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The Matron
Routes Sorted
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East Ridge T 
Father Knows Best T,S 
North Crack T 
North Face T 
North Face Right T 
Pasta Man T 
Quiche on a Leash T 
Real Men Don't Eat Quiche T 
South Face T 
Sunday Comix T,TR 
Warlocks T 
West Face T,TR 

North Face 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b

   
Type:  Trad, 3 pitches
Consensus:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: Karl Gustafson and Don Ackerman, 1951
Page Views: 9,039
Submitted By: Andrew Wellman on Jan 14, 2001

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Summit view.

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  • Description 

    This route is listed in Gerry Roach's book as one of the top ten routes in the Flatirons. It has been a popular route for a long time and is quite historic. To reach the bottom of the climb, hike around to the North side of the Matron and follow a climber's trail up until you reach a large block. Chimney up between this block and the Matron and start on the bench immediately afterwards. The climb is roughly four pitches long - about 1.5 pitches of steep 5.6 on the North Face, and then easy scrambling to the summit on the East Ridge.

    P1: follow a left-leaning crack on the face past a few old rusty pins to a ledge with a small tree (5.6).

    P2: climb the short crack out onto the East Face, and belay on a ledge wherever convenient (5.6).

    From here, the climb is much like scrambling on the East Faces of any Flatiron and is easy, well-featured, and offers little pro. Scramble for a couple hundred feet of 5.2-5.4 to the summit.

    Protection 

    A light rack is sufficient. Bring maybe 1 set of nuts and a small hanful of cams as well as a few quickdraws for the fixed pins. If you are thinking of soloing the climb, bring a rope for the descent off the back side or be stuck with a long and not very pleasent downclimb.


    Photos of North Face Slideshow Add Photo
    This is the start of the climbers trail which splits off of the Shadow Canyon Trail.  Follow this trail uphill to the southeast corner of the Matron, then east and north around the base of the Matron until you get to the large boulder at the climb.
    BETA PHOTO: This is the start of the climbers trail which spli...
    Dawn DuPriest back clipping the first pitch by Alan Whittern.
    Dawn DuPriest back clipping the first pitch by Ala...
    High on the first pitch.
    High on the first pitch.
    Mark Robbins pulling the crux overhang on the first pitch by Alan Whittern.
    Mark Robbins pulling the crux overhang on the firs...
    Green - rappel path, red - tough pull.
    BETA PHOTO: Green - rappel path, red - tough pull.
    Dawn Dupriest belaying Mark Robbins on the 2nd pitch where the North Face joins the East Ridge by Alan Whittern.
    Dawn Dupriest belaying Mark Robbins on the 2nd pit...
    Looking down from the 1st belay.  On the bottom of the photo, you can see the gap between the large boulder and the Matron wall which you must stem/chimney up to get to the 1st pitch.
    BETA PHOTO: Looking down from the 1st belay. On the bottom of...
    Mark Robbins topping off the crack 2nd pitch by Alan Whittern.
    Mark Robbins topping off the crack 2nd pitch by Al...
    My 3rd rock climb, 1959!
    My 3rd rock climb, 1959!
    Coming up the East Face portion of the route.
    Coming up the East Face portion of the route.
    Going up the first pitch.
    Going up the first pitch.
    Access to the base of the 1st pitch is just over this large block.  Stem/chimney up the left side of the boulder to get to the start of the climb on top.
    BETA PHOTO: Access to the base of the 1st pitch is just over t...
    Kimberly cranks over the 1st pitch overhang!
    Kimberly cranks over the 1st pitch overhang!
    Brenda on the long, vertical second rappel.
    Brenda on the long, vertical second rappel.
    View to the summit.
    BETA PHOTO: View to the summit.
    First pitch.
    First pitch.
    Ken & Margaret at the summit.
    Ken & Margaret at the summit.
    Looking down the finger crack.
    Looking down the finger crack.
    Standing at the P1 belay with the roof directly below.
    Standing at the P1 belay with the roof directly be...
    Pulling over the crux overhang on my 3rd rock climb ever!
    Pulling over the crux overhang on my 3rd rock clim...
    SW rappel station.
    BETA PHOTO: SW rappel station.

    Comments on North Face Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 1, 2013
    By Warren Teissier
    Jul 9, 2001

    The descent can be done with two single rope rappels provided you have a 60m rope (200ft). The second rappel finishes on top of a large flake (20ft tall and 2 feet wide. From there, it's an easy downclimb. I did it with a 50m rope and had to use the last inch of the rope (had to untie the knots on the rope) and stem like mad to make it onto the flake.... Not recommended....
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 6, 2001

    The trick on the second rap (if you only have a 50m rope), is NOT to go down the north face. Head down the arete to the west, right next to the West Face route. The rope easily reaches the ground here. Make sure you are using the lower rap anchor (2 nice bolts), not the one at 60' shown in Rossiter.
    By Ernie Port
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Aug 1, 2002

    As George mentioned, on rappel #1 (using a 60m rope length), continue past a single eyebolt (notice large raptor nest on left with interwoven purple webbing) to a pair of eyebolts another 20' farther down (southwest). From here a 60m rope will reach the flake & talus. This final rappel is approx. 90', and if done to the north, provides a splendid free rappell off the slightly overhanging wall. A great finish!
    By Jake Wyatt
    From: Longmont, CO
    Nov 23, 2002

