Home » Climb » Currently Reading:

Flatirons Ice

December 6, 2009 Climb 1 Comment
Flatirons_Winter_Sunrise_edit_2

The First, Second, and Third Flatirons (right to left) at sunrise. Photo by Jesse Varner/Wikipedia

This week’s cold and snow may bring into condition some fun but fleeting climbs above Boulder and Eldorado Canyon: the Flatirons ice routes. These ephemeral runnels form during the shortest days of winter on the east faces of Boulder’s famous sandstone slabs, offering three or six pitches of interesting thin ice and mixed climbing. You won’t get pumped on these low-angle climbs, but you might scare yourself silly. Here, a mini-guide, from north to south:

First FlatironSilk Road. Five pitches of ice slabs, short columns, and funky snow and mixed, generally following the summertime East Gully route. One of the very best when it’s in good shape, with tricky, somewhat fragile cruxes up to M5.

Several other lines may form on the First. On December 10 this year, there appeared to be a climbable two- to three-pitch streak of ice high on the upper left side of the east face. You have to walk south of the First to see it well.

Second FlatironCall the Copps. A beautiful thin runnel up the gully between the Pullman Car and South Block. Short but excellent.

Third FlatironPink Dreams. The  long gully and chimney ending in the Gash, below the summit. A rare visitor, though people have been climbing the east face of the Third in mountain boots since the 1950s or before—certainly long before this route got this name. Great practice for sketchy big-mountain routes!

The Goose—Wild Goose Chase. In exceptional winters, a good three-pitch runnel will form in a groove on the east face of the Goose. Not too bad an approach, either, at least compared to the next two routes. Watch for it.

PC093974

Shanahan Canyon ice, not formed yet, but likely to soon, December 9

Shanahan Ice. An obscure but huge slab called the Wings, above an obvious, long talus slope at the head of Shanahan Canyon, often has a good multipitch runnel. This route probably stays in shape longer than any other in the Flatirons. The price? A mega approach.

Mickey Mouse WallMous-Ka-Tears. One to two pitches long, this classic WI4+ is a rare visitor above Tunnel Six. Two tiers of steep ice separated by slabs.

Undoubtedly other ice routes appear in the Flatirons now and then. Know of one? Drop us a line.

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Ben Collett says:

    Dougald, I miss the updates on this site. Anyway, there is a great route on the 4th Flatiron (see MP.com for details) that in exceptional conditions would be the best thing in the Flatirons. Ice also seems to appear on the 5th, though I don’t know how topping it out would be.

Comment on this Article:







Join Us…

We welcome stories, photos, video, and cool trip reports. Drop us a line, and we'll get you started.

Recent Comments

  • Jamie Jones: The secret chute was only a secret top all you easterners....
  • Jeff: Awesome!!!! Are they ever going to be published in book form! These stories need to be made into a movie!!!!...
  • Karen D McCall: What a story, I read every word, absolutely enthralled. As an aging outdoor enthusiast headed for hip replacement, I can...
  • Kirk Miller: New rats in the Platte. Well done sir....
  • Dale: I met Clerin Zumwalt hiking on the Long's Peak trail back in the 1990's. He was with his family and was wearing his RMNP...
  • Ben Collett: Dougald, I miss the updates on this site. Anyway, there is a great route on the 4th Flatiron (see MP.com for details) th...
  • Tim: Thanks for the great writeup. We just did this loop yesterday and had a blast. Do you know if anyone has skied the coulo...
  • 14er Sports: Awesome accomplishment!...
  • Kailas: Yes Wick there are that many people. And they are all from back east or Texass... booooo. I've skied up here for ove...
  • jeff: What amazing experiences Dr. Cook had. I feel so fortunate that I've found this website and have been able to enjoy Dr. ...

Supported By…

Category RSS Feeds

Firsts

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

March 26, 2010

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

Climbers Scotty Nelson and Gil Weiss have discovered (or maybe rediscovered) a great-looking moderate mixed route in Rocky Mountain National Park that might take pressure off overcrowded climbs like Dream Weaver or Martha. The line, which they called Deborah, splits the south face of Arrowhead above the high bench to the west of Black Lake […]

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

March 10, 2010

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

Colorado’s Shelf Road , a network of vertical limestone cliffs near Cañon City best known for sunny moderates, has a new 5.13d pitch and may soon get its first 5.14. On Sunday, March 7, Mark Anderson redpointed a striking, super-technical arête at Cactus Cliff that was bolted in the early 1990s but apparently never free-climbed. […]

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

February 14, 2010

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

Jason Haas, who’s working on a new guidebook to South Platte rock climbs, has just redpointed what’s likely the Platte’s hardest pitch, a roof seam that’s protected with removable pro and might be 5.14a. The new route, Comprometido, took about a year and a half to complete. Here, Haas tells the story. While researching routes […]

Supported By…

Classics

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

March 18, 2010

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

In the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, a granite spindle called Zowie protrudes from the convoluted south face of Mt. Otis. Just to Zowie’s left is a zigzagging chimney and gully system that holds an unlikely mixed-climbing gem. Brain Freeze was discovered very recently (early 2008) by Andy Grauch and Chris Sheridan. Several parties […]

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

February 19, 2010

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

Kevin Landolt is a skier/climber/student, based in Fort Collins, who writes the fun Alpine Ambition blog for the Mountain Shop. Here, Kevin describes a favorite midwinter ski tour near Cameron Pass offering a little of everything. Trailhead: Lake Agnes Road, 2.5 miles west of Cameron Pass Tour Distance: 7.3 miles Total Vert: ca. 2,900′ Season: […]

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

January 28, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

Two of the wildest and most difficult water-ice pitches in the state are in plain view from Highway 50, en route to Ouray and Telluride from points north, plunging down the sheer face of Grand Mesa. Yet few people notice them, and far fewer have climbed them. The routes are tough, to be sure, but […]

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

December 28, 2009

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

Mt. Bancroft’s rocky east ridge is a terrific mountaineering adventure for Front Range climbers, beginning less than an hour from Denver. The 13,250-foot peak is relatively close to the road, and avalanche danger can be easily managed, making this perhaps the most accessible technical winter summit on the entire Front Range. The east ridge offers […]

Wild

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

February 5, 2010

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

Photographer James Beissel sent us this fantastic dawn-patrol shot of the full moon setting over South and North Arapaho in the Indian Peaks, shot from Flagstaff Mountain. Said Beissel: “The first full moon of the New Year is often called the Wolf Moon. The name comes from Native American culture, in which it was associated with […]

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

January 20, 2010

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

By Bob Berwyn Stakeholders in the San Luis Valley have taken a giant step toward protecting Great Sand Dunes National Park from mining, energy development, and water exports. Lexam Explorations has agreed to sell its mineral rights if a $9.7 million deal can be finalized by May. Great Sand Dunes National Park was created by […]

Supported By…