Flatiron Trifecta + Green Mt.08/11/2012
|Three hunks of rock on the face of Green Mt.|
Since the Third Flatiron opened for business on August 1st (after it’s annual six-month closure for raptor nesting), I’ve been excited to get back on it. Back on January 30th and 31st (the last two days it was open) I climbed it each day for good measure–the first day, soloing in rock shoes, with Buzz belaying me as I tried the Southwest Chimney downclimb; the second day, I went out by myself, soloed in rock shoes again (in a then-PR 26min), and rappelled the three pitches off the south side of the summit.
|Rappelling off the Third back in January. Photo: Buzz Burrell.|
I felt really good about that fully solo summit then, but definitely dreamed of a day where I could just run to the base of the 1000′ slab, solo it in my running shoes, downclimb it, and continue on to the summit of Green. After a lot of scrambling in the following months, I did just that this past Tuesday morning. I was a bit nervous about the downclimb as I’d only seen it once ever–and that was on belay and six months ago–but to my surprise the entire thing was way, way more moderate than I’d remembered. And I more than cut my PR in half, without trying at all, clocking an 11:34 scramble of the standard East Face. The downclimb was a bit more involved at 21min, but I was excited to have completed it at all.
After spending the rest of the week tagging Sawatch 14ers, I found myself back in Boulder Friday evening, and–after a summit of 14,421′ Mt. Massive in the morning–thought it would be fun to maybe link up the Third, Second, and First Flatirons. I didn’t really think I would tack on the First at the end as I’d never climbed it in running shoes before and I wasn’t willing to carry rock shoes with me through the ascents of the Third and Second (I wanted to climb them in descending sequential order as the descent trails make more sense in that direction, in my opinion), but the thought of soloing it in running shoes definitely sat way back in the recesses of my mind.
After starting my watch at the Chautauqua trashcan, I started off up the hill and within a few minutes could tell my legs felt good. I put in a solid but not all-out effort to the East Bench of the Third (14:53) and immediately stepped on to the face, feeling more secure and confident than usual. I worked steadily up the route, and basically ran up the final crux 5.2 slab to hit the summit in 24:09 for a 2min+ PR of 9:16. I immediately started the downclimb and was way more comfortable than on Tuesday morning, touching down on the ground almost exactly 12min later.
|The mighty Third, last winter.|
The run down the trail through the boulder field to the base of the Second was easy and I started up the face at 43:18–there was a pair of climbers roping up at the base, but I never even broke stride just running straight up on to the face. Unfortunately, as I’ve never even been on Free For All–the standard 5.6 East Face route for the Second that includes climbing the Pullman Car summit block–I stuck to my usual 4th Class Freeway route, taking rock all the way and stepping onto the trail at 51:35.
I was feeling really good on the rock, so on the way down the trail to the bottom of the First Flatiron, I decided to forgo climbing the 5.4 Bakers Way route and instead do the standard 5.6 East Face route all the way from the bottom. I stepped onto the face at 56:58, and–much to my surprise–had zero difficulty with the slabby, thin first 200′ or so of climbing. I’d only ever done this in rock shoes, so this was hugely confidence inducing and when I hit the summit in 1:14:16, my climbing time of 17:18 was 11min faster than my previous PR. The downclimb that usually takes me 9-10min passed in only 5:45, and from there I decided I’d do a quick tag of the summit of Green Mt. as well.
When I hit the top at 1:37:07 I knew it’d be close in order to get back to Chautauqua in under 2hr, so I gave it a little gas on the descent, reaching the Baseline Trail junction in 1:52:53 (15:46 descent) and then finally returning to the Chat trashcan at 1:56:28, for a 19:21 descent from the summit, both of which have to be dry trail PRs for me. This route is probably no more than 7mi total, but it packs in 4500′ of vertical gain—such is the nature of scrambling I suppose. This outing has me excited to spend some time post-LT100 really dialing in the First and Third East Face routes and maybe even taking a shot at Dave Mackey’s venerable Chat-to-Chat speed records on those rocks.