Sunday, April 7, 2013

My First Flatiron

No, I'm not talking about something for my hair. I like my curls, thankyouverymuch. 

A 30 to 40 minute hike gets you to the bottom of the first Flatiron in Boulder. Relatively short, but you gain about 900 feet from the trail head in that time. Then the climb is around 1,000 feet.

It  doesn't look like much. 
But it took us 5 hours, car to car. 
Seven pitches. 


It was a fairly easy climb. 
On the first two pitches (meaning a 60-meter rope length) we only places 2 pieces of gear, and on the second two, none. I think we only placed 1 on the final three pitches. I could be wrong about that, but point being it's an easy climb if you're climbing with only one or two (or no) pieces for protection.

Top of the first pitch. 

Top of the second.

Top of the third.

Top of the 4th. 

 Top of the 5th.

Top of the 6th.

Yep, that's me (in the circle) climbing.

Top of the seventh. Basically at summit. 

Rope management. Some people hate it. I love it. 
And it obviously means I made it down.

But that's where the story begins. While the climb up was fairly easy and uneventful, my rap off the summit was not quite so easy. It was extremely windy up there, and I was chilly, so I decided to rap off first. We tied knots in the rope - I prefer to knot them for safety reasons. It means if you accidentally misjudge distance and get all the way to the end of the rope, you're not going to plunge off the end of it. On this day, however, what was meant to keep me safe caused all sorts of issues. The wind whipped both ends of the rope as we tossed them over. They both landed in the same crevice down below and far to my right where, crazily enough, both knots lodged tightly. Of course, I didn't know this until I was halfway through my rappel, at which point there was nothing to be done but wait for my partner to rap down on someone else's rope, climb up to where mine was stuck, and work at it to get it free (which was not without perils of its own). Meanwhile, I got to just hang there. Not that I mind that in and of itself - dangling in midair is really quite fun - but hanging on the rope isn't necessarily a good thing.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes the thing you think you're doing to keep yourself safe may actually end up causing you more problems in the end. Every situation is different and you can't judge them all by the same standards.

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