I have not been able to get out climbing much as my work has kept me tied down. I wouldn't say that this trip was so much "off the couch" as it was "off the ladder".
So I'm driving home from a day of work and I get a text from my friend Cory Fleagle asking if I wanted to climb the route The Silk Road in the morning. Cory aka HardCor is a strong and accomplished climber and a real hoot to hang with. So I had to think about it for all of a nanosecond and a half. I texted him back and said ShoNuff. This would be great. In all my years I had some how never managed to climb the transient ice of the Flat Irons. I was excited by the prospect.
First I had to clear it with my bitch.
Missing photo ID#344676
Goldie Girl is chill and a grand crag dog but sitting for hours at the base of the First Flatiron while we played stupid human tricks just wasn't the best idea. Honestly I would have let her sleep as I slipped out the door so I wouldn't have to face the face she gives me when she doesn't get to go but I needed my hat back.
Missing photo ID#344677
That's the First Flat on the right. If you know where to look you can see the line of the route. But suffice it to say it goes pretty much straight up the right third of the face.
It was Tues morning and we were not worried about an uber early start as it was doubtful we would have to share the route. But when I left my house the Sun was out and it looked like Boulder might hit the mid 40s as predicted. That would be grim as the east facing Flat Irons would warm up quickly and slough off the snow and ice with out warning.
Fortunately for us a serendipitous cloud cover built and lasted all day. That really helped keep the ambient air temperature low and would hopefully keep the snice in place.
If you zoom in to between the two dark gashes you can see the free hanging 'cicles of the 3rd pitch. Our 4th pitch landed us on the summit ridge at the base of the steep step.
Coolio the cloud cover keeps building and the snice still looks nice.
At the base of the First Flatiron and the start of the Silk Road.
But first we had to gear up.
First pitch starts with a steep but fun mixed overlap. The pro was good here but that wouldn't always be the case.
The pro disappears and you are faced with a tenuous rock traverse to the first snow trough. It was thin and skitchy but not too bad. it was the 70 foot run out that was heady.
The gear was mostly widely spaced rock gear, an occasional tree or rock horn and a few random stubbie screws where ever the ice was thick enough.
Ahhh top of the first pitch and a delightful cup o hot chicken broth. Mmmmmgud.
Looking up the 2nd pitch of the Silk Road.
No soup for you!
Believe me the snice looks way better than it was. There was an increased level of physical tension required to climb with out shearing everything off. Half way up this seemingly innocuous pitch and my legs were howling with lactic acid fatique.
Onward and upward. HarCor leads up into the building spindrift and desiccating snice.
You had to take pro where you could find it and it was not abundant. Usually 2 to 3 pieces per 65+ meter pitch. The mixed climbing was not particularly difficult but the consequences of the whole snice pitch sloughing off and taking you for a more than hundred foot tumble down the east face of the First Flatiron kept it more than real the whole way.
OK that went well.
Belay at the top of the 2nd pitch.
OK so often climbers opt to take a moderate 3rd pitch that angles up and right to intersect the North Ridge at a point where it is an easy 6 foot scramble down to the descent trail. It is what I expected to do since I still had to get to work that day. But they don't call him HardCor for nothin' and he had another plan.
Corey wanted to head left and tackle these stellar looking cicles.
Frankly it looked way better than going up and right but it would add a fourth pitch and more time.
Who am I to argue? It's not like it was politics.
So off we head to the purty steepness above. Actually the traverse across to the ice was one of the sketchier parts of the route.
Though it was the hardest ice climbing on the route it was also the best ice on the route. That screw is a stubbie and it was solid.
OK Soup for you.
The 4th pitch turned out to be the actual crux of the mixed climbing and the pro was pretty imaginary until the last few body lengths. Consequently there are not many pics of this pitch.
HardCor on the summit ridge at the top of the 4th pitch.
The last traverse to the belay on top of the ridge.
From here two moderate rock pitches up the castle ridge takes you to the top of the First Flatiron. But I really needed to get to work and after four full pitches of calf cramping fun my legs were flamed. So we went down. Cory rigging to rap.
A look back up before we go to the valley bellow.
Thanks for checking out my trip report I hope you enjoyed it.
For more on this route check out mountainproject.com