Wednesday, August 28, 2013
This is another of the Roach Flatiron Classics that I hadn't visited in a long time. The crux was just a few moves of 5.6, so I was hoping to solo it. I followed the South Shanahan Trail to the Mesa Trail and followed that south for about a tenth of a mile before heading up the slope on a diagonal towards the tower. At this point I could clearly see the tower, but soon I entered the woods and could no longer see it. I made my way by dead reckoning up the slope, across a loose talus field and into a draw, which I followed to the base of the rock. At first I thought it might be the Sphinx, but it wasn't. I changed to my climbing shoes here and left my approach shoes at the base.
The first 150-foot pitch involved really fun scrambling on great rock with good holds. There were a couple of steep sections, but everything was pretty easy. This put me just right of a sharp fin, which I need to climb onto for the second pitch. A awkward, leaning move but with good holds brought me to an 8-foot high wall. Here was the crux. There were two key footholds on this wall and they were quite positive but very small. I was thankful to have my climbing shoes on, as the handholds were marginal sidepulls and insecure dishes. It was essential to stand solidly on your feet and I did so. The rest of the pitch was easy and finished up a slot/chimney.
I looked down the West Ridge and thought it would go, but decided to take the regular descent route to the ground. I then dug out the book and found that the West Ridge was a route in Roach's book and was as moderate as it looked. It is only about fifty feet tall and so I climbed up it to the summit and then climbed back down it.
I descended steep slopes to the north of the tower back to my approach shoes, which a large group of ants had found particularly interesting. I didn't notice this until I had one shoe on and needed to remove it to clean out the ants and brush them off. I wonder what attracted them?
I headed back to my car and decided to stay in the draw the entire way. This became choked off lower down and I exited to the north and then crossed back over to the south. I ended up hitting the Mesa Trail way down at the Bluestem Junction. This is not the direction I wanted to go, but would be a nice way to descend if you wanted to link this tower to the next classic to the south: The Fatiron.
I hiked up the Mesa Trial to the north until I hit the Shanahan Trail Junction and then trotted easily back to the car.