Sunday, May 26, 2013

Another Flatiron Classic With Derek

I've been working through the Gerry Roach Flatiron Classics lately and taking Derek up a number of them for the first time. Today we headed to the Morning After (aka The Thing). I hadn't climbed on this rock in probably a decade. It's a bit of a bushwhack to get there. We elected to try the traverse bushwhack from above Sentinel Pass on the way in, but decided that the straight-up bushwhack (from the 9th switchback on the Royal Arch Trail) was the better way to go. We took this latter route on the way out.

Derek is generally not a morning guy, but he appreciates getting things done early in the day. He made our plan to be hiking around 7 a.m. We did leave the house a bit late, as we were watching some of the first matches of the French Open, but we weren't too far behind schedule.

In an effort to make the climb quick and show Derek that these things needn't take up a big part of the day (in hopes that he'll climb with me even more often), I set too fast of a pace up the steep trail. Derek had played two tennis matches the day before and was worried about saving his legs for the Bolder Boulder 10K tomorrow, so we slowed it down to a more reasonable pace.

We made our way to the base of route route in 50 minutes and I was heading up the first pitch about 15 minutes later. The first pitch is a runout slab where I got in one cam about fifty feet up. I stopped at a big tree on the sloping slab below the crux 5.7 roof. The roof itself is very cool. It's steep and 1.5" crack splits it, providing bomber gear. I was worried that any jamming would stymie Derek and placed three pieces with slings on them for him to grab, just in case. Turning the roof is only a couple of moves, but I solved it with a big reach to a lieback hold and doubted Derek would be able to reach it.

I belayed just twenty feet above the roof at another tree, making for a very short pitch, but I wanted to stay close to Derek for the crux. Derek got up to the roof easily and quickly. I was surprised to see him peeking over the lip so soon. He could barely reach the hold I used, but I wasn't sure he liked it much. He retreated a couple of moves to rest and then easily cranked the move on his second time up.

The third pitch was some easy slab climbing to a super cool fist crack. A fist crack on a low-angle slab so that it wasn't necessary to use the crack at all at first and when it got steeper I then just used one edge of the crack, since it slanted across the face instead of going straight up. I belayed at a third tree, mainly to take some photos.

The fourth pitch heads up to the massive, signature flake that looks like another giant slab laid on top of the upper half of the East Face. I climbed up the dihedral formed by the left side of the flake and ran out the rope until I was on top of the flake. Derek easily scampered up to my belay and then it was a short fifty-foot slab to the summit.

A sling around a boulder on the south side of the summit was our rappel anchor and fifty feet down was the ground. We packed up and made our way carefully down the complicated terrain on the north side of the rock back to the base of the rock. For a lot of the descent there were signs of a faint climber's path and this only improved below the slab. Soon we were back on the Royal Arch Trail, passing tons of other hikers out enjoying the great day. We were back at the car three hours after leaving it and home before 11 a.m.

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