to have time to stretch, drink coffee, and eat a real breakfast w time for the stomach to settle before starting up. Headlamp on at CHQ & headphones in while starting up to the 1st. DEF flew by in the dark & next thing I knew I was on the 3rd and breathing a bit too hard. It felt like a pace I could keep for a while, but definitely hard enough that a full-on crash later in the day wasn’t impossible. Decided on the 3rd to dig deep and keep that pace until the end. If that ended up being a bad decision, I was fine with slowing down later/bailing/suffering a bit, I guess. One of those days where I was just way too psyched to see what the body could do.

Hit the summit of the 3rd a few mins ahead of Darren. Since I’d decided not to downclimb Friday’s I knew I’d need to make up time elsewhere wherever I could. Downclimbed the 3rd under 4mins and chugged uphill to FF, only taking a brief moment before climbing back up. Took a little over 3mins on FF and immediately hucked it back to the ground. It felt SO SMOOTH and I knew it was gonna be a good day if I could hold the pace. Nailed the line to GMP thanks to the scouting days & a lot of luck, and next thing I knew I was bombing down to the royal arch trail.

Summited Stairway and saw a whole crew of minions over on hillybilly, plus John on Satan’s Slab. SO MUCH FUN yelling back and forth in the canyon as I went down stairway. Hit the canyon and immediately started up towards backporch. Mentally I knew things were about to get tougher considering the last 5 routes all feel VERY serious. Backporch flew by & felt perfect. Not too hot, the line felt fresh in the memory, and the body felt good. Downclimbed efficiently and hucked up down to bear creek where I filled up my 20oz soft flask w a filter cap. Probably chugged 10oz there & took a gel quickly before heading up to fern canyon. Michael & I had scouted a line on Pellaea that started further uphill, but when I hit the feature I decided to go up the 5.6 low start from the true base of the feature. I knew it’d be slower, but it felt like the “right” start for some reason and I wasn’t too upset about having a reason to slow down and catch the breath. Hit the summit & downclimbed WAY faster than I ever had before. Kinda crazy because, if anything, it felt slower. But hit a split on the watch seeing 3:22 summit to ground. Had to double check the time on the watch to make sure it was accurate, and it was. This was when I realized I was feeling really REALLY good & things were flowing well. Such a crazy feeling getting so into the zone like that, one I don’t get often. Time flies, everything feels like it clicks, and the brain just seems to make all of the micro-decisions for you. Ugh, such an incredible (and rare) feeling.

The run to the Fatiron felt great, but long. Realized on this section that I’d somehow put a hole in my soft flask (oops) with a slow leak so I filled up at the junction where the Fatiron approach starts. Luckily still a trickle there. Slammed some calories on the way up the approach trail & didn’t stop until I was off the downclimb. Took the connector to the Maiden real slow. This felt like the mental crux of the day for sure. No matter how many laps I do on the maiden, it always always always feels intimidating when you step onto the west ridge & see it hanging over you. Slowed the HR down and left the water & shirt behind for this one. Hit the jugs on the initial overhanging section and immediately knew I was in the right headspace, and was seriously thankful that my past self had gone up here for some laps. Hit the summit & laughed to myself for a sec. Looking north and seeing all the features, I was overwhelmed with happiness & SO MUCH PSYCH remembering that this is literally my backyard. Boulder is such an incredible place…

Let myself relax on the downclimb & just let it feel smooth and efficient. No mistake on this thing is ending well, and I wanted to make sure everything was absolutely and 100% perfect. Shot a text to Emily & Jack once I was off the maiden to let them know things were going well and I was through what was (for me) the riskiest section of the day. Slammed some water, took a gel, and bombed down the backside into shadow canyon. Filled up at the creek crossing and ran over to the matron cutoff. Starting uphill here felt BAD! The previous hours seemed to hit me at once, but I knew I was almost there. One more feature. And one of my favorites too, so I turned the brain off and settled into the burn.

The crux face felt super good, as with the upper face. Hit the summit and immediately started back down. Back on the ground I had a brief moment of “oh god this run back is about to SUCK” before turning some music up & getting on with it. In short, the run back was brutal. It had started to get pretty hot & my legs were toasted. Tried to run everything I could & was pretty happy with the effort back, although the first two miles felt like an eternity. Once I passed the NCAR cutoff I knew it was time to give ‘er the gas (whatever was left, that is) until I was back at CHQ. Hit the trailhead and just kinda wandered over to the grass where I plopped down, took the shoes off, and lied down for a while feeling absolutely SMOKED but real satisfied with the day :)

The flatirons are truly something special. Everyone whose spent time here knows that, but it just continues to blow my mind how many ways one can have fun up there. Sunset scrambles with friends, sport climbing, short speed efforts, and infinitely many options for the most ridiculous & massive linkups people can come up with. Feeling real thankful to live here & have access to these rocks. There’s no place in the world I’d rather have to push myself, spend time with the pals, and just stare at from home every single day.

Some splits (summit times):
1st - 28:43
3rd - 46:12
Fridays - 57:10 (top of route)
GMP - 1:21:22
Stairway (dc) - 1:46:10 @ bottom
Backporch - 2:01:30
Pellaea - 2:42:50 (6:54up/3:22down!!)
Fatiron - 3:26:18 (11:30up)
Maiden - 3:40:45 (8:20up/8:25down)
Matron - 4:17:00 (6:20up/7:45down)
GROUND - 4:24:45
CHQ - 5:15:52

Gear: UD running belt, 20oz soft flask w/ filter cap, resoled mutants, 800 calories (gels, clif blocks, 250mg caffeine)