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The Matron
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South Face 

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

   
Type:  Trad
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Dale Johnson and Phil Robertson, 1952
Page Views: 725
Submitted By: George Bell on Aug 7, 2001
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You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (7)
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The best 50' of the route - exciting and exposed. ...
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  • Description 

    This is a bizarre route whose end is about the same elevation as the start! It is a good winter route as it melts out quickly. Begin from the highest saddle to the west of the Matron (only about 30' from the base of the West Ridge). It is easier to reach this saddle from the north, but you can also approach from the south of the Matron (less snow in winter).

    Hike down a chute of dirt and pine needles past trees to find a well defined ramp descending out onto the vertical south face. Climb down this ramp, which is quite easy, but there are pine needles and loose rock around, and a fall would be fatal, so it is a good idea to be roped up. This is the most unpleasant pitch of the route. It is also possible to begin right from the base of the west face, but this is more difficult and involves more loose and crumbly rock.

    From here the route is obvious, you simply follow this ramp east as it goes down and then back up. There are several nice belays along the middle of this ledge, where it is 6' wide.

    Eventually, as the ramp heads up, it shrinks down and steepens. Here you will find several fixed pins. Finally, the ledge runs out together, and the crux of the route is the remaining 10 feet or so to the East Ridge. There is an old bolt here to clip before the crux (traverse right from the bolt if you want to make it 5.6, straight up is harder).

    Once you reach the east ridge, you will probably be experiencing major rope drag. The easiest option is to continue traversing until you reach a belay stance. You can also immediately head up the east ridge, in which case you will discover a foot wide chimney separates you from the rest of the east face. Continue up the face left of this chimney, and belay near its top. In either case, continue easily via the top pitch of the East Ridge.


    Protection 

    Light rack with long sligs to reduce rope drag



    Photos of South Face Slideshow Add Photo
    Ancient fixed gear along the route.
    Ancient fixed gear along the route.
    Bill Wright getting on to the crux section of the South Face of the Matron after the long traverse to it. Photo by T. Bubb, 09/06.
    Bill Wright getting on to the crux section of the ...
    Comments on South Face Add Comment
    Show which comments
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jun 5, 2003

    I repeated this climb yesterday and the first pitch seemed grungier than I remembered. It's just plain unpleasant, with loose rock and bird poop. To make matters worse there is a thriving bush of poison ivy that your rope will drag through unless you are very careful. The final pitch to the East Ridge is much better, and contains many museum quality fixed pieces. Still, I no longer think this is a 2 star route.

    Poison Ivy alert on pitch 1!

    This route is not as good as the other 3 "compass routes" (E Face, N Face, W Face)

    By Scott Conner
    From: Lyons, CO
    Jun 5, 2003

    The photo below with the ancient pin is a good example of how not to clip a 'biner to a piece; although the force generated by a fall with the biner clipped the other way could result in a snapped spine (biner AND climber). Not an ideal situation either way.

    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jun 5, 2003

    Good point, Scott! Often with fixed pins, there may be no way to clip the biner without loading it over an edge. Then you need to girth hitch a sling through the eye (or ring) to be safe.

    By Chris Zeller
    From: Boulder, CO
    Oct 27, 2005

    Despite what others have said, I think this is a fun route. The first pitch is a bit bizzare I'll give you but it features some excellent exposure for a 5.6 route.

    The poison ivy on the 1st pitch was still there October 05, but it isn't that big of deal.

    The second pitch is fun and leads up to a nice bolted belay. P2 swing out past a few pins and wow the exposure is great here. These are the crux moves and they are protected by fixed gear ([albeit] old fixed gear). Climb onto the ridge and belay. P3 is pure fun scrambling on the ridge. This is fast easy climbing with loads of holds and loads of possibilities on great rock (aka the 3rd Flatiron).

    Just do it.

    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Sep 20, 2006

    As of September '06, there is a wasps nest in the 5" crack leading down to the first ramp on the first pitch. Watch out for them! Secondly, the trash rock on the first two pitches is abundant enough to downgrade what is a classic climb after those to a mediocre 2-stars. Too bad.

    By Rodger Raubach
    Jul 21, 2010
    rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b PG13

    This is a strange climb, and a lot of devious climbing results in only one worthwhile pitch onto the East Ridge at what I thought was 5.7. I don't care to repeat this route any time in the near future. Only "one star."