Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thursday, 10/9/08 Free Solo of Second Flatiron and Green Mountain

Second Flatiron
Freeway II, F3 *Classic*

For a long time I have been wanting to climb this route. The description in Roach’s Flatiron Classics book makes it sound so easy, but I was still a little apprehensive. Several days per week I have been running past it, carefully examining what I could see from the base and the walk off. Recently, I have been watching friends scamper up the Flatirons at a near run, competing with themselves for personal bests and course bests, making it look sooo easy.

I am not fooled though, these guys are some of the best climbers/all around uber fit athletes around and are infinitely more skilled and experienced than I. Even though this stuff is a cakewalk for them, it is tough and somewhat scary for me. The consequences of a fall would most certainly be fatal, or at least life altering.

This morning, at the last minute, I decided that today was the day I was ready to tackle the 2nd Flatiron via the 800 foot long Freeway route. I have climbed the 1st and 3rd before roped to competent climbing partners, but today I was all on my own.Allison and Sierra accompanied me to the base of the climb under cloudy skies and surprisingly cold temps. I changed into my climbing shoes at the base and immidiately began scampering up. I felt a little awkward at first and stayed left where the climbing seemed to be a bit easier.

My awkwardness was compounded by the fact that Allison was watching, along with a group of tourists, I felt a little silly. About 100 feet off the deck, the terrain started tempting me right and the air under my feet seemed to increase dramatically. Tied into a rope, I would not have thought twice, but I think I got myself into some harder terrain than necessary. Good hand holds and foot holds were minimal and somewhat spaced out, requiring some reachy moves and many friction holds where I had to fully trust my sticky rubber climbing shoes.

Several times my knees began to shake and I was questioning my sanity, it sure looks easier from the ground.Soon enough though, I reached easier and less exposed terrain with better hand holds as the route made a right turn along the ridge. I scampered up, tempted to go fast, but always playing it safe and making sure I had 3 points of contact and trusted my holds. Sooner than expected, I heard a whistle, and looked up to see Allison at the walk off point at the top of my route, just as I was approaching the jump across gap. I stood and contemplated it for a moment. It is not too exposed, but it looks like it would be a hard landing, so I opted to down climb and go around.

The remainder of the route got a bit steeper, but hand holds were plentiful and bomber, so it was a great way to finish. The sun came out on the second half and warmed things nicely, including the rubber on my climbing shoes. Sure would have been nice to have that extra grip in the beginning….At the end of the route, I received a hearty congrats from Allison and Sierra, changed into my running shoes and we continued on to the summit of Green Mountain.

It ended up taking me 40 minutes for the entire climb of Freeway, extremely pokey when compared to my climbing pals that do it in 10 minutes or less, but I just took it one move at a time and played it as safe as possible and had a great time. As far as rock climbs go, this is amongst the easiest, but it was certainly one of the hardest things I have accomplished without a rope and completely on my own. I can’t wait to do it again!


  1. Holy crap dude. Whole new level. I want a piece of this.

  2. When is the next scrambling race? Want to come watch.

  3. Justin, next Wednesday at 5. Not sure of the location yet though. Remind me as the day draws near and I will let you know.