    I did this climb yesterday -- very enjoyable! Fun moves, and great positions on the rock. Rappelling off (going north from the lower set of bolts on the second rappel), I noticed that there is an interesting-looking bolted route just to the right (when facing the rock) of the rappel line. The route is near the far west edge of the north face, and doesn't seem to be described in Rossiter's guidebook. The first bolt is near the top of a left facing flake, the second just above a small overhang (it looks like the clip could be made from beneath the overhang, though), and at least three more bolts beyond a little ramp that's above the second bolt. Does anyone know the rating of this route, and when it was put up?
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Nov 23, 2002

    Jake, I too have seen the bolts you refer to. These may be the route in Rossiter "Soul Survivor (5.11, Charlie Fowler ca. 1982)". Don't you step off a flake to start the route, as described in Rossiter? Rossiter does not mention any bolts, but it is a very brief route description with no topo.
    By Jake Wyatt
    From: Longmont, CO
    Nov 23, 2002

    George: I noticed that "Soul Survivor" looked to be in pretty much the same location as the bolted route, but I would have assumed that Rossiter would have mentioned the shiny new bolts. Without the bolts (i.e., if it had been retrobolted after Rossiter's guidebook were published), then I would have thought he would have given it an "s" rating originally -- it would be pretty spicy without the bolts. And I don't know what "step off a flake" means -- is that the same thing as following the flake up for 15-20 feet to the overhang? In any event, despite my confusion and uncertainty, I can say for sure that it looks like a pretty fun pitch.
    By Anonymous Coward
    May 26, 2003

    Regarding the bolted route seen from the cool overhanging rappell; I put it up with Mark Hirt in the late '80's, bolted on rappell, it is not the Fowler route. It is 5.11 something and there is now a missing pin after the bulge between the 2nd and 3rd bolt. A small or medium sized cam would do. I think we called it "Father Knows Best" as my Dad, a general contractor, had helped me procure some some bolts and a drill for the project (this is when you could still drill with impunity in the Flatirons). Alison Sheets
    By Jake Wyatt
    From: Longmont, CO
    May 26, 2003

    Cool. Thanks for the info; it looks like a pretty sweet line.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Jun 12, 2004

    Kudos to this site. I came here with a question that was incredibly answered by Alison. I don't find the route descriptions in Roach to be accurate. The Rossiter topos are necessary for the variations on P1, all of which are an excellent diversion before topping out to climb the rap routes.
    By Mike Epke
    From: Denver, CO
    Sep 6, 2004

    This great route can be done in three pitches with a 60m rope. Do pitch one as desribed w/ belay at the tree. Pitch 2 should use a belay at about 160-170 feet using a large vertical crack with a good #3 Camalot placement and nuts. Pitch 3 can take you all the way to the summit. Enjoy.
    By Kevin Craig
    Aug 15, 2006

    The 5.6 part is fun but way too short. Not sure why everyone belays at the tree, as this makes the interesting climbing on P2 pretty short - better to go all the way to the E Face on P1 I think. There is a loose block masquerading as a bomber hand-hold just below the "cave" that is below the crux flake on P1 - be careful! On the second rap, 1 60m rope will get you to the ground (rather than the top of the fin/flake) if you rap to the north. These 2 eye-bolts are better than average but are NOT modern rap bolts (a little scary to me). A good route with nice position but not stellar in my book.
    By Mike McMahon
    From: Vernal, Utah
    Nov 6, 2007

    Climbed it tonight in two pitches. A 60m rope was exactly long enough to reach a great belay crack (#2/#3 cams) high on the east ridge... but there wasn't any rope to spare! It's probably best done in three pitches.
    By DamageVic
    From: Coal Creek Canyon, CO
    Aug 2, 2009
    rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

    Climbed this today; P1 - up to the tree, 3 pins that could be clipped, the 4th is rotated down so much that it seemed inaccessible.
    P2 - up the crack/flake & onto the E. Face...almost to the big tree way up high. 3rd pitch - up the headwall and to the summit. (60m rope)
    Rapped of the Fixe ring anchors through the slot in the overhang down to the 2 bolt anchor below. Then a quick descent to the bottom of the West face.
    By Rich F.
    From: Colorado Springs, CO
    Sep 20, 2009
    rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

    Fun route and outstanding double-rappel. Did it in three pitches with a 70m rope. First pitch is definitely the best, following a nice crack up a vertical wall. The other two pitches are standard Flatiron face climbs going about 5.2 with few places for protection. Would give the climb and raps four stars if not for the long approach.
    By Rodger Raubach
    Jul 21, 2010
    rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

    Although it is possible to get off with a single 60 or 70 meter rope, it's better to use 2 ropes and rappel down the West Face--spectacular rappel. This is one of the best climbs in the Boulder region; not terribly difficult, but simply a classic excursion to a unique summit.
    As a note; this was the third climb of my career, back in 1959! It still is memorable.
    By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
    From: Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2013
    rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R

    Pitched it out in 3 pitches. Running the first two caused some rope drag, especially since the belay station at the ridgeline isn't the best. All the climbing on the ridge up to the summit is extremely easy but as is noted protection is very sparse. Choose your belay spot carefully and keep an eye out for creative protection.

    Brought a single rack from blue TCU all the way up to #3 Camalot and placed everything. Put an alpine draw on every single piece you place or regret it later on.

    Rap station is on the far west end of the summit, look for the shiny rings.

    Two raps worked nicely. The second rap station is NOT the ancient eyebolt you see as you go down the southwest face. The newer rap anchors are just a little bit lower. They're hard to see from up above, keep an eye out for them. Bringing approach shoes might be a good idea, since it's a short boulder hop back to the start of the climb.
    By A0hero
    From: San Diego, CA
    Jun 1, 2013
    rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

    Best climb I've done in the Flatirons. I thought the gear was really good compared to other things I've done in the area. Definitely not a R rated climb. Rapped with 70m and a tag line... it was awesome.