Thursday, June 26, 2014

Co-worker Training on the First Flatiron

On top of the First Flatiron with the Third Flatiron in the background

Each year I take some co-workers up a Colorado 14er. These days I don't get much turnout, so I pick the 14ers that I want to do with my boys. Sheri and I have climbed all the Colorado 14ers, but we're slowly doing them again with Danny and Derek. This year I picked Capitol, one of the toughest 14ers. I've done it three times before. My first time was a speed ascent with Homie. We did the 16+ mile round-trip in around six hours, I think. I then did it with Sheri and the Loobster when we backpacked in and camped a couple of nights. The Loobster and I had hoped to do the North Face route, but the weather wasn't conducive. I climbed it a third time, in winter, with Homie. We did the round-trip in around 13 hours and it might still be the fastest winter ascent. We cheated, though, and followed the tracks made by our friends the day before.
Nearing the summit.
Anyhow... This year three people from work have signed up: Kevin, Jenny, and Erica. Kevin is just going to backpack in with us, as the peak is more than he wants to do. Jenny is an experienced climber, but had horrible altitude sickness on the only 14er she's climbed, so she isn't sure she's going to the top. Erica I didn't know about, so I took her out with friend/co-worker Octavian to see how she handled some easy climbing and some exposure.

I decided to do the Southwest Face of the First Flatiron (5.2/3), what the Minions call the "down climb", as we often solo the East Face and this is how we get back down to the ground without a rope. We met at Chautauqua Park and hiked up the long approach to this short route. I led up to the first eyebolt, placing four pieces of gear to protect Erica on the traversing nature of the route. Erica and Octavian simul-seconded the route so that Octavian could give her some helpful advice if necessary.

After some initial confusing with the crux steep section at the bottom, Erica cruised up the route with nary a pause. On the second pitch, with big exposure at the top, she did check with me that I had her on a secure belay, but other than that, scooted to the top easily. We took some photos and I lowered Erica to the ground. She didn't even pause when leaning back to be lowered, so she doesn't appear to have any fear of heights or any trust issues with me. She should do fine on Capitol. We'll find out on July 5th!
At the top of the first pitch

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