Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Flatiron in the Rain

I climbed the first Flatiron in the rain this morning. This isn't recommended and it wasn't our intention. Corey had been jonesing to climb the First Flatiron ever since he moved back to Boulder years ago and I was happy to help him out.

We met at 6 a.m. and hiked into the base with a 60-meter skinny rope, three cams, and five slings. We both wore harnesses and sticky rubber approach shoes. Our plan was to pitch it out to start with and then hopefully transition to some simul-climbing if Corey was comfortable with that.

I led the 200-foot first pitch (clipped two eye-bolts) up to the tree at the ledge and Corey followed, commenting that he was glad to be on a rope. As I started up the second pitch I detected a slight rain falling. "But how can that be?", I thought. It doesn't rain in Colorado on summer mornings. We've been having a strange, wet year and none of the old rules apply. It's probably all caused by global warming, which has obviously been caused by hydraulic fracturing, but, never fear, the Boulder City Council will solve all that by starting their own energy company. Hurrah! We'll be back to hot, dry summers soon.

I ran out another 200-feet of rope and belayed at a small ledge from one cam. The rain was stronger now, but still not very hard. The rock wasn't even completely wet, but it was getting there. On the next pitch, up to the Route Junction Knob with a hundred feet of simul-climbing, I decided that the smart thing would be to downclimb off at Baker's Way and rap from the tree above the crux. But by the time Corey got to the belay, the rain had nearly stopped and the skies to the west seemed a bit lighter. Plus, the downclimb off looked harder on the wet rock. I decided to continue up and Corey was game.

I led one short pitch and then another 300-footer, through the crux slot and up to the North Ridge. On this pitch the rain became stronger than ever and it was a concern. We were committed now, though, and the quickest way off was over the top. I informed Corey of the situation when he arrived and I blasted for the summit, telling Corey to just start climbing when I ran out of rope.

The rain eased some again and had nearly stopped by the time we hit the summit. After some quick photos we rapped to the ground and now the rain had completely stopped. The rock never got completely soaked and hence the climbing wasn't too dangerous. It was a bit slick, but nothing we couldn't handle. It was more the stress of having it get worse and being in a difficult position to bail quickly. But we got it done and Corey has now climbed the First Flatiron.

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