This is a link-up that has been on my mind for a while: Spring Flatirons Classics.
People know there are 53 “Classic” routes in Gerry Roach’s guide book. But, 20 of those are closed Feb 1 - July 31 (roughly “Spring”) for raptors. That means if you’re going to climb all 53 Classics, you have to go in late summer, which is too hot, or sometime in the fall, when the days are getting short. It occurred to me that just doing the 33 routes that are open year-round would make a lot of sense: you can go in the spring when the days are long, the weather is cool, there’s water everywhere, and there’s NO poison ivy! Plus it seemed to me that I just might be able to pull that off in a day. It all worked!
I’d been planning to do this on Friday, but the weather report for Thurs started to look better: partly cloudy and low 60s vs. sunny and 70s. In fact when found ICE on the windshield of my car at 4AM I almost went back to bed. There was some light rain overnight, or a heavy dew, & the ground was quite wet, but fortunately the rocks were dry from the start. Temps never got above 55 degrees at NCAR – excellent scrambling weather. I did get spooked on the 5th Flatiron when thick clouds rolled in and it started to look like rain, but I felt exactly 1 rain drop.
My “rules” are, I think, consistent with what others have done: You can climb up or down, and you only have to climb any piece of rock once, even if it’s on more than one route. I downclimbed Baker’s Way on the 1st Flatiron, Freeway on the 2nd Flatiron, the Hammerhead, Stairway to Heaven, 5th Flatiron South Side, and the SE Ridge on Central Shanahan Crag.
Though I've been an endurance specialist for decades, I’m not super fit for climbing, so I tried to make it as easy as possible on myself. That included rapeling some things that I could have downclimbed off quicker, such as Morning After and Green Mountain Pinnacle. I also top rope self-belayed a few things: The Slot (Amphitheater), SF of Central Shanahan, and the first couple moves on the Maiden. Having the rope is more time consuming but also more relaxing. Plus a bit safer, especially late in the day. It turns out a 30m rope works for everything EXCEPT that SF route on CSC, which is about 140’, and of course the two 100' raps off the Maiden. I carried an 8mm x 30m rope all day, and stashed a 6-7mm x 150’ cord at the top of the SF CSC route. On CSC, I DC’ed the SE Ridge from the top to the top of the SF route, rapped the SF then climbed back up, and continued down the SE Ridge. I carried the 150’ cord along for the rest of the day & used it to double with my 30m rope for the raps on the Maiden. That pack felt heavy slogging up the Fatiron!
The Maiden was in the back of my mind all day. For me that’s one of the harder (& scarier) Classics, and I’d be hitting it as #31 of 33, so I knew I’d be very tired. At the last minute before leaving my house I tossed in a pair of rock climbing shoes, and carried them all day just for this one climb (otherwise used La Sportiva TX3 approach shoes). It turned out to be totally worth carrying the extra 1lb. I really wanted to get off the Maiden before dark, and fortunately I was able to do that without any hurry. Unfortunately, I *still* had to do the Regency and Tomato Rock, which didn’t fit logically into my itinerary earlier in the day & are close enough to the Mesa Trail to pick up on the way back. Thrashing around in the dark woods after the Regency looking for the Royal Arch Trail was not a high point!
I got back to my car at Chautauqua just before 10PM. Long day – 17h38m ! There are many people who can do this faster. But first you have to really learn the routes and the bushwhacks between them. Which is the fun part!
Just a few splits:
07:34 cross Bluebell Creek on the Royal Arch Trail
11:42 Skunk Creek (after Stairway)
13:22 Bear Creek Trail
15:24 top of the Slab
19:20 off both Maiden raps
So many great adventures in our back yard!
1) T-Zero, WF
5) The Spy
6) 1st Flatiron, Baker’s Way (DC)
7) 1st Flatiron, Direct East Face
8) 1st Flatiron, N Arete
10) 2nd Flatiron, Freeway (DC)
11) 2nd Flatiron, Dodge Block
13) Hammerhead (DC)
14) 4th Flatiron, EF (first 2 pieces, 3rd piece after Challenger & GMP)
17) 5th Flatiron, EF North
18) 5th Flatiron, EF South (DC)
19) Hillbilly Rock
20) Stairway to Heaven (DC)
21) Front Porch
22) Dinosaur Rock, EF
26) Slab, Diagonal
27) Central Shanahan Crag, SE Ridge (DC)
28) Central Shanahan Crag, SF
29) Tiny Tower, EF
30) Fatiron, EF
31) Maiden, NF
33) Tomato Rock