Friday, April 11, 2014

First Flatiron

After months of cowering in fear and disappointment, I conquered Boulder's iconic first flatiron. I've been searching for the downclimb for literally months, and I wasn't going up unless I was sure I could get back down. Yesterday (after guiding my sister up her first climb on the 2nd) I decided to search yet again and what do you know! Really wasn't so all.
Catching some air on the 2nd yesterday, photo cred to the sister
I had checked out the base of the first before, and what always stood out to me was: steep and smooth. Especially given that I'm climbing in my running shoes, grip seemed like an issue. I arrived at the base of the rock this afternoon nervous, but excited. Two other guys were putting on their climbing shoes and wore no gear otherwise. We decided that I would join up with their group and they would lead me on the route. Sweet, now I only have to get to the top.
Googled "first flatiron", this is it!
My first steps were poorly placed and not holding at all. I lost friction and slid 4 ft back to the dirt. "What am I doing I asked myself?", my answer came to me quickly "Well for a start, we're not falling". I regathered myself and pressed my toes hard to the water eroded sandstone. I went up a bit, looked up, looked back down, this is happening I said to myself. After a certain point you get high enough, where your confidence increases if only because at this point there is no going back. And so I went on. After the first pitch of pressing the top digits of my fingers over pebble sized holds with my feet sticking to what footholds would manage, I was anxious. "I'm buying rock shoes tomorrow!" I announced to my partners. They laughed and did remark on how they were impressed with my courage to wear what I had. After this point, the washed away rock transformed into not the obvious, exposure-less, shallow incline of the 2nd, but a much more manageable texture. In all honesty, the rest felt almost a blur. We passed 2 or 3 roped parties, but really took no breaks. Hardly took pictures, due to the continuous motion - and frankly, there aren't too many spots I'd feel super comfortable whipping out the camera.
The pitch is deceivingly steep, the scale is hard to photograph as well.
Gaining the North Arete, It was "easy" 5th class scrambling to the summit, passing in and out of three or four notches. In retrospect, running shoes are totally sufficient, provided a certain degree of comfort exists on the initial 200ft or so. Summit views were brilliant of course, though its become commonplace over the last year of Chautauqua outings. Shouldn't take beautiful things like this for granted, even more so when it is your home.
Several false summits proceed downwards along the Arete (look at the climbing vocab!)
Downclimbed a wrong and awkward, body width gully, but made it back down without any drama. Super stoked at this point, this has been on my list of goals since last summer. Feels so good to accomplish goals like that especially when paired with the rush of a challenging climb. Feeling good I did the West face of the 2nd, lounged about in my tranquil solitude for a bit, then meandered my way down.
Top o' the 2nd, via the west face
I downclimbed the entirety of the 2nd again, and could feel the weight of my weeks now unfamiliar efforts taking their toll on my performance, my mind was slow to find lines, and my calves ached after a very "supportive" week on their part. I also ran the approaches (up and down) as a short 1 mile (half mile up, half down) hip test on some techy terrain. Not bad, going up feels better than down, but I won't be doing any distance intensive trips for at least 2 more weeks. I think I'll be up on these flatirons quite a bit in the future, they are a great workout without the injury prone antics of running. Oh, and my arms and legs are Sunburnt with a capitle S, haven't been outside enough lately.

2.3 miles, 1800ft up, and a pace of about 13 minutes per mile (all things considered its not that bad!)

The route.

No comments:

Post a Comment