Few places in this nation share such a rich and diverse climbing history as the Flatirons. Home to the earliest rock climb in Colorado, since just after the turn of the 20th century the Flatirons has been a crucible for the evolution of climbing standards both state-wide and nationally. Early exploration of the Flatirons generally preceded that of other Colorado historical climbing Meccas like Eldorado Canyon and the myriad formations in Boulder Canyon. Many nationally and world famous climbers and mountaineers cut their teeth here, from Tom Hornbein to David Breashears, both of Everest fame. Other world renowned climbers like Layton Kor, Pat Ament, Roger Briggs, Jim Erickson, and others helped shape the rich climbing history of this area. As a result, national climbing standards were in many ways influenced by the world class climbing opportunities found in the Flatirons.
Today the Flatirons remain a premier destination for rock climbers from around the world. Although techniques, equipment, and skill have changed over time, the desire of climbers to enjoy the serenity and outstanding rock of the Flatirons has remained strong.
CLIMBING ROUTE CHRONOLOGY
Significant Routes in the Flatirons, 1906 – 1988
This chronology highlights historically significant routes that reflect the evolution of climbing trends over the past 100+ years, and the area’s widely dispersed climbing activity. It also provides insight into which formations were the first to receive attention, when the technical difficulty standards evolved, and when the use of technical climbing equipment like pitons and safety bolts began.
Year Formation Route Difficulty
1906 Third Flatiron East Face 5.4
This is the earliest recorded rock climb of its kind in the state of Colorado, as well as one of the first in the country. It remained the only rock climb in the area for many years. Richard Rossiter’s Boulder Climbs North, © 1988 states: “Touted as one of the best beginner climbs in North America. Eighty years of climbing history, one thousand feet of solid rock, six eye bolts sturdy enough to winch up a jeep, and a picturesque summit worthy of a picnic, one would be hard-pressed to find a better outing on a fair spring day.” It is believed that eyebolts were placed on this route in the 1930’s.
1910-1940 Third Flatiron East Face 5.4 – 5.6
Numerous variations to the East Face route were climbed during this period including the Dogs Head Cutoff, 5.6, in 1934. The first technical rock climbing including the use of ropes took place in 1919.
1944 The Maiden Standard Route 5.6
Also known as the North Face route.
1946 First Pinnacle (Amphitheatre) Inside South Face 5.9
A point of aid was used on the first ascent, however the original grade is unknown.
1948 The Matron East Ridge 5.8
1948 Second Flatiron North Face 5.6 A1
1948 The Willy B East Face 5.8
The first climb established by Tom Hornbein while he was a geology student at the University of Colorado. In 1963 he went on to climb the first ascent of the West Ridge of Everest.
1949 Third Flatiron Northwest Passage 5.7 A2
This trend setting climb also established by Hornbein, the “first climb in Colorado to tackle a major overhang using artificial aids, and to attempt to overcome a blank section of rock with expansion bolts” – Godfrey & Chelton’s Climb, © 1977. It was free climbed in 1972 at 5.10a.
1950 Third Flatiron Friday’s Folly 5.6
1951 The Flatiron Schmoes Nose 5.6
1951 The Matron North Face 5.6
1952 The Matron South Face 5.6
1953 The Maiden East Ridge 5.7 A1
This route was free climbed in 1970 at 5.10d.
1953 The Maiden South Face 5.7 A1
Established with aid by legendary climber Harvey Carter, it was free climbed in 1958 by Jerry Roach and Jeff Wheeler.
1954 Third Flatiron Jackson Ledges 5.9+
1955 The Matron West Face 5.8
“The West Face represents an early exploration into what modern Boulder face climbing is all about, i.e., superb rock, sustained and thin face work, a natural line of ascent that does not depend on cracks, and protection by bolts only.” – Richard Rossiter’s Boulder Climbs South. The first sport climb in the Flatirons.
1956 The Maiden West Overhang 5.7 A3
1956 The Thing East Face 5.7
1958 First Flatiron Northwest Face 5.6 A2
1958 East Ironing Board Green Crack 5.8+
1959 Seal Rock Southwest Face 5.3
1959 Seal Rock South Face 5.4
1962 Der Zerkle, (Dinosaur Mt.) Northeast Face IV
1962 The Finger Flatiron, (Dinosaur Mt.) East Face Right 5.7
1963 Overhang Rock Rouges Arete 5.10a
A trend-setting route in difficulty, well ahead of its time – the work of Layton Kor and Pat Ament.
1963 Second Flatiron Southeast Overhang A4
1967 Third Flatiron Fail Safe 5.10b/c
1970 The Maiden East Ridge 5.10d
First done with aid in 1953.
1971 The Back Porch, (Dinosaur Mt) Space Time Inversion 5.8 A4
Note: Free climbed in 1985 at 5.13b.
1972 Third Flatiron (North Face) The Third Kingdom 5.7 A2
Free climbed in the early 80′s at 5.12a
1972 Fourth Flatiron Death & Transfiguration 5.11b
1973 Second Flatiron East Face Overhang 5.10d
1975 The Maiden Cunning Stunt 5.11a
1975 The Maiden South Crack 5.11c
Established by internationally renowned climbers Steve Wunsch and John Bragg.
1976 First Flatiron West Face 5.10d
First climbed with aid in 1959.
1977 The Maiden West Overhang 5.12b
First climbed with aid in 1953. The first route of this difficulty in the area.
1980 The Dreadnaught (Dino. Mt.) Super Power 5.11c/d
1981 Square Rock (Dinosaur Mt.) Android Power Pack 5.12d tr
1982 Ridge Four (Skunk Canyon) Fire on the Mountain 5.12b/c
1986 The Box (Dinosaur Mt) Cornucopia 5.13a
1987 Square Rock (Dinosaur Mt.) Blue Angel 5.12d
1987 Stonehenge (Dinosaur Mt) The Fiend 5.13b
1987 East Ironing Board Slave to the Rhythm 5.13b
1988 Ridge Two (Skunk Canyon) Beware of the Future 5.14a
This route currently sets the standard as the most difficult free climb in the Flatirons.