Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday 8/21 Flatiron Rambles

I did two tours of the Flatirons on Sunday. First time out, I revisited the First Flatironette, and could not find the line I used last week to get to the top of the 4th-class section. I took my time, tried three different lines, and was stymied. Pretty deflating experience.

I had lunch and returned, this time visiting the Second Flatiron, looking for a way to avoid the 5th-class start to Freeway, which is still over my pay grade. I had some success on the far right of the formation, sometimes climbing, sometimes hiking. I ended up dead-ending in a rock gully somewhere in the middle of the right side of the formation -- there was a cul-de-sac with a wall that I could not climb. To the right, there was a 5th-class face between me and the 2nd Flatiron trail :\ So, I down-climbed back to the trail.

I was interested in how to connect where I had climbed up to, with points on the 2nd Flatiron trail that I could easily escape to. From the trail, I spied the gully that had stopped me earlier about 75 feet across the face of the flatiron. So close, yet so far -- there was 5th-class face separating the two. I spent some time climbing the flatiron near the trail trying to find a way to connect the two, which was probably the most enjoyable time of the day. New technique: jamming my shoulder into a wide crack so I could climb a slab that had no good holds otherwise. Good stuff.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday 8/20 James Peak Run

On Saturday, I had a good run. Much of the last year and a half has been consumed by injury recovery, and I am finally gaining some fitness. I ran from the Rollins Pass lot up to James Peak, and pretty much didn't stop running/hiking until the summit. It was windy and chilly, although you cannot see that here, and was quite uncomfortable. Reminds me that fall is coming soon. 

Distance was 13.95 miles, time 4:30:16 (moving 4:11:03), avg. pace 19:23, moving pace 18:00, max pace 8:12 min/mi, elevation gain/loss 4,313 feet.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday 8/13 Front Porch Hike/Scramble

On Saturday I headed up to the Flatirons and ended up hiking up the pretty Porch Alley climber's trail off of the Mallory Cave Trail.

Soon, the Front Porch formation loomed through the trees. I scrambled up and over to the Tiptoe Slab area, then decided to take another shot at the Northeast Ridge route, which is mentioned in a couple Flatirons climbing books as 3rd or 4th class and is used as a downclimb for more difficult routes.

Last time, I was a bit flustered by the apparent difficulty of that ridge line, but I decided to give it another try since I have some decent approach shoes now. The pine needle and dirt-filled gully is still nasty and slippery. I think if I do this again, I'll climb on rock from the far north.

Once on the ridge, there are a couple of large boulders to scramble over/around, with maybe 20-foot drops on the right. When I got to the the overhanging slab, this time I climbed the rock on the far right near the tree, and it was fairly solid and easy. Past that, I could see some trees and possible ledges. I traversed these, did another short traverse on angled rock with a long runout, and found myself about 40 feet below the summit on another ledge. I was almost there. The holds above looked great, so I ascended carefully, and was on top.

I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous being high on that much rock. I did not come up the way in the photo below, but this type of slope is always on your left on the ascent, and for me it's a psychological challenge. You could definitely get messed up on that:

Looking south from the top below. The summit is bigger than on East Gazebo -- the only other sizeable Flatiron formation I've been on top of. Maybe 75 feet wide (north-south) and 10 feet deep. There was even a little bit of grass up there.

I didn't relax until I was at the gully again, and since it is slippery with dirt, rocks and pine needles, it wasn't even that relaxing. Still, I was pretty psyched to have persevered and gotten to the top.