Saturday, October 18, 2008

2nd and Sunset

Laurel and I did two big climbs today. First up was a route on the Second Flatiron called Freeway. It was an interesting climb, especially when we got to the part the guidebook author describes as:

Jumping may be the easiest way to overcome the gap. Jumping, while not a recommended climbing technique, seems innocent and safe enough at this notch.

Well we got to that point and wasted almost an hour deciding how to get down, because jumping looked like a sure way to twist an ankle halfway up this 800 foot climb. There was no easy way to downclimb (this was supposed to be a Class 4 climb), so instead of the jump move we did an interesting 10 foot rappel. The picture shows where the jump is supposed to happen -- from that piece of rock sticking out on to the slab.

On the climb we were met by 3 guys free soloing. It probably only took them an hour or less to do the whole climb unroped. We did the climb roped in 6 pitches, in about 6 hours.

Our hope was to head over to the Sunset Flatironette next, since it is somewhat behind the Second Flatiron. We weren't sure if there would be enough daylight to finish the "Chase the Sun" climb (it was almost 4pm), but it looked like there were good escape points along the way if we needed one, so we gave it a shot. This climb follows a ridge for 600 feet and had some 30' runouts. It was an interesting climb, but parts of it felt tougher than the 5.4 rating -- there was lots of lichen and loose rock in places, as this is not a very frequently-climbed rock.

Before we started we decided that at 6:30 we would bail so we weren't climbing in the dark -- but around 5:30 we were nearing the end of the climb so we just wrapped it up. By the time we got our sneakers on and started to hike it was very dark. It was about an hour hike back down to our packs at the base of the Second Flatiron and then to the car. Definitely worth it though -- the sunset was beautiful (see all pics).

In all, we climbed 10 pitches today, covering about 1400 feet of climbing. We left the car a bit after 8am and returned a bit after 8pm.

When we got to the parking lot, there were a few news crews and park rangers. During our "Chase the Sun" climb we had seen a rescue team off behind the South Block of the Second Flatiron. Apparently someone had fallen and died "between the 2nd and 3rd Flatirons" but given the location of the rescue/recovery team it appeared to us to be closer to the 2nd. Could have been one of the freesoloers we saw. So far no details, but it sounds like the person didn't have any safety equipment.


Donna said...

I'm glad you don't freesolo. I happen to like you guys. Alive.
On a brighter note, nice pics!

Laurel Reckert said...

The freesoloers we saw were younger, so it wasn't one of them. thread