A great route for beginners. Beware of serious rope drag on pitches 3,4 and 5.
This scenic, exposed route gets three stars as a free solo.
Approach the North Arete by climbing East Face North Side (see Warren Teissier's description of that route), or by hiking around the back of the First Flatiron to the notch just uphill from the end of the East Face North Side route.
P1 (45m): Rope up in the notch. Climb up a steep 20 feet, then pull around onto the east face. Climb up the face to a flat area at the base of a long, low overhang.
P2 (50m): Climb straight up to the lip of the overhang, then move left until you can pull up onto the face above the overhang. Run it out on beautiful, highly featured rock to one of several belay spots on the crest. (5.4)
P3 (40m): Climb along the arete, down into a notch, then up a hard-to-protect 50 degree slab. Belay on top of the slab.
P4 (50m): Climb down into another notch and behold the "quartz crystal pitch". Climb a groove (small wired stoppers or tiny cams), then move right on face holds to the top of the tower. As you yard on the flat-topped quartz crystal, think of all the famous Boulder climbers who have yarded on same. Set a belay as far up on the ridge as your rope will reach. (5.4)
P5 (40-50m): Climb up arete to walking terrain. Navigate loose rock and boulders, scramble down into a final notch, then up the right side of the summit tower. Belay from gigantic eyebolts on the summit.
Descent: With a single 50m rope, rap from eyebolts to a big ledge 20 feet from summit. Rap or scramble south down ledge to another large eyebolt. Rappel down the south face. With a 60m or two 50m ropes, make one mostly free-hanging rappel from summit eyebolts to ground.
Standard Flatirons rack.
|By Mike Sofranko|
Dec 4, 2001
Another great way to approach this route is to climb the Spy, which is a narrow fin of rock just to the north of the 1st. This rock/route is described elsewhere on the site.
|By Matt White|
Feb 27, 2002
Let's not forget Mike Sofranko. He loved the Flatirons, Boulder Canyon, and Eldo as much as any of us. Please be careful out there.
|By Mike Epke|
From: Denver, CO
Jul 14, 2002
Just lead this route for the first time after following earlier this year. A great beginner climb, not the easiest route to protect, but more than ample. What great views of everything around - Chatauqua, Flagstaff, Boulder, and Indian Peaks. Can definitely see why this is a Boulder classic.
|By Kevin Craig|
Apr 29, 2003
I always thought the "hard to protect 50 degree slab" was the "Crystal Pitch" and the next (called the crystal pitch here) was the "False Summit Pitch." Any Flatiron old-timers or devotee's care to clear this up? Thanks.
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 30, 2003
Kevin, you're right the above route description may be a little out of order.
It's hard to write a pitch by pitch description for this route, but there are basically 3 hard places on the North Arete as I see it. The first is an overhang which is the crux of the route. In the main photo of the First Flatiron under the rock, the Direct Route is shown going left around this overhang (called by Roach the "gully-flake combo", Rossiter shows this as the standard way to do the Direct route).
The second hard place is the quartz knob pitch, which rises above the notch where the dihedral of Fandango reaches the North Arete. You will know you are on this pitch when you spot the quartz knob, although I climbed it many times before seeing it, you do not actually *have* to grab it.
The third hard place rises above the notch where Zig-Zag joins the North Arete. It is an exposed slab that you can either do a rising traverse along or climb straight up, Roach calls this the "Final Headwall", it is what Kevin refers to as the "False Summit Pitch" as it ends atop the false summit. There is also the final hard place climbing the actual summit itself, but this is a lot easier than it looks when you are coming up on it.
|By Kevin Craig|
Apr 30, 2003
Thanks George! I know it's a fiddly detail, but as you know I'm a bit of a climbing history buff, and the pitch names of "classic" climbs are a key part of that history. Like you, I climbed the Crystal Pitch several times before I saw *the* crystal, and I haven't seen it again since. Your route description matches my experience.